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An overview of animation

Release 9.3
Last modified January 11, 2011
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Would you like to capture movement through a virtual landscape so you can visualize that motion? Do you have data with time stamps that you'd like to visualize dynamically through time? Do you want to watch the movement of an object along a path? Would you like to visualize changes to layer properties such as visibility or transparency, or scene properties such as lighting and vertical exaggeration? These are just a few of the things you can include in an animation with ArcGIS. Below are a few examples of the different types of animations that you can create.
View sample animation videos

Animate data through time

You can animate data through time in ArcMap, ArcScene, or ArcGlobe to understand how data changes with time and space.

Animating data through time

The left example above shows the 1992 time stamp of change in the percentage of cropland (per grid cell) worldwide from 1700–1992 in ArcMap. When animated, the percentage of cropland in some areas increases as time passes. The middle example above shows the time stamp from April 18th 1997 of sea surface temperature change in ArcGlobe. The data spans 1997–1998, an El Nino year. When animated, the sea surface temperature changes with each successive month. The right example shows the 1994 time stamp of oil and gas production of the Lost Soldier Field in Wyoming in ArcMap. When animated, the pie charts on the map indicate the changing oil and gas production rates from each producing well (red is gas in barrels of oil equivalent and green is oil in barrels). The graph shows production through time for the entire field: gas (red), oil (green), and water (blue).
Learn more about animating data through time

Animate movement through a landscape or an object following a path

You can create an animation where you are moving your view or an object over a landscape.

Navigating through a landscape

The example above shows two paths that objects could be set up to follow. When animated, the car could follow the Car track, and a plane could follow the Flight track.
Learn more about animating the view
Learn more about moving objects

Animate the altering of layer transparency and visibility

You can view information in multiple layers by applying transparency and changing layer visibility as part of the animation.

Altering layer visibility and transparency in an animation

The example above shows the transition between layers of information that can be part of an animation.
Learn more about animating layers

Animate the change in scene properties

You can alter scene properties as part of an animation to create some interesting effects.

Altering scene properties in an animation

The example above shows some of the scene properties that can be altered. By changing the scene's background color (the sky color) and the sun position, you can create the effect of the progression through an entire day. Shadows appear and disappear as the sun's angle changes.

Learn more about animating scene properties

What is an animation?

An animation is a visualization of the changes to the properties of one object (such as a layer) or a set of objects (such as multiple layers). Animations make your documents come alive by storing actions so they can be replayed as you choose. They can help you visualize changes in perspective, changes in the document's properties, geographic movements, and temporal changes. Use animations to understand patterns in data through time and to automate the processes that would be undertaken to demonstrate points that can only be made through visual dynamics.

ArcGIS allows different types of animations to be created in ArcMap, ArcScene, and ArcGlobe. You can

In ArcMap, you might animate temperature values through time, pressure with increasing elevation, population change per county, or the growth of a city. Multiple animations can be played together, so you can have an animation that tracks the eye of a hurricane and displays changes in temperature at the same time. In ArcScene, you might have an animation in which the camera moves through a landscape while a layer draped over a digital elevation model (DEM) shows changes in the surface through time. In ArcGlobe, you might animate ocean temperature change over time or the orbits of satellites.

Learn more about the Animation toolbar
Learn more about animation concepts
Learn more about how to build animations in ArcGIS

Objects and their properties

Objects with properties that can be animated include layers (ArcMap, ArcScene, and ArcGlobe), tables (in a chart in ArcMap), the camera (ArcScene and ArcGlobe), the view (ArcMap), and the scene (ArcScene). There are many different properties associated with these objects that can be animated. You can animate the scene by altering the background color, a layer by applying transparency, or the camera and view by moving to a new location. Animations can be created that change the properties of different objects at the same time such as modeling the earth's rotation and change in lighting at the same time.
Learn more about animation concepts

Tracks and keyframes

To animate the properties of an object in ArcMap, ArcScene, or ArcGlobe, an animation track must be created and bound to the object so that its properties will animate. A track consists of a collection of keyframes. Keyframes are the fundamental building blocks of an animation. Each keyframe is a snapshot of the object's properties at a certain point in the animation such as the amount of transparency applied to a layer or the angle of the camera. Two or more keyframes are required in a track to create an animation that will show change.
You can use the Create Animation Keyframe dialog box to create keyframes for

As well as using the Create Animation Keyframe dialog box, you can create keyframes using other options on the Animation toolbar.
For Camera tracks, you can

For layer tracks, you can

For time layer tracks, you can

Use the Animation Manager to edit tracks and keyframes and to organize how the tracks in an animation interact with each other.

Learn more about animation concepts

Saving, exporting, and sharing animations

An animation can be saved in an application document such as a map document (.mxd); saved as an independent ArcMap (.ama), ArcScene (.asa), or ArcGlobe (.aga) animation file; or exported to an Audio Video Interleaved (.avi) or QuickTime movie (.mov) file. You can share animations by exchanging application documents (.mxd, .sxd, and .3dd), interchanging animation files (.ama, .asa, and .aga files), or distributing video files (.avi and .mov files). Use a shared document with an animation to demonstrate a particular point to colleagues. Independent .ama, .asa, and .aga files can be used as templates for others to build on or as generic animations that can be utilized with various data. Share an .avi or .mov file for picture-perfect, highly detailed animations that can be played in real time to a wide and varied audience when you need to quickly demonstrate a problem that can only be shown dynamically.
Learn more about saving and exporting animations

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