Animation effects: how to animate objects in Adobe Captivate?

Posted by Greten on 07 Mar 2020 under Tools

Object animation is useful in designing elearning modules. Animation allows you to control the gradual reveal of information, draw the focus of learners to a visual element, demonstrate how some objects or process works, and regulate the interaction with buttons, fields, and other interactive objects.

In Adobe Captivate, your options for animation effects are found under the Timing tab (labeled as TIMING in the user interface). Select Window and enable Timing Properties to see the Timing tab if it is currently not visible.

Captivate logo inside a film.Similar to other entries about Adobe Captivate in this blog, the basis of this post is Adobe Captivate 2019, also called Captivate 11. However, the techniques and methods discussed here are also likely to work on Captivate 2017 or Captivate 10.

Inserting animation to object

When the Timing tab is visible, you can add animation effect in the following steps.

  1. Select the object. You can tell that the object is currently selected when white handlebars surround it, and its timeline bar turns to a darker shade of blue.

A Captivate screen capture shows a part of the timeline and the slide. The selected shape is surrounded by white and yellow handlebars and dashed lines. The timeline bar of this object is of a darker shade of blue compare to other shapes.

  1. Under the Timing tab, there are three sections: Timing, Effects, and Transition. None is highlighted if an object has no animation effect. Click one of the animations that you can see: Alpha, AlphaFromTo, RotateTo, and so on to apply that animation on the object. You may also open the dropdown menu that is currently set to Basic to see more animation effects.

The TIMING tab of Adobe Captivate showing the Timing and Effects sections. Under the Timing sections are the differet icons for different Basic animation effects.

  1. Once the animation is select, a black triangle appears on the right of the object in the Timeline. Click it to see the pink timeline bar that represents the animation. Drag this bar to set what time the animation will take effects. You can also drag the ends of this bar to set the duration of the animation.

A Captivate screen capture in animated GIF format showing how to drag the animation's pink timeline bar to change when it starts and ends without changing the duration, and also how to drag the start and the end to change the duration.

  1. The Effect Start and Effect Duration fields under the Effects section change whenever you drag the pink timeline bar or its end? You can also change the time the animation starts and ends and the length of its duration by clicking these numbers and manually entering another number. The seconds in Effect start is measured from the start of the object's timeline bar and not from time 00:00 of the Timeline.
  1. Configure the animation using the fields and checkboxes that appeared under the selection of animations and above the Effect Start field. These options vary with the kind of animation selected.
  2. Preview the slide by pressing F3 or by selecting Preview ยป Play Slide. Observe that the object animates during the time that the play bar is passing through the pink timeline bar.
    • The animation starts when the play bar touches the left end of the pink timeline bar and ends when it reaches the right end.
    • The longer is the pink timeline bar, the slower is the animation.

An animated GIF showing a screen capture of a slide with a shape on it, as well as the blue timeline bar of the shape, with a pink timeline bar underneath. When the play bar starts running, the shape rotates as the play bar passes through the pink timeline bar and stops when the play bar is no longer on the pink bar.

  1. Do more adjustments using the pink timeline bar and the options under the Timing tab if you haven't gotten the animation that you want.

Kinds of animation effects

In the Effects section, there are five kinds of animations that you can select from the dropdown.

Basic

Basic animations include animation effects that change a characteristic of the object at the end of the animation. There are eight animation effects under basic animations. Four of them are Alpha, Rotation, Scale, and Skew, which change the transparency, orientation, size, and slant of the object, respectively. These four changes the object the moment the play bar hits the pink timeline bar of the animation, like a switch, and is not affected by length of the pink timeline bar.

The four other similarly names AlphaFromTo, RotateTo, ScaleTo, and SkewTo also change the transparency, orientation, size, and slant of the object, respectively, but gradually. The object reaches its final state at the end of the pink timeline bar. Meaning, the longer is the timeline bar, the more gradual is the change.

Emphasis

Emphasis effects are for drawing the attention momentarily to an object.

In most emphasis animation effects, the state of the object is the same before and after the animation. For example, DropIn And Bounce may make some motion, but at the end of the animation, the object returns to its original position.

The exemptions to this are Free Fall and Grow Turn. Free Fall removes the object from the slide while Grow Turn retains the change in size and orientation.

Entrance

Entrance animations are intended to animate the appearance of an object on the slide. Many of these animations involve an increase in size or opacity, or the object moving in from outside the slide.

These animations are useful in progressive disclosure techniques, where you gradually reveal text and objects as the lesson progress. However, you can use these animations even when the object is already on the slide.

For example, you can have all the icons or illustrations appear in smaller forms at the beginning of the slide. Then, have one of them increase in size as the narration discusses it in detail. By default, the animation starts at the same time as the object; the pink timeline bar's start aligns with the start of the object's timeline bar, but you can drag it if you want the animation to start later than the object.

Exit

Exit animations herald the exit of objects from the slide. Many of these animations involve a decrease in size or opacity, or the object moving to outside of the slide.

These animations are useful in removing the focus on the object, either by removing the object from the slide or keeping it there but in a less prominent state, for example, making it smaller.

By default, the animation starts at the same time as the slide, so drag the pink timeline bar until the end of the animation coincides with the end of the object in the Timeline. You can also drag the pink timeline bar somewhere in the middle of the object's timeline bar if you are trying to go for a decrease in prominence.

Motion Path

The Motion Path allows you to animate the motion of an object within the slide. A motion path is represented by a green arrow at the start and a red square at the end. The object moves from the green arrow to the red square.

Some of the Entrance and Exit animations come with motion paths, such as those animations in which the object enters or exits by moving across the slide. However, you have more options in the Motion Path animations, such as selecting the shape of the path: Circle, Loop, Pentagon, Rectangle, or draw a random path.

I will cover the different animations under Basic, Emphasis, Entrance, Exit, and Motion Path, as well as the configurations that you can do to them in some of my future posts. For now, I recommend you open your Adobe Captivate and familiarize yourself with them.

Multiple animations

A single object can have two or more animations. A frequently-used combination of animations is that of objects appearing and disappearing within the period of a slide. The Entrance animation is aligned with the start of the object's timeline bar, while the Exit is aligned with its end.

Screen capture of Captivate with the slide and timeline both visible. The shape enters by spiraling and exits by decreasing its size to none. Two pink timeline bars represent the entrance and the exit, and they are aligned with the start and the end of the object's timeline bar, respectively.

Combined animation effects

You can also have two animations taking effect at the same time. All you need to do is to drag their pink timeline bars so they can happen at the same time.

Observe the sample animation below. The pink timeline bars are slightly off. Notice that when the play bar passes through one pink bar at the start, the figure's size is increasing. In the middle, when the play bar is passing through two pink bars, the figure's size is increasing while also rotating. Towards the end, when the play bar is passing through the other pink bar only, the figure is rotating, but its size remains constant.

Screen capture of Captivate with the slide and timeline both visible. Two pink timeline bars representing two different animation effects have sections where they take effect at the same time. As the playbar passes through the pink bars, the shape animates as described in the previous paragraph.

Adding more animation effects

If you select an object that already has animation, its existing animation is highlighted while the rest are grayed-out, meaning, you cannot select them. To add the second animation, select the plus icon (encircled in red).

A screen capture of Captivate showing the Effects section otf the Timing tab, while an object with existing animation RotateTo is selected. Only the RotateTo icon is prominent while the rest are grayed-out. The blue plus sign is encircled in red.

The animations will no longer be grayed-out. Select the second animation in the manner similar to the steps explained in the first section of this article. Repeat the process to add the third and so on animations if you need.

Removing an animation effect

There are two ways you can remove an animation effect, using the Timeline and using the Timing tab.

Removing an animation effect through the Timeline

  1. In the Timeline, click the small black rectangle on the left of the timeline bar of the object with animation that you want to delete; this makes the pink timeline bar of the animation visible.
  2. Select the pink timeline bar of the animation that you want to remove. The selected animation timeline bar turns to a darker shade of pink.
  3. Press the Delete button on your keyboard.
  4. A prompt asks you if you really want to delete the effect. Select Yes.

Removing an animation effect through the Timing tab

  1. Select the object that has the animation that you want to delete.
  2. Go to the Timing tab. Notice that in the Effects section, the current animation is highlighted while the rest is grayed-out. If the object has more than one animation and the one you intend to delete is not highlighted, open the Applied Effects List dropdown menu and select the animation that you want to delete.
  3. Click the trash bin icon on the right of the Applied Effects List dropdown menu.
  4. A prompt asks you if you really want to delete the effect. Select Yes.

You can repeat either of these steps if the object has several animation effects, and you want to remove more. In my experience, the Timeline method is faster.

Disabling an animation effect

You can also disable an animation effect. Disabling means an animation is still in your Captivate file, but it will not be visible when the module plays. Unlike the Show/Hide of objects and slides, the disabled animation remains disabled even in the Project and HTML5 previews as well in the published lesson. You can use this if an object has several animations, and you want to test how it looks like if only one of them is in effect so you can decide later if you want to keep or delete the disabled animation.

To disable an animation:

  1. Select the pink timeline bar that corresponds to the animation that you want to disable. You can also select it from the Applied Effects List dropdown menu in the Effects section of the Timing tab.
  2. On the right of the Applied Effects List dropdown menu, select the disable icon (a red circle with a slash).
  3. The disable icon grays out, and the word "(Disabled)" appears on the right of the name of the effect in the Applied Effects List dropdown menu. The pink timeline bar also has "(Disabled)", but you might not see it if the timeline bar is too short.

To enable the animation again, select the disabled animation. Then, click on the grayed-out disable icon.

In this entry, I covered how to add an animation effect, adjust an animation effect, and several animation effects to a slide object in Adobe Captivate. I also discussed how to delete and disable animations.

For some of my future posts, I will discuss how to add animations to a group of objects, the details of each kind of animations (Basic, Emphasis, Entrance, Exit, Motion Path), and the common Captivate bugs that involve animation effects.

Last updated on 11 Jun 2020.

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