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Actions

Actions

When animating objects and properties in blender, Actions record and contain the data.
Actions.
So when you animate an object by changing its location with keyframes, the animation is saved to the Action.
Each property has a channel which it is recorded to, for example, Cube.location.x is recorded to Channel X Location.

Each channel has an F-Curve with a set of keyframes.

Graph Editor. Each Channel has an F-Curve which are the smooth lines. Keyframes are the control points.
Actions
Record and contain animation data.
Groups
Are groups of channels.
Channels
Record properties.
F-Curves
Make the keyframes smooth with interpolation.
Keyframes
Are used to set the values of properties.
Actions.

When you first animate an object, by adding keyframes, blender creates an Action to record the data. New actions can be created, and you can use and change the action in the Dope Sheet - Action Editor, or the NLA Editor.

If you are using multiple actions for the same object, press the F button for each Unlinked Action, this will give the actions a Fake User and will prevent blender from deleting the actions.

To delete the previous and create a new empty action, unlink the action by pressing the X button, then add some new keyframes to create a new action. Blender wont save the unlinked actions.

To keep the previous and create a new empty action, press the F then unlink by pressing the X button, then add some new keyframes to create a new action.

To keep the previous and duplicate the action, press the F then press the + button.

You can Bake Actions, by selecting the object, pressing Space Bar, then typing 'Bake Action', then pressing the 'Bake Action' operator. This will Bake the animation to a new Action. For more info see Python 2.69.1 Bake Action.


Channels

Graph Editor: Channel F-Curve.

Channels use time to control the values of properties.

Using a F-Curve with Keyframes, the channel reads the time frame and sets the value of the property.

So from this example, if the time frame is 2.0 the property will be 0.5.

Most the settings for the F-Curve are found in the Graph Editor.


Basic Animation

Here are some common ways to animate objects by adding keyframes to channels.
These methods can be used on different objects, like armature bones in pose mode.

Insert Keyframe

Add keyframe to Cube.
Keyframes in the Timeline.
In the Timeline Editor, move the green frame cursor to 0, by pressing or holding LMB Template-LMB.png.
With a Mesh Object selected in Object Mode, and the frame set in the Timeline. In the 3D View Tools press the 'Insert Keyframe' button, or press I in the 3D View to bring up the 'Insert Keyframe Menu'.
Select 'Location', this will record the location of the Mesh Object on the frame the Timeline cursor is set.
The first time you do this, this will add an action to the object, with the Location group, the X, Y, Z channels, and this will add a keyframe to each channel.
Set the Timeline cursor to a different frame, move the Mesh Object, then insert another keyframe.
This will now add another set of keyframes to the location channels.
The keyframes are displayed in yellow on the Timeline. Move the Timeline cursor to test the animation.

Keying Sets

Timeline Keying Sets.
Keying Sets are a set of keyframe channels in one. They are made to record multiple properties at the same time. There are some built in keying sets, 'LocRotScale', and also custom keying sets.
Use the keying set menu in the Timeline editor, to select a keying set. Now when you insert a keyframe, blender will add keyframes to all the channels in the selected keying set.
See Timeline for more info.
See Keying Sets for more info.

Auto Keyframe

Timeline Auto Keyframe.
Auto Keyframe is the red record button.
Auto Keyframe adds keyframes automatically to the set frame after setting a new value for property.
See Timeline for more info.

Properties

Keyframe properties.
Keyframes can be used to animate lots of properties in blender.
To add keyframes to a property on the UI, RMB Template-RMB.png the property, then select Insert Single Keyframe, or Insert Keyframes.
Insert Keyframes will add a keyframes to the set of properties.

Keyboard

The keyboard can also be used to add keyframes.
I: Insert keyframe to the set frame.
Alt+i: Remove keyframe from the set frame.
Alt+shift+i: Remove all keyframes from the UI property.