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The Problem With Ease In and Ease Out

What in the convoluted keyframes is “easing in”? Lot’s of new animators have wondered, but in a significantly less dramatic tone.

Understanding the animation principles of “ease in” and “ease out” can be challenging for new students, not due to the technical application, but because of the ambiguity inherent in these terms. The struggle often lies in how one initially interprets the meanings of “ease in” and “ease out,” which can, by no fault of their own, stick their brain in a misunderstanding of the terms. For those who’ve found it difficult to distinguish between the eases, it’s important to recognize that this confusion is normal, which is why I’ll propose an alternative, right here in this very article.

The primary issue with “ease in” and “ease out” is the lack of clear, opposite terms or speed levels that are universally understood. “Ease” is a shorthand term used in animation to imply a gradual change, but it lacks specificity. A more straightforward approach might involve renaming these terms to something more descriptive. For example, “ease” could be used exclusively to describe the slowing into a motion, and, a new term, “settle” for slowing out of a motion.

Thus, instead of “ease in” and “ease out,” we would simply have “ease” and “settle.”

I think this deals with the ambiguity of “in” and “out,” which many new students misunderstand. Are we easing into the next keyframe and out of the previous one? Or the other way around? In reality, “ease in” refers to slowing into the upcoming motion, while “ease out” means settling out of the motion that just occurred. But many beginners misinterpret these terms. A clearer terminology might be “Slow Start” and “Slow End,” or variations like “Fast Start – Slow Settle,” “Fast Start – Fast Settle,” etc. But, I think simply using “Ease” and “Settle” is a simple enough system.

While this isn’t a perfect solution and there is a wealth of tradition and instruction behind the original terms, it’s not necessarily advisable to change them entirely. I’m not actually suggesting a change, but rather recognizing that if you find these terms difficult to remember, you’re not alone. Keep going.

Aaron Robbins' career spans over two decades, marked by roles in both creative and strategic marketing. He has excelled in driving revenue growth, leading rebranding efforts, and pioneering AI-based communication systems. Aaron’s expertise covers a broad spectrum, from managing marketing teams to developing curriculum for digital storytelling. His tenure includes significant contributions as an Executive Producer, Director of Marketing, and Chief Creative Officer. His professional journey is characterized by a unique blend of storytelling prowess, strategic vision, and technical proficiency in cutting-edge media solutions.