Extending Frames in After Effects

After Effects excels at manipulating time, not just for entire clips or compositions, but for individual frames as well. Extending a frame allows you to hold a specific moment for a longer duration, creating visual emphasis or introducing opportunities for creative effects. This in-depth guide explores various techniques for extending frames in After Effects, catering to diverse scenarios and desired outcomes.

Understanding Frame Extension:

Before diving into specific methods, it's crucial to grasp the concept of frame extension:

  • Frame: A single image that makes up a video sequence. Extending a frame essentially holds that image on screen for a longer duration than its original playback speed.

The Hold Keyframe: A Simple Approach

The most straightforward method for extending a frame involves utilizing the hold keyframe. Here's how to achieve this:

  1. Navigate to Timeline: Locate the layer containing the frame you want to extend in the timeline panel.
  2. Scrub to Desired Frame: Use the playhead or timeline scrubber to locate the specific frame you want to extend.
  3. Activate the Keyframe Panel: Click on the "Keyframe" tab in the Timeline panel to open the keyframe editor.
  4. Hold Keyframe Button: Locate the "Hold" keyframe button, typically represented by a square icon with diagonal lines inside.
  5. Click and Drag: Click on the "Hold" keyframe button and drag it to the right, placing it on the next frame or further along the timeline depending on how long you want to extend the frame.


  • Simple and Intuitive: This method is easy to learn and implement, ideal for beginners or quick adjustments.
  • Non-Destructive: Using hold keyframes doesn't alter the original footage itself, allowing for flexibility in future edits.


  • Limited Control: This method doesn't offer precise control over the exact duration of the extended frame.

The Time Remapping Tool: Fine-Tuning Frame Duration

For more control over the extended frame duration, leverage the Time Remapping tool. Here's the process:

  1. Activate Time Remapping: Right-click on the layer containing the target frame in the timeline and select "Time Remapping."
  2. Set Markers: Within the Time Remapping panel, click on the stopwatch icon at the beginning and end of the frame you want to extend, setting markers for the desired duration.
  3. Adjust Speed: In the Time Remapping panel, locate the "Speed" graph. Click and drag the point at the target frame location upwards to stretch the time and extend the frame duration.


  • Precise Control: This method allows you to define the exact duration of the extended frame in frames or timecode format.
  • Visual Representation: The Time Remapping graph provides a visual representation of the speed adjustments, offering clear feedback on the extension process.


  • Slightly More Complex: Compared to hold keyframes, this method requires additional steps and navigating a dedicated panel.

Advanced Techniques for Creative Applications

After Effects offers more sophisticated methods for extending frames, opening doors for creative exploration:

  • Expressions: Utilize expressions to dynamically link the extended frame duration to other parameters within your composition, creating more complex timing effects.
  • Frame Blending: Combine frame extension with frame blending techniques to create smooth transitions between the extended frame and surrounding frames.

Choosing the Right Method:

The optimal approach for extending a frame depends on your specific needs. Consider these factors when making your choice:

  • Desired Duration: How long do you need to extend the frame for?
  • Precision Requirements: Do you require frame-by-frame accuracy or a general extension?
  • Project Complexity: Are you working with a simple composition or a more intricate project?
  • Creative Intent: Are you aiming for a simple hold or a more nuanced effect with the extended frame?

By understanding these methods and the situations they best suit, you can confidently extend frames in After Effects, enriching your motion graphics projects with deliberate pauses and impactful moments.

Additional Tips:

  • Storyboard Planning: Create a storyboard or timeline sketch beforehand to visualize where you want to extend frames and for how long.
  • Audio Considerations: If your composition has audio, consider how extending frames might impact the audio playback. You might need to adjust audio timing or add sound effects to maintain a cohesive experience.
  • Experimentation: Experiment with different frame extension techniques and explore their creative potential. Try combining them with other animation effects for unique visual flourishes.

By mastering frame extension techniques in After Effects, you unlock a creative tool for manipulating time on a micro-level. Remember, the best approach depends on the specifics of your project and creative vision. Experiment, explore, and refine your workflow to achieve visually compelling results that elevate your storytelling and animation capabilities.

This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge and strategies to confidently extend frames in After Effects. With practice and a keen eye for detail, you'll transform your ability to manipulate time on a granular level, breathing life into your motion graphics projects with impactful and visually engaging moments.

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