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Getting Started: GSAP Animations triggered by ScrollMagic

| PointC

Note: This page was created before ScrollTrigger was released. We highly recommend using ScrollTrigger instead of ScrollMagic.

This is a guest post from one of our top moderators, Craig Roblewsky (known as PointC), whose "zero-to-hero" story became one of the most popular posts in the forums. His animation skills are also showcased in the "What is GSAP?" video on our home page which he created. He certainly has a knack for helping people understand challenging concepts in a concise way, as you'll see below.


ScrollMagic is not a GreenSock product nor is it officially supported here, but GSAP and ScrollMagic work well together, so many questions about it are asked on the GreenSock forums. This article will not be an extensive guide to using ScrollMagic or GSAP, but rather a quick primer to using GSAP and ScrollMagic together.


There are eight demos which can be forked as a starting point for your projects. They represent the most common types of scroll triggered animations. It is assumed that you understand the basics of GSAP and ScrollMagic. I won’t be going into detail about the code in each demo, but simply highlighting the most important aspect of each one. I’ve made them with just a few <divs> or <sections> so they’ll be easy to understand and/or reverse engineer.


The first thing to know is which scripts are necessary. For starters, you’ll need the GSAP files. I recommend TweenMax.

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/gsap/2.1.3/TweenMax.min.js"></script>

Using ScrollMagic requires the main script.

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/ScrollMagic/2.0.7/ScrollMagic.min.js"></script>

To allow ScrollMagic to take control of your tweens, you will also need the GSAP plugin.

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/ScrollMagic/2.0.7/plugins/animation.gsap.min.js"></script>

Finally, for debugging purposes, I highly recommend the addIndicators plugin.

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/ScrollMagic/2.0.7/plugins/debug.addIndicators.min.js"></script>

Please note: it is important to load TweenMax before loading the animation.gsap script. If you try to use the setTween() method and do not have the animation.gsap script loaded, you will see an error in the console. The following demo is an empty shell which loads all the above scripts and jQuery.

Demo 1: GSAP, ScrollMagic and jQuery Empty Starter


You have two choices when using GSAP tweens with ScrollMagic. You can either use the actual tween duration which then plays the animation at normal speed when you hit the trigger or you can allow ScrollMagic to hijack the duration and the tween will be played as you scroll. To use the actual tween duration, you simply omit the duration from the scene parameters.

Demo 2: GSAP and ScrollMagic w/tween duration

  If you'd like the animation to play as the user scrolls, you can add a duration in pixels or percentage to the scene parameters. This is the same demo, but the scene duration is now set to 50%. When hijacking the duration, I’d recommend changing the default ease to Linear.easeNone.

Demo 3: GSAP and ScrollMagic w/scene duration

Looping to create scenes

A common question many users have is how to create the same animation for multiple elements without manually creating a tween and scene for each one. The easy approach in these situations is to use a jQuery each() loop. If you aren’t using jQuery, a vanilla JS loop can be used too.

Demo 4: GSAP and ScrollMagic jQuery each() loop

See the Pen Looping to create scenes by PointC (@PointC) on CodePen.


Another common animation is pinning an element, playing a tween or timeline and then unpinning. The biggest thing to remember is create a parent container for the actual pinned section. The animation then plays inside that element while it’s pinned. Quite often users will try to pin the sections that are animating and that will not give you the desired results.

Demo 5: GSAP and ScrollMagic Pinning

See the Pen GSAP and ScrollMagic Pinning by PointC (@PointC) on CodePen.

Horizontal Scrolling

This can be achieved by animating the xPercent of a parent element containing the sections in your series of slides. Note the duration is 100% * the number of (panels -1). This example has five slides so the duration is set to 400% and each panel move is 20%. This timeline is manually created but could also be created in a loop. Also note the sections themselves are not animating here. The parent container is the only element that is moving.

Demo 6: GSAP and ScrollMagic Horizontal Scrolling

Horizontal Pinning

A similar effect to horizontal scrolling is a horizontal pinning. Here we have a main pin scene to hold the parent element in a pinned position. Again, the duration is 100% * the number of (panels -1). In this case that is 500%. The first loop creates an animation for each section to move into place with xPercent:100. Using the position parameter offsets each section by an additional second. That space allows the individual animations to play. This first timeline plays in the main scene with the setPin(). The jQuery each() loop creates a simple SplitText animation for each section. Notice the trigger element is always the #pinMaster div. The trick is adding an offset for each section. The index of the loop is used to multiply by the offset variable which in this case is set to window.innerHeight. Learn more about the SplitText plugin.

Demo 7: GSAP and ScrollMagic Horizontal Pin, Tweens and jQuery Loop

Scroll w/Parallax

Finally, it is possible to achieve a neat little parallax effect as you scroll. In the following demo I’ve used a wrapper class with a child and parent div for illustration purposes. Setting the child element to the right and bottom of the parent allows for animating the div up slightly as the user scrolls. The duration in this case is set to 100% but you can certainly set that to your liking.

Demo 8: GSAP and Parallax ScrollMagic

See the Pen GSAP and Parallax ScrollMagic by PointC (@PointC) on CodePen.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, ScrollMagic is not a GreenSock product nor is it officially supported here on the GreenSock website or forum. But the GreenSock community likes to help everyone so hopefully the demos will serve as a springboard for your scroll triggered projects and a learning resource as you start using GSAP with ScrollMagic. You can also view the entire demo collection here. New to GSAP? Check out the Getting Started Guide. Got questions? Head over to the GreenSock forums where there's a fantastic community of animators. Need additional details about ScrollMagic? Check out the ScrollMagic docs.

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