Keyframe animation is a common technique to generate animations of deformable characters and other soft bodies. With spline interpolation, however, it can be difficult to achieve secondary motion effects such as plausible dynamics when there are thousands of degrees of freedom to animate. Physical methods can provide more realism with less user effort, but it is challenging to apply them to quickly create specific animations that closely follow prescribed animator goals. We present a fast space-time optimization method to author physically based deformable object simulations that conform to animator-specified keyframes. We demonstrate our method with FEM deformable objects and mass-spring systems. Our method minimizes an objective function that penalizes the sum of keyframe deviations plus the deviation of the trajectory from physics. With existing methods, such minimizations operate in high dimensions, are slow, memory consuming, and prone to local minima. We demonstrate that significant computational speedups and robustness improvements can be achieved if the optimization problem is properly solved in a low-dimensional space. Selecting a low-dimensional space so that the intent of the animator is accommodated, and that at the same time space-time optimization is convergent and fast, is difficult. We present a method that generates a quality low-dimensional space using the given keyframes. It is then possible to find quality solutions to difficult space-time optimization problems robustly and in a manner of minutes.