I’m not sure if you use scripts in your day to day workflow, whether in After Effects, Cinema4D, or what ever application you choose to abuse. I recently asked a question on Twitter to find out which After Effects scripts were the favourites of my followers. I use a few scripts all the time and knew that my selection was limited. Rather than spend hours searching online for possible gems, I thought it would be far more prudent to ask for recommendations. I also thought that it would make an interesting and informative post for everyone who visits helloluxx.
After 24 hours of replies, I compiled all the answers and have posted the list below. I’m sure this is far from complete, so please add your own recommendations in the comments. There are a few places that offer expressions, scripts and the like, for After Effects.
Here are a few to get you going…..
For those of you that would like to get your hands dirty and learn the art of scripting. Lloyd Alvarez offers a course over at FXPHD which is an introduction to scripting. They also have a Python for Compositors course which looks great, especially for those of you that use Nuke.
Anyway enough of all this chatter, on with the AE Scripts. I’ve literally copied and pasted the description for these scripts from the relevant sites. So it is not my review, but merely a reference for you all to use (in no particular order).
If using only the Selected Layers in Comp (i.e., not all layers), the selected layers are moved to the top of the comp as part of the sorting process. If sorting by Layer Name, layers that have not been renamed (i.e., their names appear enclosed in brackets), the brackets will sort those layers before renamed layers.
BG Renderer is a script that allows you to render your Render Queue items in the background while you can continue working in After Effects. It runs as a dockable panel that is saved as part of your workspace.
BG Renderer now comes in 2 flavors: Basic and Pro.
- With the all new basic version you can just render your queue in the background. We completely re-programmed how it works so that it is simple and easy and works every time.
- If you need options, then the Pro version is what you want. Besides being able to set prefs for the render, the pro version offer the very powerful post render actions which allow you to get growl notifications, send email (with log), send sms and even iPhone push notifications when your renders are done or you have an error. You can also send a terminal command to be executed after each item in the queue is done rendering and put the machine to sleep or shut it down. If you are using CS3 or CS4 and have CS5 installed, you can send your CS3 or CS4 render to the CS5 render engine to take advantage of the new 64-bit goodness while keeping your work project in the older version. Finally there is a new portable app/folder feature that makes it easy to create an ad-hoc render farm quickly by simply copying this portable app to all the machines on your network and just double-clicking it to launch the render on that machine.
Due to the huge amount of work that was required to bring version 2.0 to life we made the tough decision to make this version a licensed only version. However, we feel strongly that you get a whole lot of value for the price. You can upgrade from the basic to the pro version at any time by purchasing a basic to pro upgrade license. We also have not forgotten about all of you who were generous with the “Name Your Own Price” concept so please read the following upgrade notice.
Upgrade notice: For users who purchased BG Renderer between Jan 1, 2010 & Jan 11, 2011 when it was ‘Name Your Own Price’ we will give you a discount code equal to 100% of the amount you spent (if you bought it more than once, the values will add up). For all other users, no matter when you bought it, we will give you a discount code worth 50% of what you spent. To request a discount code please submit the email address you used for your original purchase here. (If you purchased a Basic license after Jan 11, 2011 and want to upgrade, then buy a Basic to Pro upgrade license above.)
3D Extruder is a script that makes light work of creating high-quality 3D extrusions in After Effects, using the time-honored method of stacking 2.5D layers (all automatically of course). The benefit of this is your 3D extrusions are part of your real After Effects 3D space so they interact properly with other 3D layers.
To build 3D extrudes using a standard After Effects precomposition structure, making it familiar and intuitive for After Effects users to go into and customize.
Traditionally, extrudes created by stacking 2.5D layers have been rather cumbersome to work with. 3D Extruder deals with this by having a built in “edit mode” which temporarily simplifies the structure at the flick of a switch. Used in combination with draft 3D it means that you can often scrub back and forth on the time-line in real-time or near real-time, leaving you free to worry about getting that animation just perfect.
3D Extruder makes a highly convincing 3D extrude, emulating specular highlights, shading and reflection that respond dynamically to a controller light and reflector. Move or rotate your extrude and the shading and reflection change appropriately. Similarly, moving the light or reflector will cause the shading, specular highlights and reflection to respond too.
3D Extruder has 10 presets that create great results at the click of a switch. With a bit of extra customization, you can create results that it’s hard to believe came out of After Effects.
3D Extruder is not just for creating one 3D extrude. It also contains tools to make your life easier while working on projects. You can save and manage your own presets using the pop up preset box and the Current to UI tool. “Duplicate” allows you to make new versions of your extruder and even copy extrusions to other comps. “Center Reflection” will save you lots of time lining up camera, reflector and extrude and “Fix Expressions” is there to put things right if something goes awry in the engine room.
All told, 3D Extruder makes 3D extrusion quick to set up and easy to work with, while adding a level of detail that takes 3D extrusion to a whole new level.
This script allows you to reposition the anchor point of the selected layers around the layer edges while keeping the layers at the same position in the comp window.
Note: The download includes two archives. Version 2.5 is compatible with CS3 and version 3.1 which is compatible with CS4 and above.
This script places the masks of the selected layer on individual layers. For each mask the script will duplicate the selected layer and keep only one mask. For each new layer, you can specify the blending mode, and you can choose to move the anchor point to the mask center.
When you copy a mask from one layer to another it often changes its position. With CopyMask2Layer you can copy masks while keeping them perfectly in place – even if the layers are moving and if the mask path is keyframed.
This script gives the ability to make your own custom toolbar with Effects, presets or any commands you use the most often.
Toolbar’s features :
* Edit UI : add, delete, order, config buttons of your toolbar.
* 5 kind of buttons:
- EFFECT : set the name of the effect you want to use (See usage details below).
- ANIMATION PRESET : select an animation preset file (ffx) to apply.
- SCRIPT LAUNCHER : select an script file (.jsx or .jsxbin) to launch.
- MENU : set the exact name of any menu item you want to call. For example : Time-Reverse Keyframes.
- OS : Any Operating System command you can run into your terminal can be set here. For example calc (on Windows) or open -a Calculator (on Mac) would start the calculator.
Get Effect Name : The EFFECT mode requires the effect matchname. If you don’t know or are not sure about the effect matchname, apply the effect on a layer, select it, and click on this button. It will set the ‘MatchName’ for you. Matchname ares unique name that AE uses to identify specific effects even if they have the same name.
* Buttons Icon : You can assign a custom image icon to each button. You can create your own icons or download a free icon pack below. All icons will be downloaded and saved into the config file. When you export the config file (xml) for use on another machine all the icons will be included so no need to keep the .png files. The buttons size can be set to any size you like, but it is a good idea for it to match the size of your icons.
* Import/Export : you can import and export the config file to set the same configuration on several computer or for making backups
* Configuration file path (xml) : you can set the path of the saved config file (xml) anywhere you want. (ie. to a dropbox folder to keep all your computer sync with the same config). The config file will include encoded versions of any custom icons.
The Expression Toolbox was created to help take the pain out of using and locating expressions. At some point you’ve probably come across an expression that you find yourself using on every other project you work on. The question is where do you store this expression? I noticed that a lot of people were storing their expressions in text files, without documentation of how they were used or where it could be found. Without knowing who created the expression or how to use it, you’re left waiting on an answer from a mailing list or web forum on how to properly apply it.
Enter the Expression Toolbox :
The Toolbox is a centralized location for you to store commonly used expressions, as well as making it easy to apply and retrofit to the comp you’re currently working on. You can group expressions that require multiple properties and controls to be enabled.
A Few Features :
- Grouping (assign a group ‘name’ – or select an existing one at any time to view all of expressions in the group only at the same time)
- Retrofitting ( this will pull layer names out of the expression, and allow you to select from a list generated from the current comp, which layer SHOULD be referenced)
- Auto generation of layer effects ( based on expression code; Sliders, radio buttons, angles, points, etc.. will be generated automatically if they are referenced in the expression you are using, this is optional of course )
- Sort by expression name, author and date ( these are created as expressions are entered into the library )
- Expression Editing ( go back and edit author name, expression name, description – usage information, or the expression itself at any time )
- Ability to apply current expression to the currently selected property of any layer.
- Distributable ( the library file names and content is entirely up to you, and they are lightweight and transferable to others)
- Merging of libraries ( you are able to import libraries from others and consolidate them into one “main” library if you wish )
So go ahead and give the Expression Toolbox a try, and see how easy it can be to organize your expression collection without having to dig through text files or forum posts to find your expressions.
Sharing expressions on a global scale :
The next step for the Expression Toolbox will be an online entry system that will allow you to enter your expressions to a global web driven database that anybody can access. You will then be able to download the most recent version of this database directly from the script. This will be in the next big release of the Toolbox.
For user support or feature requests for the Toolbox, please visit: http://support.croedesign.com
The “Get-Sh*t-Done” Palette helps speeding up the workflow and lets you work more intuitive with Adobe After Effects. The basic idea is to compress a sequence of frequently performed steps into one single step.
If you want to add trapcode particular to a composition you usually right click to add a new solid. Then right click on the new layer, go to effects, go to trapcode and finally select particular. Plus, if you feel tidy you rename the solid to particular. With the “Get Sh*t Done” Palette you just select particular from the trapcode dropdown menu and all is set up and good to go.
- With the script the following tasks can be done as one click operations:
- create corner pin
- create CC power pin
- create Red Giant Warp corner pin (Red Giant Warp plugin required)
- create AE trackpoints from Mocha track
- stabilize footage
- move layers according to track
- create a precomp in which the footage is stabilized (and even undistorted) while maintaining the movement in the original composition. All changes you make in the precomp occur automatically also in the original composition (appropriately moved)
MochaImport works with all versions of Mocha including MochaPro.
This is a Pixel Bender plugin that allows for quick and easy lens distortion correction or effects including chromatic aberration.
When working on tracking or composition CG elements with shot footage, you usually have to deal with lens distortion. At first you would undistort your footage in your matchmove or compositing package, then track it, render your CG and make sure to apply the same distortion to your CG so it will look and match perfectly! While this methos workd, it makes you go back and forth with your different applications to undistort, distort again and so on!
ft-Cubic Lens Distortion let you manage all those distortion steps in one place: After Effects. It is based on the Syntheyes cubic lens distortion algorithm! You will be able to un-distort your live footage, and distort your CG renders without going back to Syntheyes (or any other app you are using for lens distortion)!
On top of that, you will be able to apply finishing effects like chromatic aberration to your final composition.
Creates a complete duplicate of a comp hierarchy including sub-comps. If a comp is used multiple times, the comp only gets duplicated once and all remaining references point to the first duplicate. If the comps are arranged in a special folder hierarchy in the project panel, that folder hierarchy is preserved or duplicated (depending on user preference) for the duplicated comps.
New in version 2.0:
- Added dockable UI.
- Added suffix or search and replace new comp name.
- Maintain hierarchy and arrange into new folder option.
- Non-english AE support.
- Blessed for CS5.
This script provides a tool box for visualizing positional data. Initially it was designed for manipulating tracking data, like averaging multiple trackers to get a better one, or visualizing trackers as little solids for better control. Now the script offers many more features. They are detailed in the user interface (via tool tips or help buttons). You can work with path, and (for instance) can create a new tracker from path vertices, and reversely you can create a new path based on an analyzed track. What works with trackers also works with layers, by considering layers position instead of trackers attach points.Data can come from layers position data, from tracking data or from path data.
Details on each function are given below. Note that some tool tips also provide information.
Creates a new solid layer at the center of the selected layers (or track points).
Position & Rotation:
Creates a new solid layer at the first selected layer (or track point) position, and rotates it towards the second selected layer (or track point).
Position & Scale:
Creates a new solid layer at the first selected layer (or track point) position, and scales it so that its size matches the distance between the two selected layers (or track points).
Position & Rotation & Scale:
Creates a new solid layer at the first selected layer (or track point) position, rotates it towards the second selected layer (or track point) and scales it so that its size matches the distance between the two selected layers (or track points).
Creates a new layer that combines the selected layer (or track point) position with the position of its parent layer.
Creates a new comp-sized solid with the Corner Pin effect applied to it. The four corners are linked to the position of the four selected layers (or track points) (in the following order: UpperLeft-UpperRight-LowerLeft-LowerRight).
CC Power Pin:
Same as above except that the CC Power Pin effect is used instead of the Corner Pin effect.
Shape To Tracker:
Associates each vertex of the selected mask path with a new track point.
Shape To Layers:
Creates a new solid at each vertex of the selected mask path (the mask path can be animated).
Track Points To Shape:
Transforms the selected track points into an animated mask path.
Layers To Shape:
Creates a new mask path for which the vertices are linked to the position of the selected layers.
sParticular is a script for After Effects that helps you with 3D integration when using Trapcode Particular.
If you apply particular on a layer, you will see that the particles are 3D aware if you have a camera. But if you have layers in your 3D space, the particles won’t intersect with them. Particles are always “in front of” the 3D layers that are below the particules layer in the layer stack.
Particular has a visibility option, where you can set a range where your particules are visible or not, let’s say from 0px to 200px in Z space from the camera.
What the script does is sort your layers in your comp so that the 3D layers stack on the composition regarding to their Z position, and then duplicates your particle layer between every 3D layers. All thoses instances have their visibility option expressioned to fill the Z range between the front and behind 3D object. Like that your particles are intersecting properly with your layers.
It’s not a true intersection, it rather an automation of a workaround, but it works great. Plus there are some options if you want to update your particle layer so that every instance get updated too.
Supports Particular from v1.5 and above (including Particular 64bit update for CS5), and works fine with multiple Particular effects on the same layer.
Immigration turns the pain usually associated with importing and batch replacing files in After Effects a joy. While browsing for import, it shows file sequences as one line item instead of a long list of files. Immigration uses a custom algorithm to scan the file system at speeds dramatically faster than even the OS can. In our testing a server folder with 30,000 files that takes over 5 minutes to open in the finder opens in 12 seconds in Immigration (and that includes file-sequence detection!). If you frequently find yourself waiting for the OS to open folders then you will love Immigration.
You can then select more than one file or sequence and either import them all at once or batch replace files already in your project. You can easily assign a frame rate to all imported files at once. Immigrations’ Auto-Match Replace™ algorithm will automatically match files with similar names so you don’t have to. It shows you a preview so you can make sure the matches are what you want. It color codes the match depending on how close it is. This is convenient if you name your revised files with a new version number or date.
If your files are already neatly organized in folders, Immigration will duplicate and maintain the folder hierarchy within the After Effects project.
You can customize Immigration to only search for certain file extensions, and file age. So for example you can tell Immigration to only display .exr files that are less than an hour old. You can also tell it to include or ignore folder by name so if you would like it to ignore a folder in your hierarchy (an archives folder for example) you can do that easily.
These scripts export data from After Effects to Cinema 4D. AEtoC4D exports AE cameras, nulls with the position and rotation of other layers, the comp frame rate, duration and start frame. Requires AE 7.0 and C4D R9.6, or greater.
Announcing Ease and Wizz 2.0 — now with Curvaceous!
This new version lets you apply the expressions to curved motion paths and mask shapes.
Ease and Wizz is a set of expressions for After Effects that give you more ways to interpolate between values. The obvious use is in motion, but they can be used on animated properties of any kind. They’re applied with an After Effects-ish palette that can be docked, so it’s very easy to use.
A while back, Flash guru Robert Penner created a suite of extremely useful easing equations that have been used to build thousands of websites worldwide. I’ve adapted these equations to work as expressions in After Effects (for an introduction to After Effects expressions, check out Dan Ebberts’ excellent site).
One advantage of using an expression for easing is that the keyframes are editable. You can drag objects in the comp viewer, or move keyframes in the timeline, and the easing will be updated immediately.