Scripts within After FX are third-party add-on plugins written by various artists that aid in your workflow. Often scripts are overlooked because they require separate installation and an understanding of how they work, but they are worth it. Some scripts include an interface that gives you the steps required to make them work, others open a window with a min, max option and that is all or some just automate a process in the background. Yet do not be afraid of their lack of visual elegance or explanation because they are far more powerful than you may think.
There are literally hundreds of scripts out there. Thus I wanted to share a couple of scripts with you that have become vital tools when creating motion graphics. Before I get started, I do want to make sure it’s known that most of these scripts cost money– yet, they are worth far more than their price. I am recommending these to help you improve the quality of your work and save you some time in the process.
- The first script is called Lines Creator written by Tihomir Trifonov. This script allows you to connect nulls, text, solids, pretty much anything to each other with a line. It automatically creates a new solid as the line (the menu gives you an option to make the solid in 3D) and then writes all the expressions for that “solid line” so that it is parented to the appropriate layers. I recently used this script on a project that required Plexus (written by Rowbyte), but the clients wanted some very distinct, prominent line connections between certain layers. So I used this script to connect an invisible Text Layer (1, 2, 3, etc.) so that I could animate those connections independent of Plexus. Really powerful and better yet, you can use it to connect a bunch of nulls together and then use brainstorm to create quick and unique fractal fields where you can control individual points independent from one another or if you need to track a line into some footage.
- By now I am sure the secret is out about Ease and Wizz written by Ian Haig. Ease and Wizz does exactly what it sounds like adds ease and wizzing to your keyframes. It has several options including bounce, back, elastic, and then standard easing settings. I use this on virtually every single animation as it makes all the difference in the world compared to just selecting Ease In or Out.
- Video Copilot’s Element is a great plugin. Harry Frank made a great script to go along with Element. It simply connects Group 1 of Element to a null allowing you to do all your animation with the null. You can then use handles to aid in your animation. Harry’s script called Element 3D NullTracker can be found at the link. My only wish is that the script could connect all the different groups to a single null or each group to a different null.
- Queue Work Area is another great time-saving script written by Lloyd Alvarez. It does exactly what it says: allows you to set a work area and queue that portion of your timeline into the Render Queue. In other words, if you have multiple little sections of the same timeline to render, this script allows you to queue each section individually and then render them all at once. This eliminates the need for multiple copies of the same timeline/composition in order to queue different sections of it.
- Lastly, one of the simpler scripts out there, but nevertheless one of the most important is Randomizer written by Charles Bordenave. All you have to do is select what property you want to randomize and then enter a minimum and maximum value. The key here is that unlike Brainstorm, you have the option of limiting how much by specific numbers rather than by percentages. I recently used this on a composition with 300 layers and I needed them to animate randomly in Z-space. Randomizer allows you to change just the Z position property without having to separate X,Y,and Z. It saves you from doing additional steps so that you can get random values quickly and efficiently.
There are hundreds if not thousands of time-saving scripts out there. If you wish After FX could automate a process for you, chances are someone else has made a script for that. Check out AEScripts.com as they are constantly updating with new scripts and plugins. By taking the time to research and look for scripts, you may find one that makes you wonder how you ever worked without it in your arsenal of tools. If you have any suggestions for other great scripts, please feel free to point them out below for everyone.