If you’re not a motion designer, don’t read this.
Well, I mean, you can. But fair warning: this article is all nerdy After Effects stuff.
After Effects is a wonderland of possibility, and using scripts is essential to accessing those possibilities quickly and strategically.
Since I began my motion design journey in 2012, tons of new workflow scripts have become available. Many of these are incredibly cool, but many are duplicates of each other, automate parts of a process I’d prefer to do manually, or do things that look pretty neat in the demo video, but that ultimately I don’t do frequently enough to warrant implementing a new tool. Gotta protect that screen real estate.
Sorting through all the noise to find the scripts that are right for your workflow is a tricky but worthwhile pursuit. Here are 10 workflow scripts I’d want with me on a desert island.
1. EaseCopy by Mike Overbeck. This one comes first for a reason. There have been several scripts over the years that address the easing process. Such as Ease and Wizz, which allows you to apply pre-created eases to your keyframes, or Motion, which introduces a slider interface to control your eases. Neither of these really work for me, as I like to create custom eases, and I find the sliders confusing. Nothing like hand-pulling some beziers in the graph editor to remind me I’ve made a good career choice. With EaseCopy, I do can just that and then copy my custom eases to other keyframes.
2. Motion by Matt Jylkka. Even though I don’t think this script is best for handling easing, it has some other really great functions. Most used: move anchor point, create null, and clone keyframes.
4. Keyboard by Olaola Yuan. This script offers a slew of useful one-key commands that are accessible after launching the keyboard script (via a customizable key command). For example, now I can launch Keyboard (ctrl-space) and press F to compulsively delete my cache even more often than I used to.
5. Gif gun by Nik Ska. Allows you to export gifs straight from After Effects. If you’ve done the After Effects to Photoshop gif creation workflow several hundred times, you’ll understand why this is exciting.
6. GM FoldLayers by Petter Bergmar. I am a very selective pre-comper. When reasonable, I like to keep my layers in the same comp and manage them with FoldLayers. Basically, it lets you shy chunks of layers at a time under a special foldy layer. Downside is you can only hide layers below the foldy layer, instead of picking and choosing. Upside is that doesn’t bother me and I like the simplicity.
7. FX console by Video Copilot. I am a fan of any script that spares my hand a long, sad journey to the mouse, and FX console does just that. (also technically a plug-in not a script.)
8. malty: closer by Maltaannon Tools. How else am I supposed to close all those precomps I don’t have?
9. Dojo Shifter by VinhSon Nguyen. Somehow better than the other shifters out there. Lets you to shift layers fractions of a frame.
10. Explode shape layers by Zack Lovatt. The name says it all.
I know I’m leaving out some big names here like Overlord and Ray Dynamic Everything. Don’t worry I use those too… probably. More importantly: are there any passionate KBar users out there who can sell me on it? I’m listening…