The Inspired Animator
Published in

The Inspired Animator

A Better Way to Loop in After Effects

A faster way to loop footage, PNG sequences, and imported animations in After Effects.

If you are like me, doing a lot of your animations outside of Adobe After Effects, you might be familiar with the following problem — perfectly looping footage without blank frames or skipped frames is not as easy as it should be.

The Usual Way to Loop

How to loop the traditional way

The usual way is the following:

  1. Drop footage into the timeline
  2. Select your footage and “Enable Time Remapping”: a. Either by pressing CTRL+ALT+T (Mac: CMD+ALT+T) or b. Right Click > Time > Enable Time Remapping
  3. Then ALT+Left Click on the stopwatch on the left of your layer to open expressions of Time Remap and type in there loopOut() expression.

Now this already enables looping. And now you can stretch out that footage to your preferred duration in your timeline and be happy.

BUT WAIT!!!

A very attentive fellow like you will immediately notice when playing — it skips the first frame!

Well, this is just an insult to your work, since you spent so much time drawing that first frame! Unacceptable!

So you go back to work. To fix it you are going through these steps:

  1. Move the playhead to 1 frame before the last keyframe. And create a keyframe there. By pressing the Diamond icon on the very left of the layer.
  2. Copy the first keyframe on the timeline (Click on the diamond on the first keyframe, then CTRL+C / CMD+C)
  3. Paste keyframe over the last keyframe (Click on the diamond of last keyframe, then CTRL+V / CMD + V)

Now you play it again, and proudly see it finally working! It’s looping perfectly!

Before you realize in horror, you have to do it for the 10 other imported animations all over again. Each time you get more efficient… but it still takes you 30 seconds per animation every time. You think of all the times you have to do this work now and in your future. All the mindless work, that will keep you away, from your loved ones!

But do not despair! There is a better way.

And here is how…

The Faster Way to Loop

I had the same problem, over and over again. That’s why I sat down one day and automated that task with a script.

I call it EasyLoop. And it allows you to replace this tedious process with just 2 clicks. Or 1 click if you assign a shortcut (I show you how below.)

It can save you 20–30 seconds, making you 15x faster compared to the method above! More on that below.

How to loop faster with EasyLoop

The new process looks like this:

  1. Select the layers on your timeline you want to loop.
  2. Go to File > Scripts > EasyLoop.jsx
  3. Stretch out that layer on your timeline

And done… all you need to do now is expand the clip length to whatever you want and it’s perfectly looped.

And it supports applying that to multiple layers at the same time! What could have taken you multiple minutes before, now just takes a couple of seconds.

Installation of the Script

The installation of a script is as simple as drag and drop into the right folder. Or via a menu in After Effects.

First get the script here. It only costs as much as a coffee, but saves you time so you actually have time for the coffee! 😉

  1. File > Scripts > Install Script File….
  2. Select the script file: EasyLoop.jsx
  3. Restart After Effects
  1. Put the EasyLoop.jsx file into the correct folder:

Windows: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects 2020\Support Files\Scripts

Mac: ~/Applications/"Adobe After Effects 2020"/Scripts/

Replace 2020 with your version. And on windows replace the drive letter C:\ if necessary.

2. Restart After Effects

Assign a Shortcut for Looping (even faster)

Now for the true masters of the craft, let’s do it with a shortcut.

  1. Go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Check out which shortcuts are still free on your setup, by just pressing key combinations. Find a free one you like. CTRL+ALT+L is already taken for me, so I will go with CTRL+ALT+8 (because 8 is like a standing loop symbol. #SymbolicShortcutsFTW)
  3. Type in EasyLoop into the search.
  4. Click into the shortcut column next to EasyLoop.jsx until a box with a cross appears
  5. Press your preferred key combination (e.g. CTRL+ALT+8)
  6. Press OK on the bottom right!

Now this key combination should show up right next to EasyLoop.jsx in the shortcut column. And you’re good to go!

Now you can just select the layers in your timeline and use the shortcut. Done!

15x productivity in a matter of seconds!

For comparison I created a video showing the 3 methods side-by-side.

Comparison of the 3 methods. Native AE, EasyLoop, and EasyLoop + Shortcut

As you see with EasyLoop you are at least 3x faster, and if you use the shortcut you are even 15x faster, saving you 20–30 seconds for each looped layer, compared to the native method. I know this small improvement to my workflow will save me hours and days of work in the long run!

The EasyLoop method makes you 15x faster, and saves 20–30 second per looped layer!

Enjoy!

I am happy to have been able to help you reclaim some precious hours of your life! It adds up pretty quickly, believe me!

Consider leaving a tip, some claps, or sharing it to other Motion Designers and Animators if this helps you out! It would certainly help me out.

⭐️ FUN FACT: Did you know you can 👏 up to 50 times by holding down the clap icon?

You missed it? Happens to the best of us… Get it here!

Contact me if you encounter any issues!