August 25, 2007

Expressions & Scripting Resources for After Effects

Update: There's a new resource summary on PVC, Using and creating After Effects scripts.

Expressions are scripts, but not in the AE world, where scripts are supposed to refer to AE scripts as in the article above. Unfortunately, this cobbled list isn't always clear; note that the leading lights are good resources for both.

Earlier, Todd Kopriva outlined scripting changes in After Effects CS6, plus a new scripting guide. And Jeff Almosul and Todd Kopriva detailed the Scripting changes in After Effects CS5 at Todd's Blog. See also AE CS5 Help on Scripts and Expressions.

Jeff Almasol is gradually updating his redefinery scripts so they can be updated to work as dockable panels in CS3. These will include the DV Rebel Tools and ones for Mark Christiansen’s Studio Techniques book.

There's enough AE scripts and expressions floating around to make my head swim, and many of them have gestated at AE Enhancers, the uberforum for scripts, expressions, and presets. Many script and expressions can be freely used, distribute or modified. Here's a quick summary of scripting resources mostly mentioned in AEP posts tagged , Expressions or Scripting...

Expressions & Scripting Resources for After Effects

Training and scripts can be found at:

Motionscript by Dan Ebberts has both introductory and advanced stuff. It's a project-based resource for After Effects scripting and expressions (and there is a difference; for the user scripts are push button affairs). JJ Gifford's basic Expressions in After Effects is old but still attractive.

The Help system is a good resource; see the online version, Adobe AE LiveDocs, which has expressions help and examples. Adobe is offering a scripting guide for AE 8/CS3 at the Developer Center; see Todd Kopriva's outline of changes. See also the AE Help pages on Scripts and on Expressions. You can ask direct questions at the Adobe AE scripting forum.

Other expression training can be found in books like Creating Motion Graphics With After Effects by Trish & Chris Meyer (Dan Ebberts likes the big bonus chapter on the DVD and contributes his own Scripting Overview chapter). They're also adding a 12-part series Deeper Modes of Expression on PVC, based on an extra in their book.

See also The DV Rebel Guide, as well as in video training like After Effects Pro: Professional Features by Total Training. Adobe After Effects Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen trumps these in the latest version of the book, which features a chapter written by Dan Ebberts.

Creative Cow has a wide variety of expressions tutorials, and forum habited by Dan Ebberts.
Video Copilot has tutorials that include scripting.
Harry Franks added a free intro video Expressions 101 to accompany his Toolfarm training videos.

These sites provide expressions and scripts but not so much training:

Lloyd Alvarez has an often-updated collection of scripts for AE, including BG Renderer CS3, at his domain AE Scripts that later expanded to add top scripting authors and a shopping cart for downloads. Most scripts are still free but the cart makes tipping easier. See also Lloyd Alvarez's AENY presentation on AE scripting. In 2009-2010, Lloyd had an ongoing course at fxphd, an Introduction to After Effects Scripting.

redefinery from Jeff Almasol has a great script library along 'AE Scripting' fundamentals. Jeff Almasol is gradually updating his scripts so they can be updated to work as dockable panels in AE CS3. These will include the DV Rebel Tools and ones for Mark Christiansen’s Studio Techniques book.

AE Enhancers is the expression & scripting forum for AE.

nabscripts from Charles Bordenave has a good number (English and French). He even has something to help you translate scripts into your own language; this script supports English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Dr. Woohoo specializes in AE<-->Flash integration where Adobe leaves off.
Adobe engineer Bruce Bullis, former keeper of the AE SDK, maintained the After Effects API Zone.

More valuable scripts and expressions can be found at: Creative Workflow Hacks who links to Armored Squirrel,,, Leapfrog Productions, nabscripts, Peter Torpey. Cool scripts by Jeff Almasol are also in The DV Rebel's Guide by Stu Maschwitz.

XScriptorium, a new AE scripting resource, was launched in August 2008, and has been testing a revised interface at It's joined by a similar new website, After Effects Expressions Reference or AEER. Both aim to help organize and present the vast array of available scripts and expressions.

But wait there's more:

Update: Create Digital Motion posted Edit Ninja: Super Fast Video Sampling Workflow with After Effects Scripting. Here's a snippet: "Like to cut up and sample video? Sick of all that time-consuming scrubbing, slicing and rearranging in Vegas or Premiere? Well I’ve figured out a workflow using a collection of After Effects scripts which turns lots of tedious editing into a very quick process to output a series of video clips for your VJing pleasure. This technique uses the following After Effects scripts:
AEScripts‘ “Magnum - the Edit Detector
Reverse Selected Layer Order
Precomp to Layer Duration
Redefinery’s RenderLayers, and ScriptLauncher, to speed things up even further."

Update: from the aether... Jonas Hummelstrand noted scripts which provide "needed-every-day-functionality:"
-- Lloyd Alvarez scripts "Zorro," "Throttler" and "BG Render"
-- Jeff Almosal scripts "KeyedUp," "ScriptsLauncher," "Statesman," and "CompositionSetter"
-- Dale Bradshaw’s & Paul Tuersley's camera rigging script
-- Dale Bradshaw’s Lower-thirds-generator
-- Paul Tuersley's TrackerViz

Update (December 2008): After Effects Expressions by Marcus Geduld is a new book on expressions in AE from Focal Press. As noted by Todd Kopriva, Focal Press have made a couple of excerpts of this book available for free. There's also a review of the book by Steve Douglas on Ken Stone's FCP, and you can see the author in action on at least 2 training videos; check out videos Making key frames loop in After Effects and The "wiggle" expression in After Effects.

Update: Todd Kopriva is updating the scripting guide for CS4, and posted a crib sheet with the new and changed items on his blog.

Update: Dr. WooHoo is involved with Flash panel and ExtendScript connections with AIR apps and CS4; see New SwitchBoard and PatchPanel tutorials…

Info on Adobe image processing archtecture and new plug-in format in CS4 can be found in previous articles on , and at Kevin Goldsmith's blog.

Update: In Programmatic Animations in AE with Expressions & Scripting, Michael Coleman and Dan Ebberts (fullscreen) show tips and tricks with Scripting and Expressions in CS4. The parts on the video metadata pipeline were covered more full by Dan Ebberts in an article posted in early 2009 at Adobe, XMP metadata in Creative Suite 4 Production Premium.

Update: Sébastien Périer (Sebastien Perier for Google) has compiled a Top 10 list of After Effects workflow enhancing scripts, ones that he uses the most on a project basis. He also notes AE scripts and websites like AEER, or After Effects Expressions Reference and Final Cut 2 After Effects.

Update: AExtensions is a blog by Mathias Möhl (Mohl for Google), the mind behind the Tracker2Mask, KeyTweak, (AEP backgrounder post) and MochaImport scripts. He doesn't post frequently but posts present deep new features and include video tutorials.

Update: Satya Meka posted the tutorial Intro to Pixel Bender for Non-Programmers, and he likes the math explanations at BetterExplained.

Update: AEtuts started a video series by Frederik Steinmetz, Introduction To Writing Scripts For AE.

Update: Le freelance saucisse is an AE expressions resource in French with interesting and challenging examples. Google Chrome will translate it automatically for your convenience.

FeltTips returned with a few tutorials on expressions, After Effects Random Expression Shenanigans and Quick After Effects Expressions #1 - Camera Targetter

Lester Banks unearthed a 16-tutorial series on expressions by Arun Latvia on YouTube.

AE Scripts and Mamoworld now offer ExpressionTimeline, a new After Effects script that lets you combine and modify expressions without editing the code itself.  

iExpressions from Mamoworld combines the power of After Effects expressions with the convenience of effect plug-ins. They allow you to use expressions without writing any code -- each iExpression comes with an interface to control everything using adjustable parameters. iExpressions seems like something out of Stu Mashwitz blog on the potential of a nodes property panel, but it's just script UI for each expression. iExpressions, available on AE Scripts, ships with over 60 iExpressions in six different categories: AudioLinkingMovement ModifierPhysics SimulationsSource Text, and Wiggles (links to demo movies).

1 comment:

redefinery said...

hey Rich, thanks for the shout-out. i've finished updating all of my existing scripts (with UIs) for CS3; the scripts for Stu are also available, and the ones for Mark will be available with his book update. on to new scripts...