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  • Writer's pictureEric J Anderle

Five Ways to Optimize Your Workflow: Expressions & Scripting in After Effects

"Expressions let you automate the boring stuff, so you can focus on the fun and creative stuff."

Expressions in Adobe After Effects are super useful.

Like so useful that learning some can automate repetitive tasks and totally optimize your workflow. Many After Effects users really have only used expressions to add a wiggle here and there. This is according to the Pixel Planet Studios in-house VFX Artist and Motion Graphics Designer, Brandon Dohner, aka Fix-It-in-Post. "Expressions let you automate the boring stuff, so you can focus on the fun and creative stuff. Or You might find like me, that getting creative with expressions becomes the fun stuff!"

Watch the above Pixel Byte where Brandon outlines some great uses for Expressions in After Effects to help get you started.

These can be especially helpful when you're working on a long video, where you have to do the same task over and over, pulling data in from Microsoft Excel, having a single checkbox or drop down to change the properties of several different layers, or handing your motion graphics project off to another editor, including building an Essential Graphic for Premiere Pro.

Five Ways to Incorporate Expressions:

  1. A Drop Down Menu: To change the weight of a font as well as the text box around it

  2. Responsive Text Size Based on the Width of a Text Box: If the size of the text exceeds the size of the text box, we scale it to the size of the text box* divided by the size of the text layer *Just smaller than the text box to accommodate margins

  3. Changing Multiple Properties of an Animation Based on a Dropdown: Directions of shadows and rotation are all instantly changed, instead of having to change each property and keyframe manually

  4. Left Justify Text Typing On, While Centering the Layer on Screen: To do this, the text is left justified with the anchor point on the bottom left. And the horizontal position is half of the text layer's width subtracted from half of the comp's width

  5. Responsive Graph Scene: Colors, text, and animated graphs change based on editing a single text layer

Ukramedia is a great resource for learning Expressions and Scripting in After Effects and they have amazing free and paid tools that Brandon absolutely loves.

Make sure to subscribe to the Pixel Planet YouTube Channel - so we can be real friends.

And reach out to us with any questions, comments or suggestions for future content.

Cheers, ya'll.

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