On After Effects, a script is a list of commands that can be used to automate repetitive tasks, perform calculations and create new functionality in the graphical user interface.

Some of these scripts are so useful that we use them (almost) every day as we create animations and motion graphics for customers.

After Effects comes with a small number of scripts as standard, but there is a whole world of scripts available on websites like aescripts.com that can speed up workflows and add new functionality that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.

You don’t need to be a full-time animator to use all of these scripts. Even if you do just a little bit of animation when you can, something in this list will help you save time and make your creation look a bit more polished.

Pt ShiftLayers

A super simple script that replaces several mouse clicks with one press of a button.

It automates shifting and staggering layers which are probably the most fundamental commands when you are working with animation.

We use the staggering function all the time and there is rarely a project where I wouldn’t use this script.

If you have several layers to animate (to scale up from zero, for example), you can offset each layer by a given number of frames or seconds so that each layer animates one after the other.

This dramatically speeds up the animating process.

Ease and Wizz

Ease and Wizz is a set of expressions that lets you insert new items between values. This is very useful when you’re working with motion, but can also be used on other animated properties.

Essentially it allows you to ease the animation so it looks smoother or add dynamic movement (like bounce or overshoot).

This might be considered lazy by some animators – “why not add the keyframe in yourself?” – but it will also save you a lot of time.

It’s very easy to use and the publisher allows you to pay what you want (with a recommended price of $24.99.

Newton

This script is a little on the pricey side, but Newton is very advanced and can make for nice organic-looking animation.

While most other scripts can only speed up workflows, Newton gives you new layers of functionality.

It’s essentially a physics engine that allows layers and objects in your composition to interact with each other and their environment.

It lets you do things that would otherwise not be possible – or would at least take a long time to animate.

This video shows some of what’s possible with the Newton engine.

Joysticks ‘n Sliders

Joysticks ‘n Sliders is pose-based rigging script with almost unlimited applications in After Effects.

It speeds up workflows because it reduces the number of keyframes that you have to create.

The script is great for character and facial animation. The Joystick tool lets you set an origin plus right, left, top and bottom extremes for your character.

Once you have these set these limits, you can create a joystick controller to move seamlessly between these extremes as you wish.

Sliders are similar in setup to joysticks, but they can be much more powerful. Unlike with joysticks, there is no limit to how many poses you can create with your layers.

A well-constructed rig can give the illusion of depth in your 2D layers, so it’s great for 3D rigging.

On the below animation you can see the effect of the joystick in the top left and the sliders in the bottom left of the composition.

Duik

Duik is a fantastic After Effects script that’s perfect for doing character animation.

The rigging and animation tool is perfect for characters that you need to walk, run or perform just about any mechanical movement.

Put simple controllers at key points such as in a hand or arm or shoulder joint, and you can animate an entire limb by moving ‘bones’ around.

It uses some very complex expressions in After Effects, automating creative processes and saving you bags of time – particularly if you are working on something big and complicated like a film or an animated series.

The below animation was created using Joysticks ‘n Sliders and Duik.

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