Know Your Righ…er…I mean, Javascript!

Scripting in After Effects can be a hugely powerful way to enhance your animations and make everyday, repetitive tasks much easier. But as creatives, many are rebuffed right at the gate. Javascript!?!? Programming!?!? What is this thing and how can I stay as far away from it as possible!?!?!?!
Here are 6 resources to help get you over the hump and teach you the basics of Javascript/programming, expressions and scripting in After Effects. 


1) W3Schools

Need a refresher on your Javascript? Looking for an easy to use reference? Starting from scratch and need to learn programming/Javascript from the ground up? This is your one stop shop for all things Javascript (and many other web-based programming languages). 


2) Javascript – The Good Parts (O’Reilly Books)

This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in using Javascript and using it well. Javascript can be a VERY powerful language. It is also very forgiving of poorly written code which can lead to slow performance and unpredictable behavior. As the title says…KNOW YOUR JAVASCRIPT!!!

You can get a sample of the book here. Or buy it here


3) AE Scripting Guide/Javascript Tools Guide

Published by Adobe, these two guides should be your starting point when you finally dive into scripting for After Effects. It  will give you an overview of scripting in AE and acts as a great reference.

Scripting Guide (CS6) / Javascript Tools Guide (CS5) 


4) ExtendScript Toolkit Tutorial Series

Are you more visually oriented? Me too. Check out this tutorial series posted over at Pro Video Coalition. There are currently 8 episodes that cover a range of topics to give you a good overview of scripting and the tools at your disposal. 


5) Dan Ebberts/MotionScript

Dan Ebberts wrote the book on the geometry/math behind SO many expression-based animations. He gives line-by-line breakdowns of each expression so you can understand how each part works to produce the final animation/behavior. If you want to understand expressions/scripting in AE, Dan Ebberts is quintessential. 


6) AE Scripts

Finally, one of the best ways to learn more about scripting is to read code written by other people who are good at scripting. AEScripts is a HUGE repository of scripts showcasing almost every possible use for scripting. And what’s better…many of the scripts use a “Name Your Own Price” system so you can support the programmers without having to break the bank.

In Conclusion

Scripting can seem daunting when you don’t know much about it. But as you get deeper into it, you realize that scripting is, in many ways, the same as learning After Effects: intimidating at first but the more you learn, the more you can do.

Check back soon for my continuing series focusing on all the tools you need to script in AE.