In the world of creative performance marketing, efficiency is the name of the game. Where creative fatigue is a never ending battle and your UA team needs new ads by yesterday, anything you can do to decrease ad production time is a win for everyone. Below are some of my personal favorite After Effects scripts and plugins to help improve your efficiency as a video advertising creator.
Ease and Wizz (Free)
If you're at all proficient with After Effects there's a good chance you already use Ease and Wizz. It's an incredibly useful (and thankfully free) tool for automating animation easing. Just highlight your keyframes, select an easing algorithm, and click apply. Easing your animations is one of the simplest ways to make your video ads look a little more professional and higher quality.
ArabicText is an absolute must if you're localizing your ads for Arabic speaking geos. In fact, if you haven't been using this tool already, I'm sorry to say there's a very real chance all of your Arabic ads are illegible due to After Effects failing to properly flip RTL text when pasted. But fear not! This little tool will painlessly flip all of your Arabic text with the click of a button.
Speaking of localization, Text2Spreadsheet is a fantastic tool for optimizing your localization workflow, especially if you already organize your translations in a spreadsheet. Text2Spreadsheet makes it incredibly easy to batch replace text. It can take some trial and error at first, but once you figure it out you'll be saying goodbye to manual copy/paste localization workflows forever!
Spending a lot of time on animation? Marker based animation can be a super efficient workflow, especially if you're repurposing the same animations over and over again. Trigger makes that workflow even more efficient by automating the setup process. I used to rely on this method when I was building gaming ads that frequently utilized isolated animations from the game, and Trigger was a lifesaver.
Font Previewer (Paid)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Font Previewer makes it easy to preview fonts directly within After Effects without needing to apply the font. If you're creating video ads you're probably working with a lot of text, and in the same way that color can play a role in creative performance, so can font choice. Font can convey emotion and it helps establish your brand. Besides, who doesn't like previewing fonts before selecting them? This one's really a no-brainer.
And since we're on the topic of text, DecomposeText is probably the single best tool for anyone doing a significant amount of text work, especially if you're doing any sort of text animation (and if you're making ads you really should be). This simple little tool makes it incredibly easy to deconstruct a text layer by characters or words so you can spend less time tediously setting up your text animations and more time actually crafting them.
True Comp Duplicator (Free)
This is one of my favorite After Effects scripts ever. True Comp Duplicator automates the process of duplicating comps, including any precomps (and automatically relinking them). It comes with a few more options, like renaming the duplicated comps and even duplicating footage. This is incredibly useful for anyone who frequently copies comps, whether for localizing, resizing, cutting down, or any other need.
GifGun is a lifesaver for any editor who gets frequent requests to create gifs. In short, it allows you to quickly export gifs directly from After Effects. So whether it's the social media team asking you to gif-ify something you animated for an ad, or the LCM team looking to create a gif for their next email campaign, GifGun is your secret weapon.
If you work with a lot of live action footage - perhaps you film and edit client testimonials or in-house vlogs - PluralEyes will make your life 100x easier. It's an amazing tool that completely takes the hassle out of syncing your audio and external video files. I used to do a lot of one-man video marketing production and PluralEyes saved me so much time in editing.
Magic Bullet Looks (Paid)
Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks is a fabulous color grading plugin for anyone working extensively with live action footage (especially if you're not a colorist). This plugin integrates seamlessly with both Premiere Pro and After Effects, and it will save you a ton of time making your footage look beautiful. PRO TIP: if you shoot a lot of interviews, the Cosmo effect will quickly become your best friend.
Animation Composer 2 (Paid add-ons)
Animation Composer 2 is essentially just a library of pre-built animations, but the animations are top notch, customizable, and available in individually purchasable add-on packs. You've likely seen Animation Composer transitions used in other ads, and that's because they look great. As I said at the beginning of this article, efficiency is key in this industry, and Animation Composer 2 is epitome of efficiency.
Another simple but incredibly useful tool, pt_ShiftLayers helps you quickly adjust multiple layers in a comp. Use pt_ShiftLayers to quickly stagger layers for easy animation, space out transitions, or any other use case that requires moving multiple layers around. Again, pretty simple, but super helpful when you need it.
TextBorder creates a dynamic box shape around a text layer. Need I say more? Okay, I'll give you a hint: dynamic CTAs that auto-resize when localized.
Precomp Anchor Repo (Paid)
I know I declared True Comp Duplicator one of my favorite tools, but Precomp Anchor Repo might actually be my #1. The frequency in which I rely on this alone should put it at the top of my list. Precomp Anchor Repo - which is short for Reposition - makes the process of repositioning your anchor point as easy as clicking a button. If you do any sort of animation work, comp resizing, or practically anything else in After Effects, Precomp Anchor Repo (combined with the built-in Align function) should be a requirement.
Pseudo Effect Maker (Paid)
Last but not least, if you find yourself reusing a lot of the same text effects, color effects, or any other layer effects, Pseudo Effect Maker will help you turn your effects combinations into easily controlled and customizable presets. Setup can take a little bit of time, but you're optimizing your workflow for the long run.