After Effects ExtendScript Training: Ep. 16 Part 1 & 2

ExtendScript Script Writing Training

Welcome to episode 16 of the After Effects ExtendScript Training series. This week we are gonna leap a little bit outside of After Effects with our code and create a full script that will allow you to open a tab delimited text document and import the text in that document as text layers. We will be building a mock lower third with a person's name and job title. We will be building a series of functions to do each of our tasks in this script. By doing this, it will help organize our code, streamline our process, and allow for easy reuse of an individual task. We'll be building separate functions to read a text document, to create comps, to parse our text data, and to create customized text layers with specified properties like font size, font, color, etc… We have much to go over in this two part episode, so let's get to it.

If you missed any of the previous episodes in this series, follow the links below.

Previous episodes in the series:

Episode 1 (Intro)

Episode 2 (Javascript Basics p1)

Episode 3 (Javascript Basics p2)

Episode 4 (After Effects Object Model structure overview / Script Preparation and development tips / Single Item Access of various project items, comps and layers)

Episode 5 (Access Renderqueue items, output modules and file paths / Multiple item access of project items, comps and layers / Batch change all renderqueue items file paths)

Episode 6 (Collecting data into an Array() / Changing values / Various tips)

Episode 7 (Create new comps and folders / Create Null, Solid, and Text layers)

Episode 8 (Create multiple comps of various sizes / Use Undo group / Add solids to match each comp / Various tips)

Episode 9 (Globally change blue solids to red / Replace solid name blue with red)

Episode 10 (Build a custom function to collect all CompItem objects / Modify function to dynamically allow for choice of CompItem, FolderItem or FootageItem)

Episode 11 (Build floating GUI)

Episode 12 Part 1 & 2 (Build dockable/floating combo GUI)

Episode 13 (ExtendScript Developer Utility script / Retrieve list of project item footage file paths)

Episode 14 (Processing text strings)

Episode 15 Part 1 & 2 (Reading, writing, and transferring Keyframes)

In this episode:
– File selection dialog box
– Read external text document
– Parse text data
– Create custom text layers
– Create comps
– Build functions to separate tasks


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David Torno is a Visual Effects professional based in Los Angeles, California. His work over the years has included commercials, feature films, music videos, and multimedia projects. During his free time, David enjoys expanding his…

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Fabio A
Fabio A

hi David! Good night, hope all is well. I am currently trying to find a way to automate the many versionings we have to do daily in a after effects project we use. Being able to dynamically feed text layers in after effects is exactly what I am looking for. Now, because of the nature of the process we have to go through, instead of feeding from a text file, we need to feed from Google sheets, I noticed there are couple scripts such as templater that already connects Google api with after effects using oauth2 tokens. I’m trying to… Read more »

David Torno
David Torno

Hi Fabio,

Thanks. Glad the series has been helpful for you.

Unfortunately my coding knowledge outside of ExtendScript for After Effects falls off pretty fast. I have not dealt with Google’s API at all, and don’t plan to dive into it, so me making a tutorial on that subject is very unlikely. Sorry.