After Effects – Leftover Plugins (part 1)

13 plugins and effects you probably forgot you had

Have you ever checked to see how many plugins you’ve got?  You might be surprised to know it’s almost certainly well over 400, and it only takes a few purchases to clock up the 500 mark.

While some plugins get used every day, others sit in the dark, dusty corners of your hard drive in some forgotten submenu and never get any love at all.  If you have a look through all the effects menus you’ll probably discover many plugins that you’ve never used at all.  In fact if you’re like the typical After Effects user then you’ve never used any of the audio effects at all, and plugins like ‘arithmetic’ and ‘calculations’ may as well be in a foreign language.

In amongst the 400+ plugins that come with a native installation of After Effects are a few rough gems.  These are plugins that are useful and valueable tools but are too often neglected, or forgotten completely.  Did you know that with a few mouse clicks you can have a Photoshop-style magic wand tool in After Effects?  I bet you didn’t.

As a sequel to my earlier series on often overlooked features in After Effects, I’ve collected together 13 plugins that I use on a regular basis, but seem to be ignored by everyone else.  In each case I explain what the plugin does and why I find it useful, along with examples of when you might find it useful too.  

In part 1 we look at the following plugins:

  • paintbucket
  • CC power pin
  • blend
  • CC composite
  • offset
  • CC wire removal
  • extract


(click ‘full screen’ for best results)


In part 2, we’ll look at another 6 plugins.


In each video I have an example where I combine multiple effects together to make a preset that can be easily used in the future with one click.  In the first video, I combine the offset filter with CC wire removal to make a preset that seamlessly tiles a layer.  In the second video I demonstrate how to use the channel combiner along with the remove colour matting plugin to create an unmultiply effect within After Effects.  

I have saved both of these as After Effects presets – .ffx files – using version CS5.  You are welcome to download and use the presets here.  Just download, unzip, and copy the two ffx files into the presets folder within the After Effects application folder.



Return to After Effects Anecdotes for more video tutorials by Chris Zwar.


Chris Zwar

Chris was born a geek, and was lucky enough to own a Commodore 64 at a time when the number of students at his primary school who owned a computer could be counted on one hand. Upgrading to an Amiga with the onset of the desktop video revolution, Chris began experimenting with digital graphics and animation in his bedroom, and incorporating them into his high-school video productions.

PVC Logo
PVC App Demo

Now Available in the App Store

Get access to our latest and featured articles from your favorite authors, wherever you are, directly on your phone!

  • Clean and Easy to Read
  • Blazing Fast Notifications for New Articles
  • Free Tuesday Webinar Access
Apple App Store
Google App Store
Get your FREE Search Bins Project File!
Want Us to Remind You?
Enter your email and subscribe!
Get Access!
Please enter your email address to view our free live webinar!
*you will be added to the newsletter and if you’re already signed up, it won’t send you duplicate e-mails