Java: for more than web animation

Before this class I had never even seen source code. I’ll admit on the firstday of classes I was very intimidated and the though of dropping the class did cross my mind but I decided to stick with it because web development and coding is something I’ve wanted to learn for a very long time but was alway overwhelmed by it. I’m happy to say I now feel very confident is going out and adding webdevelopment to the list of creative services I can offer. Its a pretty awesome feeling to be able to approach a small business and say “I can handle and create your video, photography and build your website.”

For this research project I want to demonstrate something I didn’t connect before learning some basic java script. I found that these script are applicable in so much more than just animating a website. I am a film student in the VCU Arts Film program and use Adobe Premiere, Audition, and After Effects. I’ve done complex animation some dealing with 3D space in after effects by previously hand animating everything with keyframes and the result never quite where got where I was happy with it.

As a filmmaker the image above is intimidating. Each of those little symbols represents a change in a parameter of the layer or object and doing each of those manual is usually a frustrating and at least in my case renders a clunky robotic feeling animation. However there is hope for individuals like me who need to animate titles and Visual Effects that don’t look like they were made in 2007 windows movie maker.

The first solution: Expressions

Expressions are scripts that are built-into After Effects that can aide in frequently used animations such as randomly “Wiggle” parameters. This is a great way to generate a true random fluctuation that you can set thresholds and control.


The second and most advanced: Scripts

Expressions and manually animating are great but all too often something more is required. I ran up against something that was going to take an enormous amount of time and 50 or so layers that would all need individual animation.  The  idea was simple. I needed some additional footage for an video interview I was working on for a client. The client wanted a calendar counting up through the days of the month. After a few failed attempt to get the result I wanted, I got very frustrated and decided to do a search because there must be a better way. Little did I know I was already learning it 🙂

After effects can take script code directly. This opened up a whole world to me that I didn’t know existed. being able to find code that does close to what I want, modify it and inject the script directly into the layer that I’m working on changed the way I approach animating anything. A quick search revealed this code

beginCount = 0; stopCount = 30; beginTime = 0; // start counting at time = 0 countDur = 5; // count for 5 seconds “” + Math.round(linear(time,beginTime,beginTime + countDur,beginCount,stopCount)) + “”


I put this into my text layer and it was like magic, automatically after effects generated numbers counting up. All the work was done for me and saved me hours of animating. It pretty cool that this language and way of thinking is usable across websites and into my art.

In my research  I’ve found many other scripts that allow me to do thing I couldn’t do before in After Effects


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