Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool to help you keep organised, reduce project times and meant you could spend more time making your projects looking amazing? Let me tell you about the tool that does just that in this post.
There are hundreds and hundreds of third-party plugins that are currently available for Adobe After Effects (AE). These vary in both price and function. For example, free tools are available to do things such as spell checking or creating shapes. On the other end of the scale, you can spend hundreds of pounds on 3d particle system plug-ins, 3D object plug-ins and many more. All plug-ins are designed to assist the animator and to make their life and job easier.
However, you can find that many of these plug-ins are one trick ponies, don’t help you be more creative and soon become tedious. The plug-in that I am going to look at in this article is one that I have been using every day for the past 12 months or so. Motion v2 by Mt. Mograph. You will not just see the benefit of using this tool, but your clients will too.
Motion 2 features over 20 powerful tools that makes working within After Effects easier, quicker and more streamlined. I am going to discuss a few of the tools that I have been using most regularly.
The tool that I have been using most regularly is the change anchor point tool. It does what it says on the tin and allows you to reposition the anchor point of any layer to one of 9 different points. This tool is especially useful when wanting to animate files that have been imported from Illustrator, as when it splits the illustration into layers, the anchor points can be all over the place. Having a tool that will instantly re-position the anchor point to the center of an object saves time (and sanity sometimes!) as you don’t have to manually reposition it. It also comes in handy with the “align” tool which already lives inside of AE. When aligning layers such as text, simply select all the text layers, click the anchor point reposition tool and then use the built in “align” tool to align the text layers.
The next tool that I have used almost every day is the “Sort” tool. One of the most important skills you can have when working inside of After Effects is to be organized. But as you can probably image, this doesn’t always come out in practice! One of my worst habits of working inside of After Effects is that I get carried away with the animation and forget to keep on top of my compositions, layers and illustrations. This can quickly lead to a very messy project panel. This is where the “sort” tool is a life saver. With one click your project panel is quickly organized into various folders. These include, AI & PSD files, Compositions, Videos, Audio and Nulls, meaning you can quickly locate files and compositions for editing. This is all well and good, but this tool does have a slight downside when using Illustrator files, this is because it does not keep the illustrator layers in their own individual folders; instead it removes all the illustrator folder structure within the AE Project and puts them into one single folder. This can be troublesome if you need to replace or reload any files as you must spend some time searching in that “AI & PSD” folder. To me though, the positives of this tool outweigh that slight negative. It also comes in handy if you work within a team of animators as your project can quickly be organised for the next animator to continue working on it.
The next tool is probably the most simple to use in this plug-in, but it has just as much importance as the rest, which is the “Null” tool. The way you use this tool is you first select the layers you want to parent to a null object, click on the “null” tool, and voila! They are all parented to the same null object. It also ensures that the null is positioned exactly at the center point of the selected layers. This may not sound like much, but it does save time in the long run. You can also change the default null size and colour in the preference menu of the Motion plug-in.
The “Name” tool is also a simple tool, but this will most definitely keep your projects organized (even if they didn’t start that way.) To my knowledge, inside the stock version of AE there isn’t a way you can name groups of layers at the same time, this tool does just that. Simply select the layers you want to name, click the name tool and you will be showed a few options. You can select the new name of the layers, whether to have the separator before or after the layer name and what type of separator to have. Such as a comma, underscore or plus sign. It will then rename the layers with the same start name followed by a number to distinguish between each one. A very good tool to stay organised, especially in large comps with lots of layers.
Overall this tool is extremely useful, you can get a lifetime license and access to all future updates for just $35 (£25.35), which to me, is very much worth the money. I use this tool every day, it speeds up my workflow, helps me keep organised and has a vast array of awesome features. It is an animators best friend and is a must have in any animators After Effects workspace. For clients, this also means you can spend more time on the creative side of the animation, making everything look perfect to wow the audience the video is intended for! It will speed up project times, enabling you to hit tight deadlines as well as being able to open the project months later to make edits with ease as using Motion v2 will keep your work organised.