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After Effects - Leftover Plugins (part 1)

13 plugins and effects you probably forgot you had

By ChrisZwar | June 17, 2013

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.

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Comments

Phil Bearman: | June, 21, 2013

Thanks Chris - some great tips there!  I’ve been using AE for 9 years and never touched the paint bucket tool, always hopping over to Photoshop to remove backgrounds etc… 

It just shows you never stop learning with AE!

davidp158: | August, 01, 2013

Chris - Great info. Its great to be reminded of forgotten tools, as well as learn about tools I haven’t yet touched. New, cutting edge tools are all well and good, but sometimes the old ones do the trick just fine.

ATV: | September, 01, 2013

Thanks for this review!
I’m started to learn AE - it’s amazing!

Here’s another good list of AE plugins: Toolfarm Top 10 Plugins

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