5 Everyday After Effects Plugins We Can’t Live Without!

After Effects plugins scripts expressions

There’s a wealth of awesome After Effects scripts, plugins and expressions that we love getting the opportunity to use in animation projects, but there’s always a core few that we find ourselves using time-after-time, project-after-project. Here’s a quick run-down of our top 5 most used!

Sure Target 2

First up is a little blinder, and it’s free too! Created by Andrew Cramer of the awesome Video Copilot, Sure Target has been around for a good few years now, and it’s still one of our staple favourites.

Sure Target Video Copilot

Cameras in Adobe After Effects are notoriously tricky to use. Animating the camera directly can quite easily end up looking jerky and un-natural. It’s a very common technique to use null objects as a camera parent to give you more control over camera movement.

Sure Target also uses a null object as the camera parent and allows you to easily animate the camera by setting keyframes to define layers for the camera to target. The plugin gives you easy control over inertia, wiggle, camera roll and auto-focus. It even has dollies.

Sure Target 2 in use

Sure Target 2 was used throughout our animation for Cornerhouse exhibition promo The People You’re Not:

TPYN Sure Target

Lines Creator

Lines Creator
Lines Creator is a script that allows animators to connect 2 or more objects together in 2D or 3D space by creating lines between them. When animating the objects they stay connected to the lines. Really great for animating line graphs or displaying visual connections between graphics as well as for more creative applications.

Lines Creator 2 in use

Lines Creator was used in our promo for Cantarus and DNN to create an animated visual representation of online communities:

Cantarus community

Thanks to @madebyflame who shared with us Motion Boutique’s free plugin; Connect Layers that provides a similar solution plus lots more. Looking forward to getting stuck into that one soon!

Motion Boutique – Connect Layers

PT Shift Layers

Super simple, this script really should really be shipped with After Effects.

PT Shift Layers

PT Shift gives you much greater control than the After Effects native ‘Sequence Layers’ option when staggering or shifting layers in your timeline. When you’ve got 100s or 1,000s of layers this little script is a godsend for productivity!

Available on the AEScripts website for a suggested $9.99 or you can name your own price. In our opinion it’s well worth $9.99!

PT Shift Layers in use

You could probably pick out any of our moving image projects at random and expect this script to have been used in it at least once. Here’s a recent example for Abandon Normal Devices’ interstellar outdoor cinema event at Jodrell Bank; Watch the Skies:

PT Shift Layers

Wiggle, rubber, bounce, throw, inertia expressions

When animating objects into shot we always find ourselves coming back to these 5 expressions available from Motion Graphics Exchange.

Motion Graphics Exchange

Expressions in use

The Inertial Bounce expression was used extensively throughout our promo for the social shopping network, Shopow:

Shopow animation


It’s not exactly glamorous, but SpellCheck by Michael Cardeiro is a little lifesaver for text-heavy or typographic animation projects. We normally run it a couple of times at the end of a project prior to delivery. Don’t forget that your text has to be ‘live’ in After Effects as it won’t check imported text from Illustrator or Photoshop!

SpellCheck in use

The Cantaurs / DNN promo was very text-heavy as it had to work with and without a voiceover. SpellCheck was invaluable to this 04:36 project:

Cantarus DNN text heavy animation

Have you got any plugins or scripts that you can’t live without on a day-to-day basis? We’d love to hear what you use in your animation / After Effects workflow!


Angela Roche