Design in Motion: Using expressions to control animation in After Effects

Published by | Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

This week on Design in Motion we’re going to take a trip to the left side…of your brain! In the hands of an artist, After Effects is a beautiful and powerful tool. If that artist can also write a bit of code, they can accomplish literally anything that needs to be done. I know what you’re thinking—artists…writing code? Yes! Thanks to After Effects built-in expression language it’s much easier than you think. The expression tools in After Effects are really an entire programing language all their own, and they can be as simple or as complex as your imagination and programming skills will allow. With a combination of the pick-whip and a few simple phrases you can generate movement without keyframes. This kind of animation is called “procedural” because the program is doing all the work of creating the motion of your layers.

Hopefully this movie will wet your appetite for the world of expressions in After Effects. If so, Chris and Trish Meyer have a whole course that will have you creating and controlling animation with expressions in no time! Check out After Effects Apprentice 09: Expressions on Once you’re up and running there are websites like and Dan Ebberts’ with an entire community of artists and programmers doing amazing things with expressions in After Effects.

So sit back, put on the left side of your thinking cap, and enjoy this edition of Design in Motion!

Interested in more?
• courses by Rob Garrott in the Online Training Library®
• courses by Trish Meyer and Chris Meyer in the Online Training Library®
• all courses on After Effects in the Online Training Library®

Share this:Share on Facebook17Tweet about this on Twitter5Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn1 - start learning today

Leave a Reply