a technology and design website by Rhys Enniks.

Introduction to Expressions

intro to expressionsI’ve just finished an introduction to expressions tutorial where we create a type writer style effect in After Effects as a stepping stone into expressions, but also as a taster to the upcoming particle generator tutorial. Hopefully this will make some of the trickier aspects of expressions a little easier to understand for people unused to programming and be a good starter for future expression work.

Included in the tutorial:

  • Pickwhip parenting
  • Mathematical expressions
  • The Math.round() method
  • The time variable
  • Expression controls

intro to expressions
intro to expressions
intro to expressions

9 thoughts on “Introduction to Expressions

  1. This some fantastics techniques and the best of all is that is just after effects coding after effects, i just admire how java can help you on this but at the same time java script is chinesse for me is just hard to retained that information in my head. I hope you come out with some usefull plug ins i havent watch the water drops tutorial yet, but now i had enough of programming is just too much for me. Is excellent what you can do inside after effects.
    Saludos, Edgard

  2. Hi Edgard,

    Well, it’s not the absolute simplest you can get with expressions, i will admit. I could have done something simpler.

    But, there are some simple concepts in there, like parenting one paramater to another using the pickwhip, to create an avenue of data. That’s as simple as expressions get. I could have left it at that, but i don’t think it would have been too helpful. You see a lot of expression tutorials that basically have a rotating square controlled with expressions with an offset rotating square in the middle, but it occurred to me that that’s not the most useful thing ever to learn.

    Hopefully this tutorial will have provided a bit extra, and while i agree there may be some challenging parts for someone completely new to expressions, i think if you write it out and get the code written down it all starts to make some sense. Also if i’d made it all too simple it wouldn’t be much of a stepping stone to the particle generator, but it definitely takes the vast sting out of the tail of that tutorial, so if you understand this tutorial, i can guarentee you’ll understand that one.

    Never fear though, if you don’t understand just yet. I’ll likely be doing a lot of expression work to come, so anything you don’t get yet, just stick with us and we’ll get there.



  3. Would be nice if the author could speak a little louder, I don’t know I think I’m used to authors speaking clearly and loudly.

  4. I think it’s more an equalisation problem than a volume problem; try checking the tunnel tutorial and see if the levels are better, in which case, i’d suggest the audio levels are probably slightly low on that particular tutorial, although i’ve had no other complaints. It’s slightly difficult to judge output volume levels on rendering with one computer.

  5. i’m really like your tutorial!
    i’m come from Taiwan~~!!
    i’m expect to see more perfect VFX tutorial!!
    Thank you very much!!

  6. Kudos to your tutorial I managed to follow along with a lot of pausing :) But that’s saying something since this is not only my first time working with expressions but also my first time ever opening After Effects. I wanted the typewriter effect you created for a video I’m editing and a Google search brought me to this so I decided to try even though I have no experience with AE. I’m thrilled!

    I hope you still come back to old posts every once in a while because I do have one question. I made my clip white text on a black background. Everything seemed to work great until the flashing cursor. I’m thinking it’s there but flashing on and off as a black cursor so it’s not reading. Am I correct? And if so, is there a quick fix for making my cursor white like my text?

    Thanks again for the easy to follow tutorial.

  7. Edit to my comment above.
    I redid the tutorial just as you did it, with white background/black text. And when I get to creating the animated cursor it doesn’t go black when I change the character value.

    I scrolled through increasing the character value. Nothing happened until I reached a character value of 33 and then it started showing different characters, letters or numbers. There was no block character choice like you have in the tutorial. I’m on a mac with AE CS5.

  8. Sorry for all these comments. Feel free to delete them if you want.
    Couldn’t figure out how to create the cursor symbol following your tutorial so I resorted to changing the font to Arial Unicode MS. Then I used the unicode number connected to a right half block which was 9616.
    Don’t know if that is the ideal way to address the character value problem. But just in case someone else experiences the same challenge.

    Thanks for your patience with my first attempt at AE. Writing out these comments helped me figure out the problem. :)

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