Creating compelling motion graphics with text is one of the main uses of Adobe After Effects. While you can accomplish a lot with the default text tools if you wish to truly supercharge your AE experience, you'll want to check out some plug-ins.
What is a plug-in, you ask? Well, these cool little gadgets are essentially small software modules that “plug-in” to After Effects, giving the program added functionality. Below you’ll find a list of typography-related ones that will breathe new life into your motion graphics projects. All of these are third-party and range in price from free to $50.
How to Use a Plug-in
Prior to purchasing a plug-in, it’s important to look at the compatibility and version history. You obviously don’t want to use a plug-in that hasn’t been updated in several years. Also, when you purchase a plug-in, they will generally come with installation instructions. If that's not the case, then you can usually install one by simply placing it in the Plug-ins folder, located here—
- (Windows) Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects
- (Mac OS) Applications/Adobe After Effects
Okay, now let’s get to the list.
TextDelay is a native After Effects plug-in that delays your text transformations by character, word, or line. Unlike the default text animator tool in AE, TextDelay inherits your animation’s easing so you can be creative with curves or easing expressions. It features a range selector to control precisely which characters or words receive delay and which do not.
This AE plug-in allows users to harness the power of After Effects expressions without writing or reading a single line of code. This is very handy, as expressions can be quite difficult to use if you're unfamiliar with the language. With 22 ready to use (and customizable) iExpressions, you’ll be up and running in no time. If you'd like to have a chance to win a free version of this plug-in, go here.
TextBox is a native plug-in that creates a perfectly sized, customizable shape behind your text. These shapes update automatically and are applied directly to the text layer, so there's no need for parenting, mattes, or expressions. TextBox is a perfect tool for quickly creating lower thirds, subtitles, or closed captions.
MamoWorld's TextExploder allows you to split text layers into characters, words, lines and more. The placement of each character is accurately preserved. Perform powerful and flexible custom splits, or isolate just a single word. Again, go here for a chance to win a free copy of this plug-in.
This plug-in adds a stylish motion trail to your graphics just like regular motion blur, but more cartoony. It behaves similarly to default motion blur, except aesthetically it is much more suited to flat, minimal, 2D-style graphics. Customizable parameters include shutter angle (length of the blur), color (fill or gradient ramp), and opacity samples (quality).
Track mattes are extremely common with working with text in After Effects, and they can often lead to a convoluted mess of a timeline. This plug-in makes working with them a breeze. Effect Matte gives AE users the ability to add a perfectly sized and customizable matte to a layer. This removes the need for an additional layer to act as a track matte.
The Font Manager plug-in is a brand new way to work with animated typefaces, and it's extremely powerful and versatile. It allows you to create and write complex animated text graphics in just a few clicks. The UI closely resembles the Character panel inside of After Effects, so users won't have to spend time learning how to use it.
If you work with a lot of graphics, this plug-in can save you loads of time. Export text from your After Effects project into a spreadsheet, then apply the modified spreadsheet to the AE project once again with a single click. Perfect for text translation and client review, as well as any other text processing tasks. For another chance at a freebie, go here!
Shadow Studio simulates a variety of shadow styles, including soft, radial, inner, and long shadows. Soft shadows are traditionally expensive to compute using methods such as raytracing. Shadow Studio simulates these expensive effects in a fraction of the time so you can spend more time designing and less time waiting for the buffer to update.
Like TypeBuilder, the Artificial Intelligence Titles plug-in is another all in one typographic solution. Just enter the text you want, and the entire layout will adjust automatically. Create awesome boxes, choose colors and special effects, change size, position, duration, and speed. Customize the style and direction of text animation all without touching a single keyframe.
So what do you think? Do you have a favorite plug-in? Did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments section!