Walter’s Field Notes on Safeguarding After Effects Project Files

  1. Keeping only a single copy or version of your project file is bad practice. You might accidentally delete the file. Your hard drive might fail. Ae might crash and corrupt the project. You might make a change you later decide you don’t like, but unable to roll back to where you were before. Back it up!
  2. Get in the habit of using Increment and Save. Often. Increment and Save automatically appends a version number or increments the existing version number at the end of your project file name. When you increment and save “My Awesome Project.aep” the first time, you’ll keep the original file and get a new “My Awesome Project 1.aep” file. When you increment and save again, you’ll keep both the original and version 1 and get a new “My Awesome Project 2.aep” file. If anything goes wrong, you have previous saves you can use.
  3. Check your auto-save settings. The default settings are to auto-save every 20 minutes, and to keep the last 5 auto-saves. For safety’s sake, you might consider auto-saving more frequently, or keeping more auto-saves.
  4. Keep file versions outside of Ae, too. Dropbox and Apple’s Time Machine capture and store multiple version changes of the same file. If anything goes wrong, you can use these to roll back to a previous version of your AEP.
  5. Do all your Warp Stabilization in a separate project file. The image analysis is saved into the effect and thus into the project file, so the AEP gets way too big to comfortably deal with. Big files are slow to save, and this will discourage you from incrementing and saving as often as you should, and it will frustrate you when auto-save interrupts your flow.


In After Effects, when you enable Time Remapping for a layer, it automatically sets two keyframes: one at the media start and one at the media end, irrespective of how you may have trimmed the layer.

If you’d prefer your key frames to be spaced at the in point and out point of the layer — in other words, if you’d like time remapping to work on your trimmed time range instead of the entire media’s time range — you can use keen-TrimRemap.

Here’s a screenshot showing the difference between using Ae’s “Enable Time Remapping” command and running keen-TrimRemap:


You can use this script like any other; just download it, unzip it, and place it in the After Effects script folder [link].

However, if you’d like, you can also replace Ae’s normal time-remapping behavior with this script. To do this we’ll take advantage of the fact that you can assign keyboard shortcuts to the first 20 scripts in your script folder.

Rename the keen-TrimRemap.jsxbin file I’ve provided as 01-keen-TrimRemap.jsxbin in your After Effects script folder. This will force it to the top of the list, so we will know it’s the first script in the menu.

Next, in After Effects, open “Preferences > General.” Down at the bottom of the dialog box, you’ll see a button that says “Reveal Preferences in Explorer” on a PC or “Reveal Preferences in Finder” on a Mac. Click that.

Locate the shortcuts file (mine is named Adobe After Effects 13.2 Win en_US Shortcuts.txt) and open it in a text editor. Search for the text EnableTimeRemap – you’ll find a line like the following (it will be slightly different on a Mac):

"EnableTimeRemap" = "(Ctrl+Alt+T)"

Select everything in between the parentheses and cut it out. Look a couple lines down, at this line:

"ExecuteScriptMenuItem01" = "()"

Paste the shortcut in between the parentheses.

Basically, we are changing these two original lines:
"EnableTimeRemap" = "(Ctrl+Alt+T)"
"ExecuteScriptMenuItem01" = "()"

To these:
"EnableTimeRemap" = "()"
"ExecuteScriptMenuItem01" = "(Ctrl+Alt+T)"

Now, when you use the keyboard shortcut for time remapping, Ae will run the script instead of using the built-in command. Of course, you can restore the defaults at any time by changing the shortcut back, or by resetting your preferences and shortcuts. You can also still invoke Ae’s command from the menu system.

Feedback on these scripts is always welcome.

Download keen-TrimRemap [link]


Here’s a simple After Effects script, based on an in-house tool and requested by Jonas Rue [link], which makes adding keyframe-based fades to selected layers based on the location of the current time indicator as easy as pushing a button.

Here’s the script’s UI:



The script will create opacity and audio levels fades from the CTI on selected layers and trim (or extend) the layers accordingly. In the case above, pressing the “Fade selected layers in” button would create a fade in from 30 frames before the current time up to the current time. Pressing the “Fade selected layers out” button would create a fade out from the current time to 30 frames past it.

And here’s a timeline before and after:



If a layer is selected, and if the layer spans the CTI, and if the layer’s extents can be set according to the script’s settings, then the fade will be created. Unselected layers, selected or unselected layers not touching the CTI, and AV layers which cannot be extended to accommodate the fade settings because of a media limit will not be affected.

To install, download, unzip, and place the keen-Fade.jsxbin file in your Script UI panels folder:

  • (Windows) Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects <version>\Support Files\Scripts\ScriptUI Panels

  • (Mac OS) Applications/Adobe After Effects <version>/Scripts/ScriptUI Panels

Once installed, keen-Fade can be invoked from the Window menu.

Taking a cue from Jeff Almasol [link], I’m releasing this as part of the #devforacause project. If you find this useful, please consider making a donation to a charity that’s important to you, and tell us how you’re paying it forward with the Twitter hashtag #devforacause.

Download keen-Fade [link]


Here’s a quick script to create comp markers at regular intervals as follows:

Regularly-spaced comp markers

When you run keen-CompMarkersMake, it will open a dialog box asking you how often it should create comp markers. The default interval is every 12 frames.

Three major points to keep in mind:

  1. The marker interval is measured in frames.
  2. The marker interval will begin at the current time in the comp. In other words, the first marker will be placed at the current-time indicator (CTI).
  3. Marker creation will be limited to the work area.

To run, download and unzip this script. You may place it in your After Effects script folder (or drag it into your project with Ae CC 12.1 and higher), restart Ae and run it from the File > Scripts menu, or you may run it from anywhere via File > Scripts > Run script file…

Download keen-CompMarkersMake-v1 [link]


If you have a lot of track matte layers and want to manage their selection, or if you want to precompose the matte and fill layers, here’s keen-UncleMatte:


Selection and precomposing should work as advertised, but if you run across any issues, please do let me know and I’ll try to sort them out.

Unzip the script and place in your After Effects ScriptUI folder, then invoke from the Window menu.

Taking a cue from Jeff Almasol [link], I’m releasing this as part of the #devforacause project. If you find this useful, please consider making a donation to a charity that’s important to you, and tell us how you’re paying it forward with the Twitter hashtag #devforacause.

Download keen-UncleMatte-v2 [link].

« Previous Entries