Expressions Guide

Posted on 26. Sep, 2008 by in Blog

Despite my huge efforts to make expressions less distant and less scary for After Effects users unfortunately I still get a lot of questions about them on my hotline and in my email. That’s why I thought that maybe it’s a good idea to start posting articles about them. What do you think?

In the end those articles would create a huge manual for expressions Tea Cups With Lids Amber Rings Wholesale Tea Trays Toddler Sleeping Bags that beginners and advanced users could refer to when experiencing problems. It would of course contain the obvious stuff, but also some tricks, tips and techniques that are not documented.

Articles would consist of the official technical part, more user-friendly approach in plain English and probably some short video tutorial and a project file demonstrating what was discussed in the article.

I’d start from the beginning. Syntax, keywords, data types and such. Boring but very important stuff. If one would go through it all it would not only show how to write expressions, but it would also help to understand and improve other people’s code, which I think is the best way to learn it if you’re having troubles.

Let me know what you think guys. If you find this idea interesting I’ll start just after finishing the MILG5 dvd, which is going pretty well by the way.

Happy AfterEffecting.

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49 Responses to “Expressions Guide”

  1. Robert

    26. Sep, 2008

    I think that’s a great idea! Part of what has most interested me with After Effects are the power of expressions, thanks mostly to your tutorials. I would be very interested in gaining more of this type of knowledge.

  2. M Tully

    26. Sep, 2008

    I have been working on an expression framework after reading your article on loading outside files. Maybe instead of teaching, we can come up with a comprehensive framework dev platform. I would be willing to host it, some of it lives already on github. This way people can tap into conventional names to call complex expressions. The site would explain all of the functions for those who wanted to investigate and for everyone else they can just call simple functions.

  3. Thomas

    26. Sep, 2008

    JD, if would be a girl, i’d never fall in love with you, just because i’d adore you.
    Why can’t we be friends?

    sincerely in love,
    T to tha O

  4. Brad

    27. Sep, 2008

    Yes, please!

  5. Travis

    27. Sep, 2008

    Sounds good to me.

  6. lola

    27. Sep, 2008

    that would be fantastic…i’ve learned more from about expressions from your tutorials than anywhere else! thanks so much!!

  7. Stephen

    27. Sep, 2008

    I’ve been an AE user for about 5 years now, and didn’t even know expressions EXISTED until about a year ago. While I am working a little along on them, most guides I see take the stance of a programmer/scripter… which I am not… Having someone explain in layman’s terms all the things that will make my life easier would be AWESOME. Thanks!

  8. AHMED

    27. Sep, 2008

    Please Maltaannon, it would be great to dive into expressions with you. Many People are kind of scared about expressions, trying to avoid them. We already learn them from your tutorials, but sometimes they a bit confusing for us.

  9. bash

    27. Sep, 2008

    Cool! please start it!

  10. UmairVFX

    27. Sep, 2008

    This is the great idea buddy ….

    Expressions are really awesome and makes life easier….

    can’t wait more for this :)

  11. Chaabane

    27. Sep, 2008

    yeah, i agree, i want to learn more about expressions, and i think every 2 weeks u can make video tutorial with some visual technique using Expressions

  12. illd

    27. Sep, 2008

    Hey Maltaannon, I really admire you and what you did for the AE community. I´ve learned so much at your website, it´s countless.

    But to be honest, I´m not shure if I would follow the whole Expression thing. I know that Expressions are really powerfull, and I use them often, but more in a copy/paste way. It´s the same arguing concerning your upcoming book I had. My opinion is, most Motiondesigners want to design and create without programming, because thats a whole other “thing”.
    No offense , I just wanted to be honest (probably i´m gonna follow up all the tutorials and buy the book, too :) )
    Cant wait to see MILG 5!

  13. Maltaannon

    27. Sep, 2008

    Thanks illd and thank you all guys. I really appreciate the input and I’m waiting for more. As far as your opinion goes illd I totally agree with you, but It’s simply impossible to cover every situation so that a non-programmer could simply just copy-paste. What I want to achieve with this Guide is that non-programmers can have a bit of understanding of how things work and create their own simple expressions. As for the programmers it will reveal what is hidden in the expressions world, so I think both groups of people would take something from it. What do you guys think?

  14. Janus

    27. Sep, 2008

    I think it would be great, there are alot of functions, and ofcourse alot of different ways to condition them. I say; go for it!

  15. Nathan

    28. Sep, 2008

    I would love some help with working with expressions. I use them quite often and find them very helpful but the documentation that I have been able to find on them is scarce. Recently I have come across some expression functions that I didn’t know existed and would have found very helpful if only I’d have known that they were available. I’d be very grateful to see some time spent on expression education. As a person with expression experience I feel that more advanced expressions would be most helpful but I’m sure there are some basic things that I am overlooking that would help. It all builds off the basics. I think it’s a great idea and I look forward to learning more expressions.
    Thanks you so much for all you hard work and time that you’ve put into you tutorials and website.

  16. Eladmena

    28. Sep, 2008

    Brilliant idea.
    Would love to assist.
    Drop me a line if you’re interested.

  17. William

    28. Sep, 2008

    Expressions remain the hidden power of the app to the average user, and I for one would like a foundational approach (syntax, data types) as you suggest that I can’t seem to locate anywhere (though there are some nice resources). I am surprised at the dearth of documentation on what results in such organic animation in AE.

  18. Stephen

    29. Sep, 2008

    I always like to know the “reason” behind what I do, not just do something because it’s a preset or something that someone else has done… I would love to learn expressions from a practical, user-friendly and fun-loving way :)

  19. Way2Evil

    29. Sep, 2008

    Yeah, good plan.
    I’m no coder and expressions are always weird for me.

    thnx & greetz. W2E

  20. chris

    29. Sep, 2008

    ça c’est une idée super…

  21. FJ

    30. Sep, 2008

    Bring it on!

    Thank U

  22. Antoine

    01. Oct, 2008

    I would be thankful!
    Can’t wait for them…

    Thank u in advance

  23. Patrick

    01. Oct, 2008

    I think it would be great. Anything that makes learning the tools simpler advances the art, and you are a great teacher.

  24. Jadan

    01. Oct, 2008

    It would prolly be the most helpful resource on the web! Like others have said, I’ve learned more about expressions from you than anywhere else. It would be greatly appreciated!

  25. nemrod

    03. Oct, 2008

    It would be so … nice :)

  26. Christian

    06. Oct, 2008

    Mr.M, any extra time that you spend on the Underworld that is Expressions I think would be greatly appreciated. I have yet to find a website out there that can explain expressions without boring you to tears or worse making you more confused than before. I think a lot of us learn by watching and doing rather than reading. Thanks for all that you do for the AE world.

  27. JorritSchulte

    06. Oct, 2008

    I would Be More interested in Tutorials instead.

  28. ignacio

    08. Oct, 2008

    Thnak you a lot for your tutorials and your wisdom, and will be grat that you explain the fucking dificult expressions


    from Argentina

  29. Koeltzsch

    13. Oct, 2008

    The idea is more than great. Far too long have I searched the net for a guide like the one you mentioned. And I’d really love being able to actually understand them. I haven’t even thought about writing them myself, but that would be brilliant!

    Please don’t let anything stop this idea. Thanks

  30. Eric

    17. Oct, 2008

    That sounds great, there are very few internet sources that get really in depth on scripting…and ive already soaked em all up and am still thirsty for more. Dan Ebberts site has been the most helpful to me so maybe you can use his as a guide, as well as to keep from making too much information redundant. Something different than whats out there.

  31. jez

    22. Oct, 2008

    I love to see interesting things done with expressions. I don’t know much about it, but i hope it’s not boring like math is.

  32. Maltaannon

    22. Oct, 2008

    Hehe – funny you mention that. Most people have problems with expressions because they involve math most of the time. It’s not because of the expression. It’s just how the world works. But I’ll try to make it as fun as possible. I promise.

  33. Andrew

    28. Oct, 2008

    The easiest way for people to understand expression is if you them in projects first then break it down. That way you kill two birds with one stone. Showing its use and explaining its importance while killing the boredom factor.(Eg like in Trish meyers ae Production book.

  34. Andrew

    28. Oct, 2008

    Good e.g. I’ve got wiggle down as kramer uses it in his tuts and break it down while using it. Easy way for whatever you’re teaching to stick. :)

  35. waruna

    04. Nov, 2008

    hay that’s a great idea,Expressions are cool ….but not math…anyway go for it! i be waiting. thank x for AE Tuts.

  36. A

    20. Nov, 2008

    Love the idea…I get very scared of Expressions. I only know wiggle. Expressions scare me more than Freddy Krueger.

  37. John Robbins

    22. Nov, 2008

    This is a great idea. Most of the other gurus that we all study from tend to focus on keyframes. This causes myself, and I’m sure others on this board, to have a limited expression vocabulary, and sort of jump when we see you demonstrate their power. I look forward to this and MILG5. Thanks.

  38. FJ

    24. Nov, 2008

    The answer is obvios: YES, PLEASE!
    Now the question is WHEN? :O)

  39. Maltaannon

    25. Nov, 2008

    Soon. I’m closing up MILG5, and after that I’m putting a new site up – 2.0. Then I’ll start making the Expressions Guide, some new products I have in mind, and a brand new kick-ass training dvd.

  40. FJ

    25. Nov, 2008

    thank you Maltaannon for all what you do for us.

    Greetings from Costa Rica!
    Pura vida!

  41. Mike

    06. Dec, 2008

    I would buy it without hesitation. In fact, I’ve been looking for just such a guide to exist.

  42. Loay

    02. Jan, 2009

    of course…it would be great

  43. moses

    06. Jan, 2009

    yesss…yesss…YESSSS!!!! DO IT!!

  44. brandon

    16. Jan, 2009

    please please do.

  45. Lu Nelson

    03. Feb, 2009

    I’d really like to see more documentation of expressions too.

  46. Alvin rohit

    17. Feb, 2009

    its a great idea…

  47. Jim Simpson

    24. Feb, 2009

    LIke everyone else in the universe, IT WOULD BE AWESOME TO HAVE A GOOD EXPRESSION REFERENCE.

  48. Gustavo

    02. Jul, 2009

    Is a great idea! When can we check it out??

  49. Jon

    19. Aug, 2009

    Yes Yes Yes!
    what could be better?