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poly

Expressions. Bah! who needs em?

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As a motion graphics designer, I have to keep up with AE, Cinema, PSD, and AI. I also like to have a life. I learned expressions when they first came out, and didn't pursue them because my projects never needed them. Artists I respect, do need them occasionally to compensate for limitations in AE (like for the xyz rotation), but telling students they must learn code in order to work in AE is misleading.

 

Last year, I worked with an expert who spent most of a day asking questions around forums to write his code, then came up with his elaborately scripted project. When changes were ordered, he couldn't handle it, and his expressions started breaking. After he was canned, I rebuilt the comp using parenting in 2 hours.

 

Wow . . . why would you not want to use expressions? Easily controlled complex animation with a slight bit of code OR tons O keyframes. I think I will take the expressions. I never have had a problem with them (at least not one that was not fixed here in less than a few hours) and also never had a problem using them with revisions. And there are always revisions or redesigns.

 

I would agree that those you say they are a waste and would rather manually keyframe, dont know how to properly use them. Best of luck with those manual keyframes.

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I always liked bouncing the ball (or whatever) with keyframes cause I got better at it... Being a better animator is finding the right and appealing ways to move the keys and curves around. However, what many of us are doing is essentially computer science. What make this stuff cool is that it is a mixture of art, video, math, code, and animation.

 

Right?

 

c

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Expressions are part of the skillset, just like knowing Photoshop inside out and drawing with a pencil. Don't use them if there's and easier way of doing something and use them if you need to.

 

Coding and programming are creative activities and an essential part of the process these days for high-end users and if you want to get the best out of AE then knowing them (as well as when and how to use them effectively) is as important as any other part of the program.

 

Anyway, anything worth doing requires time and effort and expressions are no different.

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Excuse me? I'm not a high end user? I work with 3 high profile TV studios, where not one single motion graphics designer uses expressions.

If you walked in and started lacing your work with code instead of keyframes, you'd be out on your ass in a flash.

 

If you hate keyframes and love math, get into programming. What are you waiting for?

 

Expressions are part of the skillset, just like knowing Photoshop inside out and drawing with a pencil. Don't use them if there's and easier way of doing something and use them if you need to.

 

Coding and programming are creative activities and an essential part of the process these days for high-end users.

Edited by guavaman

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Hee hee.

 

When I was in the first grade, during "art", I drew a bunch of concentric squares using a ruler. My teacher told me that real artists don't use rulers.

 

I uh... I still kinda wish I could draw better.

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Damn kids these days and their expressions!

 

Back in my day we walked out in the snow and shat keyframes in an outhouse and loved it.

 

This whole argument is coming from the dude who thinks all PCs worldwide suck because his IT guys can't make theirs work right. Ignorance of any subject is bad.

 

You can have a purist ideology and stick with your keyframes, but you can't generalize other people's experiences based on your own limited scope.

 

And I'm hoping that your rant only includes AE expressions. Because if you're adding 3D into the list then there are a LOT of companies and artists laughing at the concept of how their businesses wouldn't exist if they didn't have expressions to do work for them. ILM movies are not just a bunch of keyframes.

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Poly, with all due respect, you've been in the industry 5 years, and the final compositing of your snowflake with background is not indicative of someone with an artistic leaning.

 

Hee hee.

 

When I was in the first grade, during "art", I drew a bunch of concentric squares using a ruler. My teacher told me that real artists don't use rulers.

 

I uh... I still kinda wish I could draw better.

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Damn kids these days and their expressions!

 

Back in my day we walked out in the snow and shat keyframes in an outhouse and loved it.

 

 

Hee . . . Hee . . . That is one of the funniest things I have heard in a while.

 

Of course around the center of this whole thing is using the most appropriate workflow that you are comfortable with. I don't know about your TV studios (what are those anyways?) but it seems insane to me that you would let some one go for using expressions. If I can do the same thing in the same amount of time (or less) using expressions that you can to manually keyframing --- what is the difference - - there is none. It's all just different styles of working . . . some find it easier that others, some hate it, some people do amazing animations with them. I had a situation where someone above me wanted to paint correct a video clip in photoshop and I did it in Combustion and AE in much less time with a better result than I could have done in photoshop - -- end result is all that matters, but as they say in G.I Joe

 

"Knowing is half the battle" - - the more you know the more diverse your options for your workflow.

 

Just my $.07

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Excuse me? I'm not a high end user? I work with 3 high profile TV studios, where not one single motion graphics designer uses expressions.

If you walked in and started lacing your work with code instead of keyframes, you'd be out on your ass in a flash.

 

If you hate keyframes and love math, get into programming. What are you waiting for?

 

Excuse me? I hate keyframes?

 

So what if a whole studio of artists are only keyframing? This is not about getting a boner for code or keyframes, it's about getting the job done in the best and most efficient way and expanding the creative possibilities of AE or whatever. I hate coding, but I recognise that if I don't use Expression, Xpresso or whatever then chances are I'm missing an opportunity to produce better work.

 

Hey, I'm out on my arse!

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Excuse me? I'm not a high end user? I work with 3 high profile TV studios, where not one single motion graphics designer uses expressions.

If you walked in and started lacing your work with code instead of keyframes, you'd be out on your ass in a flash.

 

If you hate keyframes and love math, get into programming. What are you waiting for?

 

I seriously don't understand why the naysayers make this so black and white. No one has said they hate keyframing. Nor does motion design need to become a hard core programming environment.

 

Just so we all know. Here's a few things to chew on:

 

1) Expressions do not have to take over a property. They can exist along with keyframes.

 

2) Expressions can easily be set to be turned off, minimized by a precise value, multiplied or divided by a precise factor. All of which can be keyframed.

 

3) Expressions can be set to only work for a certain time range, or even a time range relative to the layer's in or out point. Again, along with keyframes.

 

4) Expressions can access external documents, even over a network, making the expression editable by anyone in the company.

 

If someone wants to throw me out because I might know expressions and can show a group precisely why assisted animation can be useful in a situation, then tell me those 3 shops and I'll promise to not work there. Otherwise, all of the national broadcast work I've done this year in all of the shops I've been at have had an expression or two. In each case, I've explained them and I've never had a problem.

 

So, the person that mucked up your project with expressions that most likely look like Calculus translated into Mandarin Chinese was simply following a bad workflow.

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For those of you who don't understand expressions, I encourage you to make it your new years resolution to spend a day or two tooling around with them. It's so much easier and much more useful than you think. Don't be afraid to try something new!

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I seriously don't understand why the naysayers make this so black and white.

 

agreed. I don't like expressions because I don't "get" them very well.

But I remember that one time I needed a sin wave oscillation and graymachine came to my rescue with a handy expression.

 

why work harder when you can work smarter?

 

This whole thread smacks of a Maya vs. Max vs. C4D vs. Lightwave vs. Softimage forum debate.

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If I can do the same thing in the same amount of time (or less) using expressions that you can to manually keyframing --- what is the difference - - there is none. It's all just different styles of working .

 

If it's a one-off thing, then I think this is absolutely true. However when you do the same (or similar processes) repeatedly, then that's when you are losing a lot of ground by not using scripting or expressions. Then it's more profitable in many cases to have the loss-leader of spending extra time to build a reusable tool.

 

Look at what Stu Maschwitz and others are doing with UI sliders and expressions. It brings the capability of AE to a new realm.

 

If your [tomcat] main reason for not liking expressions is because someone can accidentally fuck it up by tampering, then that applies to anything including the software install of AE itself. And certainly not a reason to banish expressions altogether. It's dumbing things down to the lowest common denominator. Then the whole argument becomes whether you lock the expression code or not (Like with Xpresso). If I password lock a node tree then it's no different than a coded filter in regards to it not being tampered with (not in execution speed).

 

So in those terms then it MAY be fair to say, "I don't like expressions in AE only while working on one-off animations that may or may not have dumbasses also on the project who fuck up code around me at my particular facility. Plus the fact that I don't personally like them because they are scary. So I project my rage onto them and noobs who ask for cheap tricks that happen to use expressions".

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So in those terms then it MAY be fair to say, "I don't like expressions in AE only while working on one-off animations that may or may not have dumbasses also on the project who fuck up code around me at my particular facility. Plus the fact that I don't personally like them because they are scary. So I project my rage onto them and noobs who ask for cheap tricks that happen to use expressions".

 

LOL- nail on the head!

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Hello! Happy new year to the east coast about now it looks like... Ok.

 

Poly, with all due respect, you've been in the industry 5 years, and the final compositing of your snowflake with background is not indicative of someone with an artistic leaning.

 

Mean! Let's leave "art" out of it for now, hey?

 

Anyway, I've been using AE for 5 years or so, but not "commercially". Background more on dev side (did some of the early code/design work on quicktime 1.0 at frootcom).

 

Making video look good is certainly something I aspire to... but til then, I'll just crank out the cool hacks, be they visual or numerical.

 

That said -- and veering a bit off topic -- and I know it's a big question, but if you have a couple of starting tips... -- how could I improve that compositing?

 

http://omino.com/pixelblog/wp-content/uplo.../finalMovie.mov

 

It was a quickie mostly for humor value, and an excuse to use a piano-loop I had around... but still.

 

It's scaled up into pixelation at the beginning, yuck. Obviously, matching the "twinkle colors" better to the background, lighting, and motion. Also, was wondering about a cheat so that the snowflake's not postcard-flat... possibly with a second layer and an expression. :) Am I on track? What else? I am in fact serious and humble in my enquiry.

Edited by poly

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If it's a one-off thing, then I think this is absolutely true. However when you do the same (or similar processes) repeatedly, then that's when you are losing a lot of ground by not using scripting or expressions. Then it's more profitable in many cases to have the loss-leader of spending extra time to build a reusable tool.

 

Look at what Stu Maschwitz and others are doing with UI sliders and expressions. It brings the capability of AE to a new realm.

 

If your [tomcat] main reason for not liking expressions is because someone can accidentally fuck it up by tampering, then that applies to anything including the software install of AE itself. And certainly not a reason to banish expressions altogether. It's dumbing things down to the lowest common denominator. Then the whole argument becomes whether you lock the expression code or not (Like with Xpresso). If I password lock a node tree then it's no different than a coded filter in regards to it not being tampered with (not in execution speed).

 

So in those terms then it MAY be fair to say, "I don't like expressions in AE only while working on one-off animations that may or may not have dumbasses also on the project who fuck up code around me at my particular facility. Plus the fact that I don't personally like them because they are scary. So I project my rage onto them and noobs who ask for cheap tricks that happen to use expressions".

 

 

well said brother.......

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I'm trying to figure out why what I am saying is being distorted as an attack on expressions.

You are stating that in order to work in motion graphics, a deep knowledge of expressions is mandatory.

I am stating that I do not need or use expressions, and that in my career which spans well over a decade, I have had no need to use expressions. I have seen projects hosed because expressions were used unnecessarily.

 

Stu, Milkshake and Grey Machine use expressions intelligently - to bypass an occasional limitation in after effects.

 

But when someone uses expressions on a frequent basis, I would question whether he knows after effects as well as he could. 90% of the scripts that I see can be done easier within after effects.

It seems to me that it is short sited to work in code unless absolutely necessary, because in the real world, projects change, and as I stated, expressions are fragile and limited.

In the time it takes to come up with a script, you could have finished the average project 10 times over.

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Now I have a question. Is it possible to geek a project so that it opens with no content?

A few months ago, we needed to open projects built by a freelancer who was big on code.

There was no content in any of the projects that he left. No elements, no comps. Nothing.

He left on friendly terms, the company had scheduled him back again, so it wouldn't

have been sabotage.

I'm just wondering if he did some kind of scripting thing so when he typed in the magic

numbers, the content appeared.

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Now I have a question. Is it possible to geek a project so that it opens with no content?

A few months ago, we needed to open projects built by a freelancer who was big on code.

There was no content in any of the projects that he left. No elements, no comps. Nothing.

He left on friendly terms, the company had scheduled him back again, so it wouldn't

have been sabotage.

I'm just wondering if he did some kind of scripting thing so when he typed in the magic

numbers, the content appeared.

 

Weird!

 

I am guessing that (somehow?!) you're getting the wrong file, or the file was damaged. At least that's all I can think of.

 

You *can* use a script to produce a project. The script would say, 'New comp, add layer, add effect, do this, do that' kind-of like if you did it yourself.

 

But that would be outside the project. A project can't have a "go button" built in to do that. Projects can't carry scripts inside. (Expressions, yes, but not scripts.)

 

(Hm, are there any nearby .jsx files? That could be a script that does a build. Seems really really REALLY unlikely though.)

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I didn't notice .jsx files. He must've manually deleted all content, and resaved all his projects then. On 3 different pcs.

Guess he was protecting his secrets. The art director wasn't amused.

 

Weird!

 

I am guessing that (somehow?!) you're getting the wrong file, or the file was damaged. At least that's all I can think of.

 

You *can* use a script to produce a project. The script would say, 'New comp, add layer, add effect, do this, do that' kind-of like if you did it yourself.

 

But that would be outside the project. A project can't have a "go button" built in to do that. Projects can't carry scripts inside. (Expressions, yes, but not scripts.)

 

(Hm, are there any nearby .jsx files? That could be a script that does a build. Seems really really REALLY unlikely though.)

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