I wanted to learn scripting for Adobe After Effects and since I learn by doing I needed a project. When asking my cousin (Kickass 3D/AE artist Johan Amberg) what he was missing in AE, he instantly replied: “Some kind of timeline folders would be nice”. It sounded like a good challenge and I made a little script with basic fold and unfold. Unfortunately my JavaScript required the user to press a button to fold/unfold and that didn’t really work for me.  To get the double click functionality and other things that I wanted, it needed to be a C++ plugin. Unsure if a plugin would work but eager to solve the problem I decided to give it a shot.

I added a command for creating a Group Divider, which is just a shape layer with identifier encoded into the content group. I sort of hijacked the command to open a shape layer, but only if the layer is a group divider. Then I simply check what layer is selected and turn all “shy” switches on for layers below up until the next Group Divider. (If main shy switch was off I toggle that too). I had a version up earlier that didn’t even use shy switches but actually just hid the layers, and even had folder looking icons. Unfortunately the hacks needed to pull that off made it too unstable so I pulled it and replaced it with the current stable version.

Here is a blog post that Lester Banks wrote about the plugin.

Download the plugin here (Use at your own risk):

goodmotion.se/GM_FoldLayers_1.0.1.zip

Getting started making AE plugins

Learning how  to develop C++ AE plugins was initially hard, since resources available online on the topic are very limited. After some time I found out that the type of plugin I needed to create was called a AEGP-plugin, they are basically plugins that are not an effect. Once I got up and running actually writing the code turned out to be quite easy. If you want to start developing AE plugins you need some knowledge of C/C++ (I knew some C and only the very basics of C++ starting out, then learned along the way). Here are some link recommendations for getting started creating C++ After Effects plugins:

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