How do you know that you are "old" in the After Effects world? When you can remember pretty much every cool plug-in that there once was and whose demise you regret. One of those was Useful Things, a custom framework for building your own effects using Python. I’ve long been a sucker for parametrical/ generative graphics – anything from L-Systems to statistical visualization – and have long wished we could have something like Processing would make its way to After Effects to fill that gap, but it hasn’t happened. Luckily, things are beginning to look a bit better, as we are getting a new Python plug-in thanks to David van Brink.
While probably only relevant for 0.1% of all users, there are several interesting things to this. Python is used in a lot of programs already, including various 3D and compositing programs like Cinema 4D, Maya, Nuke or Fusion, making it much easier to find help. It also makes it easier to justify learning the language – if you use multiple such programs, you can massively benefit from exploiting that knowledge. Furthermore, Python is an expandable language, which in the long run means there could be pre-made custom extensions to facilitate development of more complex setups and again, those could possibly even be exchangeable across different apps. Additionally, the language is much more accessible and robust as opposed to Adobe‘s own Pixel Bender, which is pretty useless in After Effects, anyways.
In any case, this opens up a whole new world and I’ll surely look into it. I just hope they’ll have a Windows version soon so I can try this and I also hope they keep working on it to expand the plug-in’s functionality.