The first two months of every new year always feel kinda like the world is standing still. People take extended end-of-year holidays or stay inside to avoid the weather extremes, companies are busy counting their revenues and there is not much to watch on TV, either. The same very much applies to things in the After Effects world – there was literally nothing to report. That has now changed quite a bit. Not that I would have anything to offer, as I still never can seem to finish my projects, but that’s another story. The big news that concerns us all is a change in leadership on the After Effects team. Michael Coleman is handing over the reigns to Steve Forde, to most of us known from his work at GridIron Software and some pesky little products called Nucleo Pro and Flow. I’ve met him once or twice on IBC a few years ago and he is no doubt a cool guy. Can he run the show for After Effects? I don’t doubt it! He’s certainly a different breed from M.C., but at this point a fresh dose of blood doesn’t hurt. Someone coming from external plug-in development and painfully having worked through the program’s shortcomings surely will know what to do.
That, regardless of a host applications shortcomings some great plug-ins can come of it, is not least known since Particular or Optical Flares. Now such moments happen only once a year and since its 5 year birthday celebration with the release of v2 in 2009 there has been very little happening with any of the Trapcode tools, but luckily other step in to excite and impress us. Enter Plexus, you new best friends for creating networks of many kinds. Have you ever looked at some of those infographics about internet traffic or flight connections based on statistical data that looked like elaborate cobwebs spun with silk of light? Now you can do that – a bit. The plug-in will at least allow you to mimic the look, but can’t of course be exact. For that you will still have to build your own setups with effects, expressions and a lot of patience. Still, something is better than nothing and on a more abstract artsy level there is certainly room for exploring the structural beauty of such constructs. My only regret is that now that this has been turned into a plug-in we’ll soon be flooded with projects using it in the most uninspired ways and the novelty of it will wear off pretty quickly.
While you are stopping over at AEScripts to check out Plexus, you might also wanna have a look at Mathias Möhl‘s Expression Timeline script. This might come in handy here when you need to animate a few parameters using wiggle() or similar expressions to create pulsating rhythms, but don’t want to deal with having to split your layers a bazillion times just to make the animation stop.