FX Console + KBar

FX Console is one of those now indispensable enhancements for After Effects. In addition to easily searching for effects and presets to apply, it also serves as a gallery for taking, comparing, and exporting screen shots of your comps. KBar is another great extension to create custom toolbars and buttons to launch scripts, apply expressions and more. What if these two could work together? FX Console comes with a script panel to launch the snapshot features (screenshot, gallery, export) and preferences. With a little hacking around (and the blessing of Andrew Kramer) I was able to create a single script to put those features right into KBar buttons!

How to use it…

Open up KBar settings and create a new script button. Browse to the fxConsoleKBar.jsx script.

The default function will take a screenshot. But you can also supply the following arguments in the button setup to change the function (no quotes):

nothing : Default, takes screenshot
screenshot : Takes screenshot
gallery : Opens gallery
export : Export current frame
preferences : Opens preferences

You can make several buttons all pointing to the same script file with different arguments. Or you can setup keyboard modifiers if you just want a single button to do many things (thanks Tomas Šinkūnas). Take the following example:

alt: gallery, shift: export, cmd: preferences

With this setup, a normal button press will take a screenshot, alt press will open the gallery, shift press will bring up export options, and cmd (ctrl for windows) will open up preferences.

alt (uses option key on macOS)
cmd (uses the control key on Windows)
shift
alt+cmd
shift+alt
shift+cmd

Download

So here you go. Download the script and hook up FX Console to KBar!

Download fxConsoleKBar.jsx

More Tools

I have several other After Effects tools available, including a bundle of presets and a better way to copy/paste/reverse keyframes.

If you can’t afford Particular

Andrew Kramer posted another tutorial in the Meteor Crash series. The best piece of advise from the tutorial:

Now, if you don’t have Particular, what you can do is go in your back yard, and get a pile of dirt together. Put it in your hand, along with a grenade… No, along with like, a small firecracker. And then… light it. And when your hand blows off, what you can do is sue the company that makes the fireworks. Take the money from the settlement, and then buy Particular… so we can do this tutorial together.

Really, he doesn’t get into Particular until part 2, though.

It is up to us to build amazing things

As you may or may not have heard, Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 was released this week. Some new features in After Effects and Photoshop have my curiosity piqued, but it is doubtfull I’ll take the plunge into this latest incarnation anytime soon. (That is, not until the post houses and clients I work with begin to use After Effects CS4. Hell, I still have After Effects 6 installed just in case someone still uses that version.)

Of all the posts I’ve read on the web regarding the new version, Andrew Cramer at VideoCopilot.net has the most solid advise I’ve seen:

If you look at the big picture, After Effects 6.5 has enough capability to create things that would stop time and newer versions regard this as well.  After effects is a compositing application and it is up to us to build amazing things. No new feature is going to do that for us…

Though I’m waiting to see that in the feature list of CS5: “Amazing Builder™ — No designer needed!” Actually, scratch that.

We tend to get caught up in the latest featuresets and plugins ((Don’t get me started on Trapcode plugins. Yes, I do use them. But for the love of God, Particular, 3D Stroke, and now Form do not instantly make your animations and designs ‘teh awesomes.’)) and can forget that they are just tools. And without us and our imaginations, they just sit idle.

Now I’m tempted to fire up that copy of After Effects 6.5… just because.