I'm not sure how to phrase the question: I'm taking on a project for remembrance day; we're doing a video for the honour roll. Someone is going to be reading the honour roll while a band plays and a video plays in the background displaying all the names and photos of the individuals on the honour roll.

The 'slides' of each veteran are all going to be an identical layout, just the portrait and name will change, and maybe an old war scene BG.

I figure there has to be away to create some sort of template and then automate each individual slide for all the veterans by pointing to a folder or database and pre-composing a composition for each veteran, as opposed to manually replacing the portrait and name for each veteran and rendering them all out separately.

Even just knowing what performing this type of task is specifically called in After Effects would be helpful.

AfterEffects unfortunately lacks the built in batch operation features like you'd find in Bridge/Photoshop.

I would suggest a workflow where you set up your "Master Template".

  • Use drop zones, as in sub-compositions which are nested into a final master composition which is used to render the final file.

  • The drop zones would be specifically sized comps for the elements you plan to use. So if you drop a photo of a veteran into "Photo-Drop-Zone-Comp", and it's "crop ready" as in, all of your photos are the same size, cropped correctly, etc, it will frame up correctly.

  • Use Bridge/Photoshop to size all of your photos to the same exact dimensions with the same safezones so when dropped into the AE project they are ready to render out.

  • Do the same for the Names, a specific drop-zone composition which allows for short and long names so no issues come up.

FOR AUTOMATING:

Your best bet would be to write a simple automation script/program which works off an excel sheet with the Veterans names. AutoIt would be a good "free choice", but there is a learning curve. I personally use WinAutomation Enterprise, but it's a pricey platform.

But you could create a simple script in AutoIt to query each line in Column A from an Excel sheet, which contains the names of the Vets.

Column B would contain the "photo file name" which you could batch process in Bridge using a specific syntax.

Auto it would then open the Master Template and then:

Save Project As -> Column A(Vets Name).aep Import -> Image from Row X Column B (Corresponding Photo) Automate the drop-zone process Automate the replace text process, pulling the name from the Column A data. Add to Render Queue - Render Out

You could also script it to instead work within "One Master Project", and instead of saving a project file for each vet, it could create comps instead, so you could do a batch render when it's finished.

AutoIt would be a good choice to do this kind of automation. It's also free, with tons of resources and sample projects you can download online.

  • I like free, but learning curves aren't always fun... – ShemSeger Oct 11 at 15:10
  • Well if you already code/have scripting experience, AutoIt would be a fairly steep learning curve (steep as in hard in the very begining but you'd pick it up quickly and be coding in no time). WinAutomation is more of a drag and drop system with a very robust GUI that automates a lot of the hard coding. I have used both, and use WinAutomation for most automation jobs simply because it's so fast, has a built in debugger, and I can output to EXE and just run the automation as needed. AutoIt is far more flexible and allows for more possibilities. – McFlySoHigh Oct 13 at 19:02
  • As efficient a scripter as I am, it may be faster to manually make all the slides before I figure out how to write the automation script... I don't doubt AutoIt is a powerful and effective tool, I simply doubt my abilities. Other people may find this answer extremely useful though. – ShemSeger Oct 14 at 3:01

I would use Templater Rig to achieve this.

You can specify lines of text to be replaced from a spreadsheet, .csv file or a Google Sheet.

You can specify images to be replaced in the spreadsheet

You can automate the repeated rendering of a comp with different content inserted for each render, and a relevant filename change for each render. It's exactly the kind of thing you need, I reckon.

  • Templater looks awesome. – ShemSeger Oct 11 at 14:54

If you want to make slides, you should use a slide making app, like powerpoint. You can then export power point slides as image files, which are usable in After Effects. I can't recall exactly how, but I'm pretty sure you can import data from excel to powerpoint. I have a memory of doing something similar about 10 years ago. Try this help file

  • This is one way of going about it, but I'm hoping to do something with video and dynamic content as well. – ShemSeger Oct 7 at 22:02
  • @Shem I see. I'm afraid I can't help then. I don't know ae at all. – DigiVision Media Oct 8 at 15:53

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