I've seen this done in many programs. For example in the 3D world you can create a branch out of a single leaf, and a tree out of a single branch, automatically, by randomizing position and start of animation.
Can After Effects do anything like that? I have a simple animation I want to repeat hundreds of times, like tiles, and in a pseudo random pattern, sort of like noise. Naturally, since it's hundreds of copies of the same animation, I want to avoid placing them manually one by one, for obvious reasons!