Whispered around studios back in 2005: “There’s a guy… He figured out how to get After Effects to render in the background and then you can keep working!” Prior to that, animators would try hacks duplicating the entire After Effects application and running more than one at a time, or, simply just not being able to work while you were rendering.
Lloyd Alvarez, a NYC-based designer and creative director, took it upon himself to solve a workflow problem plaguing every AE jockey with some homemade scripting. But the decision that made an even larger impact was freely sharing the script on the web.
The download demand soon resulted in aescripts.com, which has grown to a curated collection of scripts and plug-ins that provide countless solutions for motion graphics users worldwide. Part of what makes aescripts so special is that the authors behind the scripts are active users who, like Lloyd, pinpoint the time-consuming hurdles that most affect their peers.
We’ve been wanting to interview Lloyd for some time now, and he was kind enough to share a bit about himself amidst working hard on the new aescripts + aeplugins.
How long have you been working with After Effects?
Been working with AE since version 1.5. i.e., Since a very long time ago!
How did you get into scripting? Was it by necessity or out of curiosity? (Or both?)
It was originally out of necessity. I was working on job where we needed to render in the background so I wrote the very first version of BG Renderer for that job specifically. It was very crude and had no UI but it was a big hit. Out of demand from friends and colleagues wanting to use it I went back and learned more about scripting (with help from Jeff Almasol, Paul Tuersley and Dan Ebberts) and created a more polished version that i shared with them and eventually released to the public. It was such a rewarding experience that I was hooked from that point on and the rest as they say is history.
Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel and leave this whole industry behind? What keeps you going?
Haha, yes and no. I really love what I do and have been really fortunate to have a career where I get to make pretty things for others to enjoy. I do however work a lot in the advertising business which can be a bit silly sometimes so that’s when I fantasize about leaving it all and opening a small shack-restaurant on the beach in Mexico (where I’m from) with my wife. However, running aescripts is totally awesome without any nonsense so I never have those thoughts when I am working on software or the site.
Has Adobe ever expressed interest in making your scripts part of the core application? If not, why not? :)
The After Effects team at Adobe is really great. I have been a beta tester for a really long time and have gotten to know them well. Even though they would really love to address every little niche request, for obvious reasons it is not always possible. So we try to make tools that address those requests, which is why I think we’ve become so popular ;-) The goal is to make the software better to use for everyone. As far as I am concerned it doesn’t matter as much if it’s part of the core or not as long as it is easily accessible to everyone which is one of the primary goals of the site.
What’s it like seeing the scripting community grow? How did your experiences with initially hosting BG Renderer for free on your site affect you in terms of coming in contact with AE-ers all over the world and making the jump to an aescripts site… And now aescripts 2.0
It’s been an amazing experience. Since we are all users as well, I think we have a good perspective of what the needs are and we try to write tools to address those needs. Because of this the feedback has been amazing and it really helps to motivate us to keep making more tools. We have even began expanding beyond After Effects since our platform has started to attract developers of all kinds. So if you have a tool for Cinema 4D or any other software that we all use then please get in touch as we’d be happy to host it.
How important is living in NYC to you? Could you do what you do anywhere? Is the city special for some reason?
I originally moved here because of my work in advertising and network branding as an art director/designer/animator. That was over 10 years ago and I think that things have changed quite a bit in that time. While I didn’t think it was possible to do this kind of work outside of New York or Los Angeles back then, i think it’s totally possible now. However I have also fallen in love with New York in that time so I might find it hard to leave, we’ll see :-)