altwhip: Alternative for "Pick Whip" tool

Hello everyone!

Today I would like to share with you a scrip that I created. It’s simple, but very useful, and saved for me a lot of time.


Problem and solution
Every day we use Pick Whip tool image to copy a path to a certain property. I find it outdated and in many situations not comfortable at all.

  1. Sometimes we need to make several manipulations, drag this whip to special place and so on. For example, try to link position of the layer to a different layer from a different comp.
  2. It’s not universal. By using Pick Whip you are under a risk to have a client who work with non-english AE. Yes, there is ExpressionUniversalizer script, but now it’s paid, and not perfect (if you give custom name to effect before universalization).

So I created “altwhip” script, that solves those two problems.

  1. To copy property path you literally need just copy and paste the path where you need.
  2. It’s 100% universal in any case. How it works? The script checks whole hierarchy to a property, if anything could be renamed, it adds suffix “_aw” to a name. If it couldn’t rename property (like position), it use matchName.

Windows Only
Right now it works only on Windows, because I’m a Windows user, and I have no any Mac to check the script.
But if you are a MacOS user and would like to use this script, please send me a DM. So I could test everything on your side.


Installation
“altwhip” is actually a family of three scripts. And I use it with “ft-Toolbar”, but you can, of course, use hotkeys.

  1. Download zip archive from here.

  2. You will get three .jsx files
    image

  3. Give them prefixes “1_”,“2_”,“3_”, like shown in a picture. It’s important, if you want to use them with hotkeys.
    image

  4. And copy to your AE folder:
    C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2014\Support Files\Scripts

  5. For new AE version press (Ctrl+Alt+')


    Type on search “altwhip”. Select key that you want to use, and drag the script to the right-bottom panel. I use (Alt+F5, Alt+F6, Alt+F7). But you can use anything else.

    For old AE versions follow the guide from here.
    image
    image

  6. Open Preferences and make sure that “Allow Scripts to Write Files… bla-bla” is turned ON.
    image

  7. DONE!

How it works?
Now If you select any property and press (in my case) Alt+F5
image
…you will copy the path to your clipboard.

comp("Comp 1").layer("my_layer")("ADBE Effect Parade")("Fractal Noise_aw")("ADBE Fractal Noise-0023")
It’s a global path (“altwhip_global.jsx” copy global paths), so you can put this to any property outside the original comp. Just press Ctrl+V

“altwhip_thisComp.jsx” (Alt+F6) - copy paths relatively to the original comp.
thisComp.layer("my_layer")("ADBE Effect Parade")("Fractal Noise_aw")("ADBE Fractal Noise-0023")

And “altwhip_thisLayer.jsx” (Alt+F7) - copy path that is local for the original layer.
thisLayer("ADBE Effect Parade")("Fractal Noise_aw")("ADBE Fractal Noise-0023")


I find it very easy to use.

  1. Select property
  2. Press one of three hotkeys (depends where you want to put the path)
  3. Find the property where you want to paste it.
  4. Alt+click on “watch”image
  5. Paste the path Ctrl+V

Five simple steps, works in any situation, absolutely universal.


Conclusion
Hope you find this script useful and it will save time for you. I tried to explain everything on this post, but if you have questions, feel free to ask them.

Thanks for attention!

7 Likes

Thanks for sharing!

1 Like

This is a really great idea and much needed! The whip tool is clunky because both the target and source must be visible to complete the pairing–painful! This script puts the source as text on the clipboard for pairing asynchronously. Can you think of an implementation that doesn’t require the change to the preferences?

You explained all this much better than I did. :smiley: Thanks.

About your question. Did you mean implementation that doesn’t require to open preferences and turn on “Allow Scripts to Write Files…”? If yes, unfortunately it’s impossible to do, due to some limitation of AE scripting.
Or you mean something else? Like, some kind of UI that doesn’t require from user to change hotkeys?
Personally I use “ft-Toolbar”. And do not plan to create separate interface. But if there would be more requests, I could build it.

Your first response was my question. I like the hotkeys approach, in fact I didn’t know about this functionality until your explanation, so thanks for that too! (I’m new to AE)