How to secure AE project files?

Hi everybody, is there a way how to secure AE project file against opening? I mean something like a secondary verification, password or something. Thanks for any ideas.

Yeah, I’m also interested

Even if there is, after it got unlocked one time the user would still have access to the project in After Effects and can then save it as an unlocked project file and spread it out over the internet.

Unless you take the possibility to work with the complete project file in AE away from the customer there is no way in securing it against copying.

You mean something like “AE workstations” available to customers? That would be cool staff!

not sure I understand what you mean or where you get “workstations” from my post :thinking:

Well, it is not actually mentioned in your post. It is just my thoughts about your wording “AE away from customers”. Let’s say there are powerful workstations or servers with AEs and project files existing somewhere (cloud). Customer would access it remotely and get just outputs. Crazy idea, right.:smiley:

not really, that has been tried and done in the past. The problems these online customization services faced were most of the time licensing issues. You are not allowed to give users access to After Effects render engine, even through your own front-end. Adobe doesn’t allow it as it directly comeptes with their interests of “who wants to edit After Effects projects needs After Effects”

Not saying that there aren’t such sites available - maybe they figured out a deal or they just do it without legal licensing - I don’t know.

Simply put, there isn’t a way to secure .aep files.

If there was, or if it’s ever figured out, that person is going to be very wealthy :money_mouth_face:

Actually there is a way. You need to make your AE template only editable with a script… and the script will always check purchase code.
Unfortunately it’s rather hard to implement. And in most cases it’s not worth it.

I don’t think so. To create such protection person need to spend around a year and maybe more. And everything would work only through his own web server.
So in the end he need:

  1. Script that encrypt AE template. That script will block any textholder and placeholder. If user modify ae template manually, some layers could change (with help of expressions) their position or rotation (or other property), so the end result would be just an unreadable trash.
  2. Script that modify AE template. The only possible way to edit item. Also this script will ask for purchase code, and send it to the server.
  3. Server that checks purchase code. Checks how many machines enter this code. This server also should have UI for other authors.
  4. Also person need to spend a lot of money for marketing, of course.

In the end I don’t think the effort worth it.

PS: And of course, nothing will work with Elements, because we have no any purchase code there.

This doesn’t really work as you will still use After Effects in the end to do all changes. The script will only tell After Effects what to do, but it doesn’t do it on its own.

In order for After Effects to use the project, it somehow has to be fed a project file. You may encrypt that in all fancy ways but at the time of giving it to After Effects it will be encrypted at least in memory, much more probably somewhere on disk, and there are all sorts of ways to extract that.
Also, as soon as it is open in After Effects, it is available to everyone.

Only true way would be to make a real plugin (.aex) that has more functionality on its own than just a script.

All purchase code protected scripts here in the end all just do batch work for the user - for example the Handy Seamless Transitions. All it does is open an aep and place that in the timeline - and only this functionality is protected by the purchase code lock.
You can just open the .aep of all the transitions on your own and drag the comp in the timeline.

In Short: You cannot encrypt an AE Project at all times as AE has to be fed an unencrypted project file in the end.

If your project relies heavily on batch-processes done by a script you can (somewhat) protect the script and in this way reduce the usefulness to the person trying to use the project without license.

If we want to get into true license-code protected areas, we need to dive into aex territory. A script for a project that just needs editing of placeholders and texts will never be able to secure a project file.

It depends what you mean under the word “secure”. For me it’s creating some sort of protection that will make project file useless without license.
Yes, in my method it’s possible to grab some parts without license and use them for evil things. But in 90% - 95% it will be useless aep file without license.

What exactly is “your method”? :smiley:

I mean this:

Of course, it’s not “mine”.))

That is a description of the desired end product - a pure wish. Not a method or any basis on how it will exactly work in my eyes.

In my opinion - it will not work, or if it does, the work needed to secure will be much harder than the effort needed to unlock it - and pirates have shown much more abilities than what I can think of right now to just disable these securities. (Expressions to mess with the project can simply be disabled by the user. All at once by just deleting a pre-comp that those expressions are referenced to)

Depends how smart the script will “hide” those expressions. For example it may use eval() in all expressions, and pirate should figure out manually which of those eval() codes work in template, and which one are code for secure. So in the end author just click one button in the script, but pirates should spend hours to enable and disable all expressions one by one.

Doesn’t work. As soon as the script made the changes, the changes are in After Effects and I can click save and have the correct expressions applied to the project.

I don’t think you will go anywhere here 2FI, at least at the time of render the render comp will be correct and there is nothing you can do about it. Besides not using AE to edit the template.

Oh, you don’t understand! You couldn’t edit any placeholder and textholder without the script. If for example pirate try to edit any text, templates become an unreadable trash. Expressions inside the template will not allow to do that. And only possible way to change the text will be to use script. No matter how many times pirate will save aep file, it always be secured, because each time somebody would try to edit it, he would need the script.

UPD: In other words, expressions inside AE project, will adapt for specific text or placeholder. They will work only with the text that use entered in the script. And only possible way to edit those expressions for another text would be by the script.

Doesn’t work. I just copy the text file, uncheck the eye-switch of the first one but leave that to make the expressions-magic work, and have my totally editable AE project.

We can go on like this forever :slight_smile:

I will not have much more time to spend as I need to go to a meeting, but if someday you have created a secured project file let me know and I will be happy to test it out :smiley:

Who tells you that there would be placeholders at all? :wink: It could be 30 independent comps, hidden everywhere. Also there is a function “sampleImage”, that may check if those comps change their colors and alpha.

my brain.

UPD: oh, and all your previous posts.