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Activity Forums Adobe After Effects Intense scripting: Smart Importer (finally)

  • Intense scripting: Smart Importer (finally)

    Posted by Spencer Tweed on January 22, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    Hey Guys, I’m working on a script and I’m a little over my head/don’t put as much time into it as I want. So I’m posting it here in the hopes that some of you would be interested in helping me develop it further! I’m never planning on selling this script and I’m not a professional coder, so I’m throwing it out there for free and as I update it I’ll share with anyone who is interested.

    I work on many CG shots a day and as such import a LOT of image sequences. They come in different organizational flavors – sometimes they’re in sub-folders, sometimes there are like 12 sequences in one folder, most times just both. As I’m sure all of you know importing a lot of sequences in After Effects is a real pain and sometimes I would miss a pass or two – so I needed something that would make it easier to import hundreds of frames in one go. I tested out Lloyd Alvarez’s Immegration script and while it was able to do what I wanted I decided to take a whack at it and come up with my own script so that I could tailor it to my studio/workflow. In it’s current stage it actually works pretty well, it allows you to select a folder and it will recursively import any image sequences it finds within that and any sub-folders. Already it has saved me a LOT of time!

    So at this point I’m happy to release it to the Cow and see if anyone else can come up with any improvements, or just use it if you want. I consider the script far from complete so undoubtedly you’ll run into bugs and slows here and there, but I have been using it in production for a little while now and it definitely works. What I’m hoping to get help on in a development sense is mainly cleanup and optimization.

    As a note I’ve only run this on Windows in CS6. I don’t have a Mac so I have no idea what will happen if you try it! (Adobe CC should work fine, but I haven’t tested it yet)


    To use it just copy-paste the folder URI into the “Path” box and import (it will import into any selected folders in your Project panel). The “Choose Folder” button might be a bit confusing because it actually looks for a file – but don’t be fooled, it will select the parent folder of whatever file you choose (my thought was that you could just click the first frame in your main folder and it would import everything in that folder plus all sub-folders). “Skip Existing” theoretically works, but it needs some cleanup – it can be a bit slow and sometimes bugs (could use help here!). If you are importing over 2000 frames or so AE will hang for a minute, but I haven’t had it crash on me yet.

    – Spencer

    Ryan Daily replied 8 months, 3 weeks ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • Chris Wright

    January 23, 2016 at 4:19 am

    i tried it and it works great. the fact that it won’t crash with thousands of frames means you’re a really good coder. I recommend adding FPS import select and batch replace import from highlighted comp panel. Besides that, it pretty amazing you’re giving it away for free.

  • Spencer Tweed

    January 24, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Thanks man, enjoy using it! I think I could add the FPS option pretty easily. I like the idea of a batch import-and-replace for whenever you get a new take and just need to update the renders – I’ll put that on the list and see how I can best implement it.

    Its funny, in looking at the code there really isn’t much there – just about 175 lines (including a lot of comments and blank space) but this was by far the most mind-twisting script I’ve made. It all started when I found the free Smart Import script that ships with with AE and asked myself “what exactly does that do??” After trying it out on a bunch of sequences I still couldn’t figure out what the heck this script was for, so I opened up the code and realized that it actually did a lot of what I needed – but for some reason it looks like Adobe never quite finished it or something. In a mad frustration-driven code-frenzy I made this in 3 days while also comping about 10 hours a day and finished it just in time for another big project!

    I don’t want to charge for my coding because I’m not a programmer, I’m a compositor. If I were to charge then I’d have to think about actually testing things out, providing support and fixing bugs! I just code what I need 😉

    – Spencer

  • Spencer Tweed

    January 29, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    Sorry, got a little distracted. Here’s the FPS feature and while I was in there I noticed something was messed up with “Skip existing” so I fixed that up:

    – Spencer

  • Chris Wright

    January 30, 2016 at 7:41 am


  • Spencer Tweed

    July 6, 2016 at 12:58 am

    I just did a sort of new version for this. It’s still a bit raw in that I haven’t put many features and catches into it yet, but so far it’s working for me! The main difference obviously is that it actually has a UI now.

    To use it just browse the root folder that you want to import from and hit “Refresh”. Now you’ll get a tree of all sub-folders and image sequences (collapsed to the first image). Double-click a sequence to pop it into the bottom panel, which is a list of items that are going to get imported. If you want to remove something double-click it. Now hit import!

    Right now it is super basic so you could potentially run into some bugs, if you do let me know. I’m already aware that it assumes anything you’re importing is an image sequence – so don’t try video files (if anyone needs that I guess I can fix it, I’m just feeling lazy right now).

    – Spencer

  • Chris Wright

    July 11, 2016 at 12:47 am

    thanks! you should try turning it into a professional program on aescripts

  • Swapnil Chaudhari

    September 7, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Spencer, I am pretty curious to try this. But seems the Zip file is not available to download. Could you please provide it again?

  • Ryan Daily

    September 7, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    The post is 9 years old.

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