What is the After Effects Wiggle Expression

Though some animation editors hate to hear the word expressions tossed around lightly, others know that they can save quite a bit of time when expressions are used correctly. Basically, when seasoned editors are creating and linking animations that are complex, and they want to skip the step of creating way too many keyframes by hand, they turn to a small software code that is referred to as expression. Expressions act much like a script that evaluates a single value a layer property at just the right point in time. The only difference is that a script tells an application to do something whereas an expression says that a property is something. 

After Effects Expressions
After effects expression elements are available in Adobe Illustrator and can be used with standard JavaScript elements to write expressions. In short, they are tiny pieces of code that animators can plug into different After Effects layers. These tiny parts are able to give commands to the program, saving animators a lot of time.  The Expression Language menu can be accessed at any time to change an expression by inserting methods and attributes. 

Using an Expression
The simplest way to get started is to make sure you understand the basics of expression. Adding an expression means first accessing the controls. To do this, select the layer property you intend to work on and then hold the Option button (Mac) or the Alt button (PC) while you click on the stopwatch icon. You should see the expression controls open. Once they are open, you can either paste in or manually type in the expression code. 

Wiggle Expression
The Wiggle expression is not only easy to use, it also comes in handy for a variety of animation projects. When it is applied to the position of a layer, it creates random movement. This type of random movement often makes animations look a bit more realistic. 
Using the After Effects Wiggle Expression is as simple as first, accessing the expression controls, then either typing or pasting the simple expression “wiggle( frequency , amount );”, and finally replacing “amount” and “frequency” with the numbers which will represent those values. The number inserted in the frequency spot will change how fast the layer wiggles. The number that is inserted into the amount spot will change the magnitude or strength of the wiggle.

When to Use Wiggle Expression
Because the Wiggle Expression makes objects move randomly, it is the perfect tool for animators who are trying to produce specific effects. Some of these include:
  • A wobbly text
  • A blinking or flickering light
  • Movements of character joints
  • Random camera shakiness
Once users are familiar with the Wiggle expression, they may also want to do some research into how this simple tool can also help to control the motion produced by using slider controls or create wiggle movement that is more organic and unique than is typical for a wiggle expression. 
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