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The Tools of the Trade

​ ​​​​​ ​​ Plugins for Adobe that help you ​to create professional instructional videos quickly​​​​
                                                                          by Seth Daugherty


I wrote an article a few semesters back titled How to Make a Video with Adobe​. This article was inspired by my work on a project I am still diligently working on to create online library workshops for students at SCC. It has been a long and not always smooth process and when I read it now, I realize how much easier my workflow became once I discovered plugins.

Plugins are software programs that you install to use inside other programs. These plugins are designed to make the program easier to use and to streamline monotonous tasks that usually suck up a lot of time, time that can be used to be more creative and productive.

When I wrote the previous article for the technology newsletter, How to Make a Video with Adobe​, I didn't know anything about the wonderful world of plugins. To recap, in that article I discussed the essentials of writing a good script, then creating images in Adobe Illustrator, creating the animations in Adobe After Effects, and creating the audio in Adobe Audition, putting it all together in Adobe Premier Pro and then publishing to YouTube or Vimeo. The goal of the previous article was to show my workflow and emphasize that in order to produce a nice-looking animated video, it takes a lot of time and work. This is still true for me, but now I have learned to streamline some of these tasks using invaluable tools that I didn't know about when I wrote the previous article. I'll go over some of these plugins ​and how they've made my workflow faster and made my videos look more professional.

Astute Graphics:

Astute Graphics offers a suite of products for Adobe Illustrator that make using things like the pen tool and the shape tool much easier. If you plan on making your own images, Astute Graphics is a great way to speed up your work because the tools are intuitive and easy to use. However, it's still a good idea to learn how to use the Adobe Illustrator tools before using the Astute Graphics tools because background understanding of how Illustrator works is needed in order ​to use the plugins properly.

Ease and Wizz:

Ease and Wizz is a very simple plu​gin for After Effects that allows images and text to enter the viewing screen in smooth transitions. Doing smooth transitions using After Effects takes a lot of time and if you have multiple transitions (sometimes I'll have more than 25 per video), it's a huge time-saver to have a button you can push to get just the right smooth transition to make the videos look professional.

Font Manager:

Font Manager is another After Effects plugin that provides for easy kinetic typography. Kinetic typography is an affect that animates letters to present words to the viewer in unique and visually stimulating ways. You've most likely seen kinetic typography at the beginning and end of YouTube videos. They are very effective when introducing a topic or adding an interesting looking animated title to the beginning and end of a video.


Mister Horse Animation Composer:

Mister Horse Animation Composer is my favorite plugin by far and has saved me hours and hours of time. This plugin quickly and easy creates interesting and fairly smooth transitions for images and text with the push of a button. Images or text can pop in to view from different directions or expand and contract creating snappy and visually stimulating affects that are bound to keep the viewers' attention longer.


Of course, it's important to learn the basics of Illustrator and After Effects in order to use them effectively. However, once you've learned the basics of how to create simple images and animations, check out some of these incredible plugins that save hours of monotonous and repetitive work while at the same time making the video content look more professional and visually exciting. Most of the plugins are free or the cost is minimal​. The right plugin for the right job is worth every penny considering how they increase the quality of work while saving countless hours, hours you can now spend focusing on t​he content.



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