After Effects Countdown Expression - What It Is & How To Use It

To create a dynamic countdown in After Effects, first set up a text layer and then apply the countdown expression to the 'Source Text' property. Customize the format and appearance using various render passes, allowing for creative adjustments to align with your project's vision.

October 29, 2023
After Effects Countdown Expression - What It Is & How To Use It
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Countdown Expression In After Effects

After Effects Countdown Expressions

60 Seconds Countdown

Math.floor(60 - time);

5 Minutes Countdown

Math.floor(300 - time);

What It Does

The After Effects Countdown Expression is a powerful tool that allows you to create a countdown timer within your video projects. This is particularly useful for creating suspense in trailers, indicating time in tutorials, or adding a creative touch to your animations.

How To Use It

To use this expression, you first need to create a text layer. You can do this by going to the toolbar at the top of the screen, selecting the text tool (or pressing 'Ctrl + T' on Windows or 'Cmd + T' on Mac), and clicking on your composition to start typing.

Once you have your text layer, you’ll want to open up the expressions panel. If it’s not already visible, you can find it under 'Window' in the top menu, and then selecting 'Expressions'. With your text layer selected, hold down the 'Alt' key (or 'Option' on Mac) and click on the stopwatch icon next to the 'Source Text' property. This will enable expressions for this property.

In the expressions editor that appears, you can type in the countdown expression. The basic structure of the expression allows you to set a specific duration for the countdown, and it will automatically calculate the remaining time based on the current time indicator's position. The expression typically uses JavaScript math functions to perform these calculations.

It’s crucial to set everything up correctly to ensure that the countdown works as intended. You can tweak the expression to customize the format of the countdown, such as showing days, hours, minutes, or seconds, and you can also add text before or after the countdown numbers to provide additional context.

Using various render passes, you can further enhance the countdown timer by adding effects, colors, and glows, ensuring that it blends seamlessly with the rest of your composition. This approach allows you to make creative decisions at this phase, tweaking the appearance of the countdown timer until it perfectly suits your vision.