After Effects

Image grids and auto-storyboard

This is one of the first projects I ever created with expressions, and one which I continue to find the most useful.

Arranging many images or videos into a grid can be quite a tedious process if you do it manually because you generally want to tweak spacing and size as you go, and you have to continually shuffle things around to keep everything lined up, and then if you decide the images should be bigger or smaller, or more to the left or over to the right then you often have to start again …

DVD menu for "Broken News" - with 60 video clips

This project automatically arranges stills or videos into a grid and allows you to adjust position and spacing with sliders. This makes it easy to judge the layout without being distracted by maths.

If you’re not a fan of expressions and don’t want to import this into your own project, you can still use it to get the layout working and then just note down the position values for all the layers.

There are three compositions in the project – one for stills, one for videos, and one to create an “auto storyboard” – in which a video is sampled at user-defined intervals and aligned into a grid.

I used the auto-storyboard to create a small poster for a friend of mine, Michael Graves. He had spent many years working on a self-funded short film (“The Urge”), and as I was involved in the editing I was there when he finally finished it – quite an occasion considering how long he had been working on it.

Since I already had the entire film on my system, I used the auto-storyboard project to arrange the finished film into a grid, with one image for every second of footage. Printed onto glossy photo paper and framed the end result looks interesting and makes a nice memento. I calculated the composition dimensions so the final render could be printed at 300dpi so it was many thousands of pixels in size. I think the render time was over 20 minutes for the one frame! Here’s a much smaller version:

The Urge, by Michael Graves
The Urge, by Michael Graves

Download the Image Grid project here- Image Grids