Zack Lovatt | 2d Technical Director

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In early 2017 I was approached by the AE compositing team at VFX Legion about building an everyday pipeline tool to help their workflow. While their node-based compositors had a robust, reliable workflow, their AE team didn’t have a similarly nimble solution.

My contacts and I initially discussed and laid out the base feature set and agreed on a rough timeline. As I was working and sending updates to test out, we came up with more features that would enhance and add to the end toolbar.

The end tool I build is able to:

  • Set up new shots, finding and ingesting plates, building comps with the right specs and durations, creating slates and queueing the comps for output
  • Manage project & comp incrementing workflows, from the aep name, comp names and output paths
  • Convert the current project to a special ‘matte’ format, with a custom layer and effect structure
  • Convert the current project to a custom ‘special’ format, for any shot-specific needs
  • A “Smart Replace” function to detect and update new versions of footage plates found on the network
  • Options to specify AE structure, folder structure, comp names, render templates and more


“First off I just want to say that when I approached the Adobe After Effects team about needing a custom pipeline script, they referred me to Zack. My takeaway was that he must know what he’s doing. And I wasn’t wrong.

I told him initially that I wanted something like “Increment and Save” on steroids. Something that wouldn’t just update the project but rename various comps and render items and point renders to contextual folders. But what I ended up with was so much more than I had originally planned.

I began bombarding him with feature requests and tweaks, but he knocked them all out of the park. And when I wasn’t sure about certain functionality Zack made suggestions (giving himself more work in the process) but then ended up improving upon something that I was already happy with. The resulting tool automates many tedious things that used to take several seconds of clicking and navigating, copy/pasting, etc. A lot of seemingly complex instructions that were once entered manually have been reduced to single button instantaneous functions. Our workflow is much smoother now thanks to Zack.

I couldn’t be happier with the end result and Zack’s effusive style is evidence of his enjoyment of these kinds of projects. He’s a talented tool developer and I can’t recommend him enough. He was game for everything I threw at him and always quick to reply. He’s a true pro. When I need more custom tools I know where to turn.”

Brad Moylan

Co-Founder and Senior Compositor at VFX Legion

“I’m happy to recommend Zack and his amazing ability to craft extraordinarily helpful tools.

We spoke with the Adobe Engineers about some things that we wanted to customize to our pipeline. During the conversation they name dropped Zack as the person who could most easily address those needs.

To say Zack’s work was amazing and far beyond our meager expectations is an understatement. We started out asking for the ability to link a few comp items to a versioning up script. It has turned into a full blown solution for the naming and file path functions that were prone to human error.

With Zack’s creation, I no longer have to focus on tedious minutia, but can instead focus on the creative work. This is fantastic!

Zack’s attitude during the entire development period was enthusiastic and he kept offering suggestions on how to improve upon our ideas. He kept up a constant dialog making sure our needs were being met. On more than one occasion turning around a new version the same day if something went wrong between versions.

His level of professionalism and one on one care for his clients made the experience a resounding positive.

Absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt when next we need a custom tool for After Effects, we will be contacting Zack! And frankly, so should you.”

John McConnell

Senior Compositor at VFX Legion
Project Details

CLIENT : VFX Legion

DATE : March 6, 2017

TAGS : Gigs

SITE : http://www.vfxlegion.com/