Sander van Dijk: the State of Motion Design Tools

Brooklyn’s Sander van Dijk is a motion renaissance man: designer, director, writer, teacher, speaker, festival co-founder, and builder of After Effects workflow tools.

Ray Dynamic Textures, his third plugin (built with engineer Lloyd Alvarez from tackles the tedium of setting up textures in After Effects, but ask him about the tool and the conversation soon turns to wider issues…

Sander van Dijk: “Animation is constantly evolving with new techniques and our tools need to evolve with that. However, After Effects is the main tool for animators and has been lagging behind in innovation in areas of Motion Design and Interactive Animation.

“Ray Dynamic Texture is my third tool for AE. Before that I created a similar tool called Ray Dynamic Color, which has become the industry standard color palette for After Effects.

“Before that I released another tool called Ouroboros that I’m happy to announce, will update to a new version soon. I try to keep people up-to-date with my releases on my new website and newsletter.

“Next to making tools I’ve also written an extensive article on a few steps Adobe After Effects can take to update the program to today’s animation challenges without losing its current functionality. Some proposed features will actually make the program easier to understand for beginners.

“Adobe’s initial reaction was one of excitement, but I haven’t seen anything implemented, which is monumentally frustrating, because I know that most motion graphics designers want to see a lot of the changes outlined.

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“Understandably as I create tools myself, creating animation software takes a lot of time, but I feel Adobe’s priorities at a higher level lie elsewhere at the moment.

“In general I notice there is a movement — not only by Adobe — but also companies like Apple and others to leave behind their pro user base. They orient towards reduced software for the majority of people who just want to perform simple tasks.

“I think There’s a lot in the way of innovation that’s getting lost this way. Don’t get me wrong — I’d love the majority of people be able to create but the simple tools that we have today often originated out of that exploration of more advanced users doing something that was never done before.

“When those tools are being limited — innovation stops or is at least stifled. As I’ve proven with my tools, we can still do advanced pro tasks and make the software simple to use.

“Complexity is not always complicated; when there is a specific logic to how things work, we can move around really complex systems easily.

“For Adobe, It seems like the focus has become more about getting people into the subscription funnel, then it is about attracting more people because of the right innovation. Even if you have a subscription, Adobe is advertising to you constantly with in-app popups about things like Adobe Stock Photo program!

“The new subscription model of Adobe is a great move. It allows, for example, to take various programs under its wing, that may not have enough of a user base on its own to be sustainable. And there is more revenue that can be invested in exploring new features right?

“This is not a complaint by all means, I just think we can do better and we should. Because graphics and animation is the way we will be communicating in the future and we should keep innovating in that area.

Purchase Ray Dynamic Texture here.

View all Sander’s AE tools here.