By Neil Bennett | on December 22, 2005
Price When Reviewed: 250
Pros: Much faster than manual graph building, and has a huge range of controls. Reliable with large data sets.
Cons: Data modification difficult. Prone to crashing.
An After Effects plug-in that creates charts and graphs is not the most creatively exciting effects tool you’ve ever seen, but the huge time savings that Data Animator offers over building graphs manually (in AE or Illustrator) is a great bonus for corporate work.
Data Animator includes seven plug-ins for creating Bar, Line, Pie, Range/Stock, Bubble, Polar and Timeline graphs – plus the Easy Chart plug-in (right) that provides a wizard for quickly creating graphs. Easy Chart is also a help when learning how to use the plug-in set – because all of the graph types have a huge number of parameters.
Data to build graphs is imported from tab-delimited text files, which can be exported easily from Excel spreadsheets. However, there’s no easy way to modify values within any of the plug-ins and you can’t create graphs from scratch – though it’s easy to create basic text files in Notepad or Text Edit if you’re creating meaningless graphs for symbolic purposes (for example, the computer screens in background shots in 24).
Data Animator gives you a huge amount of control over the look and animation of the graphs. This begins with the choice of whether to make a graph 2D, 2.5D/faux-3D, or true 3D with mobile lights and cameras.