Curious if anyone has experience creating really customizable, automated video templates within AE. I know of the scripts "CompsFromspreadsheet," and "Templater," but I don't have any experiecene using them. Every tutuorial i've seen mostly deals with swapping in / automating text replacements. I'm wondering if anyone has experience automating differenet versions of ad where you'd need to replace not only text, but images, videos, colors etc.?
Full disclosure: I'm the lead dev of Templater, so I can speak to that tool and hopefully help you answer any questions.
At Dataclay, we definitely need to add to our tutorials and we have plans to do this. Out-of-the-box Templater can swap / update / manipulate all of the layer and data types you listed: text, images, video, audio, color, and even values within an layer expression. It also calculates the correct duration of a master composition depending on source layers' duration. The duration of a master composition can change depending on one of its dynamic layers' inherent length — you can check out the Time Sculpting techniques in this regard. In those tutorials you can see text, video, and still images, being swapped out. If you find that Templater does not have the features you want, you can build them right in using scripts that hook into Templater's processes. You can hook into these events using Templater's ExtendScript API and or with regular shell scripts.
Many of our users are definitely creating video ads appearing across various media and platforms, so it can definitely be done. There is a free 30-day trial to test out the features, too.
Very cool. And let's say you're making resizes...going from 16x9 and needing versions of 1x1 and 9x16 for example, is there a way to calculate size and placement of graphics relative to the canvas size...as appose to having to manually go in and move this around like we do now?
The way you handle that is with something we call "targets". A "target" is just a composition within the project that you want Templater to output with the merged data. So, many of our users create master layouts for the different aspects and then use a special column / property named "target" and then they specify the composition in the AE project that should be processed. Learn more about targets here.
The data that Templater is linked to serves two purposes: (1) for use as re-versioning info to the layers themselves, and (2) for controlling After Effects in a specific way. For the latter, we have reserved names that you can glance over to learn more about what each does. So, when you need to render multiple aspects, first create a master comp for each aspect, then add three "jobs" / "rows" to Templater's data source each with a different "target" column value. Then templater will render three different videos.
Also, I should add that Templater has alot of layout logic that includes layers "watching" other sibling layers to reposition and rescale, etc.
Just to add, there's also my OpenSesame Server script which does much the same thing. It's not as slick as Templater but it does offer the ability to add custom helper scripts to do things like template specific layout adjustments. That's something we can provide help with and they're not too difficult to develop once you have some reference examples.