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By Tony LaTorre

After Effects Script Review: CopyMask2Layer

On 17, Feb 2014 | No Comments | In After Effects, Reviews, Scripts, Software | By Tony LaTorre

A lot of After Effects scripts are pretty mun­dane, but that’s ok. They improve sim­ple things you do a thou­sand times a day but because of that they can make a big dif­fer­ence. They’re not eas­ily mar­ketable dif­fer­ences, which I sus­pect is why their func­tion­al­ity has not been included in After Effects, but they fill crit­i­cal holes in the software.

And this is why I’ve cho­sen CopyMask2Layer from Mamoworld as the first After Effects script to review on this blog. Seri­ously, there’s hardly a project I work on where I don’t use it at least once. Its use­ful­ness stems from the prop­erty that a mask’s place­ment is rel­a­tive to the layer it’s on (specif­i­cally, the bound­ing box of the layer it’s on). So if you copy and paste a mask from one layer to another and the paste layer is in a dif­fer­ent loca­tion, your mask will be too, and often you want the mask to be in the exact same posi­tion as the mask on the copy layer. Do you really want to have to drag a mask to the orig­i­nal loca­tion for every keyframe of your mask? And do you need the mask to be in exactly the same loca­tion? Drag­ging won’t do that.

CopyMask2Layer mask before and after precomping

This shows what nor­mally hap­pens in After Effects, with­out CopyMask2Layer. Image 1 shows a sil­hou­ette of a man which wipes on with a mask (layer bound­ing box is in pink, mask in green). Let’s say the client asks for a change which requires me to pre­comp the man using the “Move all attrib­utes into the new com­po­si­tion” option, but I still want the mask wipe applied to the pre­comp, not the layer inside the pre­comp. If I cut the mask inside the pre­comp and paste it to the pre­comp itself, the mask is to the left of the orig­i­nal loca­tion, inad­ver­tently crop­ping the layer (Image 2).

This is where CopyMask2Layer comes in. It will paste the mask in the exact same place regard­less of the size of the orig­i­nal layer, and if the mask shape is keyframed, it will do it for all the keys as well.

How To Use It

It’s incred­i­bly sim­ple. If you fol­lowed the install instruc­tions, you put CM2L in AE’s Scrip­tUI Pan­els folder, which means you can select it from the bot­tom of the Win­dow menu. All you have to do is:

  1. Select the mask you want to copy to another layer and click on the select mask button.
  2. Go to the layer you want to paste the mask into and click the insert mask but­ton. That’s it.

CopyMask2Layer Window


In After Effects, the posi­tion of keyframes you paste are rel­a­tive to our cur­rent frame, but are absolute in CM2L. In other words, in AE If the first keyframe was at frame 48 but now you’ve moved to frame 64, that first keyframe when you paste will appear at frame 64. In con­trast, the paste in CM2L remains absolute to the orig­i­nal copy. If the first key was on frame 48, the first key in the pasted loca­tion will still be on frame 48, no mat­ter what frame you’re cur­rently on or what com­po­si­tion you hap­pen to be in.


CopyMask2Layer per­forms as adver­tised, and there isn’t really a good alter­na­tive to what it does, which makes it an essen­tial addi­tion to your After Effects toolbox.

You can buy CM2L on the web site, where it cur­rently sells for $9.99. You can reach Mamoworld’s web site here.

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