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Midi to Animation - How To

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Collin Davis
Midi to Animation - How To
on Feb 8, 2010 at 6:42:12 am

Howdy all,

I'll cut right to the chase: After Effects, to the best of my knowledge, does not take midi information. I'd like to, if at all possible, bring my midi info into AE and apply animations to it.

To give you an idea, I'm transcribing the drum patters in this tune ( and would like to apply each midi "hit" to a corresponding animation for that instrument. I'm aware that I could use actual audio reworked from my transcription, but I think that would make my animation rhythm imprecise (animating the dynamics, rather than the hits themselves).

Does anyone have an idea for a work around? I thought it might be possible to convert the midi information to some other format that After Effects can take... but it's beyond me to know what that would be or how to do it.

I'd love to hear from anyone with ideas! Let me know if I need to clarify what I've written.


PS - Been reading posts here for a long time and I really appreciate all the quality advice given (it's helped me out of many a jam!).

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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Feb 8, 2010 at 5:37:04 pm

Hi Collin -

It sounds as if you just need to convert your MIDI files to a .wav format. I own Sonar, so I just patch my MIDI right into various instruments I want to use and export a .wav.

Here's another way:

Winamp claims to be able to do it as well, but my guess is that the quality of the .wav will depend on the quality of your sound card. It could end up sounding cheesy.

Here's another:

Haven't used either, but I know that once you get the MIDI to a .wav, you'll be able to use the file in AE. It sounds as if you want to use the trigger point from the MIDI file, rather than the audio portion, because you want precision. Once you get the .wav into AE, you can always input manual markers as you play the file, then animate as you wish.

Joe Bourke
Creative Director / Multimedia Specialist
B&S Exhibits and Multimedia

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Tim Andrews
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Mar 5, 2010 at 10:04:11 am

There are several issues in using using data from a Midifile to trigger AE effects.

1) Getting the data from the MIDI file.
There are various programs which can convert a MIDI file to a text (or CSV) file.

2) Preventing multiple events from occuring at the same time. For example, a drum might want to play twice within the same video 'frame'.

3) Formatting the data for use by AE. Other than using scripts, the best way seems to be format the data in AE 'clipboard' format.
As described at

For the first two points, my free program might be of some use:

And my demo video shows the final result:

Hoping that is some use.

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Michael Winger
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Oct 3, 2011 at 11:36:04 pm

Hi Tim, your program is exactly what I'm looking for but it looks like the link is no longer active. Is your program still available?

Also, for your movie, did you create a .jsx script that creates an individual layer for every midi note?


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Tim Andrews
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Oct 4, 2011 at 12:13:54 am

The Windows program is now located here:
If you have any queries, my email address appears on one of the screens.

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david van brink
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Dec 31, 2011 at 5:00:09 pm

A little late, but I just posted a script which imports .mid files as After Effects keyframes, in fresh tracks.

Might be useful to you!


dvb == recreational pixel abuse // motion, graphics, & scripting


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Thomas Cervenca
Re: Midi to Animation - How To
on Feb 22, 2013 at 8:38:56 pm

I'm a little late, but here's my question:

I'm looking for a way to ingest live midi signals (from a controller, over USB) into AE, to trigger animations based on keyframes. Is AE somehow able to receive live midi inputs? Maybe trough a script or something?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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