Huh, lookit that, you can auto-insert the current date in After Effects expressions…

I have a copyright notice template and I wanted it to auto update every year. Yes, I’m that lazy. So I should be able to do it with an expression, right? Well, yes… and no.

Expressions are Javascript, and they inherit a few undocumented JS features, like all the string manipulation and so on. Something I kinda didn’t expect to work was the Date object.

In Javascript Date() when called without parameters returns the current date. Try it in the console in your browser:

However if you try it in an expression like this


you get this error:

Someone who knows what they’re doing might give up at this point, but I had a look to see what would happen if I gave it some arguments. So I put it into an expression on the source text property of a text layer. I started with just one argument, Date(0), and weirdly enough, it spat out the current date time. I tried it again with Date(1) and same result:

Weird, because if I construct a Date object properly, using var d = new Date(n) it returns, as you’d expect, a Date object whose date is n millilseconds since the start of the Unix Epoch, namely January 1 1970. So

var d = new Date(1234567890123);

will return the string Sat Feb 14 2009.

So if I use var d =  Date(1) do I get back a Date object? Seems not.

It seems to be a string. Oh, well, regex to the rescue. Yeah as I was saying you can use a lot of JS features in expressions, like regex. Who knew? If I’m after the year I just pull out the part of the string that matches four digits in a row, i.e. [0-9]{4}


//auto date insertion
var d= Date(0);
"© Your Name Here" + d.match("[0-9]{4}")[0]

This expression on a text layer will always return a copyright notice with the current year, eg: © pureandapplied 2017

One comment

  1. Fantastic! Used it for an application walk through; Many thanks!!


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