AFTEREFFECTS

News, Information & Workflows from Users & the Adobe Ae Team

changes to expressions in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5)

[Before you install After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), read this article. For details of what’s new and changed, read this article.]

The interactive performance improvements in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) include significant enhancements to how expressions are evaluated. Expressions are now evaluated on the render thread, meaning the user interface will no longer slow down while an expression is calculating; cache markings affected by an expression, for example, are updated on-the-fly instead of waiting for the expression to complete. Also, some expression-heavy compositions may render faster due to expanded use of the internal expression cache, especially when one expression is dependent on the results of other expressions.

What will be more visible as you work is that when an expression fails to evaluate:

  • Expression errors appear in a warning banner at the bottom of the Composition and Layer panels instead of in a dialog box.
  • The expression is not automatically disabled and will continue to evaluate.

The warning banner will display as long as the expression fails to evaluate; that is, until the expression is either fixed or manually disabled.

This means that when you have multiple expressions that fail, you no longer need to click through all of the error dialog boxes that appear. Also, when you fix the cause of an expression’s failure, you no longer have to click to re-enable it. That includes if you simply undo the change that caused the expression to fail.

We know that many After Effects users utilize expressions heavily and that in some of their projects, changing a single property or deleting a single layer could cause hundreds of related expressions to fail. We hope these changes provide some relief to the fingers of expression-heavy users.

Here’s an example of what the expression error warning banner looks like:

expression_error_banner_small

On the right side of the expression error warning banner are control buttons:

  • The Left or Right arrow buttons display the previous or next expression error when multiple expressions fail to evaluate.
  • The Reveal Expression (magnifying glass) button will expose the property with the failing expression in the Timeline panel. If the expression is in a different composition, that composition will open.
  • The Expand/Collapse Warning (up/down arrows) button shows or hides the error text.

Note: The expression error text is one line only, and is clipped to the width of the Composition panel. To see the full expression error text in the old-style dialog box, click on the yellow error triangle icon next to the expression in the Timeline panel.

You can hide the entire warning banner if you find it distracting. Choose After Effects CC (Mac OS) or Edit (Windows) > Preferences > General and disable Show Warning Banner When Project Contains Expressions Errors. But remember that when this option is disabled, the warning banner remains hidden even when new expression errors occur. Re-enable this option to view expression errors.

Let us know what you think about the changes to expression evaluation on the After Effects forum.

known issues in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5)

[Before you install After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), read this article. For details of what’s new and changed, read this article.]

The After Effects team is tracking several issues, listed below, that affect performance or usability in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) . We intend to release a patch update in July that will address many of these issues.

Please note: some of the issues included in this article are not bugs, but changes to how previews work in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5). These behaviors are described here so that the explanations are easy to find.

In addition to this article, you should also read about features not available in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


issues with plug-ins


Most plug-ins need to be updated for After Effects CC 2015 (13.5). Older plug-ins may cause errors or fail to function properly. Updated plug-ins are now available from many vendors, you should check to see if updates are available for yours.

Issues with individual third party plug-ins in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) are being tracked in a different blog article. Please refer that article for up-to-date information, but there are two issues worth mentioning here because they require fixes in After Effects, not the plug-ins:

  • Trapcode Sound Keys (from Red Giant) and similar plug-ins that process audio will not work.
  • Using any combination of two effects from certain categories will result in an error message:

    “After Effects error: internal verification failure, sorry! {Effect is I_MIX_GUID_DEPENDENCIES but did not call GuidMixIn in PreRender}”

    This will happen with effects from RE:Vision Effects, though they are not the only affected plug-ins.

For both of these issues, we have fixes in development that we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


unable to stop a preview before rendering finishes or long delay before you can stop a preview 


We have received many reports of problems where After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) doesn’t respond to mouse clicks or keyboard input while a preview is rendering and caching frames. Once the preview is fully rendered, After Effect will respond to input again. In some cases, After Effects will respond during the preview, but only after a long delay.

This problem occurs when the Warp Stabilizer VFX or 3D Camera Tracker effects are applied to a layer in the project. Deleting those effects from the layer(s) will prevent the problem from occurring.

We have a fix in development that we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


keyboard input is not recognized or delayed 


We have received reports where After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) doesn’t respond to keyboard input, for example pressing a keyboard shortcut or typing into a text layer.

These issues are the same bug described above where After Effects does not respond to commands to stop a preview, caused by the same problem with the Warp Stabilizer VFX or 3D Camera Tracker effects being used in the project. Deleting those effects from the layer(s) will prevent these issues from occurring.

As above, we have a fix in development that we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


audio doesn’t play at the beginning of a preview and/or drops out during interaction


When you start a preview in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), audio doesn’t play for one or more seconds at the beginning of the preview. Also, certain actions cause audio to drop out while a preview is playing back, such as placing markers, or moving the mouse cursor over the previewing Composition, Layer, or Footage panel.

To avoid these audio problems, disable Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-Time option in Preferences > Previews.

The cause of this problem is a combination of factors:

  • The Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-Time option, enabled by default, by design causes audio to stop playing when the frame rate of a preview drops below real-time.
  • Several bugs are affecting the ability of After Effects to play previews consistently at real-time frame rate once the frames are cached. When this happens, the Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-Time option causes audio to stop playing. See the next section, “frame rate of a cached preview drops below real-time” for more information about these bugs.

Note that when Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-Time is disabled, and the preview frame rate drops below real-time, the audio will stutter. This stuttering is by design: in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), the audio playback clock was fixed so that audio always stays in sync with video; to account for cases where preview is slower than real-time, audio slows down by dropping samples.


frame rate of a cached preview drops below real-time (different causes)


Several bugs cause After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) to not play back a cached preview at real-time frame rate. There are different behaviors and causes for these bugs. We have fixes in development for some of these bugs that we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).

Remember that only previews of cached frames are expected to play back in real-time. If you modify a composition during a preview in a way that invalidates cached frames, After Effect will need to render and cache the new frames, which will slow down the preview frame rate. Once the new frames are cached, the preview frame rate should again be real-time.

You can monitor the frame rate of a preview in the Info panel.

Bugs under investigation include:

  • After starting a preview, it takes one or more seconds before the frame rate to achieve real-time.
  • During a preview, moving the mouse pointer over the Composition panel may cause the frame rate to temporarily slow down.
  • During a preview, clicking into or moving the mouse pointer over UI controls, such as an effect property value, may cause the frame rate to temporarily slow down.
  • Placing markers, for example for audio timing, during a preview will slow down the frame rate.
  • Compositions with high frame rates, for example 60fps, are slower to achieve real-time frame rate.

stopping an audio-only preview moves the CTI to the stop time


When you stop an audio-only preview with the period (.) key on the number pad in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) the current-time indicator (CTI) will move to the time where you stopped the preview.

In previous versions of After Effects, the CTI would stay at the previous time.

This was an intentional change to the behavior of stopping an audio-only preview. After receiving significant feedback about this issue, we intend to restore the previous behavior in the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), so that when an audio-only preview is stopped with the period key on the numpad, the CTI will stay at the previous time.

Until the update is available, you can work around this by stopping the preview with the zero key on the number pad instead of the period (.) key. Using the zero key to stop will leave the CTI at the previous time, regardless of what method you used to start the preview.


scrubbing audio causes the CTI and PTI to disappear


After you scrub audio in a composition, i.e. you hold the Command (Mac OS) or Control (Windows) key and scrub the current-time indicator (CTI), the CTI and preview-time indicator (PTI) stop drawing in the Timeline panel for that composition until you restart After Effects.

This bug happens only when you release the mouse button before you release the Command or Control key when you are finished scrubbing.

When this happens, you can bring back the CTI and PTI by scrubbing audio again, but this time release the Command or Control key before you release the mouse button.

We are investigating a fix for this bug for a future update.


scrubbing audio slowly will cause audio to loop around the CTI


When you scrub audio, i.e. you hold the Command (Mac OS) or Control (Windows) key and scrub the current-time indicator (CTI), if you move the mouse very slowly or hold it still, audio will play in a short loop around the CTI.

This behavior existed in previous versions of After Effects, however it only engaged after a short (0.5 to 1 second) delay if you held the CTI in the same position. In After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), there is a bug that causes audio looping to ignore this delay.

We have a fix in development to restore the delay before audio loop starts, which we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


stopping a preview with spacebar continues playback of cached frames if not all frames have been rendered


When you start a preview with the spacebar key, if you press spacebar again to stop the preview before all frames are rendered and cached, preview does not stop. Only rendering is interrupted, and playback of the cached frames continues.

This behavior is by design, part of the changes to how previews work in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5). The default preview settings for the spacebar key now use caching behaviors similar to how RAM Preview worked in previous versions of After Effects.

To stop a preview immediately, you can:

  • Change the settings for spacebar: in the Preview panel, set Preview Favors to Length for the Spacebar shortcut. This will change the caching behavior when previews are started with the spacebar key, including that stopping a preview that was started with spacebar stops immediately instead of looping the cached frames. This is similar to how the spacebar key worked in previous versions of After Effects.
  • Press the Esc key to stop a preview. Esc immediately stops any preview, regardless of how that preview was started. Note that Esc also leaves the current-time indicator (CTI) at its previous position instead of moving it to the preview time.

modifying a camera view with the unified camera tool is slow


Using the Unified Camera Tool (UCT) to modify the view of a camera layer at the same time that camera is used for the view in the Composition panel causes the view to update slowly in Off (Final Quality) preview mode or downsample excessively in Adaptive Resolution preview mode.

This problem doesn’t occur with the individual camera tools: Orbit Camera Tool, Track XY Camera Tool, and Track Z Camera Tool. We are investigating a fix for this bug for a future update.


unable to import .mxf files from Sony cameras


After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) is unable to import .mxf files generated by Sony cameras, such as the FS700, F5, F55, and F65. Trying to import such a file results in an error, “file ‘<file name>.mxf’ can not be imported – this .mxf file is damaged or unsupported”.

We have a fix in development that we are targeting for the July update to After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


problems with camera raw sequence footage, including .dng


We are aware of the following problems related to using camera raw sequence footage, including .dng sequences, in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5):

  • An error occurs after you change the settings of a camera raw sequence in the Camera Raw settings dialog: Photoshop file format error 3415 ( 45 :: 35 ). When you quit After Effects, you may also receive an error: Photoshop file format error 1 ( 45 :: 35 ). This error may not occur if you choose Edit > Edit Original to open the Camera Raw settings dialog instead of accessing the settings via the Interpret Footage dialog.
  • If you change the settings of a camera raw sequence in another application, for example Photoshop or Lightroom, those changes may not be reflected in After Effects after reloading the footage. Purging the cache in After Effects (Edit > Purge > Image Cache Memory, or Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache) may load the changed settings.
  • If you change the settings of a camera raw sequence in After Effects, only the first frame or a limited number of frames may reflect the changes. Purging the cache in After Effects (Edit > Purge > Image Cache Memory, or All Memory & Disk Cache) may load the changed settings.

We are investigating fixes for these bugs for a future update.

Adobe Character Animator (Preview 1) now available

Last month, within the halls of the Seattle office of Adobe, one could hear the bustling of people working hard on the first preview version of Character Animator. And all of that hustling has brought us to today, when I’m so excited to exclaim that it’s finally here! Install the most recent version of After Effects, and Character Animator will be installed with it.

Those that have used After Effects to do character animation will be pleasantly relieved that Character Animator is a complement to your workflow, because it avoids the tangle of expressions that you might have experienced when rigging characters or setting up lip synch in After Effects.

The Advanced Product Development and Creative Technologies Lab groups behind Character Animator include many of the people (or should I say characters?) who brought you After Effects.

“After Effects is very powerful — anything you can imagine as moving imagery you can probably create in After Effects if you spend enough time and you know the application,” says David Simons, principal scientist in the Advanced Product Development group and original developer of After Effects. “But creating a character that looks like it is alive is always a lot of work and it doesn’t need to be that way.”

David and his team were really drawn to the idea of creating an application that could take someone who knows how to draw in Photoshop or Illustrator and allow them to create a puppet that’s already alive the moment you place it on the stage. Thus Character Animator was born.

Check out these tutorials and other resources get started.

This version of Character Animator is being released as a “preview”, which means that we know that we have a lot of work left to do, but we think that it’s far enough along for you to use and give us feedback. We want to hear from you about what capabilities we need to focus on to make Character Animator most useful for you. Let us know what you think on our new Character Animator forum. Also, please, share your puppet creations on Twitter (#CharacterAnimator). We can’t wait to see what you produce!

If you have a Creative Cloud membership, you have access to the latest version of After Effects and now Character Animator, as it’s available with After Effects and your Creative Cloud subscription. Download your update to After Effects now, and Character Animator will automatically be installed with it. From within After Effects, choose File > Open Adobe Character Animator, and you’re ready to play.

If you’re not a member yet, you can download the After Effects trial version or go to the Creative Cloud site to sign up for Creative Cloud. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

plug-ins and After Effects CC 2015 (13.5)

After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) is now available. For details about what’s new and changed in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), see this page.

IMPORTANT: Before installing the new version of After Effects, please read this page about the default behavior of the updater, which is to remove all previous versions of the application, and this page about why you might not want to do that.

The biggest piece of work for After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) has been a complete re-architecture of how rendering occurs, specifically regarding separating the main render thread from the thread that controls the user interface. Because of this very large change to the fundamental workings of After Effects, most plug-ins needed to be updated; this includes the hundreds of plug-ins included with After Effects, as well as the thousands of plug-ins provided by various third parties. We have worked closely with the makers of all of the popular plug-ins for After Effects (and many of the makers of many not-so-popular plug-ins) to make sure that they were able to update their software for this new version of After Effects.

Please, check with the vendors of your third-party plug-ins for updates that are compatible with After Effects CC 2015 (13.5). Most are ready.

I said that most are ready. That is in part because we still have a few bugs to fix before some of the plug-in makers can finish their plug-in updates. I’m listing the bugs that we know about below, with some information about when each is expected to be fixed.

As usual, Toolfarm is doing an excellent job of tracking which plug-ins have updates, and where to get them.


Trapcode Sound Keys (Red Giant)

We have a bug in our API (application programming interface) for processing audio on the appropriate thread that prevents plug-ins like Trapcode Sound Keys from operating correctly.

This bug is our fault, not the fault of Trapcode or Red Giant. We have a fix in development now, and we are targeting a fix for next month (July 2015), after we have had a chance to fully implement and test the fix.

If you need to use Trapcode Sound Keys, we recommend running it in After Effects CC 2014 (13.2), saving the project, opening that project in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), and then continuing to work in the new version. The bug only affects the phase of the plug-in’s operation when the audio is analyzed, so the data from this analysis can be used in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) with no problem.


other Red Giant plug-ins

Image Lounge: In After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), Red Giant’s Image Lounge plug-in will render black frames, and the UI may not work properly. Red Giant is currently working on this issue and will release an update soon.


RE:Vision Effects

We have a bug that causes a problem when you use any combination of two effects from a certain category. The error message that is reported is this:
“After Effects error: internal verification failure, sorry! {Effect is I_MIX_GUID_DEPENDENCIES but did not call GuidMixIn in PreRender}”

Effect plug-ins from RE:Vision effects are not the only ones that trigger this problem, but they are notable in that several effect plug-ins from this one vendor do use the problematic programming interface element.

This bug is our fault, not the fault of RE:Vision Effects. We have a fix in development now, and we are targeting a fix for next month (July 2015), after we have had a chance to fully implement and test the fix.

If you need to use these effects, there is a rather simple workaround: Precompose the layer on which the first problematic effect is applied, and then apply the second effect to the precomposition layer. Or you could pre-render the intermediate result from the first effect and then apply the second effect.

Despite the existence of this bug, you should still update to RE:Flex v5.2, Twixtor 6.2, ReelSmart Motion Blur 5.1, and RE:Match v1.4 to work with After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).


Boris FX

Boris FX has release notes for their newly updated plug-ins here:
http://www.borisfx.com/bcc-9-aepremiere-pro-9-0-4/

Here’s an excerpt about the known issues:

BCC 9.0.4 AE contains extensive revisions required to fully support the plugin API changes made by Adobe in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5). BCC 9.0.4 is fully compliant with the requirements of After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), with the minor exception of the known issues outlined below. (Note that versions of BCC prior to 9.0.4 are NOT compatible with After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).)

  • The obsolete BCC Degrain filter (which has been replaced by the more modern BCC Noise Reduction filter) will continue to render any projects in which the grain samples were previously locked. However Degrain will not support saving new grain samples going forward in CC 2015 and beyond. The Degrain filter is in the obsolete category and it is recommended that future projects use BCC Noise Reduction instead of Degrain.
  • The BCC Motion Tracker will continue to render previously saved motion tracker analysis passes and it will continue to support loading externally generated tracker data files, but conducting new motion analysis passes is temporarily disabled in BCC 9.0.4 for CC 2015. A revised (and improved) version of the BCC Motion Tracker which is fully compliant with AE CC 2015 will be released in BCC10.
  • When enabling the stabilization feature in BCC Motion Key you may sometimes experience a longer than expected pause while motion analysis data is recomputed after events such as saving a project or cloning a layer or an effect instance. This occasional performance delay will be eliminated in BCC10.
  • Due to host-side limitations in After Effects, the standalone BCC Beat Reactor filter is not supported in the initial release of AE CC 2015. The integrated Beat Reactor is fully supported in AE CC 2015, however, and we are working with Adobe to ensure the standalone version is re-enabled in a future AE CC 2015 point release.

others?

If you encounter other plug-ins that cause problems with After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), please come to the After Effects forum and let us know. Be sure to note whether the problem is new with After Effects CC 2015 (13.5)—i.e., whether the same plug-in behaves correctly in After Effects CC 2014 (13.2).

After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) is now available.

After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) is now available. For details about what’s new and changed in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), see this page. And that also means that Character Animator (Preview 1) is available. For information about what’s new in all of the Adobe professional video and audio applications and services, see this page.

If you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can download the new version by checking for updates through the Creative Cloud desktop application. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

For more information about Creative Cloud, see this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

IMPORTANT: Before installing the new version of After Effects, please read this page about the default behavior of the updater, which is to remove all previous versions of the application, and this page about why you might not want to do that.