AFTEREFFECTS

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

what’s new and changed in After Effects CC 2014 (13.0)

As David Wadhwani has just announced, today we have released the next major update to Creative Cloud applications, including After Effects CC.

The After Effects CC 2014 update (version 13.0) is available to all Adobe Creative Cloud members. Just go to the Creative Cloud download center or open the Creative Cloud desktop application to download the new updates for After Effects and many other applications.

For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, go here. For more information about Creative Cloud, see this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

Please, if you want to ask questions about these new and changed features, come on over to the After Effects user-to-user forum. That’s the best place for questions (and, if you follow that link, you’ll find more information about how to communicate with us). Questions left in comments on a blog post are much harder to work with; the blog comment system just isn’t set up for conversations. If you’d like to submit feature requests (or bug reports), you can do so here.


new features in the After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) update

  • Key Cleaner effect and Advanced Spill Suppressor effect
  • text templates created in After Effects editable in Premiere Pro
  • compositing options for each effect, including ability to confine the area affected by each effect with masks
  • import of masks from Premiere Pro
  • HTML5 panels using CEP infrastructure
  • Kuler panel
  • ProEXR v1.9: higher-performance OpenEXR importer, updated IDentifier and EXtractoR effects
  • import of Sony RAW footage (raw files from F5, F55, and F65 cameras)
  • import of MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio Profile) Sony SR MXF files
  • video preview on external monitor using Mercury Transmit
  • scripting access to render settings and output module settings
  • automatic adjustment in Curves effect, plus improvements to Curves effect user interface
  • menu command to add fonts from Typekit
  • digital Cinema Package (DCP) export through Adobe Media Encoder

resources for learning about these new and changed features

Read on for a virtually comprehensive list of changes, with detail beyond the summaries of the top items listed above. We’ll be posting a lot more detail over the coming weeks, and the outline below will be populated with links to in-depth articles and tutorials, so bookmark this page and check back.


Key Cleaner effect and Advanced Spill Suppressor effect

The Key Cleaner effect recovers detail from a scene keyed by a typical keying effect, including recovering detail from a keyed scene with compression artifacts.

The Advanced Spill Suppressor effect removes color spill on a foreground subject from a colored background used for color keying.

The Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppressor effects are intended to be used along with any keying effect that can provide the original RGB data as input (e.g., as the Keylight effect can using its Intermediate Result setting).

Brian Maffitt demonstrates the use of the Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppressor effects in this video on the Adobe website.

The Advanced Spill Suppressor effect has two methods for spill suppression: Standard and Ultra. The Ultra method is based on the spill suppression in the Ultra Key effect in Premiere Pro. The Standard method is simpler and requires less user input. In the majority of cases in our testing, the Standard method provides the better results, but the Ultra method can be useful for scenes in which the screen color is refracted through an object. If Standard doesn’t work for you, then try Ultra.

Tip: You can use an effect mask on the Key Cleaner effect to restrict the result of a wider Additional Edge Radius value (e.g., hair) without causing unwanted semi-transparent regions in sharper regions (e.g., shoulders/arms).

You can control the contrast in the alpha channel in semitransparent regions (along edges) with the Alpha Contrast property in the Key Cleaner effect.

The easiest way to apply these three effects is with the Keylight + Key Cleaner + Advanced Spill Suppressor animation preset:

1. Apply the Keylight + Key Cleaner + Advanced Spill Suppressor animation preset, which is in the Animation Presets > Image – Utilities category in the Effects & Presets panel. This adds the Keylight, Key Cleaner, and Advanced Spill Suppressor effects to the layer. The Advanced Spill Suppressor effect is turned off by default to allow you to sample the key color in the Keylight effect.

2. Use the Keylight effect’s Screen Colour eyedropper to sample the key color from the layer in the Composition panel. Adjust other Keylight effect settings as you normally would to get the best results.

3. Turn on the effect switch for the Advanced Spill Suppressor effect to remove color spill from the scene.

Note: If you use the Keylight + Key Cleaner + Advanced Spill Suppressor animation preset, the Key Color property is already linked with an expression to the Keylight effect’s Screen Colour property, so you don’t need to change it unless you want to use a different color for the despill process. If so, just disable or remove the expression.

To use a keying effect other than the Keylight effect, do the following:

1. Apply the keying effect to the layer.

2. Set the effect to the equivalent of the Keylight effect’s Intermediate Result setting, so that the keying effect gives the full RGB result without attempting to perform its own spill suppression.

3. Apply the Key Cleaner effect after the keying effect.

4. Apply the Advanced Spill Suppressor effect after the Key Cleaner effect.


text templates created in After Effects editable in Premiere Pro

You can create text template compositions in After Effects for which the source text remains editable in Premiere Pro.

Any composition with text layers can be used as a text template, and any unlocked text layers in that composition will remain editable in Premiere Pro.

Brian Maffitt demonstrates the new text templates workflow in this video on the Adobe website.

Here is a basic set of instructions for exercising this feature that shows off how it works:

1. Create an After Effects composition with one or more text layers.

2. In the Advanced tab of the Composition Settings dialog box, check the box next to “Template (unlocked text layers editable in Premiere Pro”. Note the important descriptive text under this control: “When ‘Template’ is checked, only template compositions in this project will be visible to Premiere Pro.”
Animate, add effects, and do whatever else you like, just as you would normally work in After Effects.

3. Lock any text layers that you do not want to be editable in Premiere Pro.

4. In Premiere Pro, import the After Effects composition.

5. Load the composition in the Source Monitor (context-click the source item in the Project panel and choose Open In Source Monitor) and look in the Effect Controls panel in Premiere Pro, where you will see a new After Effects Editable Text category.

6. Edit one or more of the source text items in the Effect Controls panel in Premiere Pro, and verify that this appears in the content in Premiere Pro. The changes do not affect the original material in After Effects.

7. In After Effects, modify some aspects of the composition, including properties of the text layer, such as position and color. Verify that these changes are also shown in Premiere Pro.

8. In After Effects, modify the source text of one of the text layers for which you already changed the corresponding text in Premiere Pro. Verify that the text does not change in Premiere Pro.

As you can see by following these steps, changes made to the text in Premiere Pro cause the text content of that field to become “owned” by Premiere Pro, but all other changes in After Effects are carried through to Premiere Pro through Dynamic Link.

One convenient way to understand how text templates work in Premiere Pro is to think of the After Effects composition loaded into Premiere Pro as being just like any other media asset–like a movie file–and the text settings as being just like any other master clip effect.


compositing options for each effect, including ability to confine area affected by each effect with masks

In the Timeline panel, each effect’s property group includes a Compositing Options property group.

By default, the Compositing Options property group includes an Effect Opacity property, which can be thought of as providing the same functionality as the Blend With Original control found in a few effects in previous versions of After Effects.

You can also add any number of mask references to an effect to constrain the area within which the effect’s operations are applied. For example, you can draw and track masks around a subject’s eyes and constrain the Change To Color effect to only operate within those two masks to change the eye color, leaving colors outside the masks unaffected. Another simple and common usage is to use a blur effect or the Mosaic effect on a tracked rectangular or elliptical mask to obscure a license plate, logo, or face, as in the example below:

To add a mask reference to an effect, click the plus sign next to the Compositing Options heading and choose a mask from the Mask Reference menu.

You can only choose a mask on the same layer as the effect. You can add as many mask references as you like. Note that you can use different masks for various effects on the same layer. Feathering, mask tracking, and mask expansion properties of the mask are honored in the constraints of the effect area.

When a mask is used as an effect mask, it is not also used as a layer mask – i.e., when a mask is used to constrain the area of an effect, the mask is not also used to modify the alpha channel of the layer. A mask that is used as an effect mask has a blue fx icon to the left of its name in the Timeline panel; clicking this icon expands the effect(s) for which the mask is used as an effect mask. Similarly, when an effect is constrained by a mask, the entry for the effect in the Effect Controls panel has a blue circle icon to the left of the effect name; clicking this icon expands and selects the mask(s) in the Timeline panel.

Brian Maffitt demonstrates the new effect masks and compositing options in a video on the Adobe website.

John Dickinson’s video overview of the new features does an excellent job showing the effect mask feature.


import of masks from Premiere Pro

When you import a clip from Premiere Pro that includes masks, those masks are preserved and converted to After Effects masks.

This works for all methods of importing clips from Premiere Pro, including using the Replace With After Effects Composition command in Premiere Pro, copying and pasting from Premiere Pro to After Effects, and importing a Premiere Pro project into After Effects.

The mask shape, feather, opacity, expansion, and inversion properties are all preserved, including keyframes on those properties.

If a clip has a Crop effect applied in Premiere Pro, this is converted to a mask on a layer when imported into After Effects.


Auto adjustment in Curves effect

To adjust the curves in the Curves effect automatically, click the Auto button beneath the curves in the Effect Controls panel.

This automatic adjustment is based on a database of curve adjustments performed by color and photography experts on a broad range of input images. The adjustment made to an image is an interpolation between the adjustments made to reference input images with similar color distributions.


improvements to Curves effect user interface

The primary user interface element in the Curves effect (the curves graph itself) is now resizable using buttons immediately above the curves.

You can directly select and manipulate the individual color channels’ curves without using the Channel menu.

The curves themselves are drawn more smoothly.

The icon-based buttons for Open, Save, Smooth, and Reset (which didn’t even have tooltips) have been replaced with word-based buttons that make their functionality more discoverable.

John Dickinson’s video overview of the new features does an excellent job showing the Curves effect improvements.


HTML5 panels using CEP infrastructure

After Effects now includes the CEP (Common Extensibility Platform) infrastructure for loading and using HTML5 panels. These panels have access to the entire After Effects scripting object model – in addition to being able to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – so a very wide variety of extensions can be created using this system.

Premiere Pro and several other Adobe applications have already integrated this infrastructure, so you may already be familiar with such panels as those created by stock footage companies, training providers, and so on. The previous name for the CEP system was ‘CSXS’, so you may know it by that name.


Kuler panel

The Kuler panel integrated into After Effects is one of the first instances of an HTML5 CEP panel built for After Effects.

Using this panel, you can load and explore collections of colors and sample from these swatches for use in After Effects.


menu command to add fonts from Typekit

In the File menu, there is a new command, Add Fonts From Typekit, which opens the Typekit website in your default web browser. You can then download fonts from the Typekit library for immediate use in After Effects and other applications.


ProEXR v1.9: higher-performance OpenEXR importer, IDentifier effect, EXtractoR effect

Brendan Bolles explains the new and improved features of the ProEXR plug-ins here and here, including a higher-performance OpenEXR importer.


Sony RAW importer (for raw files from F5, F55, and F65 cameras)

You can now import raw files from Sony F5, F55, and F65 cameras into After Effects.

To test this feature with Premiere Pro, start by importing such files into Premiere Pro and then import clips based on these files into After Effects using Dynamic Link, importing the Premiere Pro project into After Effects, et cetera.

As with ARRIRAW files, the source settings are not carried over when transferring a clip from Premiere Pro to After Effects.


video preview on external monitor using Mercury Transmit

We have replaced the QuickTime-based and DirectShow-based video preview system for external monitors with a system based on Mercury Transmit.

For details of these changes, see this article.

Video preview using Mercury Transmit sends the contents of the Composition, Layer, or Footage panel viewer to an external monitor. The external monitor can be a video monitor connected through third-party video hardware (e.g., AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox I/O devices), a DV device connected over FireWire, or it can be a computer monitor connected to your video display card (via HDMI, DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, etc.).

The video preview sent to an external monitor using Mercury Transmit is color-managed (treating the external video preview monitor as an HDTV Rec. 709 device). This fixes a long-standing limitation in external video preview in After Effects when using color management.


fixed bug in implementation of Perlin noise algorithm

We’re not posting the details of all of the bugs fixed in the next version of After Effects, but this bug seemed worthy of special mention, since the fix does change the appearance and behavior of old projects.

The implementation of the Perlin noise algorithm used by After Effects has had a long-standing bug that caused results to be biased toward negative results, as well as causing excessive flat regions in the function’s graph. This bug has been fixed.

The result is that the wiggle expression method, the Wiggle Transforms shape layer operator, and various other features that use this form of noise will render differently in this version of After Effects. In general, this should not be a concern, since it is unlikely that anyone was depending on any specific random values being generated. However, if you do have any examples where this change causes a problem, let us know.


expression sampling interval

After Effects evaluates an expression at various times to determine whether the values held in the global performance cache are current or are stale and need to be updated with fresh values. This sampling at various times along the composition can cause interactions in a composition that combines expressions and certain other features to be rather slow, which causes various interactions to be sluggish.

You can force the number of samples for a given expression to be exactly 1 for the entire composition by inserting the following comment in the expression:

// cacheCompareSamplesPerSecond 0

Even without the addition of this comment, After Effects will only use one sample for the entire composition if there are no features used that span across multiple frames, such as motion blur or wide-time effects (e.g., the Echo effect).

The risk of using this feature to specify that only one sample is used is that you may get stale values in the global performance cache. Only use this comment when you are experiencing slowdowns with expression evaluation; be sure to check your rendered frames to make sure that they are updating as they should.

You can also use the same comment with a whole number value to specify a sampling rate with the units of samples per second. For example, the following comment forces the expression to be sampled 25 times per second – i.e., on every frame of a 25fps composition:

// cacheCompareSamplesPerSecond 25

You should very rarely need to specify a higher sampling rate than the default, since After Effects will by default use an adaptive sampling rate that should be appropriate for most cases. Only set a higher sampling rate if you find that the frames that you are seeing contain the wrong image information that is not updating when it should. Specifying a high sample rate will slow down expression evaluation, so it should only be used when a problem is actually observed. You are only likely to run into this problem if the expression is upstream from a temporal effect such as Echo or Roto Brush or an extreme time speedup, or has very high frequencies and is motion blurred.


export of Digital Cinema Package (DCP) files through Adobe Media Encoder

Adobe Media Encoder is adding many new useful features, including the ability to export a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). See this page for more information, and stay tuned for additional details.


scripting access to render settings and output module settings

  • Added: RenderQueueItem object getSetting, setSetting methods
  • Added: OutputModule object getSetting, setSetting methods
  • Added: RenderQueueItem object getSettings, setSettings methods
  • Added: OutputModule object getSettings, setSettings methods

Example:
// Get current value of render setting's "Proxy Use"
// Key and value strings are English.

var rqItem1_proxyUse = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).getSetting("Proxy Use");

// Get string version of same setting, add "-str" at the end of key string

var rqItem1_proxyUse_str = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).getSetting("Proxy Use-str");

// Set value of "Proxy Use" to "Use All Proxies"

app.project.renderQueue.item(1).setSetting("Proxy Use", "Use All Proxies");

// You can use numbers, too.
// The next line does the same as the previous example.

app.project.renderQueue.item(1).setSetting("Proxy Use", 1);

Example:

// Get object containing string version of all current render setting
// values of render queue item 1.
// To get the values in the number format, use GetSettingsFormat.NUMBER
// as an argument.

var rqItem1_all_str = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).getSettings( GetSettingsFormat.STRING );

// Convert to JSON format so that it is human-readable.

var rqItem1_all_str_json = rqItem1_all_str.toSource();

// Get an object that contains string version of settable render setting
// values of render queue item 1.
// To get the values in the number format, use
// GetSettingsFormat.NUMBER_SETTABLE as an argument.

var rqItem1_settable_str = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).getSettings( GetSettingsFormat.STRING_SETTABLE );

// Set render queue item 2 with values that you got from render
//queue item 1.

app.project.renderQueue.item(2).setSettings( rqItem1_settable_str );

// Set render queue item 3 with values you create.

var my_renderSettings = {
"Color Depth":"32 bits per channel",
"Quality":"Best",
"Effects":"All On",
"Time Span Duration":"1.0",
"Time Span Start":"2.0"
};
app.project.renderQueue.item(2).setSettings( my_renderSettings );

// Get object that contains all possible values of all render settings of
// render queue item 1 and convert to JSON format.

var rqItem1_spec_str = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).getSettings(GetSettingsFormat.SPEC);
var rqItem1_spec_str_json = rqItem1_spec_str.toSource();

// Get object that contains the string version of all current output module setting
// values of output module item 1 from render queue item 1.
// To get the values in the number format, use GetSettingsFormat.NUMBER as an argument.

var omItem1_all_str= app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1).getSettings( GetSettingsFormat.STRING );

// Convert to JSON format so that it is human-readable.

var omItem1_all_str_json = omItem1_all_str.toSource();

// Get object that contains string version of settable output module setting values
// of output module item 1 from render queue item 1.
// If you want to get the values in the number format, use
// GetSettingsFormat.NUMBER_SETTABLE as an argument.

var omItem1_settable_str = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1).getSettings( GetSettingsFormat.STRING_SETTABLE );

// Set output module item 1 of render queue item 2 with values that you get from
// output module 1 of render queue item 1

app.project.renderQueue.item(2).outputModule(1).setSettings( omItem1_settable_str );

// Set output module item 1 of render queue item 3 with values that you create.

var crop_data = {
"Crop":true,
"Crop Bottom":0,
"Crop Left":0,
"Crop Right":8,
"Crop Top":10
};

app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(3).setSettings( crop_data );

// Currently, the format setting in the output module is not settable, but it
// is readable. The next line will tell you the current format of output module
// item 1 from render queue item 1.

var current_format = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1).getSettings(GetSettingsFormat.STRING).Format;

// This line will tell you the output module file info.

var current_omFileTempalte = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1).getSettings(GetSettingsFormat.STRING)["Output File Info"]["File Template"];

// Note: there is a bug that causes OutputModule object to be invalidated after the
// output module setting is modified.
// So, you need to retrieve OMitem after you modify it.

Example:

// This is the new way to change the output file path of output module 1 of
// render queue item 1.
// In this example, output file is routed to the user directory.

var om1 = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1);
var file_name = File.decode( om1.file.name ); // Name contains special character, space?
var new_path = "~/new_output";
var new_dir = new Folder( new_path );
new_path = new_dir.fsName;

var new_data = {
"Output File Info":
{
"Base Path":new_path,
"Subfolder Path":"draft",
"File Name":file_name
}
};

om1.setSettings( new_data );
}

Example:

// This is the new way to change the output file path of output module 1 of
// render queue item 1.
// In this example, the output file is routed to the user directory,
// but this time using the full path.

var om1 = app.project.renderQueue.item(1).outputModule(1);

var file_name = File.decode( om1.file.name ); // Name contains special character, such as space?
var new_path = "/Users/myAccount/new_output";
var separator = "/";
if ($.os.indexOf("Mac") == -1)
{
new_path = "C:\\Users\\myAccount\\new_output";
separator = "\\";
}

var new_data = {
"Output File Info":
{
"Full Flat Path":new_path + separator + file_name
}
};

om1.setSettings( new_data );


After Effects localized into Russian and Brazilian Portuguese

The next version of After Effects will be available in two more languages: Russian and Brazilian Portuguese.


new command for saving backward one major version

The command for saving project as a copy for the previous version has been incremented to File > Save As > Save A Copy As CC (12). To save a project that can be opened by After Effects CS6 requires an additional step, saving back from After Effects CC (12).


old Spill Suppressor effect obsolete

The Spill Suppressor effect has been moved to the Obsolete category. It has been superseded by the Advanced Spill Suppressor effect.


removal of H.264, MPEG-2, WMV, FLV, F4V, and SWF exporters from After Effects

To export to final delivery formats such as MPEG-2, H.264, and WMV, use Adobe Media Encoder. You can either add compositions directly to the Adobe Media Encoder encoding queue (Composition > Add To Adobe Media Encoder Queue) or render and export a lossless master file directly from After Effects that Adobe Media Encoder picks up from a watch folder to encode to various final delivery formats.

The SWF, FLV, and F4V exporters were removed because the recommended workflow for creating movies that play in Flash Player is to create an H.264 video using Adobe Media Encoder and then use Flash Professional to link or embed that video in a SWF container.

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