AFTEREFFECTS

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

Region of Interest: Adobe weblog about After Effects and related stuff from the After Effects team

removal of FLV and F4V export features from Adobe Media Encoder, After Effects, and Premiere Pro

After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), Premiere Pro CC 2014 (8.0), and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 (8.0) do not include exporters for creating FLV and F4V files.

You can still import videos in FLV and F4V formats into After Effects and Adobe Media Encoder. You can still import videos in the F4V format into Premiere Pro.

If you want to create a video to play in Flash Player, then you should generally be using H.264 (.mp4), not the obsolete FLV or F4V formats. This has been the recommendation from the Adobe Flash team for quite some time already (as far back as Flash Player 9).

We removed the exporters for FLV and F4V files from the Adobe video applications (Adobe Media Encoder, After Effects, and Premiere Pro) because maintaining these obsolete exporters was a large amount of work, and we could better spend that effort on developing new features and fixing bugs in areas that are used by more people.

We are still committed to creating video files that play well in Flash Player, and that is why we are focusing our efforts on the H.264 (.mp4) exporter, which is what is currently recommended by the Adobe Flash team.

If you do still have a need to create FLV or F4V files for some legacy workflows, then we recommend that you keep the previous versions—Adobe Media Encoder CC (7.2) and After Effects CC (12.2.1)–installed alongside the current versions. Then, whenever you need to transcode or export a file in one of these legacy formats, you can just start the previous version of the application for this specific purpose.

using Adobe Media Encoder to create H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV videos from After Effects

After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) does not include exporters for creating H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV videos directly from the render queue. To create videos in these formats, you should use Adobe Media Encoder.

You can still import videos in these formats into After Effects.


How do you create H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV videos using Adobe Media Encoder with After Effects?

You have two primary options for using Adobe Media Encoder with After Effects to create videos in H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV formats:

  • Render and export a losslessly encoded master file out of After Effects to a watch folder monitored by Adobe Media Encoder.
  • Send the composition directly to Adobe Media Encoder from After Effects (Composition > Add To Adobe Media Encoder Queue).

Here’s some more detail about these options, including pros and cons of each:

The fastest way to create videos in these formats using Adobe Media Encoder with After Effects is to use the After Effects render queue to export a losslessly encoded master file (e.g., using the PNG video codec in a QuickTime .mov container file) to a watch folder that Adobe Media Encoder monitors. You can assign encoding presets to a watch folder in Adobe Media Encoder so that it automatically encodes using whichever settings you have specified. One advantage of using this method is that it uses After Effects performance features for rendering (such as GPU acceleration and multiprocessing where applicable) and Adobe Media Encoder performance features for encoding (such as parallel encoding). The disadvantage of using this method is that it occupies the main After Effects application for the entire rendering operation, during which time you can’t use After Effects for anything else.

Another method to create videos in these formats using Adobe Media Encoder with After Effects is to directly add the composition from After Effects to the Adobe Media Encoder queue. This method has the advantage of allowing you to continue working in After Effects while the rendering and encoding takes place, since the rendering is performed by a background instance of After Effects. The rendering phase may be slower in some cases, compared with using the After Effects render queue, because the headless version of After Effects rendering in the background does not have access to GPU acceleration and multiprocessing features.


Why were these exporters removed from the After Effects render queue?

The reason that we removed the H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV exporters from the After Effects render queue is simple: Maintaining these exporters in After Effects took quite a lot of work, and fixing several significant bugs in these exporters would take even more work. We could have done this work, but it would have subtracted a lot from the resources that we had available to develop other features and fix other bugs. Since Adobe Media Encoder already had superior H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV exporting capabilities, it was more prudent to rely on Adobe Media Encoder for export of these formats. This allowed the After Effects team to focus our efforts on animation, motion graphics, compositing, and digital imaging features—our core areas.

One thing that makes Adobe Media Encoder so much better than After Effects for creation of files in final delivery formats is its Preset Browser and easy-to-use system for creating, saving, sharing, and applying encoding presets. Another is the assortment of features in the Effects tab with which you can automatically add watermarks, timecode overlays, et cetera.


What if I still need to create these kinds of videos from the After Effects render queue?

If you still need to be able to create videos in these formats from the After Effects render queue for some reason, you can still do so by leaving After Effects CC (12.2.1) installed alongside After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) and using the previous version for these specific output tasks.


What’s next?

We intend to continue working closely with the Adobe Media Encoder team to make the workflow between After Effects and Adobe Media Encoder better. Please, don’t hesitate to send in feature requests and bug reports to tell us what we need to improve in this area.

For a complete list of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), see this page.

fixing permissions problem that impedes start of Adobe applications

I’ve noticed several cases of applications either failing to start or taking a long time to start because the permissions for the Adobe preferences folders have been set incorrectly.

For After Effects, this manifests as After Effects taking several minutes to start, eventually reporting that QuickTime is not installed. This is because After Effects is failing to establish communication with the component that it uses to communicate with QuickTime (Adobe QT32 Server) because this component is having a hard time starting due to a permissions issue. The same problem affects the Dynamic Link Manager component in much the same way.

So, what do you do? Simple. Set the entire Adobe preferences folder and its contents to be read/write, not just read-only. I’m referring to this folder:

  • Mac OS: [drive]/Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/
  • Windows: [drive]\Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\

If, after setting the preferences folder to be read/write, you’re still getting messages about QuickTime not being installed, or After Effects is taking a long time to start, then go through the troubleshooting steps in these articles:

migrating settings and plug-ins for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0)


migrating preferences, keyboard shortcuts, and other settings


At the bottom of the General pane in the After Effects Preferences dialog box is a Migrate Previous Version Settings button. If you have After Effects CC (12.x) installed on the same computer, then clicking that button will give you a dialog box with an option to migrate settings from that version to After Effects CC 2014 (13.0). If you choose to migrate settings, then you need to restart After Effects for the new settings to be loaded.

The settings that are migrated include preferences, keyboard shortcuts, output module templates, composition settings, render settings, and interpretation rules.


plug-ins and scripts


Important: There have been few significant changes to the effect plug-in API for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), so you should not need new versions of most plug-ins for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), if you already have plug-ins that work for After Effects CS5, CS5.5, CS6, or CC.

Separate from the issue of updates to the effect plug-ins themselves, there is the issue of their installers: Some plug-ins come with installers, and these installers may need to be updated to install plug-ins into the correct location. This is needed in far fewer cases for this version than for previous versions, for reasons described below.

After Effects CC 2014 loads plug-ins from a couple of locations: the MediaCore folder and the After Effects Plug-ins folder.

The MediaCore folder is where the majority of the large third-party plug-in vendors install their plug-ins, in part because this is a common location from which After Effects and Premiere Pro both load plug-ins. We did not increment the version number on this folder between After Effects CC (12.x) and After Effects CC 2014 (13.0). This means that you do not need to reinstall most third-party effect plug-ins if you already had them installed for After Effects CC (12.x). Of course, test to see that this works for you, and follow instructions from your specific third-party effect plug-in vendor.

On the other hand, effect plug-ins installed in the After Effects Plug-ins folder do need to be installed again or copied or loaded with a shortcut/alias from the old folder. This is a very simple process, in general, because most effects that are installed in this folder are not the ones with specialized installers and other surrounding infrastructure. But, again, follow any specific instructions from the vendors of your third-party effects if they say otherwise.

Here are the locations on Mac OS and Windows for the After Effects Plug-ins folder:

  • (Mac OS) Applications/Adobe After Effects [version]
  • (Windows) Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects [version]\Support Files

One thing that I do that works for most plug-ins is to create a shortcut/alias in the new plug-in folder that points to the old plug-in folder, so the new version of the application loads plug-ins from the old location. If you do this, you need to be careful to put the alias/shortcut at the right, lower level—i.e., not at the top level of the plug-ins folder—so that you’re only loading specific plug-ins from the old location; otherwise, you’ll get warnings about duplicate plug-ins.

I do the same thing for my scripts folder: just put a shortcut/alias in the new scripts folder that points to the old scripts folder, and all of my old scripts are loaded by the new version of the application.

I’ll keep this list up to date with links to websites of plug-in vendors who have updates for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0):

A great place for information about plug-ins for Premiere Pro and After Effects is the Toolfarm website, which provides an online store as well as tutorials, a forum, and other supporting resources for using plug-ins. Toolfarm has been updating a list of plug-ins that have updates for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0).

In addition to listing the plug-ins provided by each company, this page provides links to the companies’ websites, so that you can purchase these plug-ins or find how to contact them for technical support or customer service.


Why a new major version, not just a minor version update?


One important technical fact about After Effects (and many other applications) is that the project file format needs to be incremented to a new version when we make certain kinds of changes to the data that is stored in it. For example, we needed to increment the project file format for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) to accommodate the changes in the data model that effect mask and effect opacity compositing options features introduced. We tend to plan our feature work so that we do things that necessitate changing the project file format somewhat seldom, all at once.

Between minor versions (e.g., from After Effects 12.1 to After Effects 12.2), the project file format stays the same, and this allows people with any minor version of After Effects 12.x to open project files created by any other minor version of After Effects 12.x.

Similarly, we tend to plan changes to the plug-in API (the interface for creating plug-ins) so that folks creating plug-ins don’t need to make changes very often. In fact, as I mentioned above, we were able to keep the changes in this area to a minimum so that we didn’t even need to increment the number of the MediaCore folder, which is what allows the same plug-ins to be loaded from the same location for After Effects CC (12.x) and After Effects CC 2014 (13.0).

Another benefit of having a new major version that is installed alongside the old version is that it gives you a chance to try the new version out without needing to worry about whether there are any unwelcome changes. If there is something in the new version that you don’t like or need some time to get used to, you can bounce back to the old version to get some work done and then come back to the new version when you’re ready. If the new version just replaced/updated the old version, you couldn’t do that (at least not easily).

Julieanne Kost also has an informative post about this topic on her blog, which tends to focus more on Photoshop and Lightroom.

After Effects and Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite)

[UPDATE 2: Apple has released OS X 10.10 Developer Preview 3.1.0, which solves a launch problem with multiple versions of After Effects. See James Landy's recent forum post for more detail.]

[UPDATE: See James Landy's post on this thread for some more details.]

Apple made Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite) available as a developer preview build yesterday, and already we are seeing some reports that After Effects and other Adobe applications may have some issues with this operating system.

Now that we have access to the developer preview build, we can begin testing and developing with this new operating system. We can then communicate with Apple about any problems that may have been introduced and how we may go about fixing them.

Last year, when Apple released Mac OS X v10.9 (Mavericks), we released bug-fix updates for After Effects CS6 (11.0) and After Effects CC (12.0) that coincided with the public release of Mavericks.

If you encounter bugs with After Effects and Mac OS X v10.10 (Yosemite)—or any operating system—please let us know with a bug report.

details of video preview with Mercury Transmit in the 2014 update to After Effects CC

NOTE: This article is about new functionality in the 2014 update to After Effects CC, which is one of the many Creative Cloud updates announced today. For more details about this release of After Effects, read the complete list of what’s new and changed.
 

After Effects has for a long time had the ability to send frames to a video device for preview, for example on a broadcast monitor. In the 2014 update to After Effects CC, the underlying architecture for that functionality has been replaced with the same Mercury Transmit technology used by Premiere Pro.

This is an important change for After Effects because it removes a dependency on fragile, deprecated operating system components. Aside from that, Mercury Transmit allows for new functionality and enhancements with video preview:

  • Full-screen display on a monitor connected to your computer’s video card. This includes the HDMI port built into recent models of MacBook Pro.
  • 10-bit color output in 16-bpc and 32-bpc projects when using devices from AJA, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, and Matrox.
  • RAM preview frame rate performance is improved for memory-intensive compositions when video preview is enabled.
  • Simplified controls that no longer require you to specify the output video mode; After Effects and the device negotiate to set the video mode.

In addition to the above changes provided by Mercury Transmit, in the 2014 update to After Effects CC, the video preview image is color managed in the Rec. 709 color space.

Below are details about how video preview works in the 2014 update to After Effects CC, including known issues and limitations. If you have questions about these changes, please post to this thread in the After Effects user-to-user forum.

 


what is Mercury Transmit?


Mercury Transmit is a software interface that Adobe digital video applications use to send video frames to external video displays. Video device manufacturers AJA, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, and Matrox provide plug-ins that route the video frames from Mercury Transmit to their hardware. The same Mercury Transmit plug-ins work in Adobe Premiere Pro, Prelude, Speedgrade, and After Effects.

Mercury Transmit can also use monitors connected to your computer’s video card and FireWire-connected DV devices without an additional plug-in.

IMPORTANT: Mercury Transmit does not use GPU acceleration. It is a different technology from the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro.

 


how to set up video preview using Mercury Transmit in After Effects


To enable video preview with Mercury Transmit, open Preferences > Video Preview, choose Enable Mercury Transmit, and choose a video device from the list.

  • Devices named AJA Kona 3G, Blackmagic Playback, or similar represent a video device connected to your computer.
  • Adobe Monitor devices are the computer monitors connected to your video card.
  • Adobe DV requires a DV device connected to a FireWire port on your computer.

To change the options for your video device, click the “Setup” text next to the device name. More options may be available in the device’s control panel or management application.

To toggle external video preview on or off without opening the Preferences dialog box, press the forward slash (/) key on the numeric keypad. On a Mac keyboard without a numeric keypad, such as on a MacBook, use Control+Shift+/.

 


using color management with video preview


When you choose a color working space for the project, the image sent to the video preview monitor is transformed from the working color space to the Rec. 709 color space. The gamma curve of the image is linearized (gamma = 1.0) if the Linearize Working Space option is enabled.

If you use a monitor with a color profile other than Rec. 709, please tell us more about your workflow in this forum thread.

 


general notes about using video preview


In the Composition, Footage, and Layer panels:

  • Overlays such as safe margins, guides, mask paths, and effect controls are not sent to the video preview monitor.
  • Viewer settings such as magnification (zoom), color and alpha channel views, transparency grid (checkerboard), pixel aspect ratio correction, and exposure do not affect the video preview image.
  • When the region of interest is enabled, or when mask views are enabled in the Layer panel, the visible image will be scaled up to the size of the composition on the video preview monitor.
  • Fast Draft preview mode does not interactively update the video preview image. The video preview image will update when the mouse button is released.
  • Wireframe preview mode does not update the video preview image. Switch to a different preview mode to update the video preview image.

When rendering a composition using the render queue, After Effects will update the image on the video preview monitor. To disable this, turn off the Video Preview During Render Queue Output option in Preferences > Video Preview.

After Effects will stop sending the video preview image to the video preview monitor if you switch to a different application. To allow After Effects to continue to use the video preview monitor when it is not the frontmost application, turn off the Disable Video Output When In The Background option in Preferences > Video Preview. Note that After Effects will stop updating the image when it is not the frontmost application. RAM previews and render queue output will continue to render, but the image on the video preview monitor will not be updated until you return to After Effects.

 


performance of RAM preview playback when video preview is enabled


Video preview from After Effects requires additional processing power, which may cause RAM preview playback speeds to be less than real-time for memory-intensive compositions. This was true in previous versions of After Effects and remains true for video preview using Mercury Transmit, although Mercury Transmit provides better performance than the previous technology.

RAM preview frame rate performance is affected by a combination of your computer’s capabilities and the memory requirements of the composition. If you do not get real-time performance during RAM preview, try the following:

  • Reduce the resolution in the Composition or Preview panels.
  • Reduce the RAM preview frame rate in the Preview panel.
  • Reduce the project color depth to 16-bpc or 8-bpc, if applicable.
  • Disable color management (set the project’s working space to None).

 


notes about using video preview with AJA, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, and Matrox devices


Download the latest drivers and Mercury Transmit plug-ins for your device. While After Effects uses the same Mercury Transmit plug-ins as Premiere Pro, the plug-ins need to be updated for compatibility with After Effects.

AJA: The AJA Preview plug-in will conflict with Mercury Transmit for control of the monitor. Either disable Mercury Transmit (Preferences > Video Preview) or disable the AJA Preview plug-in (Window > AJA Preview).

Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic devices will not output compositions that do not match the device’s supported video modes. (ex. 720p59.94) Refer to the documentation for your Blackmagic device for a list of supported video modes.

Bluefish444: Check the Bluefish444 web site for up-to-date documentation.

Matrox: Uninstall previous drivers and install the latest drivers for your Matrox device. The driver installation will detect which versions of After Effects are installed on your computer and install the Mercury Transmit plug-in and/or the Matrox WYSIWYG plug-in that is appropriate for each version.

 


notes about using video preview with a computer monitor


The monitors connected to your video card appear as Adobe Monitor 1 or 2, etc. in the Video Preview preferences. These monitors will only be available when there is more than one monitor connected and the desktop is extended across these monitors. Desktop mirroring must be disabled.

Video preview using Mercury Transmit does not work on the same monitor that is being used by the After Effects application frame. Move or resize the application frame so it does not stretch across the monitor that you want to use for video preview. Panels can be undocked and placed on that monitor, but they will not be visible when Mercury Transmit is enabled.

The Full Screen option in the Preview panel is not compatible with Mercury Transmit. Disable it when using a monitor connected to your video card.

The video preview image is displayed full-screen on the computer monitor, with letterbox or pillar-box bars as appropriate, regardless of the size of the composition or the resolution of the monitor.

The video preview image may not display correctly if you plug in the monitor cable while After Effects is running. Quit and restart After Effects to get a correct preview.

what’s new and changed in the 2014 update to After Effects CC

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.

what’s new and changed in the 2014 update to Adobe Media Encoder CC

As David Wadhwani has just announced, today we have released the next major update to Creative Cloud applications, including Adobe Media Encoder (AME) CC.

The Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 update (version 8.0) 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.

One of the first things that you’ll notice about this version of Adobe Media Encoder is that it is available for download and installation separate from other applications—i.e., you can install Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 on a computer without also installing After Effects or Premiere Pro or another client application on that same computer. This makes it much simpler, for example, to set up a computer to be used as a dedicated system for transcoding master output files to various final delivery formats.

For broadcast we’ve added AS-11 functionality, specifically catering to the requirements for the UK using the DPP specifications. The AS-11 workflow starts in Premiere Pro, where you can add all required metadata and add markers for segmentation. In AME, you can choose from suitable options for producing AS-11 output. AME will automatically take care of choosing the correct codec, the frame rate, and everything else that’s required to get your work ready for prime time.

The second packaging technology we’re adding is licensed from one of the leaders in Digital Cinema Package (DCP) technologies. The Wraptor DCP exporter by Quvis is a fast and easy way for taking your project to a theater at 2K with 24 fps and up to 5.1 audio.

Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 also provides fault-tolerant rendering, which tracks issues and heals red-frame and black-frame issues without holding up your render queue.

Additionally, there are lots of other improvements like a wider range of GPU-accelerated tasks, enhancements to the overall AME user experience, and expanded features related to a number of new UltraHD and 4K standards, such as XAVC.

Patrick Palmer shows a few of these new features in Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 in this video on Adobe TV.

scripting changes in After Effects CC (12.0-12.2)

This article describes the changes to the After Effects scripting interface implemented in After Effects CC (12.0). You can use this article together with the most recent full version of the After Effects scripting guide (for After Effects CS6), which you can find on the After Effects Developer Center page.

There were no significant changes in the scripting interface for After Effects CC (12.1) or After Effects CC (12.2).


ScriptUI Drover adpapter

ScriptUI is now based on the same controls as the main application.

The scripting reference for ScriptUI is in the Adobe Creative Cloud JavaScript Tools Guide (PDF).


access to effect’s internal version string

Added: Application effects object’s version attribute to get an effect’s internal version string. This value might be different than the version number the plug-in vendor decides to show in the effect’s about box.


ability to get and set preview mode

Added: ViewOptions fastPreview property to access the state of the Fast Previews menu with the scripting interface. This is a read/write attribute using an enumerated value:

Value Fast Previews menu option
FastPreviewType.FP_OFF Off (Final Quality)
FastPreviewType.FP_ADAPTIVE_RESOLUTION Adaptive Resolution
FastPreviewType.FP_DRAFT Draft
FastPreviewType.FP_FAST_DRAFT Fast Draft
FastPreviewType.FP_WIREFRAME Wireframe

If you try to get or set the attribute’s value in the Layer or Footage panel, you’ll get an error message.

The Draft preview mode is only available in ray-traced 3D compositions. If you try to use it in a Classic 3D composition, you’ll get an error: “Cannot set Draft fast preview mode in a Classic 3D composition.”


access to layer sampling method

Added: layer.samplingQuality and LayerSamplingQuality enum to set/get layer sampling method (bicubic or bilinear):

Example:
// Set layer to bicubic sampling

app.project.activeItem.layer(1).samplingQuality = LayerSamplingQuality.BICUBIC;

// Set layer to bilinear sampling

app.project.activeItem.layer(1).samplingQuality = LayerSamplingQuality.BILINEAR;


changed preference and settings methods

Preferences and settings methods now take a third argument to specify the target preferences file if Section/Key is not in “Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs.txt”. If the third argument is not passed, default value (PREFType.PREF_Type_MACHINE_SPECIFIC) is used and After Effects tries to save/get from the “Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs.txt” preferences file. The third argument is enum PREFType value.

You can now pass the preference type with a script with new PREFType enum:

  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_SPECIFIC
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-indep-general.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT_RENDER
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-indep-render.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT_OUTPUT
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-indep-output.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT_COMPOSITION
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-indep-composition.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_SPECIFIC_TEXT
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-text.txt
  • PREF_Type_MACHINE_SPECIFIC_PAINT
    Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-paint.txt

Example:
// Section ["Settings_test_section"] is saved in "Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs.txt" without third argument

app.settings.saveSetting("test_section", "test_key1", "test_key1_value");

if (app.settings.haveSetting("test_section", "test_key1"))
var current_set = app.settings.getSetting("test_section", "test_key1");

// Section ["Settings_test_section2"] is saved in "Adobe After Effects 12.x Prefs-indep-general.txt"

app.settings.saveSetting("test_section2", "test_key1", "test_key1_value", PREFType.PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT);

if (app.settings.haveSetting("test_section2", "test_key1", PREFType.PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT))
var current_set2 = app.settings.getSetting("test_section2", "test_key1", PREFType.PREF_Type_MACHINE_INDEPENDENT);

Example:
alert(app.preferences.getPrefAsString("Text Style Sheet", "Font Family Name", PREFType.PREF_Type_MACHINE_SPECIFIC_TEXT));

Maxon Cinema 4D importer plug-in updated, fixes “Unexpected FunctionBlock5 flags” error

Maxon has fixed a bug in their plug-in for exchange of data with After Effects CC that caused some errors when the plug-in was loaded.

To get the new plug-in, go to this page on the Maxon website and click the “Download” link next to the “Plugins for After Effects CC CINEMA 4D R14/R15 connection” heading.

With the previous version of the plug-in, you might see the following error messages when After Effects started and loaded the plug-in:

“After Effects error internal verification failure, sorry! {Unexpected FunctionBlock5 flags for FunctionBlock4} (5024 ::53)”

“AEGP Plugin SDK_IO: Could not register file type. (5027 :: 12).”

“AEGP Plugin SDK_IO: There was an error registering the plugin. (5027 :: 12).”

You can tell whether you have the current version of the plug-in by looking at its modification date in the file system, which is February 28, 2014 for the new version.

Region of Interest: Get technical information about After Effects

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