Region of Interest: Adobe weblog about After Effects and related stuff from the After Effects team
new OpenEXR and DPX importers for After Effects CC (12.0): better performance and additional functionality
Two big areas of new and changed features in After Effects CC (12.0) are DPX and OpenEXR improvements.
improved performance with OpenEXR files, especially those with many channels
After Effects CC (12.0) includes version 1.8 of the OpenEXR importer plug-in from fnordware and version 1.8 of the ProEXR plug-ins, EXtractoR and IDentifier. (For details about how to use the ProEXR plug-ins to use 3D channels and other data in OpenEXR files in After Effects, see this section of After Effects Help.)
Among the improvements in these plug-ins is a new channel caching feature. You can enable this feature by opening the Interpret Footage dialog box for an EXR file, clicking the More Options button, and choosing Channel Cache. If you have an EXR file with many channels that you are extracting, you will want to turn this on. The more channels you have, the more things will speed up.
Brendan Bolles, the creator of the ProEXR plug-ins, has much more detail about the channel cache and how it speeds things up on his blog.
By the way, you can also use the new version 1.8 plug-ins with After Effects CS6. They’re forward- and backward-compatible.
improved performance with DPX files, and ability to import additional information from DPX files
The DPX importer in previous versions of After Effects only worked with 10-bpc color.
The DPX importer in this version can import 8-, 10-, 12-, and 16-bpc DPX files, including DPX files with an alpha channel and timecode.
workaround for known bug when exporting DPX files from a composition with under-range or over-range values
If you’re exporting DPX files from a composition that has under-range or over-range values (i.e., values outside the range 0.0-1.0) in a 32-bpc project, you may get bad image data. The workaround is to nest the composition into a new composition, and apply the Levels effect to the precomposition layer, with Clip To Output Black and Clip To Output White both set to On.
In our list of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0), we mentioned the addition of bicubic sampling for layer transformations, including scaling. Here’s more detail about this new feature.
This per-layer setting is in the Layer > Quality menu, and it is only relevant for layers with quality set to Best.
The default keyboard shortcuts for setting the sampling method for selected layers are Alt+B (Windows) and Option+B (Mac OS) for Best/Bilinear and Alt+Shift+B (Windows) and Option+Shift+B (Mac OS) for Best/Bicubic.
You can also switch to Draft, Best/Bilinear, and Best/Bicubic for selected layers by clicking the Quality switch in the Switches column of the Timeline panel. When the layer is set to Best quality, the icon shown in the Quality column indicates whether the resampling method is set to bilinear or bicubic.
The bicubic sampling in After Effects should perform better than the related option in Photoshop; the After Effects algorithm preserves over-range and under-range values more consistently and works better (with fewer quantization errors) at extreme scales.
Note that textures in the ray-traced 3D renderer do not use the new bicubic sampling; they always use bilinear sampling. Transformations within effects also still use bilinear sampling, unless the effect specifically implements another method (as with a dedicated scaling plug-in effect or distortion effect).
Bicubic sampling is somewhat more processor-intensive than bilinear sampling, and bicubic sampling is not the highest-quality choice in all cases, so don’t think that you should set it for every layer. It’s rather easy to see artifacts with bicubic sampling in some circumstances, such as ringing and overshoots at a hard transition from one color to another. Bicubic sampling tends to be the best option in cases where transitions from one color to another are more gradual, as is the case with nearly all real-world photographic images, but not necessarily for sharp-edged graphics. Bicubic sampling helps more for scaling up than it does for scaling down.
Here are some examples that show the difference, including one photorealistic example for which bicubic sampling is better and a couple of graphics examples with abrupt color transitions for which bilinear sampling is better:
bicubic sampling, scaled to 800%; better detail and fewer artifacts in pearls and skin
bilinear sampling, scaled to 800%; lost details and worse artifacts in pearls and skin
bicubic sampling of grid layer, camera viewing it edge-on from very close; overshoot artifacts at intersections
bilinear sampling of grid layer, camera viewing it edge-on from very close; with less severe artifacts at intersections
bicubic sampling of grid layer scaled to 1600%; with more severe ringing and overshoot artifacts
bilinear sampling of grid layer scaled to 1600%; with less severe artifacts
[Please, respond to this request for feedback on this forum thread. Don't respond in the comments on this blog.]
One of the top feature requests for After Effects is a keyboard shortcut for showing only properties with keyframes. The keyboard shortcut U shows all animated properties, which means properties with keyframes and/or expressions. There isn’t a shortcut for showing only properties with keyframes.
We’re working on improving this for a future version of After Effects, and we want your input. The After Effects keyboard is already very crowded, so we need to either find a keyboard shortcut that is not currently in use or reassign one. For reference, here’s the list of keyboard shortcuts that show properties in the Timeline panel.
One idea that we had is to change the U key to show only properties with keyframes, not properties with expressions but no keyframes. (You would still be able to show properties with expressions by pressing EE.)
Another idea that we had is to expand the use of the U key to three levels:
- U: Show properties with keyframes (new behavior).
- UU: Show properties with keyframes and/or expressions (currently assigned to U).
- UUU: Show all modified properties (currently assigned to UU).
The problem with either of these approaches is that they change how an existing feature in After Effects works, which means you may need to retrain yourself on how to use the keyboard shortcuts. It also will make some training materials and tutorials obsolete.
Please tell us what you think on this forum thread (not in the comments on this blog post). Do you like either of these ideas? Is there another keyboard shortcut that you want it to use? A single key or a key with modifiers? (ie., Shift, Control/Command, Opt/Alt)
Sync Settings features in After Effects CC (12.0) for sharing keyboard shortcuts, preferences, and other settings
The Sync Settings feature gives you the ability to upload settings files from your local computer to Creative Cloud and then download your settings files from Creative Cloud to any other computer from within After Effects. The Sync Settings features work very much the same in After Effects as the same features in Premiere Pro.
The settings files that can be synchronized in this way correspond to the entries in the Sync Settings category in the Preferences dialog box:
- synchronizable preferences (a subset of all preferences, excluding the ones that are machine-specific; details at the end of this article)
- keyboard shortcuts
- output module settings templates
- render settings templates
- composition settings presets
- interpretation rules
Do let us know with a feature request if there are other settings that you’d like to see synchronized.
basics of using Sync Settings features
When you start After Effects, the Welcome Screen gives you your first opportunity to synchronize settings. You have two options under the Sync Settings With Adobe Creative Cloud heading:
- Sync Settings Now: Click this to begin the synchronization process for the user with the Adobe ID shown.
- Use Settings From A Different Account: Click this to begin the process of switching to a different account and using its settings.
You have access to the same commands from the Edit menu (Windows) or the After Effects menu (Mac OS), from the menu entry directly beneath the Preferences menu entry. The menu name will either be Sync Settings or your Adobe ID, depending on whether you’ve enabled the feature by choosing to synchronize settings.
Also in that Sync Settings menu are a few other commands:
- Clear Settings: Restores all settings to their default values; also clears the user information from the application (if you chose the Use Settings From Different Account Feature). You can also choose to enable the Automatically Clear User Profiles On Quit preference in the Sync Settings category. This is a good idea if you are working temporarily on a shared computer.
- Manage Sync Settings: Opens the Sync Settings pane of the Preferences dialog box.
- Manage Creative Cloud Account: Takes you to the Creative Cloud web page.
The Sync Settings menu can also be opened by clicking the button to the left of the Workspace control in the Tools panel. The tooltip for this button is the most convenient way of seeing which account’s settings are in use.
Any time that you switch users or load settings from Creative Cloud, you must restart After Effects. This is in part because After Effects needs to restart to load preferences and other settings from the newly downloaded files. When you upload files from the local computer to Creative Cloud, a restart is not necessary.
When you choose to synchronize settings, you will either get a message telling you that “Settings are already in sync” or a Sync Settings dialog box. In the Sync Settings dialog box, you can choose whether to upload/save your current files from the computer to the Creative Cloud server (Upload Settings) or download and apply the files from the Creative Cloud server (Download Settings). If you know that you will always want to do one or the other, you can check the Remember My Preference box. A good example for using this setting is when you want to treat your primary office computer as the gold standard, so you only ever upload its settings to Creative Cloud, whereas the computers that you freelance at are only consuming those settings, so you only ever download to them. You can change your mind about this setting and choose a new value from the When Syncing menu in the Sync Settings category in the Preferences dialog box.
When you initiate a synchronization operation, you can see its progress in the Info panel, including how many files were modified and when.
details of Sync Settings features
By default, five of the six settings files are uploaded or downloaded during a synchronization operation: keyboard shortcuts, synchronizable preferences, composition settings presets, interpretation rules, and render settings templates. You can modify this in the Sync Settings category of the Preferences dialog box.
Tip: Because it is possible for collisions to occur between output modules of the same name (e.g., Lossless), be cautious of synchronizing output module settings between Mac OS and Windows unless you’ve renamed the output module templates to have distinctive names. This potential collision is the reason that the output module settings templates are not synchronized by default.
As mentioned above, only a subset of preferences are uploaded or downloaded when you use the Sync Settings feature and have chosen the Synchronizable Preferences option in the Sync Settings category of the Preferences dialog box.
The primary reason for most of the items that aren’t synchronized is that they are machine-specific or environment-specific, so they have a good chance of not behaving correctly when transferred to another computer that may have a different configuration or be on a different network.
Here is a complete list of the preferences, with indication of which are in the synchronizable preferences set:
- Levels Of Undo: yes, synchronized
- Path Point Size: yes, synchronized
- Show Tool Tips: yes, synchronized
- Create Layers At Composition Start Time: yes, synchronized
- Switches Affect Nested Comps: yes, synchronized
- Default Spatial Interpolation To Linear: yes, synchronized
- Preserve Constant Vertex Count When Editing Masks: yes, synchronized
- Pen Tool Shortcut Toggles Between Pen and Mask Feather Tools: yes, synchronized
- Synchronize Time Of All Related Items: yes, synchronized
- Expression Pick Whip Writes Compact English: yes, synchronized
- Create Split Layers Above Original Layer: yes, synchronized
- Allow Scripts To Write Files And Access Network: no, not synchronized
- Use System Color Picker: yes, synchronized
- Use System Shortcut Keys (Mac OS only): yes, synchronized
- Dynamic Link with After Effects Uses Project File Name with Highest Number: yes, synchronized
- Play Sound When Render Finishes: yes, synchronized
- Opening Layers With Double-Click: yes, synchronized
- Adaptive Resolution Limit: no, not synchronized
- Show Internal Wireframes: yes, synchronized
- Viewer Quality (Zoom Quality and Color Management Quality): yes, synchronized
- Alternate RAM Preview: yes, synchronized
- Audio Preview Duration: yes, synchronized
- Motion Path: no, not synchronized
- Disable Thumbnails In Project Panel: no, not synchronized
- Show Rendering Progress In Info Panel And Flowchart: no, not synchronized
- Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, And Footage Panels: yes, synchronized
- Show Both Timecode And Frames In Timeline Panel: no, not synchronized
- all settings in this category: yes, synchronized
- Segment Sequences At, Segment Movie Files At: no, not synchronized
- Use Default File Name And Folder: no, not synchronized
- Show Deprecated Formats In Output Module Settings: yes, synchronized
- Audio Block Duration: no, not synchronized
Grids & Guides preferences
- all settings in this category: yes, synchronized
- all settings in this category: yes, synchronized
Media & Disk Cache preferences
- Enable Disk Cache and Maximum Disk Cache Size: no, not synchronized
- Conformed Media Cache: no, not synchronized
- Write XMP IDs To Files On Import: no, not synchronized
- Create Layer Markers From Footage XMP Metadata: yes, synchronized
Video Preview preferences
- all settings in this category: no, not synchronized
- all settings in this category: yes, synchronized
- all settings in this category: yes, synchronized
Memory & Multiprocessing preferences
- all settings in this category: no, not synchronized
Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping preferences
- all settings in these categories: no, not synchronized
In our list of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0), we mentioned that there are several significant improvements to mocha AE, the version of the mocha planar tracker that is included with After Effects.
Here’s what’s new in mocha AE:
- ability to import and track RED Digital Cinema (.r3d) footage
- new layer tree system and layer groups for handling large groups of layers
- dope sheet for moving, copying, and pasting keyframes
- bounding boxes for splines
- multi-spline selection and modification
- enhanced link tool to join points of separate layers
- ability to customize color for mattes and splines
- ability to see individual pixels when zooming
- export of colored shapes based on layer color (mocha Shape effect)
- many bug fixes
Of course, you can get far more detail by reading the documentation accessible from the mocha AE application. Just choose Help > Online/Offline Help in the mocha AE application.
You can also learn much more about mocha with the videos on the Imagineer Systems website.
In our list of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0), we gave an overview of what’s included with regard to CINEMA 4D and its integration with After Effects. Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty details.
First, here’s a list of resources that demonstrate and discuss these features in even more detail than I’m going to provide here (as well as being much prettier than the current plain-text blog post from a words guy):
- beautiful graphical demonstration from Maxon
- Nick Campbell (Greyscale Gorilla) giving two overviews, one for After Effects folks and one for CINEMA 4D folks
- Nick Campbell’s FAQ list and video tutorial series about the new integration
- Rick Barrett’s two-hour video series on Cineversity, which is a great, simple introduction to CINEMA 4D, with the last video being about the After Effects CINEWARE features
- introduction to CINEMA 4D integration from Lynda.com in Chris & Trish Meyer’s overview of the new version
- Video Copilot’s Andrew Kramer talking about how amazing this all is, including reminding everyone that the Element 3D model and shader packs will work quite nicely with this new integration.
Now, on to the details.
inclusion of CINEMA 4D application in After Effects installer
CINEMA 4D is installed by the After Effects installer. The version of CINEMA 4D included with the After Effects installer is CINEMA 4D Lite R14, which is comparable to CINEMA 4D Prime R14; CINEMA 4D Lite has some features not in CINEMA 4D Prime, and vice versa. Here’s a comparison between all of the CINEMA 4D editions. (updated)
You open the version of CINEMA 4D that is installed with After Effects using the New > MAXON CINEMA 4D File command or the Edit Original command in After Effects. You will not see this version of CINEMA 4D installed in the Start menu on Windows or in the Applications directory on Mac OS. (If you have another version of CINEMA 4D installed in addition to the CINEMA 4D Lite version, these commands will open the other version.)
ability to open CINEMA 4D to create new CINEMA 4D scene layers from within After Effects
When you choose New > MAXON CINEMA 4D File from the File menu, the Layer menu, or from a context menu, CINEMA 4D opens and creates a new .c4d file. A new footage item is added to the project, based on the new .c4d file. When you save the .c4d file in CINEMA 4D and return to After Effects, the After Effects footage item is updated with the changes.
ability to use Edit Original on .c4d scene layer in After Effects to open and edit the file in CINEMA 4D
When you choose Edit > Edit Original with a .c4d footage item selected or with a layer with the CINEWARE effect selected, CINEMA 4D opens and loads the .c4d file.
When you are finished editing the file in CINEMA 4D, save the file and return to After Effects. If you have the preference set for automatic reloading of footage, the changes will appear automatically in After Effects.
Ability to import and render .c4d files (CINEMA 4D scene files) in After Effects
The new integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects allows you to import a .c4d file from CINEMA 4D (version 12 or later) into After Effects and use the 3D scene and its elements directly within After Effects by using the new CINEWARE effect.
When you import a .c4d file into After Effects, the file appears as a footage item in the Project panel. When you add the footage item to a composition (e.g., by dragging the footage item to the Create A New Composition button at the bottom of the Project panel), a layer is created based on that footage item, and the CINEWARE effect is automatically applied to the layer. In the background, a CineRender renderer is started for CINEMA 4D scene data.
The CINEWARE effect on a layer is used to tell the background CineRender renderer what elements of the scene to render for the layer, and how to do so.
The Render Settings properties are largely a matter of trading off between speed and quality.
- Standard (Final) provides the highest-quality output, but takes the longest time. This option uses the settings for the Standard renderer as described in the .c4d file. You can open the .c4d file with CINEMA 4D by using Edit Original in After Effects. You can change the render settings in CINEMA 4D, save the file, and then switch back to After Effects to see the render changes.
- Standard (Draft) uses the same renderer as Standard (Final), but with some slower features disabled. For example, antialiasing and most of the options in the Render Settings – Options dialog box in CINEMA 4D are disabled. Standard (Draft) also reduces the level of MoGraph Cloner detail so that it renders faster; e.g., if you have a cloner object with a count set to 10, you’ll see only every other clone (5).
- Software enables the selection of Current Shading, Wireframe, or Box from the Display menu. Wireframe and Box modes are very fast, simplistic representations of the scene.
If the renderer is set to Standard (Draft), choosing the No Textures/Shader option causes the scene to be rendered as if the textures were disabled in the Render and View settings in CINEMA 4D. If the renderer is set to Software, this checkbox also disables shaders.
Choosing the No Pre Calculation option disables the pre-rolling in the CINEMA 4D animation system, which can give a very large speed improvement but should never be used in the final render (because particle systems, some MoGraph functions, Dynamics, and Cloth won´t be displayed correctly).
The Keep Textures In RAM option caches textures where they can be accessed more quickly, but this consumes memory. Enabling this option can greatly reduce final render time in some projects. If you edit textures in CINEMA 4D, they will not update in After Effects until you save the .c4d file or purge the RAM and disk cache in After Effects (Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache).
Click the Apply To All button to apply the settings in the current instance of the CINEWARE effect to all other instances of the effect in the composition for layers that refer to the same .c4d source.
Choose the CINEMA 4D Camera option to use the camera that is defined as the render view camera in CINEMA 4D, or the default camera if none has been explicitly defined. To instead choose a different camera from the CINEMA 4D scene, choose Select CINEMA 4D Camera, which enables the Set Camera button. Click that button and choose a camera from the dialog box that opens.
Choose the Comp Camera option to use the After Effects active camera (first enabled camera layer in the composition). Of course, you need to have an After Effects camera layer in the composition to use this option.
To use the After Effects camera and recalculate CINEMA 4D scene coordinates to adapt, choose Centered Comp Camera. Note that CINEMA 4D and After Effects use different origins (points from which transformations are calculated). An object modeled at the CINEMA 4D origin of 0,0,0 and then rendered using the After Effects camera may not render centered in the After Effects view, or the view may be blank. The Centered Comp Camera option offsets the After Effects camera used in CINEMA 4D so that the CINEMA 4D render is centered in the After Effects composition in these cases.
Use Centered Comp Camera when manually adding a camera to a composition (at composition center, by default); use Comp Camera after extracting CINEMA 4D cameras (since these cameras were created in a coordinate system with a different 0,0,0 reference).
CINEMA 4D Layers:
If you enable CINEMA 4D Layers and click the Set Layers button, you can choose which CINEMA 4D layers to render.
Note that the term ‘CINEMA 4D layer’ may be somewhat confusing to an After Effects user. In CINEMA 4D, the term ‘layer’ refers to a grouping of items into one element.
Click the Apply To All button to apply the camera and CINEMA 4D layer settings in the current instance of the CINEMA 4D Settings effect to all other instances of the effect in the composition for the same footage item. This can be very useful if you have several instances of the effect on multiple layers (such as when working with multiple passes) and you want to have settings match.
Multi-Pass (Linear Workflow):
The Multi-Pass features are only available when using the Standard renderer, not the Software renderer. For results to be correct, you must be working in a project in which colors are blended in linear light (either in a color-managed linear working space or with Blend Colors Using 1.0 Gamma set in the Project Settings dialog box).
If you enable CINEMA 4D Multi-pass and click the Set Multi-pass button, you can choose which pass to render, rather than rendering the entire image.
Click the Create Image Layers button to create a complete set of After Effects layers, one for each pass in the multi-pass set, to recreate the image. To specify the set of layers created to be those in the multi-pass set defined in the Multi-Pass Render Settings in CINEMA 4D for the scene, choose the Defined Multi-Passes option.
Comp Camera Into CINEMA 4D: Click the Merge button to modify the .c4d file to include the camera data from After Effects. For example, this is especially useful for transferring camera data created by the 3D Camera Tracker effect. Note that the active camera is merged with ‘AE’ prepended to the camera name. Merging the same camera again merges another copy of the camera; it does not update a previously merged camera.
CINEMA 4D Scene Data: Click the Extract button to create camera, light, and solid (or null) layers in After Effects corresponding to cameras, lights, and animated objects in CINEMA 4D. Before using this feature, enable the Save Polygons for Melange and Save Animation for Melange preferences in the Files section of the CINEMA 4D Preferences dialog box.
ability to export .c4d scene file from After Effects including cameras, null objects, and more
File > Export > MAXON CINEMA 4D Exporter
notes about CINEMA 4D features
In CINEMA 4D, ensure that the Linear Workflow option is selected (Edit > Project Settings) before saving a .c4d project. (This is the default since R12.)
In After Effects, enable color management by choosing a working color space (e.g., sRGB IEC61966-2.1) in the Color Settings section of the Project Settings dialog box. Select the Linearize Working Space option. Use a color bit depth of 16 bpc or 32 bpc to avoid banding.
TIP: If you change render settings or camera settings on some layers but not on others (i.e., don’t use the Apply To All commands), this can substantially increase render time, because each unique set of settings for a footage item will be treated as a separate CINEMA 4D render. You may also want to turn off CINEMA 4D layers you aren’t using for this same reason.
The current version of the CINEWARE effect in After Effects doesn’t use the OpenGL renderer.
Setting a region of interest (ROI) doesn’t limit the area of rendering for CINEMA 4D scene layers.
In the current implementation, a CINEMA 4D scene layer is expected to stay in place, without transforms and without the setting of the 3D switch. If such behavior is required, precompose the scene layer without collapsing transformations for the precomposition layer.
Collect Files does not collect items on which a .c4d file may depend, such as textures.
This version of the CINEWARE effect only uses the CINEMA 4D Standard render for final rendering (not Physical or Toon).
Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing is disabled when using .c4d layers.
Depending on your computer’s security settings, you may see some warnings about TCP communication; this is because After Effects and the background CINEMA 4D renderer are communicating using TCP, which some security software may interpret as dangerous malware communication. For example, Mac OS will ask you to confirm if you want to run this software “downloaded from the Internet”. Go ahead and accept the communication between these applications. If you can import a .c4d file, but it fails to render, check your security settings to see if Mac OS Gatekeeper or your firewall are blocking the background CINEMA 4D renderer from functioning and communicating with After Effects. In Mac OS, check the General tab of the Security & Privacy system preferences, and make sure that Allow Applications Downloaded From is set to Anywhere. (Note that the TCP port used is defined in the Options in the CINEMAWARE effect, and the choice is stored in the After Effects preferences file.)
If you only read one sentence in this post, let it be this one:
We’ve been going through our crash reporter information lately, and we’ve noticed many instances of crashes that shouldn’t be happening if folks were running with the most recent updates to Element 3D and After Effects. So, please install those updates, and let us know with a bug report if you continue to have problems.
When we talked with Sérgio and Andrew at VideoCopilot about the crashes that we were seeing in these reports, they also mentioned that many of them indicated that folks were trying to run Element 3D with settings higher than their card can handle or with overly complex scenes. They recommend that everyone read these suggestions about how to avoid such problems, as well as making sure that your computer meets the specifications for Element 3D. They have some good troubleshooting information here, too.
There are also some caching fixes for both Element 3D and for After Effects in general in the updates for Element 3D and updates for After Effects, which address problems with stale frames being stored and retrieved from the cache.
[UPDATE: For details about what's new and changed in After Effects CC (12.1), see this page.]
If you have a Creative Cloud membership, you always have access to the latest version of After Effects. Just go to the Creative Cloud site to download it now or to sign up for Creative Cloud.
resources for learning about what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0)
For information about the new versions of all of our professional video and audio applications, including videos and illustrations, check out the snazzy portal page.
Other excellent overviews of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0) include these:
- Rich Young’s round-up of resources
- this article from Chris and Trish Meyer
- this series of videos by Mathias Möhl
- John Dickinson’s excellent summary of dozens of small changes in this version
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.
top new features in After Effects CC (12.0)
For illustrations and more information about these top new features, check out the the “After Effects Preview” PDF document available from the right sidebar on this page.
- CINEMA 4D Lite and live 3D pipeline between CINEMA 4D and After Effects (details here)
- Refine Edge tool, Roto Brush & Refine Edge effect, and Refine Soft Matte effect (details here)
- Warp Stabilizer VFX, improvements to the Warp Stabilizer effect (details here)
- improvements to the 3D Camera Tracker effect (details here)
- ability to find instances of missing fonts, effects, and footage (details here)
- snapping to layer features, including anchor points and masks (details here)
- bicubic resampling (details here)
- Pixel Motion Blur effect (details here)
- Sync Settings for sharing keyboard shortcuts, preferences, and other settings (details here)
(nearly) all new and changed features in the After Effects CC (12.0)
Here is 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.
importing and managing footage and other assets
- inclusion of CINEMA 4D application with After Effects: The version of CINEMA 4D included with the After Effects installer is CINEMA 4D Lite R14, which is comparable to CINEMA 4D Prime R14; CINEMA 4D Lite has some features not in CINEMA 4D Prime, and vice versa. You can create a new .c4d file from within After Effects by choosing File > New > MAXON CINEMA 4D File, and you can use the Edit Original command to edit a .c4d file from within After Effects. (Details here.)
- import of .c4d files (CINEMA 4D scene files): The new integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects allows you to import a .c4d file from CINEMA 4D (version 12 or later) into After Effects and use the 3D scene and its elements directly within After Effects by using the new CINEWARE effect and the background CineRender renderer. This enables you to use assets in such popular formats as OBJ, FBX, and Alembic in an After Effects scene. No more rendering a bunch of image sequences and waiting every time you want to make an adjustment or just try out a new idea. Any changes you make to an imported .C4D file are automatically updated in the After Effects project. See the “compositing and 3D” heading below for more CINEMA 4D integration features. (Details here.)
- import of DNxHD footage: You can now import DNxHD MXF OP1a and Op-Atom files, as well as QuickTime (.mov) files with DNxHD media without installing additional codecs. This includes use of an uncompressed alpha channel in DNxHD QuickTime files.
- higher-performance DPX importer: In addition to being faster, the new DPX importer can import and preserve 8, 12, 10, and 16 bits per channel of color information, as well as an alpha channel and timecode. The DPX importer in previous versions of After Effects only worked with 10-bpc color. (Details here.)
- higher-performance OpenEXR importer and ProEXR plug-ins: After Effects CC (12.0) includes version 1.8 of the OpenEXR importer plug-in and version 1.8 of the ProEXR plug-ins, EXtractoR and IDentifier. New caching features are among the improvements in these plug-ins that increase performance. (Details here.)
- ARRIRAW source settings in footage interpretation: In the ARRIRAW Source Settings dialog box, you can set the color space, exposure, white balance, and tint. To reset the values to those stored as metadata in the ARRIRAW file, click Reload From File. (To access the source settings for an imported ARRIRAW footage item, select the footage item in the Project panel and choose File > Interpret Footage > Main, and click the More Options button at the bottom of the Interpret Footage dialog box.)
- import of additional camera formats: XAVC (Sony 4K) and AVC-Intra 200
- additional features for RED Digital Cinema (.r3d): The RedColor3, RedGamma3, and Magic Motion features are now included in the built-in importer. These features were previously included in an importer avalable from Adobe Labs.
- Unicode conversion for robust support for characters (in file names, paths, etc.): Because of an extensive conversion of many parts of the application to work correctly with Unicode characters, After Effects can use characters from any language (not limited to matching the OS/application language) in various places without crashing, giving an error, or showing the strings as ‘???’. We have made several fixes to allow the use of Unicode characters in paths, including in file names. Related to this work is the removal of the limit of 260 characters for file paths, which in previous versions of After Effects made many features (such as Collect Files) fail unless you deliberately kept file structures shallow or kept names of folders at each level very short.
- commands for finding missing footage, missing effects, and missing fonts: There are three new commands in the File > Dependencies menu for finding missing items: Find Missing Effects, Find Missing Fonts, and Find Missing Footage. You can also type any of the following into the search field in the Project panel to search for missing items: Missing Effects, Missing Fonts, Missing Footage. (Details here.)
- automatic reloading of footage: Footage that has changed is automatically reloaded when After Effects is brought to the foreground (e.g., when switching back from another application, such as CINEMA 4D). By default, footage other than image sequences is automatically reloaded. You can change this behavior by choosing All Footage Types or Off rather than the default Non-Sequence Footage from the Auto Reload menu in the new preference section, Automatic Footage Reloading in the Import category.
- bicubic scaling (and other sampling) for layers: You can choose between bicubic and bilinear sampling for selected layers, which determines how pixels are sampled for transformations such as scaling. The bicubic sampling in After Effects should perform better than the related option in Photoshop; the After Effects algorithm preserves over-range and under-range values more consistently and works better (with fewer quantization errors) at extreme scales. (Details here.)
- snapping of layer features in the Composition panel: You can now snap layer features to one another while dragging in the Composition panel. Features that can be snapped to one another include the anchor point, the center of the layer, a layer corner, the layer handle at the midpoint of a layer edge, or any point on a mask path (not just mask vertices), the center of any 3D face, or the center of the 3D volume. You can also snap the anchor point of a layer to features of that same layer using the Pan Behind (Anchor Point) tool. (Details here.)
- changes to Shift+parenting behavior: In After Effects CS6, holding the Shift key while parenting one layer to another moves the child layer to the location of the parent layer. In After Effects CC, parenting layers while holding the Shift key moves the child layer to the location of the parent, but the child layer’s animated (keyframed) transformations are preserved, relative to the parent layer.
compositing and 3D
- Refine Edge tool: The Refine Edge tool and the associated properties in the Roto Brush & Refine Edge effect provide the ability to improve an existing matte by creating partial transparency for areas of fine detail at the edges of a matte, such as for hair. These new features and their user interface elements are closely related to the Refine Edge features in Photoshop. To use the Refine Edge tool, you must already have an alpha channel defined for the layer. You are not restricted to using the Roto Brush tool to define the initial transparency for the layer; you can also use any other method, such as color keying or conventional rotoscoping by drawing masks. (Details here.)
- Refine Soft Matte effect: The new Refine Soft Matte effect performs the same edge refinements as performed by the new Refine Edge Matte properties in the Roto Brush & Refine Edge effect. The difference is that the Refine Soft Matte effect applies the edge refinements to the entire matte, at a constant width around the entire matte, whereas the edge refinements performed by the Roto Brush & Refine Edge effect are performed within the regions defined by the Refine Edge strokes, which may be of varying widths and along only some parts of the matte edge. (Details here.)
- creation of layers from a CINEMA 4D multi-pass set: In the CINEWARE effect in After Effects, you can choose which pass from a multi-pass set to render, rather than rendering the entire image. Click the Create Image Layers button to create a complete set of After Effects layers, one for each pass in the multi-pass set, to recreate the image. You can specify the set of layers created to be those in the multi-pass set defined in the Multi-Pass Render Settings in CINEMA 4D for the scene. (Details here.)
- merging After Effects cameras into .c4d files: From within After Effects, you can modify a .c4d file to include the camera data from After Effects. For example, this is especially useful for transferring camera data created by the 3D Camera Tracker effect. (Details here.)
- extracting CINEMA 4D scene data into an After Effects composition: You can use a single Extract command in After Effects to create camera, light, and solid (or null) layers in After Effects corresponding to cameras, lights, and animated objects in a CINEMA 4D scene. (Details here.)
- ground plane and origin in 3D Camera Tracker effect: You can now define a ground plane (reference plane) and origin — i.e., the (0,0,0) point of the coordinate system — within the 3D Camera Tracker effect. Any items that you create from within this instance of the 3D Camera Tracker effect will be created using this plane and origin as their basis. (Details here.)
- Auto-delete Points Across Time feature in 3D Camera Tracker and Warp Stabilizer VFX effect: If this option is on, when you delete track points in the Composition panel, corresponding track points (i.e., track points on the same feature/object) are deleted at other times on the layer, so you don’t need to delete the track points frame by frame to improve the quality of the track. For example, you can delete track points on a person running through the scene, whose motion should not be considered for the determination of how the camera was moving in the shot. (Details here and here.)
- improvements to mocha: The version of mocha included with After Effects includes several new and enhanced features, including the ability to import and track RED Digital Cinema (.r3d) footage. (Details here.)
effects and color
- Pixel Motion Blur effect: The new Pixel Motion Blur effect analyzes video footage and synthesizes (fakes) motion blur based on motion vectors. This effect uses the same motion estimation as the Timewarp effect, and the controls of the Pixel Motion Blur effect are closely related to those in the Timewarp effect. (Details here.)
- Preserve Scale option in Warp Stabilizer VFX effect: The previous version of the Warp Stabilizer effect could become confused by point-of-view shots and would attempt to correct for movement of the camera forward or backward by changing the scale. This was especially bad for aerial fly-throughs. If you enable the Preserve Scale option, then the Warp Stabilizer will not attempt to correct with scale adjustments. (Details here.)
- new Objective options for using Warp Stabilizer VFX in compositing workflows: You can now use the Warp Stabilizer VFX effect in three different ways: for stabilizing, for temporarily stabilizing to do visual effects work, and compositing a layer into a shaky scene. Each of these goals has a corresponding entry in the new Objective menu in the Advanced properties of the Warp Stabilizer VFX effect: Stabilize; Reversible Stabilization and Reverse Stabilization; and Apply Motion to Target / Apply Motion to Target Over Original. (Details here.)
- modifications to Ramp effect: The Ramp effect has been renamed to now be the Gradient Ramp effect, to make it more discoverable to users looking for a way to make a gradient. The effect now has a Swap Colors button that swaps the color from the Start Color property to the End Color property, and vice versa.
- native export of ProRes media on Mac OSX v10.8: On Mac OSX v10.8, you can export ProRes media without installing additional codecs. This includes all ProRes varieties. (On Mac OSX v10.7, you still need to install additional ProRes codecs from Apple.)
- improved audio output behavior in output module settings: The default state of of audio output in the output modules is Audio Output Auto, which outputs audio if the composition has audio but creates no audio channels on output if the composition does not have audio. The Audio Output On option creates audio channels on output even if the composition doesn’t contain audio. Audio Output Off doesn’t create audio channels even if the composition does have audio.
- commands for sending composition to Adobe Media Encoder (AME) encoding queue: There are two new menu commands and a keyboard shortcut for sending the active composition or compositions selected in the Project panel to the Adobe Media Encoder encoding queue: Composition > Add To Adobe Media Encoder Queue, File > Export > Add To Adobe Media Encoder Queue, Ctrl+Alt+M (Windows), and Command+Option+M (Mac OS). While exploring Adobe Media Encoder, be sure to check out the new DNxHD import and export features, as well as the Match Source new features for automatically matching output settings to those of the source item.
- removed H.264, MPEG-2, and WMV formats from the default state of the After Effects render queue: In general, you should use Adobe Media Encoder to create output in these formats that have been deprecated from the After Effects render queue. If you need to be able to export these formats directly from After Effects, you can re-enable them by setting the preference Show Deprecated Formats In Output Module Settings in the Output preferences category.
performance and memory
- menu command to purge all RAM caches and disk cache: The new command Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache purges both the contents of all RAM caches (like the existing All Memory command) and the contents of the disk cache (like the existing Empty Disk Cache button in the Media & Disk Cache preferences).
- new default location for disk cache on Mac OS: On Mac OS, the disk cache was placed by default in a location backed up by Time Machine. This is typically not wanted, so the new default location is in a folder that is not by default backed up by Time Machine.
- new preference that modifies the existing Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing preference: Only For Render Queue, Not For RAM Preview: If this preference is enabled, then Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing will not be engaged for RAM previews, and background multiprocessing rendering processes will only launch when you initiate a render operation in the render queue.
- new preset values and default settings for Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing preferences: You can now choose to allocate 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, or 6 GB of RAM to background rendering processes, rather than the 0.75, 1, 1.5, 2, or 3 GB.
- disablement of Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing if RAM installed is less than 5GB: This is intended to prevent people from trying to use Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing on a computer without enough RAM to make use of this feature.
miscellaneous added features
- Sync Settings for sharing keyboard shortcuts, preferences, and other settings (details here)
- Added Reveal In Finder / Reveal In Explorer command for layers in Layer menu and in context menus for the layer.
- New preference (General > Play Sound When Render Finishes) can be used to enable or disable the playing of a sound when the last item in the render queue has been processed.
- If you have several Timeline panels open, you can choose Close Other Timeline Panels to close all Timeline panels other than the active one. This command is in the panel menu and in the context menu that appears when you context-click the tab for a Timeline panel.
- Added command to context menu for keyframes and markers: Go To Keyframe Time and Go To Marker Time.
- Added command to the context menu for footage items in the Project panel: Replace With Precomp. This command creates a composition, places the selected footage item within it, and replaces all references to that footage item with references to the new composition.
- Added a new column to the Project panel: Video Info. This column contains pixel dimensions and pixel aspect ratio for the item.
- Added link to the Adobe user-to-user forums: Help > Online User Forums.
- New option in Collect Files dialog box: Reveal Collected Project In Explorer/Finder When Finished.
- Added Quadro K5000 to the list of cards that After Effects will use for the GPU acceleration of the ray-traced 3D renderer.
miscellaneous changed features
- In the General preferences category, there is a new set of preferences under the heading Opening Layers With Double-click. These preferences determine the double-click behavior in Timeline panel for opening layers in Composition or Layer panel
- The tapping of the Shift key to open the Composition Mini-Flowchart has been replaced by pressing the Tab key.
- The Graph Editor defaults to value graph rather than defaulting to auto-choosing graph type (and therefore showing speed graph by default for some properties). This makes it a lot easier to understand what’s going on when first using the Graph Editor.
- If you had missing frames in an image sequence, previous versions of After Effects would say something like this “After Effects warning: The sequence has 3 missing frames.” In After Effects CC, the message is much more useful: “After Effects warning: Animal[1-6].psd is missing 3 frames (2, 4-5).” Also, there is now a preference, Report Missing Frames, that allows you to turn this warning off if it is annoying.
- The path to the log file under the Render Settings heading in the Render Queue panel is a clickable link. Click it to open the folder containing the log file.
- When you have typed enough characters in the search field in the Effects & Presets panel such that only one effect or animation preset is shown in the filtered list, press Enter/Return to apply the effect or animation preset to selected layers.
- You can now drag the 3D axis control (the red, green, and blue tripod of arrows) with the Pan Behind tool to move the anchor point.
- Thumbnail images in the preview area at the top of the Project panel respect the aspect ratio of the item being previewed (instead of always being 4:3 and therefore often being letterboxed).
- Gradient colors can now be randomized using Brainstorm.
- When opening a project created with a previous version of After Effects, the name of the new project is not “Untitled Project” but retains the name of the old project with the string ‘(converted)’ appended.
- Changed name of Warp Stabilizer effect to Warp Stabilizer VFX to distinguish it from the first version. Premiere Pro will continue to include the Warp Stabilizer effect without the additional features. (Details here.)
- Blur Focal Distance property units are now pixels rather than 0-1 unitless fraction.
- After Effects now uses subclip names from Premiere Pro, rather than using the name of the master clip for all subclips.
- Rewrote Cartoon effect so that it doesn’t prevent the use of Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing. The Cartoon effect also no longer uses GPU acceleration.
- Improved user experience when Bridge or ESTK aren’t installed, with messages that give download link. The After Effects installer does not include Bridge and ESTK installers; you will need to download and install them separately.
- Improved user interface for enabling Adobe Crash Reporter on Mac OS. On Mac OS, choose Help > Adobe Crash Reporter. Make sure that “Always show this dialog” is selected (even though, of course, it’s not “this” dialog box that will get shown, but the actual crash reporter dialog box).
- Some commands from the File menu have been moved into the new File > Dependencies submenu: Collect Files, Consolidate Footage, Remove Unused Footage, Reduce Project.
- After Effects CC can be installed and run on Mac OSX v10.7.4 (and later versions of 10.7.x), Mac OSX v10.8.x, Windows 7, and Windows 8.
- Added Default Base setting in Project Settings for specifying the default timecode base. This returns some functionality that was unintentionally lost in After Effects CS5.5.
- There are some changes to how you install and activate render engines (render-only nodes). (details here)
miscellaneous removed features
- XFL export has been removed.
- 16 bits/pixel option has been removed from Targa Options dialog box for Targa image sequence output type (leaving 24 bits/pixel and 32 bits/pixel).
- The Live Update button has been removed from the Timeline panel. You can still enable or disable Live Update functionality with the command in the Timeline panel menu and the keyboard shortcuts (Alt on Windows or Option on Mac OS).
- Removed Create New Layers At Best Quality preference.
- The tips of the day have been removed from the Welcome Screen. A PDF version of the tips will be posted on this blog soon/
- The Community Help Client (CHC) AIR application has been removed from all Adobe application packages. The default web browser will be used to view HTML pages of the Help document.
- The Go To Adobe Story menu command has been removed. You can still navigate directly to story.adobe.com.
- ScriptUI is now based on the same controls as the main application, so appearance and functionality of panels created with scripts should be more consistent.
Other scripting changes will be listed in a separate post on this blog soon.
a few choice bug fixes
We fixed a lot of bugs, and there’s no way that I could list them all here, but I do want to call out a few that are especially significant because we saw several reports of them:
- After Effects was unable to render and export a QuickTime file greater than 2.15GB over certain networks. This has been fixed.
- Flash cue points were not being preserved when exporting FLV files from After Effects. This has been fixed.
- Exporting to SWF format was failing for compositions with footage. This is fixed.
- Rendering RAM previews while using Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing and a region of interest didn’t work. This has been fixed.
- Fixed crashes and incorrect rendering with CC Particle World, CC Simple Wire Removal, CC Power Pin, CC Smear, CC Sphere, and other bundled effects.
- During previews on some Mac OS systems, tearing would occur. This has been fixed.
- Fixed multiple bugs in the built-in point tracker that caused jittery or otherwise bad tracks.
I just spent some time going through all of the feature requests that we’ve received over the past year. This post consists of two parts: first, some notes about the feature requests from last year that we were able to incorporate into After Effects CS6 (including in some recent updates); second, a list of the top feature requests for this year, with some notes about each.
Before I get to it, let me first say how much we appreciate it when you submit bug reports and feature requests. It really helps us to know what to build for you.
In After Effects CS6, there is a bug that prevents the tapping of the Shift key from reliably opening the composition mini-flowchart.
The problem is that the drawing of the cache indicators in the Timeline panel can sometimes prevent the application from immediately responding to this keyboard shortcut (which is a brief tap on the Shift key).