Region of Interest: Adobe weblog about After Effects and related stuff from the After Effects team
I recently recorded a set of video tutorials about motion tracking and stabilization in After Effects.
video2brain has made some of these video tutorials freely available on their website:
For more information about these subjects, see the following resources:
I also cover motion tracking in the video2brain series After Effects CS5: Learn By Video, including in these videos:
Today, the After Effects CS5.5 (10.5.1) update was released.
This update is not available through the automatic update mechanism. You must download the update packages from the download pages for Windows or Mac OS, using the “Adobe After Effects CS5.5 10.5.1 Update” links. The links are not at the top of the page, where I expected to find them.
Important: You must choose the correct patcher based on your original installation type: use the “Electronic Download” update package if you installed from a download; use the “Retail DVD” update package if you installed from a disc. (I found it confusing that the word ‘trial’ appears in the file name of the “Electronic Download” package, but that is indeed the correct package for updating the full version.)
You should also install other recent updates to your Adobe software by choosing Help > Updates.
We have also been working with several providers of plug-ins, codecs, and hardware devices to assist them in updating their software to fix some errors and crashes. Please take this opportunity to download and install updated codecs, plug-ins, and drivers from these providers, as relevant to your work.
If you have any problems with this update, or if you have bugs to report after applying the update, let us know by sending feedback or coming to the After Effects forum. Don’t ask questions in the comments on this blog post, which fewer people will see.
- When entering large amounts of text in a text layer, the text would not appear and the image would not be rendered until you moved the mouse pointer out of the Composition panel. This is fixed.
- Some people were unable to use an upgrade serial number for the After Effects CS5.5 point product (not part of a suite) to activate their software. This is fixed. If you have problems with After Effects CS5.5 accepting an upgrade serial number, install the application, run it as a trial version (i.e., don’t enter the serial number), apply the 10.5.1 update, and then restart After Effects and activate it by entering the serial number.
If you continue to have trouble with activation or serial numbers, contact Adobe Customer Service
When you send an After Effects composition or Adobe Premiere Pro sequence to the Adobe Media Encoder (AME) encoding queue, you may not be sending the version of the composition or sequence that you intended. There are some subtle but important differences in how the applications behave under various circumstances.
The essential difference is in whether the version of the composition or sequence that is used for creating the output file is a) the current version within After Effects or Premiere Pro or b) the version stored in the project file most recently saved to disk.
In the case of the After Effects render queue, the version of a composition that is used for creating output files is the version of the composition current within the After Effects application at the time that the render operation begins, regardless of what has been saved to disk.
Here’s how it works within Adobe Media Encoder (AME), depending on various circumstances:
- After Effects; all cases involving AME: uses the version of the composition stored in the project file most recently saved to disk
- Premiere Pro; using File > Export > Media commands: uses the version of the sequence current within the Premiere Pro application at the time that the Export command is clicked
- Premiere Pro; dragging sequence to AME queue or importing Premiere Pro project into AME: uses the version of the sequence stored in the project file most recently saved to disk
If you try to drag a composition or sequence from After Effects or Premiere Pro into the AME queue but the composition or sequence doesn’t exist in the project saved to disk, this message appears: “An error occurred while trying to add the selected project to the batch.” If you see that message, save the project and then try again.
In general, to get the most predictable behavior, save your project before sending a composition or sequence off to AME to be rendered and exported.
You may think of these differences as a bug, as bad design, or—once you’ve learned how to use them—as a useful feature. If it’s either of the first two, I encourage you to submit a bug report or feature request.
For more information about rendering and exporting from After Effects and Premiere Pro, see these pages:
After Effects CS5.5 includes several improvements related to performance:
- The caching system is now much smarter about determining what frames to add to the disk cache, so the disk cache is enabled by default and the default size of the disk cache is much larger (20GB).
- RAM and disk cache indicators (green and blue bars) can now be shown for individual layers, as well as for an entire composition. These layer cache indicators are off by default.
- The default Memory & Multiprocessing preference settings are now much more likely to provide good performance for common scenarios than were the defaults for After Effects CS5. We used feedback from users regarding these suggested settings to help us to determine the best settings.
- We fixed several bugs and made some performance optimizations that greatly increase speed in common circumstances. For example, we fixed a bug that caused items to be rendered even when they were entirely obscured by an overlying layer—which was just wasted processing time.
Chris Meyer explains improvements regarding caching in this video on Adobe TV.
For complete details of what’s new and changed in After Effects CS5.5, see this page.
Chris Meyer explains these new and changed features in this video on Adobe TV.
For a video demonstration of the expression changes related to source timecode, see this video on the Video2Brain website.
- You can now use expressions to link together properties that aren’t represented with simple numbers or strings (sometimes referred to as “arbitrary data” or “custom data” properties). An example of such a property is the Curves property of the Curves effect. (See this video for a demonstration of this feature.)
- Added 3D Point Control effect in Expression Controls category.
- Added Layer Sub-objects method
sourceTime(t = time), which returns the source time corresponding to time
ntscDropFramemethod to Comp and Footage objects to return true if the item uses NTSC dropframe format for timecode.
- Added optional
ntscDropFrameargument to the
ntscDropFrame = thisComp.ntscDropFrame
For complete details of what’s new and changed in After Effects CS5.5, see this page.
This is a question for people who create (or might create) plug-ins using Pixel Bender.
What kind of data security do you want for your Pixel Bender source code in your output files?
Right now, if you write a plug-in using our C/C++ SDK, you know that the plug-in that you actually deliver is a compiled binary file that is (relatively) opaque—i.e., people can’t just open it up and read your source code.
Similarly, if you write a script using the ExtendScript Toolkit, you can choose to create a .jsxbin binary file as the output, which similarly obfuscates the source code.
Do you need something like this for Pixel Bender? Would having additional data security for your source code in the output files be an important factor in how or whether you created and distributed Pixel Bender plug-ins?
Please respond in the comments on this blog post. Or, if you’d rather respond in private, send me a message at kopriva [at] adobe (dot) com.
Oh, and in case some people reading this don’t know what Pixel Bender is: It’s a programming language and toolkit for creating effects and filters that run in After Effects, Photoshop, and Flash. Here’s one of my favorite examples. There’s a lot more information on the Pixel Bender Technology Center site.
[UPDATE: This has been fixed in the next version of After Effects and in Adobe Media Encoder CS6 and Premiere Pro CS6 (6.0.2/6.0.3) updates.]
We’ve been getting reports of people being unable to export QuickTime files larger than 2.15GB across a network using AFP (Apple Filing Protocol).
Here’s what’s happening:
In After Effects CS5, we moved to using the Apple API
AddMediaSample2. This API is critical for frame reordering to work and gives us access to 64-bit time samples, which means that we can export longer movies.
AddMediaSample2 has a bug that
AddMediaSample (the API that we used for After Effects CS4) doesn’t: When the file size reaches 2.15GB on an AFP volume, the function returns
fileBoundsErr), and the calling application is stuck and can’t do anything else.
This bug in this Apple API also affects Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as any other program using the
AddMediaSample2 API. See this post on the Apple QuickTime API list for an example.
Adobe and Apple are working on addressing this issue.
This issue only affects individual QuickTime files larger than 2.15GB rendered and exported over an AFP network. Therefore, there are several possible workarounds:
- Use NFS instead of AFP. (Some users report success using SMB, though others report failure.)
- Render and export locally instead of across a network.
- Render and export to a format other than QuickTime.
- Render and export to image sequences and then assemble image sequences into QuickTime movies using Adobe Media Encoder or QuickTime Pro on the remote machine.
If you’d like to discuss this issue, come to this thread on the After Effects user-to-user forum, which contains some more detail and history. Do not respond in the comments on this blog post; the comment system for this blog is a greatly inferior way to have a conversation, and far fewer people read the comments here than read the forum thread.
I’ve seen a significant amount of confusion about this, so I thought that it would be good to make this explicit statement:
You do not need new versions of plug-ins for After Effects CS5.5. Plug-ins that work with After Effects CS5 should work with After Effects CS5.5.
I think that some of this confusion came from the need to get new versions of plug-ins when we advanced from After Effects CS4 to After Effects CS5. That was necessary because of the move from a 32-bit application to a 64-bit application. There is no such fundamental infrastructure change from After Effects CS5 to After Effects CS5.5.
You do need to make sure that the plug-ins are installed where After Effects CS5.5 is looking for them. After Effects CS5.5 has its own plug-ins folder, and it doesn’t look in the CS5 plug-ins folder, unless you tell it to do so (more on that in a bit). So, be sure to install the plug-ins in the right place.
By default, the plug-ins folder is in the following location:
- (Windows) Program FilesAdobeAdobe After Effects CS5.5Support FilesPlug-ins
- (Mac OS) Applications/Adobe After Effects CS5.5/Plug-ins
After Effects also loads plug-ins from a MediaCore folder, which is intended to hold plug-ins shared between After Effects and Premiere Pro. Some third-party plug-in installers install their plug-ins in this folder. You should follow the instructions for these third-party plug-ins regarding how to install plug-ins for After Effects CS5.5.
Here are links to the sites of some third-party plug-in providers, where they give instructions:
Tip: You can have an alias/shortcut in your CS5.5 plug-ins folder that points to the CS5 plug-ins folder. That way, when After Effects is scanning the CS5.5 plug-ins folder for plug-ins to load, it’ll follow that alias/shortcut to the CS5 plug-ins folder and load plug-ins from there. Be careful if you decide to go this route, since it’s easy to point to duplicate versions this way. I keep my third-party plug-ins that are not installed with After Effects in a separate “after-market” folder in my CS5 Plug-ins folder, and my alias/shortcut in my CS5.5 Plug-ins folder just points to that.
Michele Yamazaki show how to do it here.
I didn’t find concise instructions for creating a shortcut to a directory on Windows, but the gist is this: Right-click a directory, and choose Copy; in the destination location, right-click, and choose Paste Shortcut.
All of this applies to Premiere Pro, as well.
We have been seeing some reports that indicate that some serial numbers for upgrades from After Effects CS5 to After Effects CS5.5 are not functioning.
If you are attempting to upgrade from After Effects CS5 to After Effects CS5.5, and the software isn’t accepting your serial number, please contact Adobe Customer Service:
(Please, do not respond in the comments of this blog post, since the people who can help you are not reading the comments on this blog.)
Perhaps the most exciting new feature in After Effects CS5.5 is the Warp Stabilizer effect. This effect automatically stabilizes a shot, removing unwanted motion.
Chris and Trish Meyer review the Warp Stabilizer effect on the ProVideo Coalition website, as well as providing a very detailed and absolutely crucial set of video tutorials on Adobe TV. Please, watch these videos before using the Warp Stabilizer:
- introduction to the Warp Stabilizer
- basic properties of the Warp Stabilizer
- advanced properties of the Warp Stabilizer (mostly about synthesizing edges)
- using the Warp Stabilizer to stabilize a background, not a foreground
Video2Brain provides a set of videos about stabilizing motion:
- extended overview of Warp Stabilizer effect
- details of Warp Stabilizer effect controls
- using the point tracker (legacy tracker) for stabilizing motion
- brief overview and demonstration of the Warp Stabilizer effect
Video2Brain also provides a video specific to using the Warp Stabilizer effect in Premiere Pro CS6.
Mark Christiansen also reviews the Warp Stabilizer effect as part of an overall review of After Effects CS5.5 on the ProVideo Coalition webiste, and he gives some basic instructions in a video on the Lynda.com website.
Yes, there have already been features—both in After Effects and in other software—that have provided motion stabilization capabilities, but these have been more labor intensive and not as capable of dealing with various problems that come from undesired camera movement.
If you’ve ever used other motion stabilization tools, you know that the stabilization process results in gaps around the shot as the layer is moved to compensate for unwanted camera motion. The conventional way to deal with these gaps has been to scale and/or crop the shot, losing information and resolution. The Warp Stabilizer effect provides the option of synthesizing edges, filling in the gaps around the edges with image information from previous or subsequent frames. Advanced parameters provide a high degree of control over how the edges are synthesized and the gaps filled in.
Another problem with conventional motion stabilization techniques that merely move and skew an entire layer is that they don’t deal with the problems of parallax—the changes in perspective as a camera shifts its position relative to the foreground subject and the background. The Warp Stabilizer analyzes many, many points in each frame and determines how to subtly distort (warp) the image to remove unnecessary motion and remove these artifacts of parallax. Rolling shutter artifacts common to HDSLR cameras can also be diminished.
The Warp Stabilizer effect is the outgrowth of the work of many people, including university researchers and members of the Adobe research team. Jue Wang gives some insight into the technology leading up to the Warp Stabilizer effect here.
For details of all new and changed features in After Effects CS5.5, see this page.