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After Effects CS3: Brainstorm

If you want my opinion (maybe you don’t ;-), there are two engineering teams within Adobe that never fail to deliver some exciting new enhancements and features to their products. Those teams as you might surmise are the Photoshop and After Effects teams. Why they are always ‘on’, I’m not sure, but their continuing success and foresight are direct contributing factors to their market share and importance among the creative community.

So… I want to chime in as have many others on some of the new features that I like most about Adobe’s latest iteration of After Effects. I’ll hit them one or two at a time. My list is in no particular order but hopefully will give you a couple of new nuggets of new information to noodle on as we wait for After Effects CS3 to become a public beta.

BRAINSTORM – Every writer has experienced writers block and so it stands to reason that every media creator has experienced a periodic lack of creative juices (or perhaps it is caffeine?) Anyway, Brainstorm is a terrific tool to help you sort thru all of the permutations of any set of parameters you may choose to modify. This is also one of the tools that really can help users of all levels. From the beginner who is just trying to figure some things out, to the true everyday professional animator, Brainstorm can offer new ideas and styles to just about anything. If there are ideas in Brainstorm that you like but aren’t relevant to what you’re doing, you can save it out as a preset to be recalled or used later. With Brainstorm, you can also control the amount of deviation from the original, so as you hone in on what you’re looking for you can decrease the percentage of variation.

The basics of how it works is that you select any combinations of parameters that you want Brainstorm to work on and then simply click the brainstorm icon, which is located near the graph switch on the timeline. That will bring up the Brainstorm interface and from there it’s a intuitive and visual process for refining and selecting your choice.

As I mentioned before, I think this is a feature that will make beginners get excited and productive with After Effects, but by no means do I think everyday professionals will ignore this. Why would you, when Brainstorm can help you get that extra 5% which will make the difference between a good comp and a great one.

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