Native 64-bit After Effects plug-ins

A couple months ago, we announced that the next After Effects will be 64-bit native on both Mac OS and Windows. I’m very excited about this. It’s a huge, must-have feature for nearly every After Effects user. The feedback has been enthusiastic and everyone I’ve spoken to is looking forward to the advantages of 64-bit.

Because CS4 will be our last 32-bit version, plug-ins will need to be updated in order to work properly in future versions. This has brought up a few questions and concerns. Hopefully, this post will address these concerns and give you a sense of what you can expect to happen.

The wonderful selection of After Effects plug-ins available today will continue. Most of our 3rd party developers are already working on converting their plug-ins. Some are already done and are just waiting for After Effects to be released.

If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s that the After Effects team is 100% committed to working with our customers and our 3rd party developers to make this transition as fast and easy as possible.

We’re taking extra steps and working more closely than ever with our 3rd party developers:

First, our SDK is available much earlier than ever before. Normally we make this available when we ship. This time, the 64-bit After Effects SDK is ready and available now. Any developer who wishes to join our pre-release program can have access.

Second, updating plug-ins can be easy or hard, depending on the plug-in. We’ve updated all of our own plug-ins and we’ve provided support for every plug-in that is included in the box with After Effects. After Effects engineers are available to answer questions and assist our developer community. It’s our goal to make this as easy as possible.

Third, quality counts. We can put developers in contact with customers who are able to test the new versions. We can also facilitate this process using Adobe resources.

Fourth, watch this blog and my twitter feed (@motiongfx) for the latest information about availability of 3rd party plug-ins. If you have news about plug-ins, let me know and I can pass it on to the community.

If you’re a developer, please reach out to me and let me know how we can help.

If you’re an After Effects user, tell your favorite plug-in makers that you’re interested in having a 64-bit compatible version. Also reach out to me to tell me which plug-ins are important to you. I can follow up with help for the developers.

I hope it’s clear why we’ve chosen to go this route. 64-bit native is a big improvement for After Effects. Keeping both 32- and 64-bit significantly delays when we can get these advances to our customers. Doing so would also increase development costs for us and our 3rd party developers.

In the long run, this benefits everyone. In the short term, we’re committed to providing as much assistance as possible.

If you have any questions and concerns, please leave a comment.

18 Responses to Native 64-bit After Effects plug-ins

  1. Dave N says:

    If developers are going to charge for upgrades to their 64-bit versions, it’s going to seriously impact whether or not I upgrade to CS5. The upgrade cost of the software alone is going to be expensive, add to that the cost of plugin upgrades and it’s probably not worth the upgrade until things improve economically.[ Some will charge and some will not. Either way, being 64-bit has advantages in productivity which will go to your bottom line. In this economy, it’s even more important to have tools that can handle the job. This should be a factor in your decision. — MC ]

  2. S says:

    I think 3rd parties are going to be very reasonable in updates. they want everyone on board too. so before you get too worried, sit tight and wait for some definitive news.that said, 64bit will be the end of “out of buffer” errors. it will mean 2K and 4K comps with lots of layers, deep color, will just work without messing around. I think the benefits will more then outweigh the costs…. this will be a defining AE release that will have almost all users jumping on.

  3. Robert says:

    Will it be possible to install CS4 and CS5 on the same machine?Because the problem isn’t just missing plug-ins: Pre-CS5 project files won’t render anymore if there’s even a single plug-in that doesn’t get updated for whatever reason.What do you propose to deal with this issue?-Rob[ Yes. You will be able to install CS5 and CS4 on the same machine. — MC ]

  4. Dave N says:

    We’ll have to see if CS5 is indeed more productive. Quite honestly, CS4 isn’t that much better than CS3 which is why many people never bothered to upgrade.If the only major feature of AE CS5 is 64-bit then it better run 500%+ faster than CS4 on the same hardware, otherwise I’ll wait for CS6.However, if we got native 3D OBJ support without PhotoShop (and with support for AE lights and cameras), then I’ll sell one of my children to get the upgrade.

  5. Phil says:

    Of course we need all the effects, except maybe the obsolete ones. KeyLight is very important to update. [ Agreed. Keylight is updated and ready to go, as are all of the other plug-ins that come with After Effects. I think we only removed one or two obsolete plug-ins. — MC ]

  6. Zvi Twersky says:

    Dave N, how many kids do you have? If the upgrade of all the plugins are too pricey, I’ll use the money to buy one of your kids.

  7. RS says:

    This transition leaves everything behind, so custom made plugins or plugins from companies that stopped their work years ago are finally lost.Please truly consider a 32-Bit-Support later on, I understand this hasn’t first priority!

  8. Thomas says:

    Please do NOT REMOVE any Plugins!!Move them in the Obsolete Folder.No one will cry for installing a few more Kilobytes!Pleas just don’t remove anything!Apple is doing such thingsSimply: don’t follw that!

  9. Dave N says:

    Hehe, I have two daughters and 3 grand-daughters. :)I get the impression that the only real new feature in AE CS5 will be 64-bit support. Which can potentially be huge, but is it worth the steep upgrade price? I think a lot of people are going to skip CS5 and wait for new actual features in CS6 once the product is a bit more stable.

  10. Vandal says:

    1.I wanna 3d tools cameras native import and/or camera matching plug-ins. we have working in sometimes of ext-camera. but do not support that and native.ex> “maya, 3ds, c4d, etc,….3d tools cameras”I think that it’s surely nice AE plug-in.2.I guess interisting, AE Expression or AE Script Code Making in Node-based interface. like ICE in softimage-XSI. and like The Houdini text code auto-translate COPY-PASTE node screen to *.txt3.I think interasting too you know Python?in recent years many tools support Python script.if use Python script in AE. users get interasting, exciting and learning-easy scripting solution in AE.Thanks! very nice Adobe teams and Michael Coleman. :)note : I have a litte english language skills. 😐

  11. Indivfx says:

    This is a good move in the right direction. It helps to create more jobs with following reasons,Enables more Independent 2k films and 4k filmsEnables great comps for it.Enables 2k and 4k color correction.Independent films can have productions that are equivalent to studio productions in Scifi genre and effects genre movies.

  12. jin says:

    i feel i need to ask for this for cs5 after years of suffering silently – is it possible that we can get a PLAY GREEN BAR (ram preview) button?it’s always been that you just have to hit the ram preview button twice… but the problem is that sometimes, with large scenes, it will hang on the first button hit and actually try generating a ram preview again – even though you just want to play the green section that’s been made previously.or can’t the play button just play in real time when it’s over a green section of the timeline?it frustrates me when i see a long green bar that’s just aching to be played real time and i can’t always easily just get it to play!

  13. I am impressed with the developers that are offering free upgrades for their 3rd party plugins, but I can understand many developer’s reluctance to invest the time and effort to upgrade their ‘free’ plugins.However, after reading this post, its reassuring to hear that the AE team perfectly understand the importance of these plugins and are doing their best to help all 3rd party developers!I am a student and have been using AE CS4 for about 9 months now. My current workstation is a notebook with 8gb ram on windows 7 64-bit.If you are in need of another beta tester for CS5 and new versions of 3rd party plugins, I can be contacted at ‘’

  14. Navarro Parker says:

    What about those psuedo plug-ins — like Pixel Bender and CustomEffects?Things like Expressions and Scripts won’t need to be rewritten, right?I’m not concerned with leading developers like Trapcode, GenArts, Foundry, Maxon, RE:Vision. If memory serves, some already have 64-bit code for other hosts.The smaller houses I’m more concerned about: fnord, Frischluft, DigiEffects, Zaxwerks, Digital Trove, Cycore.It’s probably RedGiant that has the biggest burden. Lot of old code that goes back to the Mac OS 9 days with with KLF, Image Lounge, and Digital Anarchy. Eeek.I’m still sad Pete’s Plug-ins never made the jump to Intel Mac. 🙁 [ Expressions and scripts will not need to be rewritten. Old code is definitely harder to move forward, or things with a lot of custom UI, like Zaxworks’ stuff. I’m feeling pretty confident about your list, though. Most of them have told us they will move forward quickly. — MC ]

  15. Digital Magic Studios says:

    I think After Effects needs to have two choices with the interface. One is the classical layer based system and the other a node based. That way, artists can choose what interface they feel most comfortable in. Plus, nodes will view the entire comp in one view instead of hunting down files thus easier to manage larger, complex compositions.

  16. Curtis H says:

    Hey Michael, back in February there was a “tweet” that put the fear of God into all of us AE people… I’m sure you’ve seen it:”Back from Adobe. Finally can tell you that the next version of AE is a WEAK upgrade. But PS and AI will be GREAT :(“After the weak CS4 upgrade this sort of talk makes me feel like adobe is ignoring us. I can appreciate how hard it must be to take a behemoth program like After Effects and port it to a 64bit structure. But after all the begging that we’ve done asking only for what are now standard tools in the business- how can this happen… again?[Frankly, I didn’t understand the thinking behind that tweet. Of course I spoke with the person who made this tweet to understand his opinion, and I don’t think he considered all the features before making this off-the cuff statement. 64-bit and performance are our top feature requests. Things are looking absolutely great in this area. There’s another killer feature that should dramatically reduce a common tedious and time-intensive task. I have to be vague for now, but there are good things coming. I would encourage you to look at the release with your own eyes and judge it’s value. — MC]

  17. Andrew says:

    After seeing the new hardware engine for Premiere Pro and it’s capabilities, I can understand why you felt so compelled to do something to improve AE’s performance, I mean, with that behemoth in the workflow, it would start to look quite sluggish.

    The issue I have is, the reason that AE never got Mercury was allegedly due to the lack of hardware support for the plug-ins. If you’re going to force all the manufacturers to rewrite their code for 64bit anyway, why not throw the mercury engine in a 64bit AE CS5 and adjust whatever problem associated with the plug-in framework that you had to accommodate it. I mean, apart from the 64bitty-ness, its a framework that’s getting on now isn’t it?

    • mcoleman says:

      After Effects CS5 doesn’t have the Mercury Engine because it’s not technically possible to just “throw” it in. Trust me, if it was that easy we would have done it in a heartbeat. It doesn’t work that way, I’m afraid.

      But I agree that After Effects could have better playback. To get the performance you’re looking for, every single effect (and every single 3rd party effect) would have to be re-written to be GPU accelerated. GPU conversion is a much bigger effort than converting to 64-bit and the results would vary depending on effect. Many are computationally complex and would be faster, but there’s no guarantee that they would all be real-time. We simply can’t require this conversion of all 3rd party effects.

      Even though your mileage would vary in terms of performance, there are definitely some interesting possibilites here. Rest assured we are always thinking of how to improve performance. 64-bit was a huge step forward for After Effects CS5. I’m sure we can deliver more goodness in the future.

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