Archive for April, 2010

Introducing After Effects CS5!

Greetings from NAB 2010!

On behalf of my dedicated and hard-working teammates at Adobe, I’m very excited to introduce you to After Effects CS5!

This is a phenomenal release of After Effects and it significantly raises the bar in performance, productivity, creativity and quality. The early customer feedback is that CS5 is game-changing release. We agree.

Since October, we’ve been talking about the many benefits of being 64-bit native. It’s not easy to take a large, mature code base and simultaneously port it to native 64-bit on both Mac OS and Windows in the same release. It’s been a big investment of our time, but the payoff for you is enormous. It makes After Effects strong, solid and ready to continue as the go-to software for visual effects and motion graphics.

But if you’ve been reading this blog, you probably already know all about 64-bit. What else is new? A lot!

  • Roto Brush

Ever do any rotoscoping? Most people do. Do you love it? I didn’t think so. Only the truly twisted really love to rotoscope mattes for objects for days on end.

After Effects CS5 introduces a revolutionary new tool called the Roto Brush that will dramatically reduce the time you spend creating mattes for objects in your video. Revolutionary is a big word, but it fits. The Roto Brush borders on magic.

Instead of tediously drawing masks at the edges of your objects and painstakingly animating them, you make quick, gestural strokes to define foreground and background areas. Then After Effects does the hard part for you. It finds the edges and creates the transparency for you. It’s perfect for those jobs where you don’t have a green screen or consistent background.

Roto’ing a frame can literally take a few seconds now, but a single frame is just the beginning. By using advanced technology unique to Adobe, After Effects automatically finds the same object edges on subsequent frames. You might make a few small corrections as you go, but the amount of work saved is huge.

The quality is there, too. Mattes are properly motion blurred in direction of the object’s movement, foreground color is decontaminated, and you have additional anti-chatter controls.

The Roto Brush will change your life. I would have killed for this when I was doing post-production. It’s going to allow you to do accurate rotoscoping on jobs that didn’t have the time or budget before. If you think I’m too enthusiastic, don’t take my word for it: Independent, 3rd-party benchmarks are showing that rotoscoping jobs can be accomplished 10 times faster than before. Motionworks has a great in-depth tutorial of the Roto Brush.

  • mocha v2 for After Effects & more masking improvements

As useful as the Roto Brush is, we believe that you should have a range of tools for masking. This is why we are including mocha v2 for After Effects. The big improvements in mocha v2 are trackable masks and the ability to have variable-width mask feather,
These are wonderful time-savers when creating high-quality, animated masks. mocha v2 is also 64-bit native on Mac OS and Windows.

In addition, we are including the Mocha Shape plug-in (which is normally sold separately for US$99.) This allows you to very simply copy and paste mocha’s planar-tracked shapes into After Effects without rendering. It’s a simple and elegant workflow for combining the power of mocha with After Effects.

We also have some small but useful improvements in masking. For example, you may now adjust the size of the mask points and handles in After Effects. Make them as big as you like. This makes makes the masks seem less “fiddly” so you can work more quickly.

Some of my other favorite new features in After Effects CS5:

  • Includes Digieffects FreeForm effect (distort and warp layers in 3D space)
  • New Color Finesse LE 3.0
  • AVC-Intra file format support
  • Fully-integrated RED camera support with RAW processing control.
  • Ability to apply .cube and .3dl LUTs (look up tables) to layers
  • A new Refine Matte effect (use the Roto brush edge technology on any matte)
  • A “Preview” checkbox in many dialogs (allows you to see the effect of changes without leaving the dialog.)

The list goes on. There are numerous small things that add up to make a big difference. Check out Todd Kopriva’s Region of Interest blog for his take on the new features and links to educational resources.

The complete, exhaustive list of new features can be found in the After Effects CS5 Online Help which is already up on Adobe.com.

Of course, Adobe is also announcing all-new versions of the other Creative Suite applications, including Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator — all your creative tools. The best way to see them is to stop by the Adobe booth at NAB. I would love to see you all in person.

If you can’t do visit us in Las Vegas, keep checking this blog for links to videos and tutorials about the new features.

CS5 is a must-have version of After Effects. When you get a chance to put it to the test, you’ll wonder how you got along without it. It’s a significant milestone release and I’m sure that when we look back at this release, there will be “before CS5″ and “after CS5″.

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter so you can get your straight dope in smaller hits. (My twitter ID is @motiongfx.)

Welcome to the future!

Faster

By now, I am sure that most of you have heard that CS5 is coming. I’m still required to hold my tongue about the full feature set, but there’s more very good news that I’d like to share with you today. It’s an exciting aspect of After Effects CS5 — it’s faster.

This is related to our 64-bit announcement back in October. In case you missed the announcement, After Effects CS5 will be native 64-bit. In previous posts, I’ve talked about the every-day advantages that CS5 has over its predecessors. When you have access to enough RAM:

  • Complex comps and high-resolution images are rendered smoothly.
  • Larger RAM previews allow you to view long comps in one pass. You’ll see much longer green bars.
  • Memory-intensive features like HDR and floating-point color are easier to use.
  • Your image caches can be much larger, which means less re-rendering.
  • Low-memory errors are virtually eliminated.

During the 64-bit conversion we also modernized a large portion of After Effects’ core, resulting in more efficient processing. So, even though this is a very welcome list of improvements, the big news today is that After Effects CS5 is faster.

We measure our improvement by rendering a wide variety of projects on the same hardware using different versions of After Effects. The CS5 results are very good. Nearly every rendering benchmark test that we perform has been improved in CS5.

Before I get into the gritty details, I have to say that these results are preliminary and based on prerelease software. Everybody uses the software in different ways. It is possible that your results will vary. However, the fact that I’m posting them here should illustrate my confidence that you will experience similar improvements with CS5.

So what’s improved?

Continue reading…