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.

Avatar & Adobe

I hope by now you’ve all had a chance to go see Avatar in 3D in the theater. It certainly ranks among the most visually striking films I’ve ever seen.

It’s probably not a surprise to you that Adobe products were used extensively in the making of Avatar. In fact, they were used from the pitch to post-production. The Avatar team turned to the the usual suspects for content creation — After Effects, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro and Illustrator. But they also tapped a number of other Adobe technologies to help with workflows beyond the pixels. Adobe InDesign was employed to produce documents & legible forms and Acrobat Connect Pro web conferencing allowed Lightstorm Entertainment to coordinate efforts between locations.

For all the details, you can get the full story at

Let’s have a fireside chat today.

There’s been a lot of excitement and questions surrounding our 64-bit announcement this week, so once again, the After Effects team is opening our phone line for another session of our “fireside chats.” The sessions are a way for you to reach out to the After Effects team and tell us what’s on your mind, ask us a question, or just say hello. It’s an open format, and it’s simply some one-on-one time with the After Effects team.

We’ll be answering the phone from 4-5 pm Pacific Time, today, October 30th, 2009.

For the complete details and ground rules, please refer to my original fireside chat announcement.

The phone number is +1 (775) AFTERFX, or +1 (775) 238-3739. We look foward to hearing from you!

Thinking of running After Effects on Windows 7? All signs point to yes.

After Effects has been tested with Windows 7 and there are currently no known issues. Windows 7 looks to be a great OS to run After Effects.

I highly recommend the 64-bit editions for 2 main reasons. First, After Effects CS4 runs better on 64-bit operating systems, and second, After Effects CS4 will be the last 32-bit version of After Effects. I also highly recommend the Professional or Ultimate edition because the Home edition is limited to 8GB of ram.

Adobe has posted an FAQ discussing Creative Suite support for Microsoft Windows 7. For more detailed technical info, see the technote on “Installing and using Windows 7 with Adobe applications.

The future of After Effects is 64-bit native

I’ve spoken here several times about how running After Effects on a 64-bit OS with plenty of RAM offers the best performance available today. In fact, it’s been several years since After Effects and other Adobe video and audio software started supporting 64-bit operating systems. Along the way, it has been an incremental process to take advantage of what the 64-bit computers have to offer.

At the same time, we’ve seen a huge increase in what you’re asking from your software. These days HD is the norm and SD is just a legacy delivery format. And you’re not likely to stop there. You are probably wondering how to build efficient workflows with 4K images like those from the Red camera. 4K is 35 times the resolution of SD. Yes, you will need more from your software in order to answer this call.

Today we are announcing that the next version of Adobe After Effects will be a native 64-bit application. This news represents a huge step forward and will provide unprecedented advantages to just about anyone who uses After Effects today. It’s going to be a must-have release.

Let’s back up a bit because the term “64-bit” is a bit of a tech buzzword. What does 64-bit really mean to After Effects users? In a nutshell, After Effects will be able to take advantage of all the RAM that your operating system allows.

RAM, shmam. Why do you really care about a native 64-bit After Effects?

First, you get the ability to render heavier comps. I’m talking about high resolutions and tons of layers. These are the projects that put the hurt on previous versions of After Effects. If you currently get out-of-memory and errors, this one is for you.

Second, you’ll be able to have longer ram previews. Imagine being able to fit a full HD 30-second spot into your RAM preview cache. Your green bars will be much much longer.

Third, you’ll be able to work more efficiently with floating point color. Floating point color (aka 32-bit color) requires 4 times the RAM compared to 8-bit color, so working with over-range or HDR imagery will be improved.

Fourth, the green bars you see on the timeline are the visible part of our sophisticated RAM caching technology. With access to larger amounts of RAM, After Effects can store more intermediate renders in its caching system. This means that items re-render or load from disk less often.

It’s way too early for rendering speed benchmarks, but I’m thrilled with the possibilities of a 64-bit native After Effects.

So why am I telling you this today?

In order to bring you these advancements, we’ve had to focus on 64-bit conversion in lieu of continuing to invest in 32-bit support. This means that after 3 versions of supporting both 64- and 32-bit, the next version of After Effects will only support 64-bit operating systems.

Virtually all of Apple’s Intel-based Mac systems support 64-bit applications, and Windows users should choose a 64-bit version of Windows to take advantage of the hardware capabilities. You’ll probably want to toss some extra RAM in your machine, too. With prices dipping below $25 per GB, it’s getting pretty cheap to max out your system RAM.

We realize that new system requirements may require some preparation on your part. We want you to be ready and so we’ve taken the extraordinary step of announcing this news much earlier than usual.

We’re not announcing a ship date yet, and there is more on this subject on Adobe’s blog at Pro Video Coalition. We have also posted an official FAQ is available on the Adobe web.

Oh, and by the way, 64-bit native is coming to Premiere Pro, too!

I would love to tell you about the other cool things in the release, but I don’t want to ruin all the fun! Besides, you’ll just hate me because you can’t have it today. 🙂

Fireside Chat Followup — More? Yes!

In case you missed it, I invited everyone to give the After Effects team a call last week. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but I have to say — it was a lot of fun. We had time for 8-10 calls, and we enjoyed talking to everyone who took time from their busy day to call us. To all that called, Thanks! And thanks to the AE team who joined me on the phone!

We had a variety of calls. Some had some technical issues, some wanted to give us their feature requests. One person called to say that he just got a great job using After Effects and that he’s having fun with it.

Continue reading…

Getting Adobe support back on track

Sometimes you just don’t get it right. It’s true for individuals, but it’s also true of large organizations. If you needed support from Adobe recently, you may have been feeling like we failed you. Rightly so. We haven’t been doing as well as we should. It wouldn’t be visible from the outside, but we’ve been working behind the scenes to put Adobe on a better path. Today, Adobe would like to formally apologize and promise to do better.

Lambert Walsh, VP, Technical Services speaks for Adobe on this subject: “Adobe is committed to providing the most advanced, innovative products and services in the world. Recently, however, our customers have experienced a level of service that is inconsistent with what they expect and deserve. This is unacceptable and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. We are working diligently to resolve these issues.”

The whole letter (PDF, 424 K) can be found on the Adobe support site.

Have a fireside chat with the After Effects team

Every Friday at 4 pm, the After Effects development team has a casual gathering in our video studio to close out the week. It’s all about unwinding from a busy week, viewing customer demo reels, or chit-chatting about the future of After Effects. Of course, it almost always involves a couple bottles of wine. These Friday “wine downs” (as they’ve become known) are one of our team’s oldest traditions.

This week we’re going to try something different. I’m going to publish a phone number that will let you call into our Friday wine down.

Continue reading…

After Effects and Snow Leopard

I know many people are looking forward to upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard. There’s been a lot of buzz about application compatibility. There are some recent blog posts about Photoshop and Flash Professional and some general Adobe information. In addition, I thought I’d shed some light on how it’s working with After Effects.

We have tested After Effects CS4 with Snow Leopard and there only a couple known issues. Some 3rd party plug-ins are not compatible with Adobe After Effects CS4 running on Snow Leopard. As of now, this only applies to plug-ins that use Quartz Composer. Customers are encouraged to check plug-in compatibility before upgrading. Also, on Snow Leopard, QuickTime files with a Quartz Composer track are not compatible with After Effects CS4.

After Effects CS3 has also been tested with Snow Leopard and has the same issues as CS4. Please be aware that CS3 preceded Snow Leopard by a few years and Adobe no longer issues updates for After Effects CS3. Therefore, there may be issues that we do not know about and for which there is no resolution. Rest assured, Adobe still offers support options for CS3 products, but there may be issues beyond our control. It’s probably best to do some research when upgrading critical systems.

We are working closely with Apple and our 3rd party plug-in developers to solve these issues as soon as possible. I’ll update this blog post when more information becomes available.

[ Update — Aug 31, 2009 — It is also very important to install the latest update for After Effects CS4 (version 9.0.2) You can update After Effects from another Adobe CS4 application (Bridge, Premiere Pro, etc) or download an update installer from the Adobe support web site.]

Compose storyboards on your iPhone


Anyone who has an iPhone has to be amazed at the variety of tip calculators and social networking apps to choose from. Among the more than 60,000 apps on the store, there’s been very few apps for those of us interested in the process of storytelling with video and film. It’s ironic, since the device is essentially a miniature version of a laptop with a camera pointing the right direction.

Entrepreneur Jonathan Houser from Cinemek took a look at his little mobile computer with camera and invented something quite cool.

Continue reading…