Steve Kilisky's Dynamic Media Blog

September 6, 2007

Simply Powerful - Part 1

I've been thinking a lot about complexity lately and I've decided it's a complex subject.

Some might say After Effects is a complex product (the marketeer in me tends to prefer to call it sophisticated). One user quote from way back that captured the essence of AE (at least in the pre-AE6 era): "You can do anything with AE, if you can figure out how to do it". To me this encapsulated a what I believe is a common (mis) perception; Powerful = Complex. A corollary to this is, Easy to Use ≠ Powerful. I would like to challenge both of these notions.

Now this post is not about AE, but before I move on; the last several releases of AE have made a concerted (and I believe successful) effort to make AE accessible to those who don't have years to dedicate to becoming an "AE Zen Master". Text Animation Presets which were introduced in AE6.5 are an interesting example of allowing casual users to tap into the power of AE quickly and easily. Shape Layer presets serve a similar purpose in AE CS3.

When we implemented this feature, we anticipated presets being useful to new and occasional users of AE, but it was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise to learn that advanced users were taking advantage of them as well. Both users saw value in being able to deliver pleasing results to their clients with minimal effort.

We thought advanced user would shy away from using pre-built looks. In many cases since the presets were customizable advanced users used them as starting points, or as learning examples by breaking them down into their individual elements. However, numerous times they were used more or less as is. Maybe the budget didn't warrant spending the time to build a custom look from scratch or from a preset, maybe a tight deadline was looming, or maybe the client was happy with the "off-the-shelf" look. Whatever the reason Easy to Use became powerful in this context.

As I said at the top, I've been thinking a lot about complexity and it's a complex topic. So complex that I've used up my self-alloted time for this entry and haven't gotten to the "crux of the biscuit".

To be continued... (and hopefully it won't be 30+ days between posts).

P. S. There were quite a few Dynamic Media announcements made today:

Adobe Media Player Announcement

Flash Media Server Announcement

Audition 3.0 Announcement

Cisco Flash Streaming Announcement

P.S.S. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by the Adobe Booth at IBC (but think twice before accepting a brownie from a stranger, trust me on this one).

11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]