AFTEREFFECTS

News, Information & Workflows from Users & the Adobe Ae Team

Andrew Kramer helps grow and inspire the VFX and motion graphics industry

Andrew Kramer started creating Adobe After Effects tutorials for fun, with no idea that his hobby would lead to an enormously successful and rewarding career. After starting his Video Copilot website when he was just 20 years old, he has become a highly respected professional in the visual effects and motion graphics industry. In addition to creating software and tools for professional designers, he also works in the film industry. No matter what he’s working on, he always finds time to train and inspire others in the community to realize their creative potential.

Andrew Kramer likes staying busy, and this past year was no exception. In addition to releasing a new 3D plug-in for Adobe After Effects CC, he’s been working with Bad Robot on a couple of new, top secret projects. He also created a new city destruction tutorial that highlights the use of 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects.

 

For the tutorial, he shot HD aerial footage of downtown Los Angeles, and broke up the city as if there was some type of monster invasion. He used the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects to track the scene, identify the track points, and then place objects and layers in the 3D space. In one scene there is a hole punched into a skyscraper that shows the inside levels of the building in a completely photorealistic way.

 

After creating this tutorial, Kramer wanted to explore what it would be like to use this same effect on a human. He filmed an actor and used the same 3D tracking on his face. The tracker assumed the geography in the same way it would do in a landscape, added track points, and let him create the camera position for the compositing.

City_Destruction

“We’re trying to show tutorials that have deeper uses,” says Kramer. “Our city destruction tutorial shows an innovative way to use the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects to create a popular effect. There are so many different things you can create once you have a good track on a scene or even on a person.”

 

To see more of Kramer’s work with the 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects, don’t miss his presentation at the 2015 NAB Show entitled “After Effects CC: Motion Tracking the Impossible” in the Adobe theater on Tuesday, April 14th at 2:00 pm.

 

Watch Andrew Kramer’s presentation at NAB 2014.

 

For more information on Creative Cloud, see this page for details or check out this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

what’s new and changed in the upcoming update to After Effects CC

As we just announced, today we are revealing the next major update to After Effects CC, as well as updates for our other professional video and audio applications, all of which are coming soon.

For information about what’s new in all of the Adobe professional video and audio applications and services, see this page and this post on the Creative Cloud blog.

Because we’re just revealing these features now, you won’t yet have access to them through Creative Cloud, but you can make sure that you get them as soon as they’re available by subscribing now. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

For more information about Creative Cloud, see this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

Please, if you want to ask questions about these new and changed features, come on over to the After Effects user-to-user forum. That’s the best place for questions (and, if you follow that link, you’ll find more information about how to communicate with us). Questions left in comments on a blog post are much harder to work with; the blog comment system just isn’t set up for conversations. If you’d like to submit feature requests (or bug reports), you can do so here.


new features in the next major update to After Effects CC, coming soon

  • re-architecture for interactive performance improvements
  • uninterrupted previews
  • unified, simplified, and customizable previews
  • Creative Cloud Libraries
  • face tracker
  • Adobe Character Animator (Preview)
  • improved expression error handling and added debugging information for rendering issues
  • user interface improvements, including customizability and panel tab redesign
  • Maxon Cineware v2.0.16
  • updated RED and OpenEXR importers

resources for learning about these new and changed features


details of new and changed features

Read on for a virtually comprehensive list of changes, with detail beyond the summaries of the top items listed above. We’ll be posting a lot more detail over the coming weeks, and the outline below will be populated with links to in-depth articles and tutorials, so bookmark this page and check back.


re-architecture for interactive performance improvements

When we asked you, our customers, a year ago what you’d like us to focus on in After Effects, the response was enthusiastic and nearly unanimous: You wanted us to focus on making After Effects respond more quickly and smoothly as you carried out your creative work. We listened. The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort.

The majority of improvements in the upcoming version of After Effects are the result of a major re-architecture that allows the user interface and image rendering to be processed separately by the CPUs. The user interface can now be much more responsive, as it no longer needs to wait for frames to finish rendering. Conversely, frames can continue to render while you work with the user interface.

New behaviors that do not fall into specific feature-like functionality include the following:

  • no more delays or beachballs during render requests
  • smooth interaction with the user interface at all times, even while frames are being rendered
  • the ability to interrupt or cancel frame renders by making a change to the composition
  • fast scrubbing (dragging of current-time indicator), even when the frames take a long time to render
  • faster image caching
  • more efficient evaluation of expressions
  • ability for previews to continue to process while After Effects is in the background

The changes to how After Effects plays previews, detailed below, were either a direct result of these interactive performance improvements or made possible by the architectural changes that were implemented.


uninterrupted previews

You can now make changes to the open project while a preview is playing back in After Effects.

In previous versions of After Effects, after you started a preview in a Composition, Layer, or Footage panel, clicking anywhere in the user interface would stop playback of that preview. In the upcoming version of After Effects, previews will continue until you either click inside the viewer panel or stop the preview with a keyboard shortcut.

When previewing a composition, you can, for example, modify that composition in the Timeline or Effect Controls panel. After Effects will immediately begin to cache the updated frames, which may cause the preview frame rate to slow down until the new frames are cached. You cannot make modifications inside the previewing Composition panel because clicking in the panel will stop the preview; however you can open a second viewer panel for the same composition to make modifications there, which will be reflected in the Composition panel where the preview is playing back.

You can make modifications during a preview in any Composition, Layer, or Footage panel. More examples of what you can do:

  • create, view, and modify other compositions or layers, including nested compositions
  • import footage, change interpret footage settings, or view footage in a Footage panel
  • change the project settings
  • change the view settings of a panel—e.g., show alpha channel, zoom in, or change 3D views

As noted above, any time you make a change that affects the frames being previewed, the preview frame rate may slow down while the new frames are rendered and cached.


unified, simplified, and configurable previews

The upcoming version of After Effects has new behaviors for previewing compositions, layers, and footage. Preview behaviors can be customized in the updated Preview panel. New users to After Effects will find the default behaviors more intuitive because they will get real-time playback of cached frames and audio playback when they press the spacebar. Experienced After Effects users can customize the preview behaviors to their liking.

Because these changes have dissolved the differences between the old RAM preview and Standard preview (spacebar) behaviors, After Effects no longer uses those terms. Preview is now considered to be unified, with user-configurable behaviors.

New controls in the Preview panel allow you to configure preview behaviors for each keyboard shortcut: audio, looping, caching, range, and layer controls.

You can now use the Primary Viewer button to choose an open viewer panel or view in a panel to always be used for audio and external video preview, independent of which viewer or view you are currently previewing and separate from the viewer or view with Always Preview This View enabled. This is useful, for example, when you want a particular composition to always be displayed on your external video monitor while you work in other compositions.


Creative Cloud Libraries

The Creative Cloud Libraries panel is now available inside of After Effects.

The Creative Cloud Libraries feature set makes various kinds of assets available to you anywhere. Create images, colors, color looks, and more in Photoshop, Illustrator, and mobile apps like Adobe Shape or Project Candy, and then easily access them across other desktop and mobile applications for a seamless creative workflow. Library sharing makes it easy to collaborate and maintain consistency across projects.

As a Creative Cloud subscriber you have access to thousands of ready-to-use, royalty-free assets in the Creative Cloud Marketplace, which can be added directly to your library.

In After Effects, the Libraries panel is open by default in the Standard and All Panels workspaces, grouped with the Effects & Presets panel on the right side of the workspace. You can also access the Libraries panel by choosing either of the following:

  • File > Import > From Libraries
  • Window > Libraries

Graphics assets are imported into your After Effects project, like any other asset you would import from your local disks. To import a graphics asset into your project, you can either drag it from the Libraries panel into the Project panel or right-click on a graphic in the Libraries panel and choose Import. PSD and AI assets from Photoshop and Illustrator behave just the same when imported from the Libraries panel as they do when imported by previous means, with all of the power and flexibility that implies. Changing the Drag Import Multiple Items As setting in Preferences > Import will affect how PSD and AI assets are imported from a library.

Looks from Premiere Pro and the Project Candy mobile application are files that define color transformation based on color lookup tables. You can apply these color looks to layers in After Effects. Looks are an easy way to infuse a mood or give your project extra punch by affecting the image’s color, or to apply color grading done in another application like SpeedGrade. To apply a look from the Libraries panel, you can drag a look onto a layer or you can first select a layer, right-click on a look in the Libraries panel, and choose Apply Look. After Effects will add the Apply Color LUT effect and apply the look. If the Apply Color LUT effect is already present on a layer, applying a look from the Libraries panel will re-use the existing instance of the effect. This is handy for when you want to try out different looks on the same layer.

Tip: To apply a look to all of the layers in a composition, create a new adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack and apply the look to that layer.

Asset types in your library other than graphics can not be directly applied in After Effects, but they can be viewed and managed in the Libraries panel. You can use the eyedropper tool in After Effects to pick from your library colors, similar to the Adobe Color Themes panel.


face tracker

The Tracker panel now includes new Face Tracking methods for detecting a human face in footage and tracking facial features over time. You can use this feature to quickly track a face to blur it or attach other elements to facial features, or to extract tracking data on prerecorded facial performances for use in Adobe Character Animator.

The face tracker works largely automatically, but you can help it by starting the analysis on a frame showing a front, upright view of the face. Also, if there are multiple faces in a scene, you can draw a closed mask loosely around the face, enclosing the eyes and mouth, to tell the face tracker which face to concentrate on. This can be a very rough mask, since it is just telling the face tracker which face to pay attention to.

In the Tracker panel, there are two face-tracking options:

  • Face Tracking (Outline Only): Use this option if all you want to track is the outline of the face.
  • Face Tracking (Detailed Features): Use this option if you want to detect eye (including eyebrow and pupil), nose, and mouth locations, and optionally extract measurements of various features. This options is required if you want to use the tracking data in Character Animator.

The mask is fitted to the outline of the detected face, with an estimate of the forehead. If tracking Outline Only, you can use this mask with an effect such as Mosaic to blur out a person’s face; use of mask expansion and feather can also improve the results.

If using the Detailed Features option, a Face Track Points effect is applied to the layer. The effect contains several 2D effect control points with keyframes, each of which is attached to detected facial features (e.g., the corners of the eyes and mouth, locations of pupils, the tip of the nose).

Note: If a face cannot be detected within the closed mask on a given frame, or if an open mask is used, regular mask tracking (equivalent to the Position, Scale & Rotation method) is used.

If you have used the Detailed Features option, you can extract even more information in the form of parametric measurements of facial features: Move the current-time indicator to a frame showing a neutral expression on the face (i.e., the rest pose); measurements on other frames will be relative to this rest pose frame. Then click Extract & Copy Face Measurements. A Face Measurements effect is added to the layer, and keyframes are created based on calculations made from the Face Track Points keyframe data. The Face Measurements keyframe data is copied to the system clipboard for use in Character Animator.

Tip: Even lighting on the face can improve tracking results.


Adobe Character Animator (Preview)

Adobe Character Animator (Preview) is installed with the upcoming version of After Effects.

To open Character Animator, choose File > Open Adobe Character Animator. You can launch Character Animator independently from After Effects from the Start Menu on Windows or the Applications folder on Mac OS.

Adobe Character Animator was previously known as Project Animal.

For more information, see this post about Adobe Character Animator.


expression evaluation changes and improved error handling

Evaluation of expressions in After Effects has been significantly enhanced. Performance of expression evaluation is generally faster; the improvement will vary depending on the expression.

When an expression fails to evaluate, there are two major changes:

  • Expression errors appear in a warning banner at the bottom of the Composition panel instead of in a dialog box.
  • The expression is not disabled. The expression will continue to evaluate and will display the warning banner until the problem with the expression is fixed.

On the right side of the expression error warning banner are control buttons:

  • The Left or Right arrow buttons display the previous or next expression error when multiple expressions fail to evaluate.
  • The Reveal Expression button will expose the property with the failing expression in the Timeline panel.
  • The Expand Warning button increases the height of the warning banner to display the error text. Click the button again to reduce the height to a single row.
  • The expression error text is clipped to the width of the Composition panel. To see the full expression error in a dialog box, click on the yellow error triangle icon next to the expression in the Timeline panel.

To hide the expression error warning banner, open Preferences > General and disable Show Warning Banner When Project Contains Expressions Errors. Note that when this option is disabled, the warning banner will not appear in After Effects, even when new expression errors occur. Re-enable this option to view expression errors.

Frames that fail to render under certain conditions will display a red warning banner in the Composition or Layer banner banner with debug information about the failure.


user interface improvements, including customizability and panel tab redesign

In Preferences > Appearance there is a new Highlight Colors section in which you can adjust the appearance of interactive controls and focus indicators. This should help people who have had difficulty with the readability of the user interface following some color and contrast changes introduced last year.

Icons for compositions and image sequences in the Project and Timeline panels are now multicolored instead of monochrome.

When you move the pointer over the tab of a Composition, Layer, Footage, Effect Controls, Timeline, or Flowchart panel that is not the frontmost panel in its group, the “X” button to close that panel will appear and you can click it to close that panel without bringing it to the front.

When there are more panel tabs than can fit in the width of a panel group, instead of a scroll bar, a menu ( >> ) appears on the right side of the tab well, from which you can choose hidden panels in the group. When there are hidden panels to both the left and the right of the visible panels, a divider line separates the panels hidden on the left (above the divider) from the panels hidden on the right (below the divider).

Panel Group Settings sub-menu: In panel menus, panel group commands have been moved to the Panel Group Settings sub-menu: Close Panel Group, Undock Panel Group, Maximize Panel Group.

Close Other Panels In Group: In panel menus, there is a new command to close other panels in the same group.


Maxon Cineware v2.0.16

Cineware 2.0.16 for After Effects includes the following bug fixes and enhancements:

CINEMA 4D Layers are no longer automatically synchronized: When adding multiple instances of a CINEMA 4D scene layer in a composition, including adding Multi-Pass layers, Cineware no longer automatically synchronizes CINEMA 4D Layers. You will see an on/off checkbox at the top of the Effect Controls panel that has been relabeled Synchronize AE Layer (to avoid confusion between Cinema 4D layers and After Effects layers). When this is enabled, the Render Settings and Camera options on all instances of the layer will automatically synchronize as before, but Cinema 4D layers can be set independently. If this checkbox is disabled for a specific Cinema 4D scene layer, then none of that layer’s settings will synchronize with the rest of the layers in the composition.

updated CINEMA 4D Layers dialog box: Non-Layer Items has been renamed Items Not On Layers. By unchecking it, all objects that are not associated with any Cinema 4D layers will be turned off.

resizable dialog boxes: The Cinema 4D Layers and Cineware Settings dialog boxes have been updated so they can be resized as needed.

other significant bugs fixed in Cineware v2.0.16:

  • multi-pass workflow with object buffers clipping in over-bright areas
  • failure of rendering a composition with a .c4d source through Adobe Media Encoder on Windows

updated RED and OpenEXR importers

RED camera raw (.r3d) file decoding has been updated with the newest RED SDK. New functionality includes Dragon Enhanced Blacks, REDcolor4, and DRAGONcolor 2.

OpenEXR, EXtractoR, and IDentifier plug-ins from fnord software have been updated.

next major update for After Effects CC revealed

For details about these changes, see this page.

This week, we’re revealing what’s coming soon in the next major update to After Effects CC.

Creative Cloud Libraries: The integration of the Creative Cloud Libraries panel gives you access within After Effects to shared assets such as graphics, color swatches, color Looks, and more from Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, mobile applications like Adobe Shape and Project Candy, and web services such as the Adobe Creative Cloud Marketplace. You can share libraries with friends and coworkers to exchange assets with ease, or you can simply share assets with yourself between multiple computers and applications.

re-architecture for greater interactive performance: When we asked you, our customers, a year ago what you’d like us to focus on in After Effects, the response was enthusiastic and nearly unanimous: You wanted us to focus on making After Effects respond more quickly and smoothly as you carried out your creative work. We listened. The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort. One of the more obvious benefits of this re-architecture is that a preview can now continue as you make changes that modify the item being previewed, so that you can see an uninterrupted preview as you tweak a layer property, add a new item to a composition, and so on.

unified and simplified previews: While re-architecting and rebuilding the way that rendering and previewing work in After Effects, we took the opportunity to address many sources of confusion by simplifying the preview system, while also making previews more customizable. Now, you can much more easily define the behavior of each of the preview shortcut keys, and the default behavior for previewing with the spacebar key is more like what new users expect and what experienced users need.

Adobe Character Animator: Of course, we’re also especially proud to introduce a preview version of Adobe Character Animator, the newest addition to the Adobe Creative Cloud family of applications. Adobe Character Animator brings still image artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator to life by capturing your performance using a camera and microphone, reproducing your facial expressions and synchronizing mouth movements to your speech. I have never had more fun with a piece of software, and I can’t wait to see how you all make use of this utterly delightful creative application. Adobe Character Animator is installed along with After Effects and can be started from within After Effects. For more information, see this post about Adobe Character Animator.

Face Tracker effect: We’ve also taken the face-tracking technology from Adobe Character Animator and integrated it into After Effects as a highly accurate face tracker that can generate masks to isolate faces or, in detail mode, generate effect control points for every major feature of the face. This makes attaching effects, layers, or other objects to specific facial features incredibly easy and precise, making workflows such as digital makeup, creative eye replacement, and others much easier than in the past.

Adobe Media Encoder improvements: Adobe Media Encoder also has some big changes coming, including the ability to perform high-quality re-timing with Time Tuner controls. See the Adobe Media Encoder blog post for details.

To see a big sneak peek of all of the new and exciting things coming in Adobe’s professional video and audio applications and services, see this page and this post on the Creative Cloud blog. You can also see a playlist of videos demonstrating the new features here.

Join us at NAB, at booth SL-5110, on April 11-14 to see these features and improvements in action. See this page for a schedule of presentations at NAB.

Because we’re just revealing these features now, you won’t yet have access to them through Creative Cloud, but you can make sure that you get them as soon as they’re available by subscribing now. See this page for details. For more information about Creative Cloud, see this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

Have a great NAB, folks!

Adobe Character Animator revealed

A few months ago, we showed a sneak-peek of a work in progress that we were referring to as Project Animal. We’re now revealing Adobe Character Animator, the newest addition to the Adobe Creative Cloud family of applications.

Adobe Character Animator brings still image artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator to life by capturing your performance using a camera and microphone, reproducing your facial expressions, synchronizing mouth movements to your speech, and giving you control over all aspects of a character’s movement through the mouse, keyboard, and programmable behaviors. You can simply perform to animate a character that you’ve acquired from someone else, or you can rig your own characters based on your own artwork from Photoshop or Illustrator. You can even write your own programmable behaviors or plug in behaviors from elsewhere.

I have never had more fun with a piece of software, and I can’t wait to see how you all make use of this utterly delightful creative application.

We will soon be releasing Adobe Character Animator as a preview. This means that we think that it’s ready to be used in real animation workflows, but we also know that we need more input from you to bring it to the level of completeness and quality that you’ve come to expect from Adobe creative applications. When you use Adobe Character Animator, you’ll be able to submit feedback through a forum linked to directly from the application itself. We want to hear from you so that we can build the best possible experience for you.

Adobe Character Animator will be installed along with the upcoming version of After Effects and can be started from within After Effects.

For more information about Adobe Character Animator, go here.

To see a big sneak peek of all of the new and exciting things coming in Adobe’s professional video and audio applications and services, see this page and this post on the Creative Cloud blog. You can also see a playlist of videos demonstrating the new features here.

Join us at NAB, at booth SL-5110, on April 11-14 to see these features and improvements in action. See this page for a schedule of presentations at NAB.

Because we’re just revealing these features now, you won’t yet have access to them through Creative Cloud, but you can make sure that you get them as soon as they’re available by subscribing now. See this page for details. For more information about Creative Cloud, see this overview video and the Creative Cloud FAQ list.

Have a great NAB, folks!

updated Keylight plug-in available for After Effects CC and After Effects CC 2014

An updated version of the Keylight for After Effects plug-in is available from The Foundry. To get the plug-in, go to this Keylight download page on The Foundry’s web site. You will need to first sign in or create a free account with The Foundry.

Keylight 1.2v16 fixes a bug that caused the Colour Balance Wheel to not appear in the Foreground Colour Correction and Edge Colour Correction sections in the Effect Controls panel in After Effects CC and After Effects CC 2014 on Mac OS.

Installation instructions are in the Keylight_1.2_AE.pdf file included in the download. Quit After Effects before copying the new Keylight files into the After Effects Plug-ins folder.