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Comments on Top Feature Requests of 2012

The After Effects team’s own Todd Kopriva put a great post on the team blog about the top feature requests we hear from folks and some context to things that have already been shipped in After Effects. Here’s the link: Top Feature Requests for After Effects in 2012

I thought I would add a little colour to the conversation around a few specific things.

1: When is After Effects going to get ‘nodes’ – like Nuke.

I hear this from folks who use both applications.  Folks are passionate about which tools they use to accomplish creative tasks, and as some move between different applications like After Effects and Nuke, they tend to ask one tool to become more like the other.  Here’s my opinion on the matter (remember – just my opinion!) – After Effects is a CREATIVE motion graphics and VFX tool (strength = timeline). Nuke is a procedural compositor (strength = nodes).  Frankly – the Foundry has done some great work with their tools IMO and did so because they focus on their strengths.

Therein lies the point.  After Effects is strong because we continue to focus on its strength (animating / compositing elements and movement over time).  In fact, it’s why I believe that the applications could work even better together in the future vs. one application trying to become the other.  By taking this approach, After Effects has a ton of innovation to offer in the future with the timeline being its core.

Now this isn’t to say that we can’t improve organizational capabilities within After Effects in support of the timeline, but our view will always be to ‘go from idea to comp as quickly as possible’ with a focus on creativity.

2: After Effects on Linux – When?

My colleague Todd has written on this topic in many places recently, but thought I would throw in my $0.02 on the subject as well.  First – we realize and understand that there are a few VERY passionate individuals who feel we (Adobe) should be porting our software to Linux, After Effects included.  Obviously there are development, testing, support and delivery ramifications of doing so.  I will also state that I have NEVER seen any evidence to support some of the crazy accusations I have seen on the interwebs that we (Adobe) are somehow paid to NOT deliver on Linux.  (Sorry zealots – it just ain’t so)

Frankly, not porting After Effects to Linux is a business decision – pure and simple.  There is no data (rants on the interwebs don’t count as data) to support that porting to linux would be a sound business decision.  I realize other companies that provide software on linux have data that supports their development, testing, delivery, support AND business model.  From our perspective and how our business operates, it just doesn’t add up.

That isn’t to say we are saying ‘never’, but it does say that until it becomes a sound business decision (and real data proves it) – it’s not very likely.

I truly believe in transparency and open debate (civil discourse please), and wanted to give you some idea of how we prioritize.



Thanks for the insight Steve. I can see why nodes might not always be the answer in all cases, but having the option to create dedicated “nodal comps” might give you the best of both worlds.

So, for example, for creating a clean matted piece of footage from a greenscreen source, it might be beneficial to doing it nodally. Then you could drop this (nodal) comp into a regular layered comp for editing.

As for Linux, all I can say is it’s a niche thing for sure, but the clients who are using it (for VFX) are very serious indeed. You could probably justify a higher retail price for the linux version for those clients (much as the SGI Irix version was many years ago) to help justify the economics of targeting a smaller userbase. As you say, it’s a business decision – will it generate enough money to justify the development costs. Only Adobe can really know the answer.

Thanks for the insight.
I don’t think AFX should become a Nodal Compositor. As you pointed out both (nodes and layers) have their own strength and weaknesses but when used wise everything is possible either way.
The only real drawback when using layers in big composites is the clearness. As an artist you really have to keep everything orginized as good as it can be and use every single trick you have available (precompose, name layers, use color codes, markers, comments, … best use Zorro the Layer tagger). But AFX could definetly help here a lot more e.g. markers and comments panel (like premiere pro) and maybe use the flowgraph a bit more
What I really like about Nuke is the possiblity to controll almost everything when needed. The camera tracker was a great addition but it would be so great to have a lot more control over it and that is what the Foundry overs. I see that the tracker is more targeted at motion graphics artist who don’t normally use a camera tracker but as a visual effects artist we need the possibilty to alter settings and have access to all of the data. Same is true for the Warp stabilizer.
AFX hides many of the operations (e.g. premultiplication, …) from the artist and I don’t think it’s always a good thing.
I’m sure Adobe will continue dellivering great products I love to use as an vfx artist as well as motion designer :-)

p.s. A Linux version would be nice

Having been both a Fusion and AE user for many many years, I see the advantages of both approaches (nodes vs layers).

That being said, there is TONS of room for improvement on AE’s part to streamline some operations to make things feel slightly more “node like”. The major one IMO would be the ability to instance effects, comps and layers, so that making an adjustment to one layer propagates that change across the instanced copy.

That one change would would be a massive workflow enhancement and would likely appease many people looking for a fully node based workflow.

I’ve given nodes in AE a lot of thought, and I really think that if there was a separate view where people could actually wire up a series of nodes, and group them into a single layer or adjustment layer would be awesome. It could be a “node layer” and rather than showing a linear stack in the effects panel would open up a node graph similar to nuke/fusion where you could select and re-wire your nodes.

Wishful thinking, i’m sure. But I’d love to see it. :)

[Couldn’t agree more. Please make sure to file a feature request – we take’em VERY seriously. -S]

I think After Effects could use a simple new “Object” like Camera or Light and it’s called “xRef.” Being able to embed a project that is lives inside a project. So If I am the lead on a project I can import a roto that someone else is working on and it updates as that person saves. Or if someone is working on a comp, I can have that persons comp inside the main timeline and as things get updated they update. Kinda like what premiere does with AE comps. Expanding the Dynamic Link would be sure helpful and FREE.

I think all we need as a motion graphic designers is the ability access basic nodal compositing, to tidy up comps replace artwork, link a few items and place things like masks at various levels of an effects stack.

I don’t think AE needs major nodal ability just some, that allows us some more control for advance users outside of the timeline.

I have added this request to the wish list at some point.

As an overall comment on the wish list requests I think most regular users of AE would most appreciate you focusing on the bread and butter functions/tools. Developing the unsexy side of AE instead as well as the marquee features.

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