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

After Effects and Character Animator ready for Mac OS X v10.11 (El Capitan)

We have tested the following versions of After Effects on Mac OS X v10.11 and found them to work with this operating system:

  • After Effects CC 2015 (13.5.1), including Character Animator (Preview 2)
  • After Effects CC 2014 (13.2)
  • After Effects CC (12.2.1)
  • After Effects CS6 (11.0.4)

All versions of After Effects that use Mercury Transmit for video previews encounter an issue with this version of Mac OS X that prevents video previews from being re-enabled when switching back to After Effects if the Disable Video Output When In The Background preference (in the Video Preview preferences) is enabled.

Note that After Effects CS6 requires the 11.0.4 update to work on any version of Mac OS X from 10.9 forward because of an incompatibility between newer versions of Mac OS X and a GPU library used by After Effects.

Also, After Effects CS6 has a known issue regarding Motion Sketch on versions of Mac OS X v10.9 and later. To use Motion Sketch with After Effects CS6, you must use Mac OS X v10.8 or earlier. After Effects CC versions do not have this issue.

For information on updates to After Effects and other Adobe professional video applications, see this page.

If you want to report a bug, please do so here. You can bring issues to the After Effects forum for discussion. Do not leave comments on this blog post to report bugs.

Territory Studios applies VFX expertise to “Hitman: Agent 47”

Visual effects studio designs screens and graphics for blockbuster films using Adobe Creative Cloud

Territory Studios enjoys its reputation for being able to handle nearly any project that comes its way. With expertise in branding, motion, and digital, the studio works on a range of projects including feature films, brand work, and popular video games. After completing graphic and screen design for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Territory worked on Hitman: Agent 47, applying its design expertise across screen graphics and UI, VFX, logo, and titles. David Sheldon-Hicks, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Territory, appreciates being able to work with a talented team that regularly pushes the limits of creativity with help from Adobe Creative Cloud.Territory Studios

Adobe: How did Territory Studios get started?

Sheldon-Hicks: After getting my start doing computer screen graphics for Casino Royale and The Dark Knight, I met my two business partners, Lee and Nick. We decided that instead of working for other companies, we wanted to form our own studio. We pitched Electronic Arts for a project producing the opening 90-second cinematic for the game Medal of Honor, won the job, and got our first monetary investment.

We worked on video games and brand work for about a year, then one day we got a call from the art department working on Prometheus. Ridley Scott was doing a prequel to Alien and wanted us to be involved in the screen graphics for the film. It was obviously an amazing opportunity. As graphic designers we were huge fans of the title sequence and graphics in Alien. That project lasted a year and was a turning point for us in terms of producing on-set screen graphics, often with a 3D or holographic feel, and user interfaces for big name directors and films.

Milano Tape Deck 2

Adobe: Tell us about your toolset.

Sheldon-Hicks: The backbone of the work we do is with Creative Cloud. We’re all designers, and Adobe apps are the first tools you learn as a designer, then you augment with everything else. We work with CINEMA 4D for our 3D pipeline and have one license of Nuke, but we’ve found that we can do almost all of our compositing in Adobe After Effects CC.

The tight integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects lets our team experiment more, and with the perfectly exported cameras and lights, we can do more without going back to the main 3D app. For example, we can swap backgrounds easily, test ideas out quicker, and with 3D alignment we can position our graphic elements perfectly.

For editing we were using both Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Final Cut Pro, but now we’re primarily using Premiere Pro and occasionally Avid if that’s what our clients want. Not having to transcode footage in Premiere Pro makes for quick work when we’re putting together rip-o-matics that use lots of different sources, or when we bringing in rushes from a camera card need to turn things around quickly.

One of the main workflow improvements of upgrading to Creative Cloud is how fast we can now import vectors and get them prepped for animation. The vector to shape layer option has saved us lots of time where previously we would painstakingly re-draw the Illustrator files as shape layers.

Adobe: How did you get involved in the Hitman: Agent 47 project?

Sheldon-Hicks: Charlie Woods, the production designer we worked with on both Marvel Studio films, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, recommended us to the producer who was looking for a team to take on screen graphics in post. We met with the editing team in London and really hit it off, especially with the Editor Nicolas de Toth.

Nick and his team were trying to solve a number of narrative challenges with the story, and needed help adding some graphics and user interface elements to support parts of the story that weren’t coming across in dialog or action sequences. We helped them figured out some of the narrative points and pull together some sequences.

Agent 47 Logo 03

Adobe: How did your role on the film evolve?

Sheldon-Hicks: When Nick realized how well we worked together building a narrative, he asked for help on the title sequence. We suggested including some backstory to give texture and history to the film before launching into the main action. Nick created an idea and we worked it up as an animatic with live action and a design treatment that included beautiful typography, creative compositing, and grading done in After Effects.

After a successful test screening, Nick got the green light to direct a second unit shoot. It was stunning, very filmic, moody, and impressionistic without giving away too much. We did all of the graphic design and integrated it into the title sequence.

Adobe: Did you help solve any other challenges on the film?

Sheldon-Hicks: During many scenes in the movie [SPOILER] the viewer sees what’s happening through the agents’ eyes. We needed a creative treatment on that footage to make it obvious to the audience that the viewpoint had changed. We used After Effects and various blurs to generate a particular look that was applied across over 40 shots. This project was great for us because we touched more elements than in any other film we’ve worked on. We were close to the storytelling and the people running the project and defining the narrative. We had a great time and want to find more projects like this one in the future.

Agent 47 KatiaVision 01

Adobe: What other projects have you really enjoyed working on?

Sheldon-Hicks: We worked on The Martian with Ridley Scott. The film features a lot of highly detailed and story driven screen graphics and we worked very closely with NASA to get accurate information for all the screens. Ridley is the first director we worked with and his creative direction of our work was formative in shaping our own approach. He’s an inspiration to us because he really values the role that screen graphics can play as strong narrative devices and we’re incredibly thrilled to be working with him a second time.

For Guardians of the Galaxy we got a lot of inspiration from the creatives on the film set, including costume design, set decoration, and concept art. We created styleframe iterations in Photoshop and Illustrator, shared graphics using Creative Cloud Libraries to make sure they were consistent across multiple screens, and collected the typography to design the overall language. Next, we animated in After Effects, comped everything, and then moved between After Effects and CINEMA 4D to keep a quick, tight workflow so we could deliver the graphics in front of the actors and directors.

TS_GoG_TRAILER 03_Nova_Groot profile

The graphics for Avengers: Age of Ultron were based around director Joss Whedon’s vision for a grittier, more human story, so our concepts were based on the characters lives and interests, as well as on their superhero efforts and collaborations. It needed to feel grittier than the original Avengers so we looked at real-world references and merged them with the Marvel comic book-based design work. We varied the color palette when we designed the screens for the different characters to give each of them their own look.


Adobe: What skills do you look for when hiring new motion designers?

Sheldon-Hicks: Our motion designers need to know Adobe Illustrator CC, Photoshop CC, and After Effects CC and they need to be able to design and art direct. Ideally, they will have a secondary skill, such as photography, stop-frame animation, sculpture, or drawing and illustration that they bring to the mix. Everyone on our team knows how to design and choreograph movement and how to create emotional connections that tell a story.

Adobe: What other apps do you use in Creative Cloud?

Sheldon-Hicks: We use Adobe Acrobat for all of our mood boards, presenting initial ideas to game companies or film directors, and creating style frames, storyboards, and presentations. It is probably our most used piece of software! I’m looking forward to working with Adobe Character Animator. It’s really clever, especially for getting ideas across to clients quickly. We’ve also seen some of the mobile apps and Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Adobe Brush CC look really interesting and I’m sure we’ll be using those in the future.

Adobe: How does Creative Cloud for teams benefit your studio?

Sheldon-Hicks: Creative Cloud for teams is an essential offering because we spend less time assigning software when new team members join us and we don’t have to worry about assigning licenses on an individual basis. It is pain free, adaptable, and always up to date so our teams can collaborate and expand as needed, without the software being a barrier. We can also figure Creative Cloud for teams into our yearly spend more effectively and strategically plan against our ambitions for the studio.

Adobe: How has your film work influenced work with other clients?

Sheldon-Hicks: The computer game manufacturers we work with see what we we’re doing in film and want similar effects incorporated into their games. Similarly, the work we do producing high-quality digital experiences and telling stories in interesting ways in films is very relevant to brands such as technology companies and automotive manufacturers. As a result, we’ve expanded the services our studio offers to include product design and service design from a brand experience perspective.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud


Fix it in pre: A VFX artist’s guide to motion control

Visual effects studio enables filmmakers to achieve amazing motion control shots at a lower cost with help from Adobe Creative Cloud

Patrik Forsberg will be presenting the session “A VFX Artist’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Motion Control” in the Adobe stand 7.G27 at IBC 2015 on Friday, Sept. 11th at 12:30 pm and Saturday, Sept. 12th at 11:30 am and 3:00 pm.

Though he started his professional career touring Europe as a musician, today Patrik Forsberg is the Creative Director at Stiller Studios, a Swedish creative agency that focuses on intricate motion control work. The path he took to get where he is today was paved with skill, creativity, and bold decisions. He is now working on achieving his vision—producing precise motion control work that rivals what can be achieved in Hollywood blockbusters, at a fraction of the cost.

While the focus of Stiller Studios is narrow, Forsberg hopes that it can help democratize the creation of advanced shots typically only available for high-budget films. To capture these shots against almost any background—from 3D scenes to pre-shot stills and moving plates—Stiller Studios uses a range of equipment, proprietary tools, and off-the-shelf products, including the video apps in Adobe Creative Cloud.
posterImage-407Final Image

posterImage-411posterImage-205Actual Shot (L) Background Shot (R)

Adobe: What led you to working in visual effects?

Forsberg: My career includes producing radio commercials, films and videos, visual effects and motion graphics, and live action on computer generated images (CGI). Ultimately, I wanted to do something that has never been done before. I had a vision to build the best place in the world for live action on CGI with a moving camera. It required a lot of investment and learning to get started, but it’s amazing how far we’ve come!

Adobe: What equipment do you use in your studio?

Forsberg: We built our studio in 2007 around the same type of equipment used on Harry Potter and Quantum of Solace. The first unit we bought was a Cyclops motion control from Mark Roberts Motion Control. It weighs 4.6 tons, reaches up to six meters, and is the most exact motion control available. We also have a six axes Motion Base, a moving platform that can carry up to one ton, and a high speed motion control called Bolt.

We use plenty of proprietary software and workflows to help us reach our goal: to be world leaders in live action on computer generated images with a moving camera and live on set previsualization from anywhere.


Bolt and Cyclops (L) Motion Base (R)

Adobe: With all of the specialized gear, how important is planning in your process?

Forsberg: Previz is critical to every project. We start off with a storyboard and talk to the director and VFX director about what they want to achieve. Then we produce a 3D previz and 3D setups, put things together, check the pace, and see if it looks right. Next, we start setting up everything for the studio.

Adobe: How do you combine the physical equipment with the software?

Forsberg: We see the studio as an add-on to the 3D or finishing program. Instead of sending things out to the compositing software and 3D program, we think of the studio as a plug-in to it. If we need another layer and that layer will be live action, we think about how it should be shot in order to be pixel on pixel when we put it on the CGI content, so everything is lined up perfectly and looks as realistic as possible.

We’re working hard at getting it perfect, and we’ve got it down to 0.0014 degrees, which is sort of exact. We don’t need tracking markers and we don’t need to do any post tracking. We can just go in and shoot, using virtual sets as if they are real. Actors see where they are and the directors and producers see a live comp with a moving camera.posterImage-233



Actual Shot (L) On set (R)

Adobe: What software do you use?

Forsberg: Our whole system is made of off-the-shelf products, and proprietary software. We use Maya, 3D Studio Max, Motion Builder, Unreal, QTake, Flair, Nuke, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and various compositing software including After Effects CC.

Once we’ve shot everything it goes into compositing software, such as Premiere Pro or After Effects, as different layers. Seconds after a shot, artists can make sure the light is coming from the right direction and everything is set up right and then start working on it. We like that our artists can focus on making shots beautiful rather than fixing problems.

Adobe: What is your core value proposition for filmmakers?

Forsberg: We produce live action on computer generated images and deliver pixel on pixel for the artist in the end. We shoot technical stuff in a way that makes sense to people who are more traditional storytellers and filmmakers. Instead of getting one or two shots a day, which is typical with this type of work, we can accomplish the fifteen or sixteen shots a day that you get on feature films or commercials.

We’re the only place in the world where you get all the data and film layers on top of the 3D or pre-produced layers, seconds after you shoot. It’s a narrow technique used mainly on blockbusters as well as some big TV series. We’ve built a workflow that is available, not super expensive, and fits in with European or Swedish film budgets. We’re making it possible to shoot scenes that look as cool as big American blockbuster movies.

In an ordinary green screen, motion control shoot environment filmmakers don’t see an edit until three to five days later. If they’ve done something wrong it’s too late to change it. It’s important to be able to see what we have seconds after a shot, especially for people who don’t regularly work with visual effects. They can get a feeling for what it’s going to be and see that it is going to work. It makes things much faster and reduces the amount of content we shoot that never makes it on screen.


Actual Shot (L) On Set (R)

Adobe: Why is a workflow like this needed?

Forsberg: If you look at blockbusters for the past 10 years, somewhere between 90% and 95% have used techniques like this, but in inefficient and expensive ways. Just setting up a workflow like ours is $600,000 to $700,000. We wanted to do something that worked for European budgets, where we can deliver a setup that lets filmmakers shoot really cool shots for considerably less cost.

If our setup works for you, there’s no way you’re going to do it more efficiently anywhere. On feature films we’re saving 70% of manpower costs in post-production by having computerized system delivering everything as a pre-comp in the compositing software of choice, including After Effects and Premiere Pro. Everything is aligned and setup, and artists can go straight in and get to work.

Adobe: What’s next for Stiller Studios?

Forsberg: We did a couple of feature films in the early 2010s. We’ve also produced some of our own technical films telling about our high-speed motion control workflow. One hit 10 million downloads! With more and more people seeing what we can do we’re getting a lot of interesting propositions.

We’ll likely do some work with American and British filmmakers in our studio in Stockholm. Everyone wants to know if we can build another system somewhere else. It is possible to duplicate, it’s just a matter of getting the right hardware and implementing all of the software knowledge we’ve gained.

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud



What’s new and changed in the upcoming update to After Effects CC 2015

Today we’re revealing what’s new and changed in the upcoming updates to the CC 2015 professional video and audio applications, including After Effects, due for release later this year.

If you have a Creative Cloud membership, you always have access to the latest version of After Effects, so you’ll have access to this update as soon it’s released. Go to the Creative Cloud site to download applications or to sign up for Creative Cloud.

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

For information about updates to all of our professional video and audio applications, see this page.

summary of what’s new in the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015:

  • improvements to default preview behaviors and additional customization options for previews
  • multi-touch gestures
  • stacked panels
  • workspace bar
  • improved color management, with new ICC profiles
  • Lumetri Color effect
  • new importers for HEVC (H.265), DNxHR, and Dolby Vision PQ codecs and formats
  • scripting improvements: access to text baseline and new method for random numbers
  • streamlined workflow for using assets from CC Libraries
  • video and graphics assets from Adobe Stock searchable and usable from Libraries panel
  • automatic replacement of watermarked assets with licensed assets when using Adobe Stock
  • new Cycore effects
  • updated OptiX library for ray-traced 3D renderer
  • improved Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, And Footage Panels option
  • … and many bug fixes

Karl Soule shows several of these new and changed features in this video.

updated preview behaviors and Preview panel options

Since the release of After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), the After Effects team has been listening closely to user feedback about the changes to preview behaviors and the Preview panel controls. Several changes are being made in the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015 to accommodate that feedback.

previews can be nearly twice as long for same content (compared with previous versions)

We have optimized how frames are cached and how frames are transformed for screen display such that only about half as much memory is required for typical content. Though this change is primarily about memory efficiency, it also contributes to rendering and playback performance.

improved caching behaviors and controls

The Preview Favors control has been removed. This option did not clearly express its intent of changing the caching behavior, and it received very little use. There is now a single caching behavior. The new caching behavior is a hybrid of the former Preview Favors Frame Rate and Preview Favors Length behaviors:

  • Like Preview Favors Frame Rate, After Effects will render and cache frames until the cache is full, and then caching stops. There is no longer an option for After Effects to extend a preview past the cached frames by discarding the oldest frames in the cache, as Preview Favors Length would have done.
  • Like Preview Favors Length, the new caching behavior only stores the screen display cache (a secondary cache used for transforming the frames for screen display) for a short duration ahead of the Preview Time Indicator. In After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), the Preview Favors Frame Rate mode kept the screen display cache for all cached frames, which was inefficient and could result in an unexpectedly short preview duration.

A new Cache Before Playback option has been added. When this is enabled, After Effects will cache frames before starting playback. This behavior is similar to how RAM Preview behaved in past versions of After Effects. However, note that frames are not displayed to the Composition, Layer, or Footage panel as they are cached. This option is not enabled by default for any of the preview shortcuts. If you Option-click (Mac OS) or Alt-click (Windows) the Reset button in the Preview panel, Cache Before Playback will be enabled for Numpad-0.

audio preview changes

The Audio Preview Duration control in Preferences > Previews has been removed. This option conflicted with the Range option in the Preview panel. When audio must be rendered for a preview, it is now rendered for the duration defined by the Range control. The new Play Around Current Time range option can be used to emulate the behavior of the Audio Preview Duration preference.

Regardless of the range, longer audio durations require more memory to store the rendered audio for playback. This could result in shorter overall preview durations and also a longer pre-preview delay to prepare the audio (the Info panel will display “Mixing audio for preview”).

The Composition > Preview > Audio Preview commands have been removed. These menu commands, Audio Preview (Here Forward) and Audio Preview (Work Area) described behaviors that can now be modified in the Preview panel, now that the audio-only preview keyboard shortcuts can be configured in the Preview panel (see below). To reduce confusion, they have been removed. The remaining Composition > Preview > Play Current Preview command can still start an audio-only preview, if that is the current state of the Preview panel.

The Mute Audio button at the top of the Preview panel mutes or unmutes audio during playback. It will also enable or disable the Include Audio button for the keyboard shortcut that you used to start that preview.

To change whether audio is played when you start a preview, use the new Include Audio button, described below.

new controls for determining what happens when you stop a preview

In previous versions of After Effects, including After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), the behaviors that occur when you stopped a preview were dependent on what type of caching was being used by the preview and what keyboard shortcut you used to stop the preview. These behaviors were not user-configurable.

In the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015, you can configure the stop behaviors for each keyboard shortcut using new controls at the bottom of the Preview panel. In the On (shortcut name) Stop section (e.g., On (Spacebar) Stop), you can enable the following options:

  • If caching, play cached frames: When this option is enabled and you use this keyboard shortcut to stop a preview before caching has completed, only caching is stopped; playback of cached frames will restart from the beginning of the range. When this option is disabled, stopping a preview with this keyboard shortcut will stop both caching and playback.
  • Move time to preview time: When this option is enabled and you use this keyboard shortcut to stop a preview, the current-time indicator will move to the position of the preview time (the last frame previewed). When this option is disabled, the current-time indicator stays at its previous position.

The spacebar shortcut now has “If caching, play cached frames” disabled by default. In After Effects CC (13.5), this behavior was enabled for the spacebar shortcut and caused confusion among some users.

new Include buttons for video, audio, and overlays and layer controls

Below the Shortcut control are three buttons that control whether any keyboard shortcut starts a preview that plays video, plays audio, or shows overlays and layer controls. You can now configure any preview shortcut to start a preview with or without video, audio, or overlays and layer controls.

  • Include Video is new to the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015. When this option is enabled, the preview will play video. When disabled, the preview will not play video.
  • Include Audio replaces functionality that was previously assigned to the Mute Audio button. When this option is enabled, the preview will play audio. When disabled, the preview will not play audio.
  • Include Overlays & Layer Controls replaces the Layer Controls option in the Preview panel. When this option is enabled, the preview will show overlays (e.g., grids and guides) and layer controls for selected layers as defined in the View > View Options dialog. When disabled, the preview will not show overlays. Note that this can be enabled regardless of whether or not Include Video is enabled.

You can not disable all three of the Include buttons simultaneously, at least one button must remain enabled. If you try to disable the third button, one of the other buttons will become enabled.

new configurable keyboard shortcuts for previews

  • Audio-only preview shortcuts: The keyboard shortcuts for audio-only previews, Numpad-.(decimal) and Option/Alt+Numpad-.(decimal), are now configurable in the Preview panel.
  • Shift+Spacebar: A new keyboard shortcut, Shift+Spacebar, has been added to the Preview keyboard shortcuts. By default, Shift+Spacebar is configured similarly to Numpad-0, except that Play From is set to Current Time.

new range options, including option to play around current time

The Audio Preview Duration preference in the Previews preferences category has been removed. This option conflicted with the Range option in the Preview panel. When audio must be rendered for a preview, it is now rendered for the duration defined by the Range control. The new Play Around Current Time range option (see below) can be used to emulate the behavior of the Audio Preview Duration preference. Regardless of the range, longer audio durations require more memory to store the rendered audio for playback. This could result in shorter overall preview durations and also a longer delay before preview began, to prepare the audio (the Info panel will display “Mixing audio for preview”).

The Range control includes a new option, Play Around Current Time. This option behaves similarly to the Play Around command in Premiere Pro. When you start a preview with Play Around Current Time enabled, the preroll value is subtracted from the current time, the postroll value is added to the current time, and the frames in between are previewed.

To set the preroll and postroll values, choose Play Around Current Time from the Range menu. Set your desired preroll and postroll values in seconds, then click OK.

Play Around Current Time is enabled by default for the Numpad-.(decimal) audio-only preview keyboard shortcut, with a preroll value of 0 seconds and a postroll value of 30 seconds. This emulates the default cache duration defined by the Audio Preview Duration preference that was removed.

current-time indicator color change

The current-time indicator (CTI) now draws as blue through its entire length at all times, including when preview is stopped. This resolves a consistency issue between the CTI and the red preview-time indicator (PTI) that appears only during previews to show which frame is being previewed.

user interface improvements for touch screens, multi-touch devices, and small screens

As more and more people use After Effects on small laptops and tablet devices—many of which have touch screens and multi-touch input devices—it is increasingly important for After Effects to work well on such small screens and take full advantage of these touch input systems.

stacked panel groups

Stacked panel groups give you one-click access to panels while keeping your workspace clean and uncluttered. Stacked panel groups function similarly to the panels in Adobe Lightroom.

Panels in a stacked panel group are minimized to their panel tabs and stacked vertically. Clicking on a panel tab will expand that panel, and by default will solo that tab by simultaneously minimizing the other panels in the group.

Stacked panel groups are best used to quickly show and hide panels that typically appear along the right side of the After Effects workspace, such as the Character, Paragraph, Paint, Brushes, Tracker, and other panels that you do not use all the time.

To create a stacked panel group, click the panel menu on the tab of any panel in the panel group choose Stacked Panel Group from the Panel Group Settings menu.

To restore the stacked panel group to a non-stacked panel group, disable the Stacked Panel Group option.

You can reorder and resize panels within a stacked panel group.

When you click on a panel in a stacked panel group, other panels in that stacked panel group will minimize to their tabs (solo mode). To allow more than one panel in a stacked panel group to be expanded simultaneously, disable Solo Panels In Group in the Panel Group Settings menu for that panel group.

Regardless of the solo setting, you can simultaneously expand or minimize all panels in a stacked panel group by Command-clicking (Mac OS) or Ctrl-clicking (Windows) the tab of a panel in that group.

workspaces and the workspace bar

The new workspace bar gives you one-click access to default or custom workspaces. It functions similarly to the Workspaces panel in Premiere Pro CC 2015. Please read this article in Premiere Pro Help to learn how to modify, arrange, and choose workspaces in the workspace bar.

In previous versions of After Effects, workspaces were available through the Workspace menu on the right side of the Tools panel. This has been replaced by the workspace bar, which occupies the right side of the Tools panel. Workspaces that do not fit in the available space are displayed in the overflow menu (>>) on the right side of the workspace bar.

When the Tools panel is moved from its position at the top of the workspace, the workspace bar is replaced by the Workspace menu.

Workspaces and the new Edit Workspaces dialog box can also be accessed through the Window > Workspace menu.

New workspaces have been added to take advantage of stacked panel groups and the workspace bar, and the order of the workspaces has been rearranged. By default, the workspace bar shows three workspaces: Essentials, Standard, and Small Screen. Other workspaces are available in the workspace bar’s overflow menu.

  • Essentials is now the default workspace. The layout is similar to Standard, except that panels on the right side of the workspace are in a stacked panel group.
  • Standard is the same workspace as in previous versions of After Effects.
  • Small Screen is optimized for use on devices with small screens, including small laptops, projectors, and touch notebook computers.

Important: Due to the changes to workspaces, custom workspaces are not migrated from previous versions of After Effects.

other panel and tab improvements

Panel tabs can be set to a larger size for easier selection on a touch device. To enable this for all tabs in a panel group, click on the panel menu for any tab in the group, choose Panel Group Settings, then disable Small Tabs.

When you rearrange panels in a tabbed panel group, other panels now automatically move out of the way to make room for the dragged panel. This includes automatically scrolling hidden panels when you drag to the end of a full panel group.

The overflow menu for tabbed panel groups now shows all panels in that group.

multi-touch zoom, pan, and scroll gestures

When using a multi-touch input device—such as a touchscreen display (e.g., Microsoft Surface or Wacom Cintiq Touch) or multi-touch trackpad—you can zoom, pan, and scroll in the Composition, Layer, Footage, and Timeline panels using multi-touch gestures.

  • zoom: Using two fingers, pinch your fingers closer together to zoom out or move your fingers farther apart to zoom in. In viewer panels, this behaves very much like zooming in while holding the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key to zoom centered around the mouse pointer.
  • pan and scroll: drag with two fingers to pan or scroll up, down, left, or right in the panel’s current view. This gesture behaves very much like panning with the Hand tool.

improved color fidelity

Several changes are being made in the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015 to extend the After Effects color management feature set and to improve the ability to bring in assets from many different sources while preserving color information at the highest possible fidelity. There’s more information about the improvements that we’re making across our applications for ultra-HD and high-dynamic-range (HDR) color on the Premiere Pro blog, here.

Among the small changes to color management, automatic interpretation of color data has been improved in a few ways: e.g., linear color pixel formats are now recognized automatically, and half-resolution HD footage is no longer tagged with SD color profiles.

Lumetri Color effect

The upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015 includes the Lumetri Color effect, which is being added so that color grading work performed in Premiere Pro can be preserved in After Effects when copying clips from Premiere Pro to After Effects, importing a Premiere Pro project into After Effects, or using the Replace With After Effects Composition command in Premiere Pro.

IMPORTANT: The intent of the Lumetri Color effect in After Effects is to preserve color adjustments on clips brought from Premiere Pro into After Effects. Refer to the Premiere Pro color workflows documentation for a description of the different controls. You can apply the Lumetri Color effect to any layer in After Effects, but note that not all controls are fully replicated.

For best results, set the project color depth to 32 bits per channel if you enable the High Dynamic Range option in the Lumetri Color effect.

additional ICC profiles for color management

The upcoming version of After Effects CC includes several new ICC profiles for correctly interpreting colors from a variety of sources—including ARRIRAW footage—as well as new profiles for simulating color output and for choosing a working color space for the project:

  • HDR profiles using the SMPTE 2084 PQ EOTF (Dolby Vision)
  • ARRI Log wide color gamut profiles
  • HDTV and UHDTV Display profiles, replacing the older 709 camera profile
  • DCDM and DCI P3 profiles, with more white points, replacing older inaccurate profiles
  • ACES and ACEScg working space profiles
  • SDTV Display profiles, recommended for use in place of the older Rec. 601 profiles

new importers for additional formats and codecs

The upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015 can natively import HEVC (H.265) footage, QuickTime (.mov) files encoded with the Avid DNxHR codec, and Dolby Vision PQ color data in MXF files encoded with the JPEG2000 codec.

streamlined workflow for using CC Libraries and Adobe Stock

Graphics and video assets can be dragged from the Libraries panel directly to the Composition and Timeline panels. The asset will automatically be imported into your project; you no longer have to import and add to the composition as separate steps.

At the top of the Libraries panel is a new search field; from the drop-down menu you can choose to search either your libraries or Adobe Stock. When you search Adobe Stock, results will be displayed in the Libraries panel.

When you mouse over the results, buttons for Buy and Save Preview appear over the image or video. Buy will purchase a license for that asset and save it to your libraries, and Save Preview will add a watermarked preview of that asset to your libraries. From here you can add the assets to your After Effects project.

If you want to license a preview image or video after adding it to your libraries, right-click on the asset in your library, then choose Buy Image or Buy Video. The preview image or video will automatically be replaced with the non-watermarked, licensed version.

IMPORTANT: In After Effects CC 2015 (13.6), licensed still images do not automatically replace preview still images. This will be fixed in a future release. If you have used a preview still image in a composition for which you’ve purchased a license, you can work around this: Add the now-licensed image to your project, then hold the Option (Mac OS) or Alt (Windows) key and drag the licensed image from the Project panel onto the preview image in the composition to replace it.

When you add an Adobe Stock video to your After Effects project, the video will initially appear as a placeholder (color bars) while the video file is downloaded. Once the download completes, the placeholder will be replaced with the video file. You can monitor download progress in the new Progress Panel (Window > Progress Panel). When you license a preview video that was used in your project, the licensed video will also need to download before the preview video is replaced.

scripting access to text baselines

You can read the baseline (x,y) locations for a text layer using scripting in the upcoming version of After Effects CC 2015. The new sourceText.value.baselineLocs attribute for TextDocument objects returns an array of floats indicating the starting position of each line of text’s baseline x and y value.

Line wraps in a paragraph text box are treated as multiple lines.

The array returns float values in the form of: line0.start_x, line0.start_y, line0.end_x, line0.end_y, line1.start_x, line1.start_y, line1.end_x, line1.end_y … lineN-1.start_x, lineN-1.start_y, lineN-1.end_x, lineN-1.end_y

Note: If a line has no characters, the x and y values for start and end will be the maximum float value (3.402823466e+38F).

new scripting method to generate random numbers

There is a new scripting method to generate random numbers, generateRandomNumber. We recommend that you use this function instead of Math.random when you want to generate random numbers that will be applied as values in a project (e.g., when using setValue).

This new method avoids a problem where Math.random would not return random values in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5.x) due to a concurrency issue with multiple CPU threads.

Sample use of the generateRandomNumber method:

// change the position X of all layers with random number

var myComp = app.project.activeItem;
var x = 0;

for(var i = 1; i <= myComp.numLayers; i++){

// If you use Math.random(), this does not work
// x = 400*(Math.random()) – 200;
// use new generateRandomNumber() instead

x = 400*(generateRandomNumber()) – 200;
currentPos = myComp.layer(i).property(“Position”).value;

CycoreFX HD 1.8.1 effect plug-ins

The CycoreFX HD 1.8.1 plug-in package includes the following new effects:

  • CC Vignette: Remove or add vignetting. Includes an option to preserve (pin) highlights for more realistic behavior.
  • CC HexTile: A honeycomb pattern generator. It repeats a hexagonal pattern, with several options including a unique “smear” control. It can be considered as an extension to the CC Kaleida effect, generating dynamic and exciting backgrounds and effects.

Adobe Media Encoder improvements

Though not in After Effects, per se, the improvements coming in the next version of Adobe Media Encoder include several that are of great interest to After Effects users, including the ability to use image sequences in watch folders, the ability to directly publish to Facebook (as well as Vimeo and YouTube), and the ability to export HEVC (H.265) video. See this page for details.

Character Animator (Preview 3) improvements

Character Animator (Preview 3) adds much new functionality and improves performance and usability in several areas. See this page for details.

miscellaneous new and changed features

  • The Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels option in Preferences > Display is now enabled. This was disabled during the performance re-architecture work begun in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).
  • The frame being rendered in the render queue is also displayed in the Composition panel. This was disabled during the performance re-architecture work begun in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5).
  • The OptiX library from Nvidia is being updated on Windows, which adds the ability for Maxwell-architecture GPUs (e.g., GTX 970, GTX 980) to be used for the ray-traced 3D renderer on Windows.
  • The Trim Comp To Work Area command now has a keyboard shortcut: Command+Shift+X (Mac OS) or Ctrl+Shift+X (Windows).
  • The New Comp From Selection command now has a keyboard shortcut: Option+\ (Mac OS) or Alt+\ (Windows).
  • The MXF OP1a format has been removed from the After Effects render queue. To export to MXF OP1a, use Adobe Media Encoder.
  • Files can now be dragged from the Finder (Mac OS) or Windows Explorer (Windows) directly to the Composition and Timeline panels. The file will automatically be imported into your project and a layer will be created based on the footage item; you no longer have to import the file and add a layer based on the footage as separate steps.
  • Current Time Indicator (CTI) now draws as blue through its entire length at all times, including when preview is stopped. This resolves a consistency issue between the CTI and the red Preview Time Indicator (PTI) that appears only during previews.
  • Roving keyframes use a new, easier-to-distinguish icon.
  • updated Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse plug-in (3.0.14) with several bug fixes

notable bug fixes

  • Audio tracks are no longer silent when you export from the Render Queue.
  • Tracking motion (2D motion tracker) no longer causes After Effects to crash under certain conditions, most commonly with large resolution frames (e.g., 4K).
  • ScriptUI panels now display and resize correctly on high-DPI displays on Windows.
  • Horizontal panning in the Timeline panel works again when the panel is on a secondary monitor arranged to the left of the primary monitor.
  • Dragging keyframes or layer in and out points in the Timeline panel should now not experience a delay on mouse up in complex compositions.
  • The render progress bar in the Composition and Layer panels is more responsive during long frame renders.
  • Changing the source text of a text layer no longer causes expressions to fail when the name of the text layer was referenced.
  • When a file in use by the open project becomes missing, After Effects now only warns the user once about the problem, not twice.
  • N-up views in the Composition panel now display focus triangles in blue instead of yellow.
  • Pan Behind tool can again grab 3D axes on a 3D layer.
  • Shape layer path direction buttons in the Timeline panel now have distinct highlighting and contrast, to enhance the difference between selected and unselected states.
  • Undo after using Edit Original on camera raw files no longer causes After Effects to crash.
  • DNG sequences created by Magic Lantern firmware for Canon cameras now update correctly when you edit the camera raw settings via the Interpret Footage dialog box.
  • Reloading a camera raw sequence after editing that sequence’s camera raw settings in another application (e.g., Photoshop) now loads the updated camera raw settings as expected.
  • Edit Original again works as expected for single (non-sequence) camera raw files.
  • Applying remembered Interpret Footage settings on a still image sequence that uses XMP sidecar files (i.e., camera raw formats) no longer fails to apply the settings to the first frame of the sequence.
  • A {no current context} error message is no longer displayed when you set a footage layer as a guide layer, if you had changed its Interpret Footage frame rate.
  • Applying an animation preset that contains the obsolete Lightning effect no longer causes After Effects to crash.
  • Replacing duplicated footage no longer displays the cache for the footage that was replaced.
  • Applying the Color Range effect to a nested composition for which Collapse Transformations is enabled and that contains a layer with scale set to 0% no longer causes After Effects to crash.
  • Applying the Color Range effect to an adjustment layer for which Continuously Rasterize is enabled no longer causes After Effects to crash.
  • The effect controls for the Levels, Extract, Linear Color Key and Color Range Key effects now update correctly during interactions.
  • Clone stamp strokes no longer offset in time unexpectedly.
  • Using the copyToComp scripting method no longer causes After Effects to crash when the layer has a parent.
  • The valueAtTime(time, false) scripting method now waits for time-intensive expressions, like sampleImage, to finish evaluating before it returns the result.
  • After Effects no longer crashes when you click OK or Cancel buttons in a scriptUI dialog with tabbed panels.
  • Symbolic links in the After Effects scripts folder on Mac OS no longer fail to load.
  • After Effects no longer fails to start if left or right double quotation characters are used instead of the non-directional double quotation character the Interpretation Rules.txt file. (Common occurrence when TextEdit is used to edit the file without disabling the Smart Quotes feature.)
  • Shadow Map Resolution is no longer reset to Comp Size after clicking OK in the Classic 3D Renderer Options dialog.
  • After Effects no longer crashes when the graph editor is displayed while processing an time remapping expression.
  • Export to QuickTime Photo-JPEG codec no longer introduces a color shift. A similar problem was solved for the QuickTime Motion JPEG A and B codecs. In both cases, the correct pixel format for the codec (i.e., YUV Rec.601 or Rec.709) is used.
  • Premultiplied alpha channels in Apple ProRes 4444 codec footage now render as expected.
  • Audio is no longer rendered when a preview is started with audio muted. You will no longer see “Mixing audio for preview” in the Info panel if audio is muted. If audio is unmuted during a preview, audio rendering will begin.
  • The cursors for adjusting the work area in and out points are no longer offset.
  • Fixed a problem where, when a plug-in causes After Effects to crash, the cause of the error is not reported and the user is not given an opportunity to save the project.
  • Non-square pixel aspect ratios in DPX files are now recognized.
  • Pasting mocha AE shape data applies the mocha shape effect as expected.
  • The tooltip on the Play/Stop button in the Preview panel now updates to Play/Stop Rendering/Stop Playback if the “If caching, play cached frames” option is enabled.
  • Half-res HD video footage is no longer automatically tagged with an SDTV color profile.
  • Improved performance of expressions on time-remapped layers. This also reduces rendering time for audio on time-remapped layers with expressions.
  • Duplicating items in the Project panel no longer causes compositions to render the wrong result.
  • Fixed a problem where previews slow-to-render frames could not be interrupted.
  • Improved the performance of applying the Exponential Scale keyframe assistant to multiple keyframes.
  • Mercury Transmit no longer fails to display on a second monitor when you switch to a different application and then back to After Effects on Mac OS X v10.11 (El Capitan).
  • Scrubbing time in the Footage panel no longer incorrectly attempts to downsample using adaptive resolution.

We’re still hard at work on this update, and we’ll be addressing many bugs that you’ve reported to us. If you’d like to let us know what you’d like to see addressed in this (or a future) update, let us know with a bug report or feature request here. You can alos talk with us on the After Effects user-to-user forum. Please, do not leave comments on this blog post, since the blog comment system is not set up well for bug reports or conversations.

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: file name and location templates, plus automatic creation of folders for image sequences

In the After Effects CC (12.2) update, we extended the output file name templates feature to include output paths. As part of setting up an output module, you can specify a folder in which to place the output file(s), and this can be a folder that After Effects will automatically create at output time.

This helps to keep your outputs organized, and it really helps to prevent you from doing something like accidentally dumping an image sequence onto your desktop because you forgot to point the output to a specific folder. (Yes, we’ve all done that a few too many times.)

There is a new preset output file name and location template, called ‘Comp Folder and Comp Name’.

There is a new projectFolder element in the Add Property menu in the File Name And Location Template dialog box. Adding the projectFolder element to a file name and location template specifies that that output file should be placed in the same folder as the one in which the project is saved.

For example, the following template specifies that the output file file should be placed in a folder named ‘output’ inside the project folder, and that the name of the output file should begin with ‘final_’ and end with the composition name followed by a dot and the file-name extension:


You can also use the .. operator to go up one level in a path. For example, the following template specifies that the output file file should be placed in a folder named ‘output’ that is next to the project folder, and that the name of the output file should begin with the composition name, followed by ‘_matte’, followed by a dot and the file-name extension:


Also, when you are specifying an output file name and location through the Output Movie To dialog box, you can choose the Save In Subfolder option to create a new subfolder at output time.

Image sequences and movie files have different defaults for output file name and location templates, with the primary difference being that image sequences will be placed into subfolders. When you choose an image sequence output module template, if your current file name and location template is the default, then After Effects will switch to using the ‘Comp Folder and Comp Name’ template, which will create a new folder for the image sequence.

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: expression access to dynamic layer bounds, including text layers

In the After Effects CC 2014 (13.2) update, we added several scripting and expression enhancements to make working with text easier.

My favorite of these enhancements is the addition of an expression method with which you can read the rectangle bounds of a layer’s content, including the corrected bounds of a text layer, for any time in a composition. The sourceRectAtTime method from the After Effects scripting API is now accessible in expressions as a read-only layer object attribute. The values returned are calculated before effects and layer styles are applied.

When I asked folks recently who was using this new method and how, I got a lot of responses from folks who are now able to create lower thirds, credit scrolls, and other text animations much more easily because they are able to have various graphical elements laid out according to the width and height of a block of text, even when that block of text is changing. One example is Victoria Nece’s new script, which uses this expression method to automatically lay out credit scrolls.

Here’s Evan Abrams showing how to use this in a video on YouTube:

Here are the technical bits:

layer.sourceRectAtTime(t = time, includeExtents = false)

  • t: the time index, in seconds. A floating-point value.
  • includeExtents: true to include the extents, false otherwise. Extents apply to shape layers only, increasing the size of the layer bounds as necessary.

Returns a JavaScript object with four attributes: [top, left, width, height]

Example usage for a text layer named myTextLayer:

// Returns width value at the current time as a number
var textLayerWidth =  myTextLayer.sourceRectAtTime().width;

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: property links

We have talked for a long time on the After Effects team about adding a feature for “instancing” of effects, meaning that you would be able to drive multiple instances of an effect from one master controller. The more we talked about this, the more we realized that the right thing to do for maximum flexibility and power would be to not limit such a feature to just whole effects, but to create a system whereby any set of properties could be linked across layers and compositions. This is how “property links” were born.

The property links are established and maintained through expressions, but there is no need to write (or even see) the expressions that are created.

You can select any property or set of properties and choose Edit > Copy With Property Links or Edit > Copy With Relative Property Links and then paste those properties on any layer in any composition. The result is that the pasted properties remain connected to the layer from which the properties were copied, such that any change made to the original property is reflected in all of the instances of the pasted property links.

You can even copy an entire layer with property links and paste it to create duplicates that follow the changes made to the original.

For example, the following looping animation consists of a master shape layer on the left and three copies made by choosing Copy With Property Links and then pasting three times, then selectively disabling the links for a few properties by disabling the expressions on those properties. I could have accomplished the same thing by selectively using Copy With Property Links on specific properties.


The command Copy With Relative Property Links, works like the command Copy With Property Links, except that the former creates expressions that do not reference the source composition by name. This maintains a relative link between the layer with the expression and the composition containing that layer. This can be useful when, for example, you want to move expression-rigged layers from one composition to another but let the layers reference a control layer only in the same composition. The expressions created using the Copy With Relative Property Links command are identical to those created using the expression pickwhip.

The result of copying a layer’s Position property with the Copy With Relative Property Links command is this:

The result of copying a layer’s Position property with the Copy With Property Links command is this, which specifically references the layer’s source composition in the expression:

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: expression error handling

One of my favorite changes to After Effects recently isn’t a flashy feature at all, but it’s a change that has already saved me thousands of clicks when dealing with expression errors.

Beginning in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5), there are two major changes in what occurs when an expression fails to evaluate:

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

This means that when you have multiple expressions that fail, you no longer need to click through a potentially enormous number of error dialog boxes. Also, when you fix the cause of an expression’s failure, you no longer have to click to re-enable the expression. In some cases, fixing an expression may simply be a matter of undoing the change that caused the expression to fail.


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 (magnifying glass) button will expose the property with the failing expression in the Timeline panel. If the expression is in a different composition, that composition will open.
  • 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.

The expression error text is one line only, and is clipped to the width of the Composition panel. To see the full expression error text in the old-style 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.

Also worth mentioning in this context is a feature that is not new, but has existed in After Effects for many versions: the Reveal Expression Errors command, available the in the context menu when you right-click on a layer, will expose properties of the selected layers that have expressions that fail to evaluate.

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: command for moving anchor point to center of content

Every once in a while, we have a “JDI” (“Just Do It”) day on the After Effects team. During these days, members of the After Effects team compete to see who can make the best change to the application within a single day, where “best” is defined by greatest benefit to the population of After Effects users, as determined by a team vote. The changes must be fully designed, implemented, and tested within the single day, in time for demonstrations and voting to occur. There are prizes.

During a JDI day for After Effects CC (12.1), James (Jim) Acquavella and I won for the addition of a command to set the anchor point to be in the center of the layer content: Layer > Transform > Center Anchor Point In Layer Content. I urged Jim to implement this feature because I had seen many people struggle with animation of shape layers because their anchor points were not located in the center of the shapes.


The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+Home on Windows and Command+Option+Home on Mac OS.

You can also Ctrl+double-click (Windows) or Command+double-click the Pan Behind (Anchor Point) tool to invoke this command.

A few great uses for this new command:

  • setting the anchor point of a shape layer to the center of a single shape or to the centroid of a group of shapes in a shape layer
  • setting the anchor point for a text layer to the center of the text content
  • setting the anchor point of a layer to then center of the visible area within a masked region

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.