AFTEREFFECTS

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

After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) 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.

simple workarounds and fixes for two biggest causes of After Effects crashes

We have been monitoring crash rates for After Effects since we released After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2) a few weeks ago, and we see that the two top causes of crashes have rather simple workarounds/fixes that you can do. See below for details.

Thanks again to everyone who submits crash reports and gives as much detail as possible in them. This really helps us to identify and fix problems.

Also, note that we are continually releasing fixes for crashes, and the first and best way to avoid crashes is to install the most recent updates.

Please, if you want to discuss these issues or others, come on over to the After Effects user-to-user forum. That’s the best place for questions and discussions (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.


crash #1: crash when using OpenGL-accelerated plug-ins while “Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels” Display preference is enabled

A crash can occur when certain plug-ins (e.g., Foundry Camera Tracker, Video Copilot Optical Flares, Video Copilot Element 3D) try to use the GPU while the “Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels” preference is enabled.

workaround:

  1. 1. Open the Preferences dialog box to the Display category.
  2. 2. Disable the “Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels” preference.

In an upcoming version of After Effects—targeted for release this spring—we’ll be preventing this sort of contention for GPU resources so that this problem doesn’t occur.


crash #2: crash on Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite) because of Mac OS bug with applications that integrate with Finder

A crash can occur because of a bug in Mac OSX v10.10 (Yosemite) that affects applications that integrate with Finder (such as Dropbox).

fix:
Update Mac OSX to v10.10.1.

See this page for more information about this Mac OS bug and the importance of installing the Mac OSX v10.10.1 update.

After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2): what’s new and changed in this update

After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2) is available.

If you have a Creative Cloud membership, you always have access to the latest version of After Effects. Ideally, you should install the updates automatically through the Creative Cloud desktop application or by choosing Help > Updates, but you can also directly download the update packages from the download page for Windows or Mac OS by choosing the “Adobe After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2)” update for your operating system.

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

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

For details of what was new in After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), see this page.

For details of what was new in After Effects CC 2014.1 (13.1), see this page.

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.


top new features for After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2)


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  • scripting improvements for text layers
  • expression access to dynamic layer bounds
  • new keyframe icons
  • many bug fixes

details of what’s new and changed in After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2)


Here is a virtually comprehensive list of changes, with detail beyond the summaries of the top items listed above. We’ll be posting a more detail in 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.

scripting improvements for text layers

You can now read additional information through scripting about the properties of a text layer, including the layer coordinates and additional character properties.

These new attributes for the textDocument object are read-only. The value returned is for the first character in the text layer at the current time.

The following attributes return a boolean value:

  • fauxBold
  • fauxItalic
  • allCaps
  • smallCaps
  • superscript
  • subscript

The following attributes return a float value:

  • verticalScale
  • horizontalScale
  • baselineShift
  • tsume

The following attributes return an array of ([X,Y]) position coordinates for paragraph text layers only:

  • boxTextPos: returns the layer coordinates from the text layer anchor point
  • sourcePointToComp(): converts layer coordinates, such as boxTextPos, to composition coordinates
  • compPointToSource(): converts composition coordinates, such as sourcePointToComp, to layer coordinates

Example usage:

For a text layer with fauxBold enabled and horizontalScale set to 50%:

var isFauxBold = myTextLayer.sourceText.value.fauxBold; // returns true
var valOfHScale = myTextLayer.sourceText.value.horizontalScale; // returns 0.5

For a paragraph text layer:

// Returns [x,y] position from layer anchor point in layer coordinates.
// e.g. approximately [0, -25] with default character panel settings.
var boxTextLayerPos =  myTextLayer.sourceText.value.boxTextPos;

// Converts position in layer coordinates to comp coordinates.
var boxTextCompPos = myTextLayer.sourcePointToComp(boxTextLayerPos);

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expression access to dynamic layer bounds, including text layers

You can now 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.

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;

new keyframe icons

We received a lot of feedback that keyframe icons in After Effects CC 2014.1 (13.1) are difficult to visually distinguish in the refreshed user interface design. In After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2) all keyframe icons have been updated to address this feedback. The new icons are a little bit brighter overall and have bright edges instead of dark edges so that they stand out better against the background.

The icons for roving keyframes and summary keyframes (displayed when a property group is collapsed) have been updated but are changed to the dark dot that appeared in After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) and previous, instead of the bright dot that appeared in After Effects CC 2014.1 (13.1).

We will be making additional improvements to the user interface for all Adobe applications based on user feedback in updates scheduled for the coming year, including additional customizability.


a few choice bug fixes


We fixed a lot of bugs in this update. Here are a few that I think are especially worth calling out:

  • Applying animation presets from Bridge works as expected and no longer results in an error message.
  • Color management no longer causes a color or gamma shift in rendered images when multiprocessing is enabled.
  • Warp Stabilizer effect has been updated to fix a cause of crashes on the late 2013 model Mac Pro.
  • A cause of poor Dynamic Link performance when the main After Effects application is open has been fixed.
  • The sampleImage expression method no longer causes multiprocessing to disable.
  • The cursor icon changes immediately when you press a keyboard shortcut to change the active tool.
  • Layers now highlight as expected in the Composition panel when you roll over the layer in the Timeline panel.
  • Dragging an instance of an After Effects text template composition in Premiere Pro from the Project panel to the Timeline panel no longer causes a delay before the composition can be dropped.
  • Creating shape layers from Illustrator layers no longer creates the shapes at the wrong coordinates if the Illustrator artboard uses a video preset and the layer was imported at layer dimensions (instead of document dimensions).
  • Layers in a .c4d file in an After Effects CC (12.x) project retain their visibility state in the Cineware effect when the project is opened in After Effects CC 2014.2 (13.2).
  • Windows high-DPI displays now correctly draw layer controls (anchor point, mask path, layer handles, etc.).
  • Multiple fixes for Mac OS Retina displays: layer wireframes now draw correctly; setting the ruler origin in viewer panels no longer has an offset.
  • The color of all characters are now the same in the value of a property with an expression. For example, the % symbol in Opacity values is now red instead of blue.
  • Rolling over the value of a property with an expression no longer changes the value’s text color to yellow.
  • A cause of crashes on startup if the Adobe preferences directory is set to read-only was fixed.
  • A cause of crashes on quit after Video Copilot Element 3D is used was fixed.
  • A cause of crashes when effects make certain OpenGL requests was fixed.
  • Aliases to files and folders on Mac OS 10.10.1 and later are now resolved correctly.

using the Enter key with the eyedropper tool to sample colors outside of After Effects

Here’s a tip that may save you a couple of clicks while working in After Effects: when you use the eyedropper tool in After Effects and you want to sample a color that is outside of the After Effects user interface, press the Return or Enter key on your keyboard instead of clicking the mouse button.

The benefit of doing this is that since you don’t use a mouse click, the operating system won’t switch to the application you sampled the color from, and you won’t have to click back into After Effects to continue working.

Pressing the Return or Enter key works on both Windows and Mac OS, whether you’re sampling a color inside or outside of After Effects.

I admit that I didn’t know about this myself until I investigated a related bug report: in After Effects 2014.1 (13.1) on Mac OS only, clicking with the mouse outside of the After Effects user interface does not sample the color, it will only switch you to the other application. We intend to fix this bug in a future release of After Effects, but thought you might want to know about the useful alternative of using the Return or Enter key when sampling colors with the eyedropper tool.

error (21::31) when you start After Effects on Mac OS 10.9 and later after editing the keyboard shortcut file

If you use TextEdit on Mac OS 10.9 or later to edit the After Effects keyboard shortcuts file, you may receive an error similar the following the next time you start After Effects:

After Effects error: preferences file "Adobe After Effects 13.1 Mac en_US Shortcuts.txt"
contains an unexpected value on line 142, " "Twirl" = ,Äú(macControl+`),Äú". (21::31)

To solve this issue, open the keyboard shortcuts file in TextEdit again, choose Edit > Substitutions and disable Smart Quotes. Then edit the same line you edited previously to replace any left or right double-quotation mark characters (“ or “) with the non-directional double-quotes character (“). Just press the quotation mark key on your keyboard, this should now create the non-directional double-quotes character.

On Mac OS 10.9 and later, Smart Quotes are enabled by default in TextEdit. This causes the double-quotes character (“) to be automatically replaced by the left or right double-quotation marks (“ or “). After Effects does not recognize the left or right marks as the correct delimiters for entries in the keyboard shortcuts file. In general, using Smart Quotes or other smart character replacement is not useful when editing application scripts like the keyboard shortcuts file.

You can disable Smart Quotes and other substitutions on a document-by-document basis by using the Edit > Substitutions menu, or you can disable this for all documents in the preferences for TextEdit.

Other typos or incorrect syntax in the keyboard shortcuts file will generate a similar error message. If Smart Quotes do not solve the issue, double-check your entry for correct spelling and formatting.

tip: writing to the disk cache during renders through the render queue

One thing that makes After Effects work much faster is the persistent disk cache, which makes it so that After Effects can retrieve rendered items from disk rather than re-rendering items each time they are needed. (For details about the RAM cache and persistent disk cache, see this video by me on Lynda.com.)

One thing that many people don’t realize, though, is that the disk cache is not written to by default for final renders through the render queue. This is because when we created the disk cache, disks were not typically fast enough for us to be confident that these disk writes during final renders wouldn’t degrade performance significantly during the first render. In other words, we didn’t want the default to make subsequent renders fast at the expense of making the first renders slow.

Now that people typically have much faster disks than only a few years ago, we are considering changing that default behavior.

In the meantime, we recommend that you try enabling the disk cache in the render queue by changing the Disk Cache setting in the Render Settings dialog box to Current Settings, rather than Read Only. You may want to even go so far as to edit your render settings templates to make this change, as I have done with mine. (I then used the Sync Settings feature to send my render settings templates to the Creative Cloud servers so that I could pull them down on my other computers.) With the Disk Cache value in the render settings set to Current Settings, the disk cache will be written to during renders through the render queue as long as you have Enable Disk Cache checked in the Media & Disk Cache preferences.

See this page for much more information about making After Effects work faster.

GoPro CineForm codec settings in After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014

The CC 2014.1 releases of After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Media Encoder introduced the ability to natively decode and encode QuickTime (.mov) files using the GoPro CineForm codec on Mac OS and Windows, meaning that you do not need to install additional codecs to use and create such files.

When encoding GoPro CineForm movies, two different pixel formats and five different compression methods are available. To change how the GoPro CineForm movie is encoded you need to set the color depth or the quality, respectively. This is a guide for how these settings map to the encoded results.

Note: this article has been updated to include changes made to the GoPro CineForm color depth settings and encoding presets in Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014.2.

GoPro CineForm compression quality settings

The GoPro CineForm codec offers five levels of compression quality:

1. Low
2. Medium
3. High
4. Film Scan
5. Film Scan 2

In After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Media Encoder the compression quality is controlled by the Quality slider in the Export Settings dialog. The range of this slider is 1-5, and the values map to the compression quality settings above. The default value is 4.

For more information about the differences between these compression quality options, read GoPro’s Understanding CineForm Quality Settings article.

GoPro CineForm pixel format settings

The GoPro CineForm codec can encode pixels in YUV 4:2:2 at 10 bits per channel, or RGBA 4:4:4:4 at 12 bits per channel.

The encoded pixel format is based on the color depth and alpha channel settings you choose in the Output Module Settings dialog in After Effects or the Export Settings dialog in Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder.

In After Effects:

  • Setting Channels to RGB or Alpha will encode to 10-bpc YUV.
  • Settings Channels to RGB+Alpha will encode to 12-bpc RGBA.

After Effects renders the composition frames at the color depth specified in the Project and Render Settings, and the GoPro CineForm encoder will re-sample the frames to 10-bit YUV or 12-bpc RGBA as appropriate.

In Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder CC:

  • Depth can be set to either YUV 10-bit or RGBA 12-bit.
  • If Render At Maximum Depth is enabled, the frames will be rendered at 10-bpc or 16-bpc before being passed to the GoPro CineForm encoder, which will re-sample the frames to the chosen Depth as appropriate.
  • If Render At Maximum Depth is disabled, the frames will rendered at 8-bpc before being passed to the GoPro CineForm encoder, which will re-sample the frames to the chosen Depth as appropriate.

These settings are utilized by three encoding presets included with Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder:

  • GoPro CineForm RGB 12-bit with alpha at Maximum Bit Depth
  • GoPro CineForm RGB 12-bit with alpha
  • GoPro CineForm YUV 10-bit

regarding previous guidance and presets

In previous guides, the pixel formats for GoPro CineForm were described as being 8-bpc YUV, 8-bpc RGBA, or 16-bpc RGBA. Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014.1 included three encoding presets that reflected this.

This information was incorrect. The Depth settings for the GoPro CineForm codec and associated encoding presets have been updated in Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014.2, as described above.

In the CC 2014.1 release, setting the Depth to 24-bit (8-bpc) would encode to 10-bpc YUV, and setting Depth to 32-bit (8-bpc with alpha) or 64-bit (16-bpc with alpha) would encode to 12-bpc RGBA.

For more information about working with the GoPro CineForm codec in After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Media Encoder, read GoPro CineForm Codec Support in Premiere Pro Help and Rich Young’s CineForm in Creative Cloud on Pro Video Coalition.