After Effects CC In-Depth: New Features
This year at Adobe MAX, we released After Effects CC 2017 (14.0), which features a variety of performance and workflow enhancements.
In this article, we’re sharing more detail about how the new features work, including new project templates, syncing missing fonts from TypeKit, and Dynamic Link with Character Animator.
Please, if you want to ask questions about these new and changed features, come on over to the After Effects Forums. That’s the best place for questions. Questions left in comments on a blog post are much harder to work with; the blog comment system just isn’t set up for conversations. If you’d like to submit feature requests or bug reports, you can do so here.
New 3D Composition Renderer: CINEMA 4D
After Effects CC 2017 adds a new 3D renderer for compositions which uses the Maxon CINEMA 4D standard renderer for 3D layers, including extruded text and shapes and curved 2D planes.
This renderer is designed to make it fast and easy to animate 3D text and logos in After Effects.
The 3D functionality of the CINEMA 4D renderer is similar to the Ray-traced 3D renderer: when enabled, 3D text and shape layers can be extruded, and other 3D layers (solids, footage, etc.) can be bent into curved planes. Because the two renderers work very differently, the rendered results will be different, and there are differences in 3D layer material options and other layer behaviors.
The performance of the CINEMA 4D renderer is much faster than the CPU-only performance of the Ray-traced 3D renderer.
In association with this new renderer, the composition 3D renderer settings have been moved from the Advanced tab of the Composition Settings dialog to a new 3D Renderer tab. Clicking the name of the renderer in the upper-right corner of the Composition panel will now bring you to this tab. In addition to choosing the 3D renderer, the 3D Renderer tab displays helpful information about the different 3D renderers, including which layer behaviors are enabled and disabled.
Click the Options button to set the options for the current renderer. You can also now access the renderer options for a 3D composition by clicking the Options button (wrench icon) in the upper-right corner of the Composition panel.
The CINEMA 4D renderer options include a single Quality slider, which affects multiple parameters of how the CINEMA 4D renderer will draw the 3D layers. The resulting renderer parameters are shown in the Options, Anti-aliasing, and Reflectance boxes. The single Quality setting makes it easy to choose a balanced combination of rendering speed and acceptable 3D rendering quality without requiring you to understand and modify the many contributing parameters to rendering quality.
IMPORTANT: You will receive a warning about using an older installation of CINEMA 4D if you have changed the CINEMA 4D Installation Options (via either the CINEWARE effect options or the CINEMA 4D renderer options) to use a full installation of CINEMA 4D R18 SP1 or earlier, instead of the renderer engine installed with After Effects.
The CINEMA 4D renderer includes improvements to the CINEMA 4D engine, which are required to render certain cases correctly. (The CINEMA 4D renderer and CINEWARE share the same engine, however these improvements are not applicable to CINEWARE.)
If you get this warning, we recommend resetting After Effects to use the default CINEMA 4D engine until an update for CINEMA 4D R18 with the engine improvements is released, which is expected shortly after the release of After Effects CC 2017. To do this:
- Open the Composition Settings dialog.
- Click on the 3D Renderer tab and choose the CINEMA 4D renderer.
- Cick the Options button.
- Click the Choose Installation
- Click the Defaults button.
Team Projects (Beta)
Team Projects is a new hosted collaboration service for Creative Cloud for teams and enterprise customers that allows editors and motion graphics artists to work simultaneously in shared projects within the 2017 versions of After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Prelude CC.
For more details, read our announcement about Team Projects.
In After Effects, you can create or open a team project using the File > New > New Team Project (Beta) and File > Open Team Project (Beta) commands, or the equivalent buttons in the Start screen. Use the Edit > Team Project menu to manage an open team project.
New Text Template Workflow
You can now share text template compositions between After Effects CC 2017 and Premiere Pro CC 2017 as a single, packaged file that contains all of the assets required for that composition.
In Premiere Pro the template behaves like any other imported footage, with the added ability to modify the text. This means that an After Effects artist can easily pass a template to their editor as a single file. Also, while After Effects needs to be installed on the same computer as Premiere Pro, this copy of After Effects does not need to be licensed.
To save a composition as a text template file (.aecap), choose Composition > Export Composition As Text Template. The same command can be found in the File > Export menu, or when you right-click on a composition in the Project panel.
The existing live text template workflow, importing an After Effects composition into Premiere Pro via Dynamic Link, still works but with one change: the Template option in Composition Settings > Advanced has been removed. Now, any composition with unlocked text layers can now be used as a live text template.
Regardless of whether you use the new or existing text template workflow, changing the text in Premiere Pro continues to work the same: only unlocked text layers can be changed, and you edit the text in the Effect Controls panel.
TypeKit Sync of Missing Fonts
Missing fonts can now be automatically synced using TypeKit. The new Resolve Fonts dialog is displayed when you open a project that uses fonts that is not installed. If the fonts are available from TypeKit, you can choose to have them automatically synced to your Creative Cloud account and installed.
TypeKit sync is available both for fonts included with your Creative Cloud subscription, and for fonts available for purchase from TypeKit Marketplace.
Fonts that are not available from TypeKit will be replaced with the default font.
New Project Templates
You can now set After Effects to load a template project when you choose the New Project command.
To enable this, choose Preferences > New Project and enable the New Project Loads Template option, then choose a template project. Click the Choose Project Template button to change the template project.
The template project can be an After Effects template project file (.aet), After Effects project file (.aep), or an After Effects XML project file (.aepx). Select the file type at the bottom of the Select Template dialog; note that on macOS you may need to first press the Options button to expose the Enable menu.
When New Project Loads Template is enabled and you choose New Project from the File menu or Start screen, your template project will open as an unsaved, untitled project. The template project will also open when you choose File > Close Project.
Freeze On Last Frame
The new Freeze On Last Frame command, in the Layer > Time menu, holds a layer on its last frame until the end of the composition. This command automates several steps needed for one of the most common uses of time remapping.
When you choose the Freeze On Last Frame command, several things happen to the selected layers:
- Time remapping is enabled.
- A time remapping linear keyframe is set at the layer in point.
- A time remapping hold keyframe is set at the layer’s current out point frame.
- The out point of the layer is moved to the end of the composition.
Set Marker Duration by Dragging
You can now set the duration of a composition or layer marker by dragging the marker’s out point in the Timeline panel. Marker icons also now split in half to more clearly indicate the marker’s in point and out point.
To set a marker’s duration by dragging, hold the Option (macOS) or Alt (Windows) key, then click on the marker icon and drag to the right.
To change the duration of a marker, click and drag the marker out point icon; you do not need to hold Option/Alt. Dragging a marker out point all the way back to the marker in point will set the duration to zero and unify the marker in and out point icons again.
Note that dragging a marker in point will only change the marker’s time, and dragging a marker out point will only change the marker’s duration. You can not currently simultaneously change the marker time and duration.
On a time-reversed layers, the marker in and out points are also time-reversed. (Marker out points are on the left, marker in points are on the right.)
Date and Time Values in Output Name Templates
Name and location templates for output modules can now be customized with tokens for the date and time. A new default template, Comp Name And Date/Time, has also been added; it appends the date and time (in Y-M-D_H-M format) to the comp name.
Output name and locations can be customized with the following tokens:
The date and time values are recorded into the output module at the time you press the Render or Queue In AME buttons. If you use the Duplicate with File Name command on a completed render item or output module, the recorded date and time will be copied, not the date and time tokens.
Import Character Animator Scenes via Dynamic Link
You can now open an Adobe Character Animator CC scene directly in After Effects CC 2017 or Premiere Pro CC 2017 and keep a live connection to the original scene in Character Animator, via Adobe Dynamic Link. Changes to the scene in Character Animator are reflected automatically when switching back to After Effects or Premiere Pro.
Character Animator CC (Beta 5) is required for Dynamic Link functionality.
To import a Character Animator scene into After Effects or Premiere Pro via Dynamic Link:
- Drag the scene from the Project panel in Character Animator into the Project panel in After Effects or Premiere Pro. Tip: You can start dragging the scene in Character Animator, Option/Alt + Tab to After Effects or Premiere Pro, then drop the scene in the Project panel.
- Import the scene from the .chproj file:
- Choose File > Import > File, then select a Character Animator project file (.chproj).
- In the Import Character Animator Scene dialog, select the scene within the project that you want to import.
The scene appears in the Project panel as Dynamic Link video footage that you can add to a composition like any other video footage. Character Animator does not need to be open while you use the scene in After Effects.
Alpha-Only Rendering from Adobe Media Encoder
Adobe Media Encoder CC 2017 can now render the alpha channel of any source as a grayscale image. To enable this, choose Render Alpha Channel Only at the bottom of the Export Settings dialog in Adobe Media Encoder. This functionality is similar to setting the Channels option to Alpha in the Output Module Settings dialog in After Effects.
Render Alpha Channel Only works for any type of source footage in Adobe Media Encoder, not just After Effects compositions. But it is especially useful when you need to export the alpha channel of your composition to formats that do not store a discrete alpha channel, such as MXF OP1a.
Note: In After Effects CC 2017, the Render Alpha Channel Only option also appears at the bottom of the Format Settings dialog, when accessed from the Output Module Settings dialog in After Effects. This is a bug; use the Channels option in the Output Module Settings dialog instead.