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migrating settings and plug-ins for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0)

migrating preferences, keyboard shortcuts, and other settings

At the bottom of the General pane in the After Effects Preferences dialog box is a Migrate Previous Version Settings button. If you have After Effects CC (12.x) installed on the same computer, then clicking that button will give you a dialog box with an option to migrate settings from that version to After Effects CC 2014 (13.0). If you choose to migrate settings, then you need to restart After Effects for the new settings to be loaded.

The settings that are migrated include preferences, keyboard shortcuts, output module templates, composition settings, render settings, and interpretation rules.

plug-ins and scripts

Important: There have been few significant changes to the effect plug-in API for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), so you should not need new versions of most plug-ins for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0), if you already have plug-ins that work for After Effects CS5, CS5.5, CS6, or CC.

Separate from the issue of updates to the effect plug-ins themselves, there is the issue of their installers: Some plug-ins come with installers, and these installers may need to be updated to install plug-ins into the correct location. This is needed in far fewer cases for this version than for previous versions, for reasons described below.

After Effects CC 2014 loads plug-ins from a couple of locations: the MediaCore folder and the After Effects Plug-ins folder.

The MediaCore folder is where the majority of the large third-party plug-in vendors install their plug-ins, in part because this is a common location from which After Effects and Premiere Pro both load plug-ins. We did not increment the version number on this folder between After Effects CC (12.x) and After Effects CC 2014 (13.0). This means that you do not need to reinstall most third-party effect plug-ins if you already had them installed for After Effects CC (12.x). Of course, test to see that this works for you, and follow instructions from your specific third-party effect plug-in vendor.

On the other hand, effect plug-ins installed in the After Effects Plug-ins folder do need to be installed again or copied or loaded with a shortcut/alias from the old folder. This is a very simple process, in general, because most effects that are installed in this folder are not the ones with specialized installers and other surrounding infrastructure. But, again, follow any specific instructions from the vendors of your third-party effects if they say otherwise.

Here are the locations on Mac OS and Windows for the After Effects Plug-ins folder:

  • (Mac OS) Applications/Adobe After Effects [version]
  • (Windows) Program FilesAdobeAdobe After Effects [version]Support Files

One thing that I do that works for most plug-ins is to create a shortcut/alias in the new plug-in folder that points to the old plug-in folder, so the new version of the application loads plug-ins from the old location. If you do this, you need to be careful to put the alias/shortcut at the right, lower level—i.e., not at the top level of the plug-ins folder—so that you’re only loading specific plug-ins from the old location; otherwise, you’ll get warnings about duplicate plug-ins.

I do the same thing for my scripts folder: just put a shortcut/alias in the new scripts folder that points to the old scripts folder, and all of my old scripts are loaded by the new version of the application.

I’ll keep this list up to date with links to websites of plug-in vendors who have updates for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0):

A great place for information about plug-ins for Premiere Pro and After Effects is the Toolfarm website, which provides an online store as well as tutorials, a forum, and other supporting resources for using plug-ins. Toolfarm has been updating a list of plug-ins that have updates for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0).

In addition to listing the plug-ins provided by each company, this page provides links to the companies’ websites, so that you can purchase these plug-ins or find how to contact them for technical support or customer service.

Why a new major version, not just a minor version update?

One important technical fact about After Effects (and many other applications) is that the project file format needs to be incremented to a new version when we make certain kinds of changes to the data that is stored in it. For example, we needed to increment the project file format for After Effects CC 2014 (13.0) to accommodate the changes in the data model that effect mask and effect opacity compositing options features introduced. We tend to plan our feature work so that we do things that necessitate changing the project file format somewhat seldom, all at once.

Between minor versions (e.g., from After Effects 12.1 to After Effects 12.2), the project file format stays the same, and this allows people with any minor version of After Effects 12.x to open project files created by any other minor version of After Effects 12.x.

Similarly, we tend to plan changes to the plug-in API (the interface for creating plug-ins) so that folks creating plug-ins don’t need to make changes very often. In fact, as I mentioned above, we were able to keep the changes in this area to a minimum so that we didn’t even need to increment the number of the MediaCore folder, which is what allows the same plug-ins to be loaded from the same location for After Effects CC (12.x) and After Effects CC 2014 (13.0).

Another benefit of having a new major version that is installed alongside the old version is that it gives you a chance to try the new version out without needing to worry about whether there are any unwelcome changes. If there is something in the new version that you don’t like or need some time to get used to, you can bounce back to the old version to get some work done and then come back to the new version when you’re ready. If the new version just replaced/updated the old version, you couldn’t do that (at least not easily).

Julieanne Kost also has an informative post about this topic on her blog, which tends to focus more on Photoshop and Lightroom.

After Effects, General, Region of Interest