After Effects CC In-Depth: UI Changes, Bug Fixes, and Other Improvements
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 changes to the user interface, bug fixes, and many other small improvements.
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.
User Interface Enhancements
The After Effects user interface has been updated to a new design with improved functionality. User interface elements, including icons and buttons, are now vector graphics that draw smoothly at any scale factor on high resolution monitors, such as Apple Retina displays.
Other user interface improvements:
- The Project Settings dialog now divides the different sections into tabs, instead of one large single dialog. This prevents the bottom of the dialog from being cut off on monitors with smaller vertical resolution.
- 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. 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.
Native Export of Avid DNxHD/HR Codec QuickTime Files
After Effects CC 2017 can now export QuickTime files that use the Avid DNxHD and DNxHR codecs, without needing to install the Avid codecs package, and without assistance from QuickTime 7 on Windows, or the Adobe QT32 Server process on macOS.
DNxHD and DNxHR settings can be changed in the QuickTime Options dialog (click the Format Options button in the Output Module dialog). You can select the flavor of DNxHD or DNxHR (e.g., HQX, HQ, SQ, etc.) and/or enable alpha channel encoding.
Native export of DNxHD and DNxHR does not currently support compressed alpha channels.
Native import of DNxHD and DNxHR codec QuickTime files was included in a previous release. Native import of DNxHR does not currently support compressed alpha channels in resolution-free DNxHR flavors (HQX 10-bit, HQ 8-bit, SQ 8-bit, LB 8-bit).
Maxon CINEWARE 3.1.18 Plug-In
The Maxon CINEWARE plug-in has been updated to version 3.1.18. Changes include:
- The OpenGL renderer now renders without the grid and other overlays.
- The Software renderer now uses the OpenGL renderer, with the grid and other overlays enabled.
- Bug fixes
- The composition settings presets for Web Video have been removed.
- New composition settings presets have been added for UHD 4K and UHD 8K frame specifications.
- A new animation preset, Alpha From Lightness (Unmult), simulates the results of unmult plug-ins. It can be found in the Image – Utilities category. This preset uses the Shift Channels and Remove Color Matting effects, one of many recipes of effects that can be used to create an alpha channel from footage matted over black.
- The Audio Levels value can now be scrubbed down to -192 db, the minimum value for the parameter.
- The Reveal Composition in Project command is now available in the Timeline panel’s menu and in the context menu when you right-click in the Timeline or Composition panels.
- A new script, UpgradeLegacyBlurs.jsx, is installed by default and is available from the File > Scripts menu. This script finds instances of the older Fast Blur (Legacy) and Gaussian Blur (Legacy) effects in the project and converts them to the new Gaussian Blur effect. It includes an option, disabled by default, to enable the Repeat Edge Pixels option for Gaussian Blur (Legacy) effects.
- The Create Shapes from Vector Layer command now creates the shape layer(s) above the original layer, instead of at the top of the layer stack.
- Zooming in the Composition, Layer, or Footage panels on macOS when using scroll gestures on an Apple trackpad or Magic Mouse is now more accurate, and no longer zooms by large increments when the touch surface is accidentally swiped. Inertia scrolling is no longer enabled for zooming.
- RED camera raw (.r3d) file decoding has been updated with the newest RED SDK. New functionality includes support for RED Helium sensor footage.
- JPEG files are now decoded by the same importer module that is used by Premiere Pro. You should not notice a difference. However, if you encounter problems you can change the importer module when you import JPEG files. In the Import dialog box, set Enable to All Files, then set Format to JPEG (instead of ImporterJPEG). Note that on macOS, you may need to press the Options button in order to see the Enable and Format menus.
- Color profiles can again be assigned to QuickTime files with a tagged color profile, such as ARRI LogC ProRes footage, when color management is enabled for the project. Note that the default profile is HDTV (Rec. 709), regardless of which color profile was tagged.
- Queue in AME now transfers the Resolution and Field Render settings from the render item’s render settings to the Width and Height settings and Field Order settings, respectively, in AME.
- Watch Folder rendering (File > Watch Folder) is once again available.
- MPEG2 files can now be decoded when After Effects is running as a render-only node.
- Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse has been updated to version 3.0.15.
- The CycoreFX HD plug-in package has been updated to version 1.8.2. The CC Sphere effect has a new Rotation Order control. Use this to select an axis combination, which affects the rotation of the sphere in combination with the Rotation X, Y, and Z controls.
- Sync Settings now uses a different protocol for communicating with the Creative Cloud servers. As a part of this change, the Use Settings From A Different Account command now only downloads the settings from the account, it no longer leaves Sync Settings logged into that account when you restart After Effects.
- Projects saved by After Effects CC 2017 (14.0) are not directly compatible with After Effects CC 2015.3 (13.8) and earlier. To save a project for use in After Effects CC 2015.3, CC 2015, or CC 2014, choose File > Save As > Save a Copy As CC (13).
Notable Bug Fixes
- On macOS 10.12 Sierra, pressing the Return key to rename a layer, footage, effect, or other item works as expected again. The name is no longer automatically deleted and replaced by a hidden line break character, which would cause any expressions that referenced the item to break.
- On macOS 10.12 Sierra, the Show Guides and Clear Guides commands in the View menu are no longer labeled “Lock Guides” and “Show Grid”, respectively.
- On macOS 10.12 Sierra, some panel-specific keyboard shortcuts (e.g. set viewer resolution with Command+J, Command+Shift+J, or Command+Option+J) no longer stop working after using a shortcut in a different panel.
- On macOS 10.12 Sierra, there is no longer an extraneous Show Tab Bar command at the top of the View menu.
- Layers in a pre-comp without audio no longer twirl open their properties when you click on a layer switch, nor do they have superfluous audio properties, if they were added to the pre-comp after a layer with audio was added.
- The Blend Colors Using 1.0 Gamma option in Project Settings > Color Settings is no longer disabled when opening a project last saved with it enabled.
- Trimming a layer using keyboard shortcuts (Option/Alt + [ or ]) during a preview now trims the layer to the current-time indicator as expected, not the preview-time indicator.
- Cached frames are now correctly invalidated when missing fonts become available, or an available font becomes missing.
- Dragging the composition or layer origin point from the rulers is no longer offset from the mouse pointer position on Apple Retina displays.
- Looping audio scrub (click and hold on the current-time indicator while holding the Command (macOS) or CTRL (Windows) key) now loops from the CTI position, instead of 3 frames prior.
- Previews no longer experience a 2-second delay before playback is real-time, after the preview completes caching and playback loops from the beginning. However, there remains a bug that if the Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-time and Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels preferences are both enabled, there will be a 2-second delay before audio starts playing. (To work around this, we recommend that you either disable the Hardware Accelerate preference, or both disable the Mute Audio When Preview Is Not Real-time preference and enable the Cache Before Playback option in the Preview panel. We are continuing to investigate this bug for a future update.)
- Holding the spacebar to reposition vertices while drawing masks or shapes no longer sometimes causes playback to start.
- AME once again renders fields as expected from fielded sources in an After Effects composition, when field order is specified in AME’s export settings.
- Scripts that call importFile() in a for loop to import After Effects projects no longer imports the wrong project if the previous imported project’s name is alphabetically after the name of the last folder item imported in the previous project.
- Command-line rendering no longer fails to log data for the last frame of a render item.
- After Effects no longer crashes if you move the eyedropper over the preview thumbnail area in the Project panel.
- After Effects no longer crashes on start if a plug-in is loaded from a directory with an extremely long file path.
- Fixed several causes of crashes when After Effects is started or quit.