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Design with More Control and Performance Improvements in After Effects CC

Design with More Control and Performance Improvements in After Effects CC

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This Fall, After Effects CC artists get more creative control and performance improvements to help meet ever-tighter deadlines. And if you’ve always wanted to get into After Effects but didn’t know where to start, friendly new Home and Learn panels give you the guidance you need to be successful.

Faster, more precise animation and compositing

As a longtime motion designer, I know how important it is to have flexible tools. Earlier this year, we took that idea literally: the After Effects team introduced a new Advanced Puppet Engine that gives users more control over Puppet Tool deformations. This fall, we are adding two new pin types that open up whole new ways to animate. Bend, twist, scale, and warp your layers with new Advanced Pins and Bend Pins that take Mesh Sculpting to a whole new level.

Adjust the position, scale, and rotation of pins to add a sense of depth to your deformations — or try using them as a sort of free-form mesh warp tool. They make it easier to build more complex animation quickly, and they’re a ton of fun to play with.

We’re also working to smooth out some of the workflow gaps that can appear when combining assets from many different sources. Here’s one I always found puzzling: I could create 3D layers in After Effects, but the 3D Channel effects only worked with renders generated by other applications. You want to make 3D composites look natural, no matter where your 3D content comes from, so we’re enabling you to access depth passes for native 3D layers. Read Z-depth data from any 3D composition using either the Classic 3D or CINEMA 4D renderer: simply apply 3D Channel effects (Depth Matte, Depth of Field, Fog 3D) directly to a 3D precomp, or use 3D Channel Extract to access the depth pass directly for other purposes. And, as a bonus, 3D Channel Extract is now 32 bit.

But my favorite new feature is under the hood: we’ve built a new JavaScript expressions engine. Not only is it built on modern frameworks, which means access to all kinds of new coding techniques, it’s up to 5x faster. We’ve also added much-requested UI niceties like a monospace font in the editor, and auto resizing. Most existing expressions should be forward-compatible (though the legacy engine is still an option if you enjoy writing code like it’s 1999). Plus, you now can enable or disable all expressions on selected layers with a simple switch, get clearer error messages, and use hexadecimal values in color expressions, making it easier to link color parameters to color values in data sources. It may not be as visually exciting as some of the other things we have on the way, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful updates.

We’re trading features with Premiere Pro

Lots of you asked for a great time-saving feature from Premiere Pro: Responsive Design – Time, which lets you create regions where animation maintains precise timing, even as you time-stretch your graphics. Now it’s available in After Effects, with added flexibility. Easily freeze intros and outros, or use the work area to select a custom region to protect.

Time stretch your composition, without having to worry about shifting keyframes around for every instance. Works great with Master Properties, too. Export your composition as a Motion Graphics template to give Premiere editors the same control: it’s especially handy for reusable graphics like lower thirds that animate on and off.

On the other side, Premiere Pro users have been asking for access to After Effects’ tools for data-driven animation. You can now design spreadsheet-driven infographic templates, and editors can update their content dynamically by updating their data.

Additionally, new Motion Graphics template authoring improvements allow you to hand off uncluttered Motion Graphics templates with editable parameters organized into groups with custom headings and twirl-downs for showing and hiding each set of controls. You can also allow editors to change various font properties — which ones they have access to are up to you. (This one was a popular request from After Effects and Premiere users alike.)

We also have some fabulous color features coming to both applications. With innovative Lumetri Color tools for selective color grading, you get powerful new curve adjustments, such as Hue vs. Hue, or Luma vs. Saturation, so you can fine-tune selected colors with ease and accuracy. And, to ensure things look right across different types of displays, Display Color Management in both Premiere Pro and After Effects will automatically detect rec709, P3, and rec2020 displays and apply the correct color space for viewing.

Speed boosts

The team has been hard at work on performance optimizations that should make things feel faster overall while you work.

We’re also replacing the bundled version of Mocha with a new GPU-accelerated Mocha Plug-In. Mocha AE tracks surfaces faster and more accurately with a simplified interface and Retina/high DPI support for high-resolution displays — all without leaving After Effects.

And we’ve GPU-accelerated nine more effects, including Color Balance (HLS), Curves, Fill, Exposure, Noise, Tritone, and Set Matte. Wave Warp and Median are now multi-threaded and running faster on the CPU.

Format support improvements enable you to work faster with hardware-accelerated decoding of H.264 and HEVC video on macOS. You’ll also be able to import files encoded with the HAP codec. New support for VR 180 immersive content in VR effects enables you to work interchangeably with 180 and 360 material — and output finished videos in the Google VR180 format for viewing on YouTube or other platforms.

There are so many other great things coming in this release, like group invitations for Team Projects and a Theatre Mode for previewing flat video in an HMD. We can’t wait to share them with you.

Join the conversation

If you have questions about these new and updated features, visit us in the After Effects Forum — it’s the best place to have a conversation with us. If you’d like to submit feature requests or bug reports, you can do so at this page.

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