After Effects CC 12.1 Update Announced

Published by | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Leading up to the annual IBC trade show in Amsterdam, Adobe has announced major updates to the Creative Cloud versions of its video software, including Premiere Pro and After Effects. As a longtime After Effects user, I’m particularly excited about some of the updates appearing in this next version.

AE CC Mask Tracker

The new Rigid Mask Tracker.

One of the most interesting new features is a Rigid Mask Tracker. Users have long been asking for a way to connect AE’s motion tracker to mask points for easier masking of moving footage. To date, we’ve been working around this by using solutions like the Tracker2Mask script from, or the combination of mocha and its “shapes” as track mattes (demonstrated in Chapter 3 of my course After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques). In the next version of After Effects, when selecting an existing mask, the Tracker panel will track the region of the frame defined by the mask’s shape and transform that shape over time as the object moves from frame to frame. As suggested by the name, the object you’re tracking must maintain roughly the same shape—such as a window or poster as opposed to a person running— although it can change scale and perspective over time. And since the result is a normal animated mask path, you can edit the mask’s points after the fact.

AE CC Detail Scale

The new Detail-preserving upscale effect

Another significant area of improvement comes in scaling layers. The initial release of After Effects CC includes an additional Quality option for layers: Bicubic (demonstrated in chapter 4 of my course After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates). In this next update, we will get a new Detail-preserving Upscale effect that can be applied to layers, which allows you to tweak Reduce Noise and Edge Contrast parameters in addition to setting your new scale. Additionally, the workhorse Transform effect gets a Bicubic option for its scaling. (If you’re not familiar with Transform, it gets a workout in the course After Effects Apprentice 08: Nesting and Precomposing—especially in Chapter 6.)

There are numerous other improvements on tap, including in the areas of performance (to wit, Warp Stabilizer VFX and the 3D Camera Tracker can now use more than one processor core to perform analysis), file format compatibility (CMYK JPEGs are supported at last!), and much more. Check back, as I’ll be adding a new chapter to my course After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates when this new version is made available to Creative Cloud customers.

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