Adobe recently released a nice update to After Effects for Creative Cloud subscribers. Todd Kopriva of Adobe has provided an exhaustive list of what’s new in his blog. I’ve also added to my After Effects: Creative Cloud Updates course on lynda.com to demonstrate my favorites among the new features, including:
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.
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 Aescripts.com, 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.
Although I’m primarily known as an Adobe After Effects user and motion graphics artist, my background is in the music industry. Over the years I’ve found a sympathy for sound to be a big benefit to video professionals: timing animations to your project’s sound increases the impact of your visuals. Inversely, strictly focusing on the visual elements of your edits without serving the sound can distract the viewer, and dilute the overall impact.
I’ve recently distilled years of experience creating visuals to sound into a two-and-a-half-hour video course of exercises and real-world examples, Editing and Animating to Sound in Adobe After Effects. I start with the basics of learning how to “read” an audio waveform to spot the timing of beats in music, and then cut video, build animations, and even drive effects using the audio in your project. I also include a list of “magic tempos” you can hand to musicians so they can create a soundtrack at a speed that makes editing and animating easier.
One of our priorities in the creation of the After Effects Apprentice video series is that it be relevant for a large number of users. So last fall we gave it a major update for CS6 users, and the day after After Effects Creative Cloud was released we updated it again for CC users. This now makes the After Effects Apprentice series compatible with all After Effects versions since CS5. Premium subscribers using After Effects CC should download and use the CS6 version of the exercise files.
Better blurring, snapping, scaling, and more
In this final blog about some of the new features Adobe has revealed for an upcoming version of After Effects, I turn my attention to some small enhancements that fans have long been waiting for and that promise to save users a lot of time.
Some of the best new features in After Effects don’t necessarily affect the images you see on screen, but make life easier while you’re working with those images. One such feature is the new snapping behavior in After Effects. It lets you easily align an edge, corner, center point, or even mask vertex of one layer with a similar (or dissimilar) feature of another layer. It even works in 3D, including finding the center of an extruded 3D shape, and snapping to individual letters in a per-character 3D text animation. This will make building virtual worlds and objects much easier in After Effects.
Muybridge sequence courtesy Dover
Warp Stabilizer VFX and 3D Camera Tracker enhancements
Next in my review of significant new features that Adobe has revealed for an upcoming version of After Effects, let’s look at enhancements to the Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker tools already available in After Effects.
Warp Stabilizer VFX
Many treat Warp Stabilizer as an apply-it-and-done stabilization effect. Now it looks poised to become a serious visual effects tool in its own right with the ability to take on many of the tasks you might have previously reserved for a motion tracker.
For example, in addition to stabilizing footage, you will now be able to reverse a stabilization. That means you can stabilize a shot for the sake of applying effects to it (including the After Effects Paint tool, which is rendered as an effect), and then reverse the stabilization to restore the original camera movement to the affected painted shot. The camera motion calculated in the original, unstabilized shot can also be applied to another layer to composite it onto the original.
Refine Edge: A new way to deal with hair
As you no doubt know by now, Adobe has started to reveal some plans for its next generation of pro video tools. I’ve had the privilege of working with a pre-release version of Adobe After Effects, and recorded two hours of lynda.com training about it. In this blog, I’ll give you an overview of the Refine Edge tool, an important addition to the Roto Brush technology that will make rotoscoping hair and other soft, detailed areas much easier than ever before.
Roto Brush and Refine Edge
The Roto Brush tool in After Effects has been significantly upgraded with the addition of a companion Refine Edge tool. To review, Roto Brush allows you to make a series of general paint strokes defining the foreground and background areas of an image (such as an actor over a complex background—in other words, not green screen). With this information, as well as judicious tweaking of its propagation parameters, Roto Brush then detects the edge between the foreground and background, and creates a matte. When used properly (as demonstrated in my course After Effects Apprentice 13: Paint, Roto, and Puppet), it can greatly reduce the labor involved in cutting elements out of video.
Adobe has started to reveal some plans for its next generation of pro video tools. Using a prerelease version of After Effects, I’ve recorded two hours of videos for lynda.com to keep you ahead of the curve. Over the course of a few blogs, I’ll fill you in on some of the interesting features that are on tap. First up, the new integration between After Effects and CINEMA 4D.
Live 3D pipeline between After Effects and CINEMA 4D
A couple of weeks ago, Adobe and MAXON issued a press release announcing a “strategic alliance … to bring creative professionals new levels of digital media content creation.” Buried inside that release was the intriguing statement that “As part of the alliance, both companies are expected to collaborate and engineer a pipeline between Adobe After Effects software and CINEMA 4D to give users a seamless 2D/3D foundation.” Now we can finally see what they were hinting at.