Adobe After Effects 5.0 Demos
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After Effects 5 Highlights

3D compositing
Vector paint tools
New visual effects
Enhanced masking
Enhanced RAM previews
Tighter integration with
other Adobe apps

More enhancements
Output to Flash (SWF)
16-bit per channel color support
 Output files larger than 2 GB
Interface tweaks



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After Effects 5 Goes 3D
Exclusive After Effects 5 QuickTime demos and tutorials!

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Adobe has finally announced the forthcoming release of After Effects 5.0, the company's long-awaited (but still unavailable) update to its video compositing and effects suite. The new version includes a huge number of changes, including new 3D compositing capabilities, some new filters from the company's just-announced acquisition of Cycore's Cult Effects and 16-bit per channel color support (in the Production Bundle only). We have exclusive footage of After Effects 5 (created by our in house production staff at DMN TV), along with some introductory tutorials from Total Training and demonstrations of the product from Adobe.

We also had a chance to speak with After Effects Senior Product Manager Steve Kilisky from Adobe regarding the new release.

3D compositing
The new version includes dramatic changes from AE 4.1, though the changes are designed to remain in the background until the user chooses to employ them. Chief among these changes is 3D compositing—the ability to manipulate layers and layer data in 3D, including layer intersections, for adding shadows and other effects.

At press time, Adobe was in the process of optimization of the final shipping product. In other words, they've got the product running (currently in beta) and are now making things operate faster, particularly 3D rendering.

"3D rendering is definitely more calculation-intensive than 2D rendering," said Kilisky. "Our goal is to be faster than [Discreet's] Combustion for 3D rendering. This release is the biggest release we've ever done."

The 3D compositing features are activated on a layer by layer basis by clicking a box in the timeline. Leaving the 3D features deactivated on 2D layers will speed up rendering, while also leaving these layers unaffected by camera or lighting animation.

adobe after effects 5.0 3d compositing
The checkboxes (highlighted in red) for
activating 3D compositing mode.

The new 3D capabilities were not, as some had expected, the result of Adobe's acquisition of Canoma from the company formerly known as MetaCreations. Rather, it was an internal development from the ground up, according to Kilisky.

Adobe After Effects 5 3D compositing
The Active Camera view (left) is used to arrange footage. Positions of
layers in space is accomplished through a Custom View (right). The
path of the animated camera is visible on the right.

After Effects 5 introduces several animation features, including multiple cameras and lights for position, rotation and orientation. You can also automatically orient 3D layers toward a camera or animate lights and cameras along a path or toward a point of interest you define. You have the ability to create an unlimited number of lights and define each one's properties individually. You can also edit each light's shadow-casting properties.

You can also specify material properties that define how a light affects the
surface of a layer, as well as how layers interact with lights. You can define and animate Ambient, Diffusion, Specular and Shininess values.

On the camera side, you can create multiple cameras, each with their own individual properties, such as a wide-angle 15 mm preset or a 200 mm lens.
In addition to standard preset lenses, you can create and save custom camera presets. The cameras themselves can be animated, as well as their properties, and you can cut to different cameras at any time.

The rendering itself is handled by a plugin rendering engine with basic rendering capabilities. Adobe's Kilisky told us that an advanced renderer, which will handle antialiased layer intersections, among other things, will be available in the form of a public beta the day of After Effects' launch. Adobe is also leaving its architecture open for third-party developers to create their own rendering plugins.

Vector painting in the Production Bundle
The new version of After Effects also includes tools for vector painting, a technology integrated into the program via Adobe's acquisition of Cycore's Cult Effects package (previously known as CE Paint). In its latest incarnation, Adobe has added a number of features, as well as Adobefied the Paint interface.

The nondestructive vector paint tools in After Effects 5 range from strokes that reveal an image over time to animated cartoons and painted textures that change from frame to frame. Brush controls allow the user to specify how the strokes will look, including radius, color and opacity. Users can also choose whether strokes are recorded to the current frame, to sequential frames, in real time or continuously.

Other features of the vector paint tools include:

  • Onion Skin mode for cell-style animations;
  • Playback options for using paint strokes in a variety of ways, including adjusting mattes and other types of adjustments;
  • "Wiggle" controls provide additional options for creating a hand-animated look, as well as a variety of special effects;
  • Options for controlling how paint strokes interact with the layer they appear on.

Paint strokes can also be used to reveal an underlying image by using the paint strokes as a track matte, or they could be composited in the alpha channel of the original image to create an animated image mask.

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