After Effects 5
at a Glance

Maker: Adobe
Price: $1,499 Production Bundle/$649 standard edition
Platforms: Macintosh and Windows

Overall Impression: Adobe After Effects is an absolutely essential component in any effects and compositing workflow. After Effects 5 takes this essential suite to the next level with incredibly powerful new tools. It's a pleasure to work with, and, of course, its features make it one of the all-time great applications for video professionals, whether you're new to After Effects or thinking of upgrading from version 4.1, whether you use the standard edition or the Production Bundle.

Key Benefits: AE 5 is a dramatic improvement over AE 4.1, which wasn't at all bad to start with. The new 3D compositing, parenting and expressions features make it a truly valuable tool for the most complex work. For the Production Bundle, the new effects alone justify the $800 difference in price from the standard edition, but you get a whole host of other advanced features included in the deal: keying tools, time displacement, rendering and particle simulation tools, motion tools and, of course, 16-bit per channel color.

Disappointments: Render times can be excruciatingly long, but we hope this will be rectified with the next release of the ICE accelerator board for AE. The Advanced Renderer is still in beta. And the Render Engine (for network rendering) supports only image sequences.

Recommendation: Must Buy


Weekly Newsletter!

Sign up for Mac Alert, the weekly newsletter from the producers of Creative Mac. You'll get news, reviews, features and tutorials, all delivered to your e-mail box.

Sign up now!


Our Related Sites

Creative Mac

Animation Artist
Digital Animators

Digital Pro Sound

Digital Media Designer

Presentation Master

Digital Webcast

AV Video
Digital Post Production
Digital Producer
Digital Video Editing
DV Format
DVD Creation
Film & Video Magazine

Our Related User Forums
Creative Mac
View All Forums A-Z
Mac Sites We Like

Ramseeker PowerBook CentralMacinsteinLowEndMacMacs OnlyMacWindowsGo2MacMacSpeedzoneMacReviewzone


REVIEW JULY 11, 2001
Adobe After Effects 5 Production Bundle
[Page 2 of 8]

Integration: vector text from Photoshop?
When it comes to integration with other Adobe products, it's a wash between the standard edition and the Production Bundle. Both get vast improvements over 4.1, particularly with respect to Photoshop. You can import Photoshop files as comps, as in 4.1, and you can preserve layers, layer effects, adjustment layers, alpha channels, transfer modes and masks, with support for up to 127 masks per layer. I've also mentioned in a separate tutorial that AE 5 can import Photoshop 6 PDF files, which means you can bring resolution-independent text (and other vector objects) into After Effects from Photoshop while preserving transparency, which has never before been the case, even when exporting Photoshop files in Illustrator format. In other words, you can bring text out of Photoshop (This might be a marketing oversight on Adobe's part, so take advantage of it while you can.)

Adobe After Effects 5 Production Bundle
As seen here, text brought in from Photoshop in PDF format
can be continuously rasterized in After Effects 5.

With Illustrator files, After Effects can import layered files as comps, resize layers without losing resolution, apply Illustrator paths as masks or motion points and preserve transparency and transfer modes with Illustrator 9 files. You can continually rasterize in both 2D and 3D layer modes.

Finally, After Effects can import Premiere projects as comps, with each video, audio and still clip appearing on its own layer in the proper time sequence. After Effects filters included with Premiere 6 are also imported. In addition, you can embed a link in the After Effects movies you output so that you can use the Edit Original command in Premiere to open the original project.

Video effects
The standard edition of AE 5 doesn't get a whole lot of new effects, but the Production Bundle does. In the standard edition, new effects include:

  • Image Control: Colorama.
  • Render: Fractal, Radio Waves and Vegas.
  • Simulation: Card Dance, Caustics, Foam, Shatter and Wave World.
  • Transition: Card Wipe.

All of the Simulation effects are new and quite good, but, on the whole, it's not a great, giant gain in the effects category over the standard edition of version 4.1. The story is radically different in the Production Bundle. While some of the effects were available in the previous Production Bundle, quite a few are new, including several tools that match up with AE 5's 3D capabilities and others acquired from the purchase of Cycore's Cult Effects package.

Adobe After Effects 5 Vector Paint
Vector Paint in AE 5 allows you to draw strokes directly
in the Comp window, animate them over time and create
"wiggle" effects for a "frame by frame" look.

The one everybody seems most interested in is the Vector Paint effect, new to AE 5, but not new to users of Cult Effects. Vector Paint allows you literally to paint strokes onto your Comp window and animate these strokes over time. These strokes can also be used to create mattes for revealing portions of a layer beneath a stroke or other effects. The concept of the Vector Paint effect is a nice one, although it is somewhat limited. For example, you're not going to be able to create strokes that look like natural media; you just get to choose between an airbrush and a standard paintbrush, such as those found in Photoshop. Nevertheless, this is a versatile tool, offering real-time playback of strokes or keyframed playback. It also offers "wiggle control" for creating a jittery, frame by frame look. The effect is also supposed to accept input from pressure-sensitive tablets to control stroke radius and/or opacity, although, in my experience, this works only intermittently.

GO TO PAGE [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Complete, Home ]

Post a message in the Creative Mac World Wide User Group.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]