at a Glance
Price: $1,499 Production Bundle/$649 standard
Platforms: Macintosh and Windows
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.
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.
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.
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JULY 11, 2001
After Effects 5 Production Bundle
[Page 2 of 8]
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.)
As seen here, text brought in
from Photoshop in PDF format
can be continuously rasterized in After Effects 5.
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.
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.
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
Fractal, Radio Waves and Vegas.
Card Dance, Caustics, Foam, Shatter and Wave World.
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.
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
TO PAGE [ 1, 2, 3,
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
Mac and Digital
Media Designer; and executive producer of
Media Net family of publications.