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.
up for Mac
the weekly newsletter from the producers of Creative Mac. You'll
get news, reviews, features and tutorials, all delivered to your
JULY 11, 2001
After Effects 5 Production Bundle
[Page 5 of 8]
Some of the other big draws for the After Effects 5 Production Bundle
are its keying and matte tools. For keying, the package includes Color
Difference Key, Color Range, Difference Matte, Extract, Inner Outer
Key, Linear Color Key and Spill Suppressor. Matte tools include Simple
Choker and Matte Choker. The Keying Pack included in the Production
Bundle offers precise control over keying. The
Linear Color Key creates a key from RGB, hue or chroma values you specify.
The Color Difference key creates combination mattes for difficult areas,
such as smoke and glass. The Spill Suppressor helps remove key color
traces from light reflecting onto a subject. The Simple Choker cleans
up dirty mattes, while the Matte Choker chokes and spreads the matte
to create clean edges.
Other new goodies
that don't quite fit into any other category include:
- After Effects
5 breaks the 2 GB file size limit.
- It can output
directly to the Flash format (SWF). However, you better not be
thinking of AE 5 as a replacement for a Flash authoring program.
The output capabilities are limited to animation and just the
most basic interactive elements. Plus, the output isn't always
very good. Images can look bad, and playback can be buggy.
- Specify a
different starting timecode for each composition. Frequently
used composition settings can be saved as custom presets.
- Ability to
specify Motion Blur shutter angles up to 720 degrees for each
composition and phase controls that determine when the shutter
opens relative to the start of each frame.
- Preview a
- Create and
save custom Workspaces.
- Change the
sequence in which effects are applied to a layer by dragging to
reorder them directly in the Timeline window.
- For keyframes,
you can drag up or down over more than one stopwatch to animate
- The Effect
Controls window now includes stopwatches for setting keyframes.
- Markers can
now be locked, and Transfer Modes now appear in a panel that can
be hidden or displayed independently.
- You can preview
footage and comps that use a non-square pixel aspect ratio without
distortion by choosing Pixel Aspect Correction.
footage playback is also improved.
So we've looked at a lot of the new features in AE 5 that are sort
of at the periphery of the core suite. This is because, at the core,
the standard edition and the Production Bundle are essentially the
same, so it's hard to compare the two. When I speak of "the
core," I mean all of the new basic compositing features that
come with version 5.03D capabilities, parenting and scripting
(Expressions), as well as some new output features.
Chief among the new core features in AE 5 is 3D compositingthe
ability to manipulate layers and layer data in 3D, including layer
intersections, for adding shadows and other Effects. 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.
The original 2D layer
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.
TO PAGE [ 1, 2,
5, 6, 7,
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.