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Adobe Debuts After Effects 6.0

Standard and Pro versions gain new effects, performance improvements, OpenGL support By Dave Nagel
Adobe today announced the upcoming release of After Effects 6.0. The new version brings several new features to the company's compositing and motion graphics package, including OpenGL support, new effects and performance improvements, as well as a new pricing structure for the standard and Pro editions. It's expected to be available in August for Mac OS X and Windows.

After Effects 6.0 adds several performance improvements, including the adoption of OpenGL for both 2D and 3D layers. This allows for nearly instant results when making adjustments, such as transformations, changes to lights and cameras, etc. It also provides improvements in timeline scrubbing. Adobe also says that After Effects 6.0 gains enhanced multiprocessor support for improved rendering speeds.

After Effects 6.0 also gains drastically improved text functionality, adopting the same text engine as that found in Photoshop 7. This includes the addition of floating text palette for character and paragraph control. When importing text from a Photoshop file, it retains its editability. AE 6 also adds a Text tool to the main tool palette for entering text directly on the canvas and allows you to include multiple text characteristics in a single text layer (typeface, color, kerning, etc.) And text can be animated on a letter by letter, section by section or layer by layer while maintaining editability.

The new version also adopts a Photoshop-like paint tool, allowing users to paint directly on the canvas with brushes that can be customized for size, softness, roundness, angle, spacing, opacity, flow, duration and other characteristics. Brushes can be saved and loaded, as in Photoshop, and can be manipulated using pressure and tilt with Wacom tablets. A Clone Stamp tool has also been added to the main Tool palette.

For effects, the update offers a total of 65 filters that support 16-bit color in the Professional edition, including Alpha Levels, Bulge, Color Difference Key, Corner Pin, Difference Matte, Displacement Map, Extract, Fractal Noise, Inner/Outer Key, Linear Color Key, Matte Choker, Optics Compensation, Simple Choker, Spill Suppressor and Time Displacement. Both versions also gain the following effects, carried over from the AE 5.5 Power Pack: 3D Glasses, Calculations, Change to Color, Channel Combiner, Checkerboard, Circle, Color Link, Eyedropper Fill, Magnify, Noise Alpha, Noise HLS, Noise HLS Auto, Paint Bucket, Radial Shadow, Solid Composite and Turbulent Displace.

Other new effects include Liquify, Scribble, Dust & Scratches and Warp. Liquify is similar to the Photoshop tool of the same name and offer the ability to distort using smears, twirls and the like. Warp offers the ability to use animated warp styles, such as bulges, waves and arcs, along with control over bend and distortion properties. The Dust & Scratches filter is designed to clean up dust, scratches and other artifacts. And Scribble creates the look of hand-drawn sketch effects.

Other new features include:

  • Tighter integration with Photoshop, including preserving of layers in a PSD image sequence; ability to match the bounding box of a Photoshop file to the comp size in AE (as well as with Illustrator files); ability to reorder layers in a Photoshop comp while maintaining links; preservation of guides on import; and preservation of text editability;
  • Improved handling of solids;
  • Enhancements to masking, including the ability to turn channels into masks with a new Auto-trace feature;
  • New RotoBezier masks for precise rotoscoping;
  • Placeholders for missing effects when moving projects between systems;
  • Expanded output options;
  • Enhanced printing;
  • Enhanced support for Illustrator files, such as the ability to apply masks to layers that have the Continuously Rasterize option checked;
  • 24PA pulldown for use with 24P DV camcorders;
  • Color-coded graphs in the timeline;
  • Support for files with long file names;
  • Several other interface and timeline improvements.

The P{ro version also includes Digital Anarchy's 3D Assistants Lite and also gains a new motion tracker and keying tools. The motion tracker has been completely redesigned and offers performance improvements and functionality enhancements, including the ability to track unlimited points, along with a new tracking interface in the form of a floating palette. The new keying tool is called Keylight and has been adopted from the technology developed by the Computer Film Company.

After Effects 6.0 will be available by the end of August for Mac OS X and Windows. The Pro version runs $999. The standard edition runs $699. Upgrades from the AE 5.5 Production Bundle to the AE 6.0 Pro version cost $299; upgrades from the 5.5 standard edition to the 6.0 standard edition cost $199; and upgrades from the 5.5 standard edition to the 6.0 Professional version cost $499. For more information, visit

Contact the author: 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, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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