Tag: ae

#mochat 88 – After Effects 13.0

Last week, Adobe released version 13 of After Effects as part of the Creative Cloud 2014 update. This week on #mochat, several members from the After Effects team at Adobe joined us to answer questions about the update. For a lengthy description of what’s new and changed, see Todd Kopriva’s extensive writeup on the After Effects blog.

Some of the top features called out in the chat are:

  • Effect Masks/Compositing – Opacity settings and masks per effect (even third party). Combined with the mask tracker, this is a pretty powerful feature.
  • Editable Text Templates for Premiere Pro – Unlocked text layers are editable in Premiere Pro through Dynamic Link. More on AE/Premiere Pro integration. And with expressions, editable text templates can provide some unexpected functionality.
  • New Curves UI/Functions – Larger UI in three sizes, new auto-settings. The new UI is the result of feature requests (so make sure you submit yours). The new auto settings are the result of user research.
  • HTML5 Panels – New UI panels built around HTML and Javascript. ExtendScript is still used for control over AE. SDK and more info is available at the Adobe Developer Connection.

When upgrading, it’s pretty easy to migrate settings, plugins, and scripts. Very few changes were made to the plugin architecture. The only notable incompatibility seems to be Element 3D.

A few interesting tidbits arose during the chat. The most notable might be that the raytrace renderer is EOL. 3D efforts will be instead focussed on Cinema 4D and supporting 3D plugins. No major changes to Cineware were made in this release. Also, pseudo/custom effects are not actually supported by Adobe. Though there’s a lot of interest on the user side of officially implementing something like this. Lastly background rendering can be accomplished in Adobe Media Encoder, which now supports 32-bit and alpha channels. It still does not support color management, but a workaround is to use an adjustment layer with Color Profile Converter inside of AE.

And direct from Adobe, these are the sites to keep an eye on: After Effects Blog, After Effects Forum, After Effects FAQ, and of course the Feature Request Form.

Read on for the full transcript of the chat.

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#mochat 79 – Red Giant Universe

On our last #mochat, we were lucky enough to have Harry Frank and Ruth Pierich from Red Giant Software to answer a few questions about Red Giant Universe. A few point brought up during the chat…

  • It’s still in beta, so abuse it and submit bug reports.
  • Everything GPU based.
  • Updates cab be turned around really quickly.
  • No Autodesk support… yet.
  • New plugins can be voted on by premium users.

And the next day, Ruth posted this link for prospective developers of Universe plugins.

Read on for the full transcript…

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Color Linking in After Effects

Learn how to link color across your entire project. In this tutorial, I show how you can use a color expression control to drive color for text across a project. This can also be used for shape layers or any other single-color element. Why would you do this instead of just setting all colors individually? This makes it easier to change colors for a few reasons—in my case, while I’m concepting, for later client changes, and versioning a video to different brand/product/style colors.

As you use this technique, I’d recommend defining color controls based on the color use, rather than the color itself. For example, I have “Item”, “Brands”, and “Price Point” instead of just “Blue”, “Gray”, and “Red”. This makes it easier later when colors inevitably change.

Steps in this tutorial:

  • Setup a comp, in my case called “_control”.
  • Create a new adjustment layer and Add an expression control – Effects:Expression Controls:Color Control.
  • Lock Effects panel so it is still visible from other comps.
  • Add a Fill effect to the text layer you want to control – Effects:Generate:Fill.
  • Option-/Alt-click the stopwatch for color.
  • Pickwhip the color control to your expression control.
  • Copy & paste effect or text layer as much as needed.
  • Change the color control as needed and see it reflected across your project.

Week in Motion – Dec. 20th

“Week in Motion” is a series of posts where we will cover a few motion design related events that occurred during the past week. These might be bigger posts/announcements you have heard, or some smaller things that slipped through the cracks. This week:

Krakatoa for Cinema 4D was announced.

ArtSmart v2 was released on Cineversity featuring some nice updates.

Ryan Summers posted Crazy Robo – Animation Test featuring some nice C4D animation and particles created in Photoshop.

Shader Effector for After Effects. SHADER EFFECTOR. AFTER EFFECTS.

Video Copilot released a new model pack for Element 3D: Future City Pack. Oh, it’s free.

Beeple just being awesome again. This time for The Glitch Mob’s Can’t Kill Us music video.

Greyscalegorilla has 40% off everything today only using code “40OFFGSG”

The Mac Pro is finally available for order, though you might have to wait until February or March to actually get one.

Slightly older, but Pantone announced on Dec. 5th that the color of 2014 is officially Radiant Orchid. (You can also view past colors of the year.)

What did you see happen this week?

#mochat 57 – Adobe AE 12.1 Talk

One of the things Adobe promised with the move to Creative Cloud as a more rapid release cycle with important, but perhaps not blockbuster features. They are definitely coming through with that promise with the upcoming release of After Effects 12.1.

This week on #mochat, Steve Forde, Todd Kopriva, and Michelle Galina were kind enough to answer your questions on the upcoming release. The features which seemed to get the most attention in the chat were

  • Rigid Mask Tracker
  • Property Linking
  • Center Anchor Point commands
  • Spring Loaded Folders
  • GPU usage improvements (OptiX 3)

There were also several feature requests made during the chat, including:

  • Über-twirl (Timeline folders)
  • NLE-based footage layer (think Premiere timeline, but editable in AE)
  • KB shortcut for closing other timeline panels
  • Better color swatch handling

All-in-all, another great chat! I’m very grateful to the Adobe team for helping out and taking everyone’s questions. Read on for the transcript…

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MoChat 13 Transcript & Summary

Earlier this week on MoChat, we discussed round-tripping between various apps. The most common transitions seem to be PS/AI>AE, C4D>AE, AE>NLE. Some of the highlights of the chat:

  • Dynamic Link between AE & Premiere Pro can work well if you know the limitations.
  • Info on interchange between After Effects and other Adobe apps.
  • AE CS6 has the functionality of Automatic Duck from their acquisition last year.
  • People tend to prefer importing AI & PSD at layer size, but importing at doc size can have its benefits.
  • ⌘/⌃E for editing documents in their original apps from AE.
  • Make sure to have the most recent plugins from Maxon for moving between AE& C4D.
  • PNG works great as an image sequence out of C4D, but can be slow to render out of AE.
  • OpenEXR, RPF, and RLA are other options to look into when rendering out of C4D.
  • If using the new Camera Morth tag in C4D r14, you will want to use AEC files instead of importing the C4D file directly into AE.

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MoChat 9 Transcript & Summary

Last night on MoChat, we talked everything AE scripts. A lot people use scripts, and had many to share. Some of the most popular included BG Renderer, ft_Toolbar, Ease & Wizz, and pt_OpenSesame. I’ve included links to every script mentioned—as well as other resources—along with links to the tweets that mentioned them. Enjoy!




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MoChat 007 Transcript & Summary

Last night, we talked all things plugins for After Effects. The official @AdobeAE account participated, as well as Steve Forde. Some 3rd party plugins that got attention of the night were:

  • GM FoldLayers (as well as the Isolate & Zoro scripts)
  • Nucleo Pro
  • ReelSmart Motion Blur
  • Frischluft Lens Care
  • Element 3D
  • Magic Bullet Looks

Bundled plugins weren’t left out either. Some favorites:

  • Curves
  • Turbulent Displace
  • Turbulent Noise
  • 3D Camera Tracker
  • Box Blur

And briefly, we discussed the issues with licensing/installing plug-ins. The general consensus was Red Giant handles this really well, Video Copilot, not so much. I also asked Adobe if they were considering a standard API (or similar) to allow easier handling of serials/licensing right within AE. It sounded like it was a possibility, though I’m sure not for a long time.

And now, the transcript…
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GM FoldLayers

For a long time now, several people have voiced opinions on wanting to have layer groups in the After Effects Timeline. We even covered it a while back and included a mockup of how it might work. Well, the good people of Goodmotion—pun intended—have just previewed something they’ve been working on: GM FoldLayers.

This plugin appears to intelligently hide/reveal and color layers as a group using Nulls named with a ‘|’ prefix. Take a look at the video (only on Facebook at the time). The best part is this will be a free download. Someone please buy these people beers… lots of them; they deserve it.

Element 3D: First Impressions

Earlier this week, Video Copilot released their highly anticipated Element 3D plugin. I had a bit of time to play with the plugin since this week’s MoChat, and thought I would share my first impressions. This isn’t a full review or tutorial. I haven’t had enough time to invest into learning the plugin quite yet. Rather, I am just recording my initial thoughts while working through the interface. Where I can, I’ll link to Video Copilot’s videos for more in-depth information.


Element UI.

First of all, everyone should be aware of what this plugin is not: a 3D modeling environment within After Effects. It was originaly conceived as a 3D object particle plugin. Even then, it does not contain a physics or dynamics engine. Element does not contain an emitter, either. Rather, it has a replicator which determines where the particle live. I’m sure people will figure out creative ways to fake it (much as people have already pushed the Ray-trace engine in CS6).


What Element is very good at is bringing in static 3D objects to incorporate into your scene. These object can be separated into up to 5 groups, each with their own settings. If an object has multiple pieces, those pieces can be separated and dispersed using the group’s Multi-Object settings. This looks like it will be good for quick shatters or particle dispersion. One trick is to bring pieces of a model in as separate objects. This will give you a bit more flexibility with animation by assigning each piece to a different group. Andrew Kramer demonstrates this quite well with his gun & helicopter models.

Another great feature of Element is extruding a text layer or mask. This is where it directly competes with the ray-trace engine in CS6, and seemed to be one of the more frequent requests of After Effects previously. Element 3D is definitely quicker than the Ray-tracer, and you have some interesting animation options with the Multi-Object settings, but you lose the ability to cast shadows or interact more directly with your AE scene. One thing to watch out for, though, is that when type is separated, i & j dots are also separated, as seen here.

Element 3D render (left) vs C4D render (right)

Bringing in your own objects is also fairly straight-forward. Bonus points for being able to bring in C4D projects & OBJ files. This means you’re not limited to the model packs from Video Copilot (though they are very reasonably priced). You can get models from your choice of sources, including Turbo Squid and The Pixel Lab. This doesn’t mean you’ll get animated objects, cameras, lighting, etc. You’ll just get a static object. And you’ll want to make sure you have a cleaned up project file. All your materials will come in, even if they’re not used. But you’ll need to rebuild your materials within Element.  Your C4D object & materials will come in as all white, at least in my tests. This does make sense since Element is not a Cinema 4D render engine, but custom. [Update: As David Biederbeck demonstrates, if you are using bitmapped textures, you can imply point Element to your texture files and it all works provided you have UVW coordinates. Procedural materials (colors/shaders/noise/gradients/etc…) will not come into Element from the C4D file.]

Options for the Animation Engine

Once you start replicating objects, you can really start to have fun. I mentioned earlier that this isn’t a physics-based particle system, but you still have a lot of control over how particles are produced and transformed, all of which can be keyframed (and subsequently controlled by expressions). Where you really get to do fun things is with the Animation Engine. This is basically a transition between two groups. The immediate use case is almost like an effector with falloff in Cinema 4D. You have control over easing, transition percentage, and even a time delay for position, rotation, scale, and material transitions.

Who’s Ray?

CS6 Ray Trace (top) vs Element 3D (bottom)

At this point, I want to bring up a major difference between Element and the Ray-trace engine (or most any other 3D software). Element is an OpenGL environment, not a ray-trace environment. That means objects & lighting are rendered, but light interaction is not. The biggest example of this is the lack of reflection between particles or objects, and lack of shadows entirely.

Lighting and environments, however, are nicely handled in Element. There are several environment maps (1024×512 PNG files) included, and you can use your own as well, including HDRIs. You are also not limited to setting up lights in your AE comp. Element has pre-built lighting setups to get decent results without too much work.

Compositing within Element

When it comes to compositing, Element can even output separate passes for z-depth, normals, AO, diffuse, specular, refraction, reflection, lighting, illumination and focus. This is one case where it would be nice to have node-based compositing in After Effects. As it stands now, to get each of these passes out of Element separately you’ll need a separate layer, each with it’s own instance of Element, each set to output the different channels. In a node-based system, each channel would be output from a single node without the need to duplicate layers. However, Element does have the ability to adjust the opacity of diffuse, specular, ambient lighting, reflection, refraction, and illumination channels to do a rough composite right in the plugin.

Render, Render, Render…

Lastly, performance of Element was very impressive. I tested it on both a 2010 8-Core Mac Pro w/ Radeon 5870 and a 2012 MacBook Pro w/ GeForce 650M. Both machines performed very well. I actually preferred the performance of the nVidia card over the AMD. Antialiasing especially seemed to be much more accurate. But this serves as a reminder that this plugin is entirely dependent on the GPU, and renders themselves will vary between machines. This is one of the reasons Video Copilot does not recommend using the plugin in a multi-machine render.

Deep Thoughts

There are a few things, though, I wouldn’t mind seeing improved: shadow support (which is apparently in the works), more intuitive saving of presets (you must right-click the model or material), custom preset paths with support for OBJ & C4D files (instead of just the .epack files),support for animated models in OBJ sequences, and ability to expand the lighting setups to the composition.

That said, Element will still definitely have a place in my workflow, mostly for bringing in singular 3D assets (logo, type), or simple Cinema 4D cloner-like animations. Just having the ability to not go back and forth round-tripping Cinema 4D & AE scenes along is worth the cost of entry. If you go for the plugin, I would at least recommend going for the Pro bundle to get the shaders so you can learn how the materials system works in Element.

I have a feeling we’ll see a lot of Element renders in the coming months. Almost as a rule, a lot of the initial uses will be basic shiny spheres and particles, with a few really creative uses. Then, as time goes on, we’ll see some really interesting uses that push Element to its limits.

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