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Adobe unveils Fall 2018 release of After Effects

Thursday, September 13th, 2018 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Adobe has announced the new features coming up in its next update to After Effects, including depth passes for native 3D layers, updates to the Puppet Tool, a new expressions system, and a GPU-based Mocha plugin.

The update – which is referred to simply as the ‘Fall 2018’ release in the video above – was announced at IBC 2018, along with new versions of Character Animator CC, Premiere Pro CC and Audition CC.

Adobe has been changing its version naming recently, but if it sticks to its most recent convention, the update will probably be After Effects CC 16.0.


Access depth data for native 3D layers
Whatever its eventual title, new 3D features in the Fall 2018 update include access to Z-depth data for native 3D layers as well as content imported from external DCC applications.

Artists can access a 32-bit depth pass directly using 3D Channel Extract, or apply depth-related effects – Depth Matte, Depth of Field and Fog 3D – directly to a 3D precomp.


New motion graphics features from Premiere Pro CC
The update also adds motion graphics features from Premiere Pro CC, including Responsive Design – Time, intended to help create graphics that “respond intelligently to changes in duration and layer positioning”.

Among other things, users can choose to fix regions of the timeline when time-stretching motion graphics – for example, to prevent the timing of intros and outros from changing.

Users of Motion Graphics templates, designed for exchanging presets between After Effects and Premiere Pro users, can now expose font properties, or arrange controls in custom groups.

Templates also now support After Effects’ data-driven animation toolset, added in the October 2017 update.


Advanced Puppet tool gets new Advanced Pin and Bend Pin types
The Advanced Puppet tool for warping 2D layers, introduced in After Effects CC 15.1, gets a further update.

The new Advanced Pin type enables users to adjust the position, rotation and scale of the surrounding part of a layer, creating the illusion of 3D deformation, as shown in the video above.

Bend Pins move with the 2D mesh, and are designed for adding secondary animation.

New expressions editor and GPU-accelerated effects
Under the hood, the Fall 2018 update adds a new expressions engine for automating tasks. Like its predecessor, it’s based on JavaScript, but is “built on modern frameworks” and is “up to 5x faster”.

Changes include a monospace font in the editor, auto resizing, and the option to use hexadecimal values for colours. Users can also toggle all of the expressions on selected layers on or off.

According to Adobe, “most” existing expressions should be forward-compatible with the new system.

The firm’s ongoing efforts to GPU-accelerate After Effects also continue, with nine more effects getting GPU support, including Color Balance (HLS), Curves, Fill, Exposure, Noise, Tritone, and Set Matte.

The bundled version of Boris FX’s Mocha planar tracker has also been replaced with a new GPU-accelerated Mocha plugin.

Other new features
Adobe’s blog post also mentions a number of other features, including Home and Learn panels for new users, and a Theatre Mode for previewing 2D video in a head-mounted display, but doesn’t go into detail.

We’ll update if more information becomes available.

Pricing and availability
After Effects CC is available for Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.11+ on a rental-only basis.

Since the last update, annual subscriptions for After Effects have risen to $20.99/month, while subscriptions to all of Adobe’s creative tools now start at $52.99/month.

Read more about the upcoming features in the Fall 2018 update to After Effects CC on Adobe’s blog

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