Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Adobe releases After Effects CC 15.1

Adobe has released its latest update to After Effects, adding a new Master Properties system for managing nested compositions, revamping the Puppet tools, and adding support for mixed reality headsets.

The release – under Adobe’s current naming convention, either After Effects CC 15.1 or After Effects CC (April 2018) – will be on show at NAB 2018, alongside Premiere Pro CC 12.1 and Character Animator CC 1.5.

‘Game-changing’ new Master Properties system for managing nested comps
The headline feature in After Effects 15.1 is the new Master Properties system, which product manager Victoria Nece described as being about to “change the way After Effects artists work forever”.

Master Properties enable users to edit the layer and effect properties of one composition – including rotation, scale, colour and text settings – while it is nested within another, including all of the keyframes.

The system enables users to create a single master composition, nest variations of it as instances within other projects, then automatically propagate any changes made to the master file to all of the instances.

You can even update one instance and push the changes out to all of the others.

The new workflow is intended to remove the need to to update all of the individual precomps manually for each iteration of a comp, and should be a considerable time-saver when working on complex projects.

Revamped puppet tools make creating deformation-based effects easier
The update also adds the Advanced Puppet tool, a new engine for After Effects’ Puppet tools and effect.

Like the legacy engine it replaces – still present in 15.1, but not enabled by default – it is designed to add quick, deformation-based animations to text and 2D image layers, and works in much the same way.

Unlike the original, it has a dynamic mesh density system, automatically adjusting triangle placement and size in the deformation mesh whenever you place a control pin.

There is also a new Mesh Rotation Refinement setting, which controls whether a layer flexes or remains rigid as it rotates; and the option to convert Starch pins into Position pins, and vice versa.

View 360-degree projects in VR and mixed reality headsets
There is also the new Adobe Immersive Environment, which enables users to preview 360-degree projects using Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Windows Mixed Reality head-mounted displays.

It should complement After Effects’ new VR tools – based on Mettle’s former SkyBox Suite plugins, which Adobe integrated into the software last year – although as yet, you can’t edit directly in the HMD view.

Updates to Motion Graphics templates and Data Driven Animation
Two features added in recent releases of After Effects also get further updates this time round.

Motion Graphics templates – added in After Effects CC 2017.2, and intended for sharing project settings with Premiere Pro – can now be reopened within After Effects for editing.

The Essential Graphics panel, used to build templates, gets new 2D point, 2D scale and Angle property types. Users can also now drag multiple properties from the Timeline to the Essential Graphics panel.

Elsewhere, the Data Driven Animation toolset added in the previous update gets a number of new features, including the option to import source data as CSV or TSV files, as well as in JSON format.

You can see a brief overview in this video.

Other changes: Video Limiter effect, faster grain manipulation on multi-core CPUs
Other changes include Video Limiter: a new GPU-accelerated effect for limiting chrominance and luminance signals to broadcast-legal ranges, and smaller updates to colour management and the Team Projects system.

Under the hood, the performance of the Add Grain, Match Grain, and Remove Grain effects has been improved on multi-core CPUs; and VRAM is used “more aggressively” by default for GPU acceleration.

Pricing and availability
After Effects CC 15.1 is available for Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.11+ on a rental-only basis.

Annual subscriptions for After Effects alone currently cost $19.99/month, while subscriptions to all of Adobe’s creative tools start at $49.99/month, although prices are due to rise on 16 April 2018.

Read a full list of new features in After Effects 15.1 in Adobe’s release notes