Monday, October 15th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Adobe releases After Effects CC 16.0

Originally posted on 13 September 2018. Scroll down for news of the public release.

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 Character Animator CC 2.0, Premiere Pro CC 13.0 and Audition CC 12.0.

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 the existing support for 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 Theater Mode for previewing 2D video in a head-mounted display, but doesn’t go into detail.

Updated: The online documentation has a bit more information on the new VR viewing modes, all of which supplement the existing monoscopic and stereoscopic 360-degree display modes.

Theater Mode displays footage in a flat rectangle like a cinema screen in virtual space. There are also new 180-degree wraparound display options, with support for over/under and side-by-side layouts.

Updated 15 October 2018: The update has now been released. In the online documentation, it is referred to as the October 2018 update, or After Effects CC 16.0.

As well as the features listed above, the update adds new selective colour grading tools to the Lumetri Color effect: the image above shows them in Premiere Pro, to which they have also been added.

The new graph views make it possible to adjust other colour properties within a given hue, saturation or luminance range: for example, to desaturate shadows, or bring individual colours into legal broadcast ranges.

Users can also now import layered project files from Adobe Animate and Adobe XD.

Pricing and availability
After Effects CC 16.0 is available for Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.12+ 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 new features in After Effects CC 16.0 on Adobe’s blog