Adobe ships After Effects 17.5
Adobe has released After Effects 17.5, the latest version of the compositing software.
The update marks the offical debut of two much-anticipated features that were previously only available as beta releases: the AI-powered Roto Brush 2.0 tool, and the new 3D Design Space.
A separate 3D feature – a new Draft real-time preview render mode – is being released as a public beta.
The new releases were launched at Adobe MAX 2020, alongside Photoshop 22.0, Character Animator 3.4, and updates to Illustrator, Lightroom, digital painting app Fresco and AR authoring tool Aero.
Roto Brush 2.0: faster, more accurate AI-powered rotoscoping
Attracting a lot of positive feedback online when it was released in beta this summer, Roto Brush 2.0 is pitched as a faster, more accurate way of isolating foreground objects from backgrounds in video footage.
Workflow remains largely unchanged from the previous Roto Brush tool, still available in the software.
Users identify objects to be rotoscoped by drawing on an individual frame, then After Effects generates a roto mask and propagates it automatically throughout the remaining frames.
However, since Roto Brush 2.0 has been trained on real-world footage using Adobe’s Sensei machine learning technology, it should generate masks faster and more accurately than its predecessor.
In particular, it is more robust to occlusion, continuing to generate masks even after the object being tracked has been partly obscured by a foreground object.
New 3D Design Space overhauls 3D workflow in After Effects
After Effects 17.5 also marks the official debut of the new 3D Design Space, which Adobe describes as “completely chang[ing] the way users work in 3D in After Effects”.
Key features include new 3D transform gizmos for moving, rotating and scaling layers in 3D space, and an overhaul of the camea controls, including “completely reimagined” Orbit, Pan and Dolly controls.
Both were originally released in public beta last month, so you can find more details in our original story.
In addition, a new public beta released alongside After Effects 17.5 adds a fast Draft render mode.
Described as a “gaming-style engine built by Adobe from the ground up”, it enables users to trade visual fidelity for interactive performance when previewing compositions in 3D.
It includes a built-in ground plane to make it easier to align objects in 3D space by providing a horizon line and vanishing point. The grid representing the ground plane can be toggled on or off.
New 3D features aimed mainly at motion graphics, not VFX
Adobe describes the new 3D Design Space as primarily targeted at motion design, not visual effects work.
“One third of users use After Effects for both 2D and 3D motion design, and they [often] have to go back and forth between multiple applications to work in 3D,” senior product manager Victoria Nece told CG Channel.
“The 3D Design Space is intended to help close this gap”.
While Adobe expects the new workflow to be “used by all types of artists who need to work in Z-space”, it is not intended to replicate the experience of using dedicated 3D compositing tools.
“Apps like Nuke and Fusion are designed more for VFX artists, and that is not the core workflow that we are trying to address,” commented Nece.
Pricing and system requirements
After Effects 17.5 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.13+ on a rental-only basis. In the online documentation, the release is also referred to as the October 2020 update.
Subscriptions to After Effects alone cost $31.49/month or $239.88/year, while All Apps subscriptions, which provide access to over 20 of Adobe’s creative tools, cost $79.49/month or $599.88/year.