After Effects CS6 overview

Video tutorial: Overview of After Effects CS6

Video tutorial: Overview of After Effects CS6
Adobe After Effects Sr. Product Manager Steve Forde takes a deeper look at what's new in After Effects CS6.
Steve Forde

Global performance cache

  • Cached frames are restored in many scenarios for a faster workflow
  • Disk cache is retained even after you close and reopen a project
  • Disk cache is filled in the background while you continue to work


3D camera tracker

The 3D Camera Tracker analyzes video sequences to extract camera motion and 3D scene data. This feature allows you to incorporate 3D objects into a 2D scene effectively.


3D enhancements

Ray-traced 3D renderer

A new Ray-traced 3D renderer allows for enhanced 3D capability. You can render compositions in a separate environment from the existing Advanced 3D composition renderer (now called Classic 3D). Many of the existing capabilities of the Classic 3D renderer are available in the new Ray-traced 3D renderer. Examples include soft shadows, motion blur, and depth-of-field blur. Options include beveled and extruded text and shape layers, bending of footage and composition layers, environment map support and additional material options.


Beveled and extruded text and shape layers

3D text and shape layers can take on a bevel or extrusion (or both). Properties such as bevel style, bevel depth, bevel hole depth, and extrusion depth determine the look.


Bendable footage and composition layers

In the ray-traced renderer, you can curve 3D footage and nested compositions around a vertical axis using controls in Geometry Options:

  • Curvature: The amount of bend (as a percentage)
  • Segments: The smoothness the bend


Environment layer support

Use 3D footage or nested compositions as a spherically mapped environment around the scene, visible on reflective objects.


New material options

3D layers in the ray-traced renderer include additional materials properties, which affect how 3D objects interact with light. For example, you can use reflection, transparency, index of refraction as materials properties.


Fast Previews

Fast Previews supports options for working with different levels of quality when previewing. This menu button has been reordered from highest quality and slower performance to lowest quality and faster performance. Some options have been renamed, and keyboard shortcuts have been assigned to them.


Mask Feather tool

Mask Feather is a new tool for controlling feathering along defined points of a mask. Previously, the width of the feather was the same around the entire closed mask. The Mask Feather tool is available from the Pen tool.

Press G to toggle between the Pen tool and the Mask Feather tool. To toggle between all tools under the Pen tool by pressing G, see Edit > Preferences > General (Windows), or After Effects > Preferences > General (Mac OS).


Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators

Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators include features to support the new 3D features. They support beveled, extruded, or curved layers, in addition to standard "flat" layers. You can scale and rotate a 3D layer by manipulating the bounding box from any side. Snapping the anchor point to different parts of a side of a bounding box is also available.


Vector art footage-to-shape conversion

Vector art footage-to-shape conversion creates shape layers from any vector art footage layer. You can even modify vector-based Illustrator, EPS, and PDF files after you import them into After Effects CS6. Furthermore, with the new 3D extrusion support, you can extrude artwork. For example, you can extrude and stylize logos in After Effects CS6.


Rolling shutter repair effect

Rolling shutter distortion occurs mainly in digital cameras with CMOS sensors. This distortion usually occurs when the subject or the camera moves. The Rolling Shutter Repair effect fixes footage containing rolling shutter distortion. The Warp Stabilizer effect also has rolling shutter repair function. However, the Rolling Shutter Repair effect has more controls and is useful when the footage does not need stabilizing.


New 32-bit effects

The following effects are available with 32-bpc color in After Effects CS6:

  • Drop Shadow
  • Fill
  • Iris Wipe
  • Linear Wipe
  • Photo Filter
  • Radial Wipe
  • Set Matte
  • Spill Suppressor
  • Timewarp


Updated CycoreFX HD plug-ins

The CycoreFX HD set is now bundled with After Effects, offering 16-bit and floating point support, and 12 additional effects.


Pro Import AE plug-in

The Pro Import AE plug-in (formerly Automatic Duck Pro AE) is now bundled with After Effects CS6. Use Pro Import AE to do the following:

  • Import AAF and OMF files from an Avid system
  • Import XML files from Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier)
  • Import project files from Motion 4 (or earlier)


ARRIRAW import

After Effects CS6 now supports files from the ARRI ALEXA, or ARRIFLEX D-21 cameras, called ARRIRAW.


MXF OP1a video codec support

There is export support for additional video codecs in an MXF OP1a wrapper:

  • AVC-Intra Class 50 720
  • AVC-Intra Class 50 1080
  • AVC-Intra Class 100 720
  • AVC-Intra Class 100 1080
  • XDCAM EX 35 NTSC 1080 (4:2:0)
  • XDCAM EX 35 PAL 1080 (4:2:0)


Improved Adobe Dynamic Link

Improved Dynamic Link, including performance enhancements, and removal of the limitation of Dynamic Link to only work within a suite (for example, Dynamic Link now works between CS6 applications purchased as individual products).


About Dynamic Link

Aerender and watch folder in non-royalty bearing mode

After Effects CS5.5 had to be serialized on render-only machines (for example, in a render farm) due to licensing issues. In CS6, you can now run aerender or use Watch Folder in a non-royalty bearing mode, with serialization not required.


Network rendering with watch folders and render engines

Scripting changes

Numerous scripting changes have been made, and are compiled on the After Effects Region of Interest blog.


Miscellaneous changes