Adobe After Effects CC 2015 review
After Effects is a dependable workhorse for countless motion graphics artists and animators, but it is getting a bit long in the tooth. So the news that this 2015 version has been rebuilt from the ground up is great. But has Adobe tampered too much with what makes After Effects special?
The newly rewritten code now separates rendering from the user interface and enables a major feature of this release – uninterrupted preview.
The After Effects workflow allows you to preview all or part of your composition as you work, without rendering to final output. Previously, such previews would stop running each time you clicked anywhere in the user interface. Not any more. The new code allows you hit the spacebar to start the Preview as before, but then adjust any properties in a comp, or even resize panels, without interrupting real-time playback. How fast this is depends on your system configuration.
The new approach replaces the old RAM preview and Standard previews and, as a result, the Preview panel gains expanded options. For example, you can define keyboard shortcuts for different preview behaviours, including muted audio, looping and caching, and specify whether or not to display viewer panel overlays during the preview. If you really want to, though, it’s possible to restore preview settings for all shortcut keys to match their behaviours in previous versions.
With the new, uninterrupted preview, I was able to adjust the parameters of a Channel Blur effect while the comp preview continued. It just ran until I stopped the preview manually by hitting the Esc key. It’s certainly an improvement, and makes After Effects more approachable to new users.
The rewritten code has other benefits: the user interface is now more responsive – you’re no longer at the mercy of waiting for frames to render – and frames can continue to render while you work. Overall, After Effects CC 2015 feels much faster overall, although it still isn’t perfect.
Just as with other applications in the Creative Cloud 2015 update, Adobe’s CreativeSync technology and Libraries panel have now made their way over to After Effects.
This allows you to bring in content from the Creative Cloud market and the new Adobe Stock service (which is to expand to encompass royalty-free footage in addition to stills), as well as assets created within Creative Cloud applications in the desktop and mobile apps.
I was able to drag a selection of looks, captured from Adobe Hue, from my Library panel onto the composition window during a preview and see which had the best effect on the footage; and the uninterrupted preview meant there was no slowdown during the selection process.