Adobe After Effects CS5 review

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Premiere Pro CS5 isn’t the only Adobe software to gain a big advantage from the company’s new 64-bit Mercury Playback Engine. Its flagship compositing software, After Effects, has also been re-engineered around 64-bit code for its CS5 update, and arguably has even more to gain, particularly from the ability to address more memory.

After Effects is regularly used for complex, layered compositing at up to film resolutions. While it’s beyond optimistic to expect on-the-fly previews of blended 4K footage, you still need to be able to see what your work looks like in real-time, and for many years After Effects has provided this via its RAM Preview. This renders frames to memory, so they play back smoothly. With a 32-bit application, the maximum amount of memory available will be 4GB, and probably a lot less. This will allow a RAM Preview of just a couple of seconds at HD resolutions, and even less in 4K.

Adobe After Effects CS5

Now that After Effects has switched to native 64-bit code, it can take advantage of as much memory as you can throw at it. For example, with 32GB of RAM you could preview more than 30 seconds of 1080p footage. In a system with 136GB of RAM, Adobe claims you can preview as much as 37 seconds of 4K footage, although our test workstation’s 6GB wasn’t enough to try this out. This will provide a significant workflow boost, and help After Effects to win even more friends in the world of film production.

Complementing the expanded RAM capabilities is integrated memory management, where you can allocate how RAM is apportioned between the Adobe apps running on your system, and how much is left for other software. You can also enable background multi-processing, giving each core its own memory segment, although this is only advisable when there’s lots of RAM available, as it reduces the overall total available when previewing.

Another benefit of sharing the same underlying playback engine as Premiere Pro CS5 is that format support mirrors the more mainstream editor, so includes virtually all of the latest types of footage. AVC-Intra, RED, and DSLR content can be imported and used natively. The AVC-Intra support includes 50Mbits/sec and 100Mbits/sec variants, and with RED footage you gain direct access to raw sensor data. This allows you to adjust settings in a similar fashion to photographic RAW files, only more. So you can configure how colour, decoding, white balance and even ISO setting are interpreted, without affecting the original file.


Software subcategoryVideo editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?no

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