Is After Effects CC Worth The Upgrade?

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Like many of my video production peers, I had been waiting for the morning of June 17th for quite some time. Ever since the announcement at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in April, I couldn’t wait to click “Update” on the new version of Adobe’s flagship video production software, After Effects (AE).

Editor’s Note: The updates weren’t technically released until yesterday (June 18th), but that’s a whole different story.

One year ago, we took the leap from CS5 to CS6 and the improvements throughout After Effects were astounding. Our render times were cut in half, and tools like the Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker made our lives a whole lot easier. Now we embark on yet another upgrade with hopes that the jump will feel just as rewarding as it did last year.

Before my full review, here are two features I’m most excited about in the new After Effects Creative Cloud (CC):

Live 3D Pipeline
For awhile, my team and I had trouble committing to a 3D modeling program. After extensive research, we chose Maxon Cinema 4D mainly because of its smooth interaction with After Effects and large user community. Now, with After Effects CC, the bond between my two favorite pieces of software is even tighter.

Adobe has successfully unleashed a seamless pipeline between your Cinema 4D scenes and AE Comps and renders those scenes without leaving After Effects. The ability to see what your Cinema render will look like once you’ve color corrected, composited, and added your effects before spending 8 hours to render is a stroke of genius.

For those without Cinema, AE CC comes with Cinema 4D Lite – for free! Cinema 4D Lite works flawlessly with AE and gives users the ability to create true 3D scenes without breaking the bank on the full version.

To learn more, I highly recommend checking out the Cineware and Cinema 4D Lite Tutorial Series on Greyscalegorilla

Refine Edge Tool
On March 26, 2013, Adobe released The History (and Future) of Rotoscoping in After Effects to give us a sneak peek of how AE CC was going to improve the arduous task of rotoscoping.

Life is easy when you have a beautifully lit green screen, but rotoscoping less desirable scenes has always been time-consuming and frustrating. With the Refine Edge Tool, Adobe is claiming that users can separate “complicated foreground elements like frizzy hair or motion-blurred edges from complex backgrounds.”

Bad rotoscoping and lazy chroma keying is an enduring Visual FX issue and a pet peeve of mine. At first glance, this tool looks like it will significantly cut down roto time and hopefully improve the roto and keying work of the careless workers in the VFX industry.

The Full List
The official list of updated features includes updates to some of CS6’s most powerful tools. The Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker have been optimized and a new feature, Pixel Motion Blur, has been created to add motion blur effects to “live footage and rendered scenes.” For a complete breakdown of everything new, head over to the official After Effects info page.

So is After Effects CC worth the upgrade? I’m extremely hopeful, but at the moment, it’s too soon to tell. Please check back for my complete review next week!

Join the conversation below or tweet me @fdc245.

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