Adobe After Effects CC 2015

Downloading and installing After Effects CC 2015 is easy to do, whether it is an upgrade or a clean install performed by a new Adobe CC subscriber. The Creative Cloud Desktop Application makes it simple by displaying available applications in a dropdown menu in which the user only has to select the application for installation. The only drawback is that, by default, downloading any CC 2015 application will uninstall previous versions of the same app. The user can go into their user settings and change this in order to have multiple versions of the same app installed on their computer.

Updates and New Features

One of the staples of any visual effects platform is the ability to track footage. Adobe After Effects CC 2015 introduces the new Face Tracker. The user selects the face to be tracked by drawing a rough mask, whether it’s an oval or rectangle, around the subject’s face. The face tracker takes over from there and interpolates the shape and movement of the subject’s face throughout the shot. There are two basic face tracks an After Effects user can perform. One is the outline only Face Tracker which adjusts the user generated mask to conform to the edges of the subject’s face and tracks the general shape and movement of the face throughout the shot. The other type of track is the detailed Face Tracker, which not only tracks the shape of the face but also several key points on the face; including pupils, eye corners, eyebrows, nostrils, corners of the mouth, cheeks and chin, as well as upper and lower lips. It’s a robust tracker that is accurate and tracks rather fast, provided the subject is more or less facing the camera. This is a great tool for visual effects, animators, or an editor refining a beauty pass of their onscreen talent. The data extrapolated from the After Effects Face Tracker can be shared with the new Adobe Character Animator desktop application to bring rigged digital puppets to life.

Adobe After Effects CC 2015 detailed face tracker
Adobe After Effects CC 2015 detailed face tracker

It should be noted that while Adobe Character Animator is its own desktop application, it feels much more like a companion application to After Effects. Character Animator makes use of the user’s webcam and microphone to capture facial movement and vocal performance, applying it to a rigged puppet. Puppets can be built in either Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator with appropriately named and sequenced layers. It’s an impressive piece of software that is a lot of fun to explore and play with. The capture of the actor’s performance is pretty accurate and is able to translate that performance to the puppet fairly well. This happens in real time so the actor can see the puppet mimic their movements, mouth positions and expressions. While still in it’s infancy, it does provide a unique and interesting tool. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

The Uninterrupted Preview feature allows the user to playback their sequence while they make adjustment to their footage.

After Effects CC 2015 receives a Creative Cloud Libraries panel, similar to Premiere Pro CC 2015, allowing the user to access any of their Creative Cloud Libraries through the After Effects interface. This is incredibly useful for users who take advantage of Creative Cloud mobile apps such as Adobe Color CC and Adobe Hue CC to create color swatches and stylized looks respectively. It also gives the user the ability to access commonly used elements they have stored in their libraries from wherever they’re working on an After Effects project.

A feature that many veteran After Effects users have desired is now a reality. The Uninterrupted Preview feature allows the user to playback their sequence while they make adjustment to their footage. For example, a user can loop their sequence to continuously play while they apply and remove effects to their footage and see what they like best, all without interrupting the playback. This is useful for sampling different “looks” from the user’s Creative Cloud Libraries. Obviously this feature is more fluid and works best on an updated computer, although it did playback fairly well on the reviewer’s five year-old iMac. Not only is Uninterrupted Preview a convenient feature it also introduces the space-bar as the default key for playing a RAM preview. It’s a small feature but one that brings After Effects into a more consistent user experience with the rest of the video world.

Strengths

  • The new Face Tracker is fast and accurate.
  • Uninterrupted Preview is a great feature and a move in the right direction.
  • The accessibility of Creative Cloud Libraries provides some great solutions for the After Effects user, especially for motion graphics designers desiring color swatch management.

Weaknesses

  • There’s a lot of power under the hood of After Effects CC 2015, as a result the user needs a powerful computer to have a smooth experience using all the features of After Effects.

Tech Specs

System Requirements

OS  WIndows 7 (Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (64 bit)

  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB Recommended)
  • 10 GB Hard-disk space recommended
  • 1280×1080 Display
  • OpenGL 2.0 capable system
  • Internet Connection

Mac OS X 10.9 or 10.10

  • Multicore Intel Processor with 64-bit support
  • 4 GB Ram (8 GB Recommended)
  • 10 GB Hard-disk space recommended
  • 1440×900 Display
  • OpenGL 2.0 capable system
  • Internet Connection

Reviewer’s System

  • Mac OS X 10.9.5
  • 2.93 GHz Intel Core i7
  • 12 GB RAM
     

Chris “Ace” Gates is a four-time Emmy Award-winning writer and video producer.

Chris Ace Gates
Chris "Ace" Gates is a four time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. He is a big fan of animation and transmedia storytelling.

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