So the news has been out for some time and I’ve been getting emails about my thoughts on the new version so i figured now would be a good time to chime in. Now, I will point out that I do not get paid or asked to say anything but as always, I accept free TVs and Lakers playoff tickets.
Cool New Features:
AE CS5 is jet-packed with new features and workflow improvements that may seem a bit techy and possibly boring when compared to my feature request which was a 3D jet-pack generator but it seems to have been overlooked. What IS great about many of the new features is that they simplify some of the dirty work in after effects, like rotoscoping so that you CAN be more creative.
The Mocha integration is one of my favorite new features that allows Mocha-tracked masked to be imported to AE with refinement control. Mocha is a great planar tracking tool (included) for tracking moving elements for compositing. This feature may sound “boring” but you can do things like facial de-aging for blemish removals with perfectly tracked masks, and maybe even create an obscuration masks for adding jet-packs to0!
The new Roto Brush tool also looks promising. From someone that just finished 2 weeks of serious FX work, I look forward to trying out the new tool, and if it works half as good as it looks, it should be a real time saver. Many of the shots I worked on involved enhancing explosions or adding elements but before the fun stuff, I had to do wire-removal or remove or mask-out foreground elements, which generally took the majority of the time.
Getting FreeForm for … free, is also a pretty sweet. This plug-in allows you to warp layers in 3D with some intuitive controls. It’s a bit on the slow side for more complex warps but having the ability to warp layers is very useful.
I can also tell you that the interface seems quite snappy compared to previous versions as well, gotta like that.
The 64-Bit Dilemma
Now, to the most powerful and possibly most controversial new feature in AE CS5 is that the software is 64-bit ONLY. What this means is that AE CS5 will only run on a 64-bit machine with a 64-bit Operating system.
The benefits of 64-bit software include the ability to access more that 3 GBs of RAM for rendering and previews as well as allow faster processing of larger images, larger comps and higher color-spaces (32bpc).
When I think about this situation, I wonder, could Adobe have made a 32 bit version as well, so that users with non-64 bit machines wouldn’t have to upgrade there systems? Maybe. But would we have got all the new features found in CS5? Another more IMPORTANT question is this, why didn’t Adobe just NOT make a 64-bit version and just continue the success of AE without interrupting functionality for any users by keeping it 32-bit? When you think about this question, it makes more sense.
If you look at the current state of Visual Effects and multimedia, it’s progressing rather INSANELY, with HD, 2K and 4K and even 3D films becoming more common our software is being asked to do quite a bit. By NOT taking that NEXT step towards the inevitable future and the increasing demands of new media Adobe and the users, risk losing their edge.
64-bit computers have been around for quite a while and 3D software makers were one of the first adopters. When using huge texture maps and fancy 3D renderings the results were affected by limited memory access due to 32-bit software so 64-bit support was essential to taking renderings to the next level. 3D max 9 came out with a 64-bit version in 2006, and since then compositing tools, like After Effects have been pushed to new limits with 3D comping and 32-bit color projects.
I wouldn’t want software makers like Adobe to be making big changes like this all-the-time (not that they would, unlike Apple :)) but I also don’t want serious innovation and development to wait for every last person to be on board before implementing it for people who could really benefit right now. If you ever had a failed render or struggled with large images just days before a deadline, you’ll be pleased with the innovation and for those who aren’t yet pushing the limits of HD, you will be soon and you’ll be happy the technology is there.
And yes QuickTime videos will continue to work in AE CS5 as expected.
How do you get to 64-bits?
Before people start running for the hills… or people that live in the hills start running down the river… Here are some considerations:
- Mac users running OS X v10.5.7 or v10.6 with 2nd Gen. Intel processor, are good-to-go. Your hardware and OS ready now.
- PC users should know that most hardware purchased in the last 3-4 years is 64-bit ready and most likely there are 64-bit supported drivers available if you wanted to change from a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit OS
- If you are buying a new computer, just request a native 64-bit OS, I’ve been using Windows 7 x64 with great success for a while.
- If your current AE version is good enough and you don’t think you will benefit from the new features… just wait until you do need it.
Another consideration when upgrading is to make sure your other favorite programs are supported under a new 64-bit OS. In most cases 32-bit software will run without problems under a 64-bit OS. One thing to keep in mind is that not all software will benefit from 64-bits, so it is quite alright to run a 32 bit version.
3rd Party Plug-in Concerns:
A major part of the After Effects popularity is the sweet plug-ins that give us magical new features like Particular and perhaps Optical Flares
Bottom line: 32-bit plug-ins will NOT work in AE CS5 without an update but, most developers have already promised support for 64-bit with free or low cost upgrade. For the record, Video Copilot is offering free upgrades for our plug-ins: Twitch and Optical Flares as well as our free plug-ins Sure Target 2 and VC Reflect.
Don’t forget, 64 bit processing is a feature and having plug-ins that work natively is a real benefit.
Some older plug-ins and even some Free plug-ins (not ours) may not get upgraded but I can tell you that the 64-bit conversion was not very difficult for our plug-ins and only took a couple days to convert all our tools and less than a week for Optical Flares which features a full use-interface.
So if the need is strong, any developer can offer a 64-bit version and I bet Adobe wouldn’t mind helping out with the conversion as well, Adobe has really reached out to developers including us to make sure we had everything we needed to be ready.