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Adobe After Effects is a digital motion graphics and compositing software application published by Adobe Systems. It is used in film and video post-production.
After Effects uses a system of layers organized on a timeline to create composites from still images and motion footage, such as video files. Properties such as position and opacity can be controlled independently for each layer, and each layer can have effects applied. After Effects is often described as the "Photoshop of video", because its flexibility allows compositors to alter video in any way they see fit, as Photoshop does for images.
Although After Effects can create images of its own, it is generally used to composite material from other sources to make moving graphics (also known as motion graphics). For example, with a picture of a space ship and a picture of a star background, After Effects Templates could be used to place the ship in front of the background and animate it to move across the stars.
Each picture or movie is layered on a timeline, in a similar way to a Non-Linear Editing System (NLE). However, one difference between After Effects and NLEs is that After Effects is layer-oriented, and NLEs are generally track-oriented. This means that in After Effects, each individual media object (video clip, audio clip, still image, etc.) occupies its own track. However, NLEs use a system where individual media objects can occupy the same track as long as they do not overlap in time. This track-oriented system is more suited for editing and can keep project files much more concise. The layer-oriented system that After Effects adopts is suited for extensive effects work and keyframing. Although other compositing packages--especially ones that employ tree or node workflows, such as Apple Shake--are better suited to manage large volumes of objects within a composite, After Effects is able to somewhat counter the clutter by selectively hiding layers (using the Shy switch) or by grouping them into precompositions. (After Effects does feature a Flowchart panel, which is similar to tree or node graph, but this view of a composition is mostly for display purposes and is not fully functional.) The main interface consists of several panels (windows in versions prior to After Effects 7.0). Three of the most commonly used panels are the Project panel, the Composition panel, and the Timeline panel. The Project panel acts as a bin to import stills, video, and audio footage items. Footage items in the Project panel are used in the Timeline panel, where layer order and timing can be adjusted. The items visible at the current time marker are displayed in the Composition panel.
After Effects integrates with other Adobe software titles such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Encore DVD, and Flash.
After Effects was originally created by the Company of Science and Art in Providence, RI, USA. Version 1.0 was released in January 1993. Version 2.1 introduced PowerPC acceleration in 1994. CoSA along with After Effects was then acquired by Aldus corporation in July 1993; this company was then acquired by Adobe in 1994, and with it PageMaker and After Effects. Adobe's first new release of After Effects was version 3.0.
Date Version Codename Major features added
- January 1993 1.0 Egg layered compositing with mask, effect, transforms, keyframes; Mac only
- May 1993 1.1 more effects
- January 1994 2.0 Teriyaki Time Layout window, multi-machine rendering, frame blending
- October 1995 3.0 Nimchow render queue, time remapping, multiple effects per layer, motion tracker, motion math, Illustrator import, Photoshop as comp import, first Japanese version
- April 1996 3.1 file formats, multiprocessing
- May 1997 3.1 (Windows) Dancing Monkey first Windows version, context menus, first French & German versions
- January 1999 4.0 ebeer tabbed windows, multiple masks per layer, adjustment layers, RAM preview, Premiere import; first simultaneous Mac & Windows release
- September 1999 4.1 Batnip flowchart view, watch folder, 3D channel effects
- April 2001 5.0 Melmet 3D, expressions, 16 bits per channel color
- January 7, 2002 5.5 Fauxfu advanced 3D renderer, multiple 3D views, first OS X version
- August 2003 6.0 Foodfite paint, scripting, text layers, OpenGL support
- May 2004 6.5 Chambant cloning, animation presets, grain management
- January 2006 7.0 Clamchop new docking panels UI, 32 bits per channel color (floating point), display color management, dynamic link with Premiere Pro, first Spanish & Italian versions
- July 2, 2007 CS3 (8.0) Metaloaf shape layers, puppet tool, brainstorm, clip notes, full color management; first Intel Mac version
After Effects has extensive plug-in support; and a broad range of third party plug-ins are available. A variety of plug-in styles exist, such as particle systems for realistic effects for rain, snow, fire, etc.
Using third-party plug-ins, After Effects can create 3D effects. These sorts of 3D plug-ins use basic 2D layers from After Effects. Illustrator graphics can also be loaded and rendered in 3D using plug-ins such as Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Pro. Some well-known plug-in vendors are Automatic Duck, BorisFX, Conoa, Cycore Effects, DigiEffects, Digital Anarchy, Digital Film Tools, The Foundry, FXhome, Gen Arts, GridIron Software, RE:Vision Effects, Red Giant Software, Synthetic Aperture, Trapcode and Zaxwerks.
In addition to 3D effects, there are plug-ins for making video look like film or cartoons; simulating fire, smoke, or water; particle systems; slow motion; creating animated charts, graphs, and other data visualization; calculating the 3D movement of a camera in a 2D video shot; eliminating flicker, noise, or rigging lines; translating timelines from FCP or Avid; adding high-end color correction; and other workflow improvements and visual effects.
Competitors to After Effects include Autodesk's Combustion, Flame and Inferno; Apple's Shake and Motion; eyeon Fusion; The Foundry's Nuke; Boris RED; Pinnacle Commotion; and the entry-level FXHome.
- Celebrating 25 years of Adobe After Effects by Rich Young at Pro Video Coalition (2018-03-30)
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