Things are boiling hot in the After Effects world today for a number of reasons.
First, the late discovery of that MPEG licensing disaster I mentioned 2 weeks ago has made some more waves and as you could assume not ones of warm and fuzzy positive feelings. Now Adobe not allowing you your own personal render farm anymore certainly sucks, but there are higher powers involved and it’s not the company’s fault. And it’s not that we all are not part of the problem – over the years, we all have too easily accepted MPEG everywhere, because it was convenient or we were led to believe it would be the future. Whether we stream video in H.264, buy DVDs and BluRays, use AVCHD, HDV, XDCAM and other such formats on our digital cameras. It’s too late turn back now, even more so with video becoming part of even the simplest mobile devices and having sneaked into the web browser world. We can only blame ourselves here – we were afraid of certain monopolies and just because companies like Apple told us, became willing aides playing into the hands of other monopolists. Now we all, quite literally, pay the price. There is some hope here, though. As I also reported earlier, the move to cloud services may have some additional benefit here beyond a tablet based render queue. It could allow you to pay for additional temporary render licenses or allow server-side encoding based on a fixed rate. Still, the licensing for the source formats could not be avoided, so at best this would only take off 50% of the charges.
In other news and not less of a question is what you think about After Effects CS5 and CS5.5 with 2 easy to answer questions. In my case that meant that I still use CS4 as my primary version and that I might recommend the newer versions based on specific criteria. Why do I use CS4? Since at work I’m stuck with an older machine and according to some certain person anyone hanging on to these older machines is stupid, then I admit to being a moron because my personal and our company’s wallet isn’t compatible with Adobe‘s plans and we cannot buy the latest Macs and PCs every year. That, and of course that I like to keep a smallest common denominator compatibility when exchanging projects with other people, which very much also includes all the nice things you can download from my content section. There are of course some for CS5 among them, but truth be told – if it wasn’t for plug-ins like FreeForm Pro that only exist as 64bit versions, they’d also be done in CS4.
And under which conditions would I recommend CS5 or CS5.5? Certainly not for the lights with falloff, whose shadows bomb out because the program still can’t deal with large shadow maps properly and neither the Camera Lens Blur, which still looks kinda naff and has severe quality problems, especially with depth buffers from 3D programs that contain fine lines or have harsh foreground/ background contrast jumps in places. On the other hand I would not flinch recommending it to anyone who wants to stabilize footage with the Warp Stabilizer and while I still don’t find Rotobrush ultimately useful because it still requires a lot of manual work afterwards, it has its uses. I guess many users feel the same – it’s great to have these features when you need them and are on the video-centric side of things, but other than more stable rendering due to better memory handling these versions do not bring much to the table if you are doing motion graphics, data graphics and similar things that are mostly synthetic and graphical in nature. As long as vendors still make 32bit versions of their plug-ins, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
Speaking of vendors there is sometimes the reverse situation where you can’t move on to new versions, because there is no updated plug-in available. This has long been true for ObviousFX‘ tools and thankfully they have now gotten around to making them 64bit. Since they are free, there’s no harm in picking them up, especially Erodilation, which is essentially a smarter version of what Minimax should be. I’m using this particular effects all the time for building displacement maps for Freeform, FreeForm Pro and Shapeshifter. and would just love if it had this radial mode built in…