Here on this blog I’ have many times written about the pros and cons of hardware acceleration just as I’ve written about how much I dread the day the most unqualified people start using 3D extrusions and similar features, yet here we are and have both at the same time realized in what is After Effects CS6. Yupp, friends, it’s NAB and I’m finally allowed to spill the beans. The little bitch can do 3D extrusions now and they come with reflections and shadows. Since someone is going to do this anyway, first lets have it:
Of course both images are fakes done in Cinema 4D, but I’m sure we’ll see tons of this stuff soon everywhere once people get their dirty little hands on the real thing. Naturally, we have kinda known this almost a year despite all the pretence of a certain Steve F.. I guess it’s good he hasn’t become an actor. He’d sweep The Razzies in the "least convincing pokerface" category. ;-)
The rest? You still cannot import 3D objects and to make that worse, there is no support for 3D PSDs anymore (but then again, it was nothing to write home about in the first place) and Freeform is gone (feel free to buy a CS6 compatible version later from Mettle), but you can now bend layers. There’s a definite tradeoff here. Also it doesn’t change anything for other plug-ins – this is still not the unified 3D space we all have been craving for years, it has no realworld coordinates and when you use some of the 3D fancies, you will have to forego other features. In so many words: You will still be busy scratching your head trying to find workarounds for many things. One thing, though, that’s definitely gonna make things easier and benefits even other plug-ins like Particular is the 3D tracker that you now also have built-in. It’s a pretty mixed bag on the 3D front – lots of bling-bling (quite literally, if you crank up reflections to insane values) that actually may render slower than in a 3D program (if you don’t have a qualifying graphics card for GPU acceleration), some stuff flushed down the toilet, some other stuff making sense on a more broader level. Also, since the graph editor did not get more love, we still do not have a proper constraint system in place and all those other minor things that make an animator’s life more convenient are absent, it’s still gonna suck massively for some tasks.
On another end, we get accelerated footage playback, speculative rendering and persistent/ permanent disk caches. If you ever have used Nucleo Pro, some of that may look pretty familiar and – oh surprise, Steve F. was once honcho at that little company called GridIron Software. Anyone smell a conspiracy here? ;-) At least it will free us of some of those "Why does After Effects not play this and that in realtime?" questions. Another former company owner is Wes P. of course and that means that there is all this Automatic Duck project exchange stuff is now in the Adobe apps proper. Other such minor and quite predictable enhancements/ updates include yet again a newer version of mochaAE, more warp stabilizer and multiprocessing tweaks, rolling shutter removal and some more plug-ins now being 32bpc. For the latter, Adobe have finally come to their senses and properly licensed the Cycore tools, so you’re no longer stuck with crippled 8bpc versions. The last big addition is the introduction of selective mask feathering, which might come in handy one of those days even for my rare roto jobs. Well, we’ll have to see.
And of course there is all the other tools as well. I already briefly mentioned Prelude as the new kid in town and there are no doubt tons of enhancements in Premiere Pro, one of the most obvious being their now using CUDA and OpenCL. Speedgrade also joins the ring after Adobe acquired it a while ago. Wanna hear more? Then perhaps attend the unboxing event (in a manner of speaking) or its recordings on Adobe TV. I’ll have more news for you as things develop…