So here we are at the end of yet another year, which as far as I’m concerned was just completely terrible in many ways. I put up my new wall calendar this morning and looking at the old one the statistics were rather unfavorable. All in all I spent more than half the year on sick-leave, rehab or with doctor appointments. Yes, that really adds up to almost 27 weeks. :-\ No wonder I can’t get anything done anymore. That includes things like the Error Code Database being dead and my output of projects and stuff being at an all time low.
As an Adobe user this hasn’t been a good year, either. It’s like “Yeah, let’s give Creative Cloud a spin!” …and then the kid fell off the merry-go-round. It would be great to have access to all those programs at a reasonable price if it wasn’t for the massive technical problems. It’s getting to a point where I’d rather have my bum whacked during an S/M session than wreck my nerves over those updates for the Creative Cloud app/ application manager. And everybody thought those constant Flash Player updates are an annoyance…. In addition, the quality of the programs seems to be getting worse with every update. One bug is fixed and another three take its place. That wouldn’t be so bad if there was at least some sense to it, but seriously, screwing up existing drag & drop functionality in After Effects just so the 0.1% of users that extensively use scripts can dump their JSX files on the program? Pretty stupid and unnecessary.
Overall it has been a pretty unremarkable year for After Effects. Nothing really has changed and the program is the same crooked lady we love and loathe, give or take a few new features sprinkled in like the really neat detail-preserving resizer. Otherwise a poor wannabe 3D solution (Raytrace 3D) has been replaced by a little less poor, but still half-assed 3D solution (Cineware), we can finally convert parametric shape layer items to normal paths (7 years after the feature made its debut *yee-haw*) and equally unglorious petitesses that in another decade wouldn’t even have been mentioned in the marketing materials. Perhaps next year will be better when the Rigid Mask Tracker turns into an Elastic Mask Tracker and the ump-teenth take on the 2D/ 3D vector field synthesis that drives Rotobrush and Warp Stabilizer may give us automatic foreground separation and automated background reconstruction (think Photoshop‘s Content-Aware Scale and repair brushes). Unfortunately there hasn’t even been a particularly noteworthy plug-in or script this year and as I wrote a while ago, everybody seems to be happy just taking the money. Some of that stuff is just so ridiculously overpriced for what little new it brings to the table…
The 3D world of course didn’t stand still and was a quite mixed bag as well. Cinema 4D R15 turned out pretty hum-ho and while the program continues to be a robust workhorse, it also feels more and more lackluster. There’s just no outstanding new feature and as I wrote in my comparison, it mostly feels like the chase between the hedgehog and the rabbit trying to catch up. The really exciting stuff happens elsewhere, be it new tech like Clarisse iFX or Autodesk running their tools through a browser. Will be interesting where this is going. Even NewTek have had some surprises up their sleeve. modo also made some impressions when The Foundry showed its renderer as a demo in Nuke and another demo showed the Fusion Kit. Yummy stuff! Finally, of course I went a bit crazy over The Plant Factory only to find it out of my league price-wise just the same as SpeedTree. Tragedy of my life! So many toys and no money to buy them. On the other hand there were some good plug-ins at least, free or otherwise and getting X-Particles back then (and thus being entitled to affordable upgrade pricing) strikes me as an almost brilliant move.
Will 2014 turn things around? I don’t know. I see such trouble. My calendar already shows 2 doctor dates next week relating to my cardio-vascular system now taking a hit from my illness. Oh my! In the meantime, whoever and wherever you are enjoy this New Year’s and may at least some of your wishes come true!