I want that!?

Another year, another list. The former coolest person (now not so cool anymore) on the After Effects team, Mr. Kopriva, has drawn up a list of what people seem to request most. A lot of old friends that I’ve already discussed a couple of times, a lot of stuff that I simply don’t care about. A few things of note:

  • Layer folders/ pre-comps in timeline – Yepp, same as last year. All the points I’ve mentioned there still stick as does my skepticism. People simply need to structure their work better/ more.
  • Mask point access with expressions and mask transforms – I’d have the full package, please. Reading positions may be fine, but setting positions is just as often necessary. The thing is that we have so few ways of actually drawing custom patterns parametrically, given how limited e.g. the Stroke effect is and fiddling with distortion effects does not always give predictable results. Now of course we already have plug-ins like The Mask Avenger, but native functionality is always preferable.
  • Arrowheads for shape layers – This made me slightly roll my eyes in that why it should even be necessary to file more detailed requests on that. You just need to look at PowerPoint‘s arrows or any graph/ charting tool for that matter and it bites you in the face. There’s no way to overthink this. Just get to work. I even have something similar on my site and if I do a little digging I’m sure I can find that other unfinished project with curved flanks and corner rounding and perhaps finish it off one of those days.
  • Curves effect – Well, this is a ridiculous one. Year after year this seems to crop up, yet the perfect solution that leads the way in terms of functionality has already been out there for a while.
  • Color swatch – Ah yes. There was a time when I was much more enthusiastic about After Effects (and on their Beta) and I used to write this kind of feature specs. Now a few years later I would probably do some things a bit differently (as is evident from the UI elements, the doc is from the CS3 era), but the fact remains that it’s ironic that most 3D programs have more elaborate color pickers/ mixers and swatch/ color libraries than Adobe apps. My dirty little secret has in fact been that I’m using the default system color pickers for the simple comfort of what few quick storage swatches they offer. And yeah, I tried things like Swatch Buckler and similar tools/ palettes, but it’s not what I have in mind. This needs to be thought through from the ground up.
  • Per-effect masks/ effect flattening – Yeah, definitely. I don’t see it so much as a “normal” feature since obviously I don’t mind pre-composing, but when I dabble with expressions I often do that thing where I merely want to duplicate layers and let them work their magic and such setups are dependent on most of the stuff happening on exactly the same layer. There are of course workarounds with channel effects and other tricks, but it would simplify matters hugely.

Edit: And how can I forget the shortcut editor? Of course this is one of those long-desired must-haves. Not being able to tailor your shortcuts to your needs and having to deal with odd combinations on foreign language systems always felt like a slap in your face, considering how important those markets abroad are…


3 comments on “I want that!?

  1. I have a Spanish keyboard and had to system switch it to an English layout, almost none of the characters make sense now but at least I can use all the AE shortcuts without messing with dirty scripts and stuff like that…

    And if you ask me one of my old desires improvements for AE would be a better Character animation system, I mean they haven’t do a thing to it since idk 5 years? same with the shapes… Something like a mograph copycat from cinema could make me a very happy person.

  2. Not sure about that character stuff since I don’t use it, but finishing up shape layers and text animators would make a lot of sense. Feels too much like they stopped halfway through and things could be so much better and more powerful…

    • Yeah I meant that exactly, the Character animation system, and I don’t make shape animations all that often but when I do I feel like it makes more sense to make them in Cinema with an ortho view and a flat shaded material since there I have so much more control with the effectors, but then I get mad because I feel like After Effects should have stuff like that in the first place…

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