As I hinted yesterday, more info on the next version of what once used to be my favorite geek toy, After Effects, has publicly become available. And what can I tell you? Yepp, once more we need to chalk it off as a so-so release at best.
Integration of Creative Cloud Libraries? Seriously? What have we come to! It’s not that the world would need another way for people that barely know how their computer runs to download templates and stock content. *umpf*
The “uninterrupted previews” are ambiguous. Granted, a bit of unification and native playback performance doesn’t hurt, but I mostly feel that this caters to the above crowds that never learned what a RAM preview is as well as editors that merely use After Effects as an elaborate title generator. It’s also obvious from the way it works now that while you can slap on stuff while it plays, it’s still going to budge if your assets are large or you use effects and features that do more than just add a few color corrections or blurs. In my opinion it’s simply trying to solve the equation from the wrong end, as ironically better effects performance and thus potentially smoothly scrubbing often would eliminate the need to actually play back your timeline.
Finally, what really kinda sets me off is the Face Tracker. I mean as amazing as the technology is, but do we really need the fourth/ fifth separate tracking method? We have the legacy 2D tracker, mochaAE, the 3D tracker and a bit of rigid mask tracking and none of it really works together and now this… Wouldn’t it make much more sense to have a unified tracking architecture where we can just hit an Analyze button, select a bunch of the automatically generated trackers or add manual ones and then decide whether they give us a corner pin, we want to add some 3D text or those markers are the anchors of a mask? If you get my meaning: It’s beginning to get ridiculous when you have to learn all these separate tools with their individual settings, no matter how useful e.g. the masks it generates may be for “digital makeup”. Will we see a specialised “belly button and nipples tracker” one day or will they finally get the message? *sigh*
Adobe Character Animator (demoed on last year’s Adobe MAX as Project Animal) is a bit odd to me, not just for the extremely unimaginative name. Mostly I fear that this will set off an avalanche of poorly acted and completely unimaginative presentations where people are hiding behind their digital character. YouTube is going to be flooded with stuff from kids. Mark my words: We all are going to hate it. Beyond those reservations it looks like an interesting tool, though you probably shouldn’t expect to get a Gollum performance out of it. After all, the hallmark of good character animation and acting has always been finding the balance between going over the top to give a unique personality and capturing all the subtleties, which solely relying on such automated technology doesn’t deliver (yet). While for the time being it’s limited to 2D, it might also be interesting to export some basic setups to a 3D program…