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Todd Kopriva

what's coming in the next version of After Effects

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re-architecture for greater interactive performance:

 

Great stuff, looking forward to this one.

 

Does this have any impact on existing plugins, and will existing projects open OK? No problem if there's side effects - something has to give - but would be good to be forewarned.

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Preview improvements look great. So all Previews are now single-threaded, or what? Kind of makes the base Mac Pro look a lot more appealing than the top model if so!

 

Character animator still looks like a tool for the bottom end of the quality scale, but perhaps there's more to it than meets the eye. If you can expose the events as keyframes without baking every frame, making it a viable way to begin something that can be refined by hand, it'll gain more traction.

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Does this have any impact on existing plugins, and will existing projects open OK? No problem if there's side effects - something has to give - but would be good to be forewarned.

 

 

Yes, existing projects open fine. Same format as 13.0-13.2, so no need to save back within that group of versions. Opens versions from 7.0 forward.

 

Yes, there is an impact on plug-ins. Multi-threading is an architectural overhaul for them, too. But we're very closely coordinating with the plug-in makers to help them with this, so I think every major plug-in will be ready with an update by the time we release this.

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Character animator still looks like a tool for the bottom end of the quality scale, but perhaps there's more to it than meets the eye. If you can expose the events as keyframes without baking every frame, making it a viable way to begin something that can be refined by hand, it'll gain more traction.

 

 

Oh, it's definitely deeper than you're giving it credit for. ;-)

 

In the Preview 1 version, the interchange with After Effects will be simple, but this is meant to be a very easy application to use for the performer but also a very deep and extensible application for the character creators and programmers writing the behaviors being performed.

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Did I miss it, or are Layer Groups still not happening? :)

 

If you all tell me that you'd rather have that than huge performance improvements, I'll tell the software engineers to reverse course.

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Todd thank you for popping in here ahead of NAB and sharing some information after a long blog-silence on the AE site. I was beginning to wonder. Here are my questions about what's described in that post (sorry if I'm missing something obvious):

 

 

 

 

The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort.

 

Is it the case that the previewing overhaul is done with this release, or just the first wave of previewing changes / interactivity changes? Am I correct in assuming an acceleration done to this part of the workflow is CPU and not GPU bound? Can we get a definitive statement on whether anything is now multi-threaded that wasn't before?

 

 

 

 

smooth interaction with the user interface at all times, even while frames are being rendered

 

To everyone's comments on "rendering" and to yours, are we talking only about the rendering formerly known as RAM preview in this context? Does "smooth interaction" with the interface mean we can now get rapid-fire feedback as we make some initial parameter settings, preview, make a few more changes, and as we make the changes the preview immediately starts changing to reflect the new look? Or, does AE cache the new look so that we have to stop the current preview at a certain point, back up with CTI and then start playing back the newly cached frames?

 

I'm a little fuzzy on what's changed workflow-wise because it still sounds like we're doing something pretty similar to the old RAM previewing except now it happens a little quicker and does some extra caching so the process of "backing up and starting over" doesn't take as long as before?

 

In general when previewing things like Trapcode plugins, are we now able (with sufficient RAM and number of CPUs) to get realtime high quality previewing at say 720p 30fps, or does is still go at half-speed when previewing, only full-speed after it's done?

 

 

All that said the words "re-architected" are good to hear with such an old app. Keep at it. Look forward to seeing some actual demos.

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Overall this remains disappointing. All the demos show only the most basic setups with single layers and not nearly the complexity even a "simple" project has in my world, so I maintain: fixing the symptoms, not the underlying issues. What good does any of this do, when even some basic effects are slow as molasses?

 

Mylenium

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Overall this remains disappointing. All the demos show only the most basic setups with single layers and not nearly the complexity even a "simple" project has in my world, so I maintain: fixing the symptoms, not the underlying issues. What good does any of this do, when even some basic effects are slow as molasses?

 

Mylenium

 

 

The demonstrations of uninterrupted preview should not be taken to be demonstrations of all that we've accomplished (and are still accomplishing) with regard to interactive performance. It's just the one piece that shows up well in videos, so people have been showing it in their fluffy marketing-ish videos.

 

For a better sense, see my somewhat brief description in the "interactive performance" section on this page:

http://adobe.ly/1OeFDaC

 

I'll just go ahead and copy and paste that here for convenience:

 

 

re-architecture for interactive performance improvements

When we asked you, our customers, a year ago what you’d like us to focus on in After Effects, the response was enthusiastic and nearly unanimous: You wanted us to focus on making After Effects respond more quickly and smoothly as you carried out your creative work. We listened. The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort.

The majority of improvements in the upcoming version of After Effects are the result of a major re-architecture that allows the user interface and image rendering to be processed separately by the CPUs. The user interface can now be much more responsive, as it no longer needs to wait for frames to finish rendering. Conversely, frames can continue to render while you work with the user interface.

New behaviors that do not fall into specific feature-like functionality include the following:

  • no more delays or beachballs during render requests
  • smooth interaction with the user interface at all times, even while frames are being rendered
  • the ability to interrupt or cancel frame renders by making a change to the composition
  • fast scrubbing (dragging of current-time indicator), even when the frames take a long time to render
  • faster image caching
  • more efficient evaluation of expressions
  • ability for previews to continue to process while After Effects is in the background

The changes to how After Effects plays previews, detailed below, were either a direct result of these interactive performance improvements or made possible by the architectural changes that were implemented.

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Todd thank you for popping in here ahead of NAB and sharing some information after a long blog-silence on the AE site. I was beginning to wonder.

 

Is it the case that the previewing overhaul is done with this release, or just the first wave of previewing changes / interactivity changes? Am I correct in assuming an acceleration done to this part of the workflow is CPU and not GPU bound? Can we get a definitive statement on whether anything is now multi-threaded that wasn't before?

 

To everyone's comments on "rendering" and to yours, are we talking only about the rendering formerly known as RAM preview in this context? Does "smooth interaction" with the interface mean we can now get rapid-fire feedback as we make some initial parameter settings, preview, make a few more changes, and as we make the changes the preview immediately starts changing to reflect the new look? Or, does AE cache the new look so that we have to stop the current preview at a certain point, back up with CTI and then start playing back the newly cached frames?

 

I'm a little fuzzy on what's changed workflow-wise because it still sounds like we're doing something pretty similar to the old RAM previewing except now it happens a little quicker and does some extra caching so the process of "backing up and starting over" doesn't take as long as before?

 

In general when previewing things like Trapcode plugins, are we now able (with sufficient RAM and number of CPUs) to get realtime high quality previewing at say 720p 30fps, or does is still go at half-speed when previewing, only full-speed after it's done?

 

 

All that said the words "re-architected" are good to hear with such an old app. Keep at it. Look forward to seeing some actual demos.

 

 

Regarding silence on the blog:

 

We have been very busy and very focused on this re-architecture work. After Effects has never undergone such an overhaul, not even when we did the 64-bit port. Posting on the blog always came second or further behind getting this massive engineering task to a good place.

 

We are not stopping with the work that we've done for this release. This release is focused on interactive performance---i.e., the speed and smoothness with which you can interact with the application. The next release or two will continue on that path and then we'll do some heavy lifting on the problem of how long individual frames take to render. The same underlying architectural work done for interactive performance makes raw rendering speed improvements much more attainable. At first, we're focusing on he CPU side, since that is where the biggest general-purpose improvements can be made, but we're also going to ramp up on how much we use the GPU... just not right away. We also have some interesting things in the works regarding distributed and remote rendering that I can't make any promises about (but that I am spending a lot of my time on).

 

So, yeah, this coming release is a big step, and we're going to keep stepping fast.

 

See my previous response to Mylenium about some details about real benefits in the upcoming release.

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Will there be any changes now or in the future to the responsiveness and capability of Script UI panels? The scripting community is such a great resource, there's so much inventiveness and niche-filling there that it's a become a really significant 'long tail' than extends After Effects' functionality in so many directions. With these expression calculation improvements, it sounds like a lot of groundwork is being laid that could potentially increase the scope of what scripts can do. I would love to see that happen.

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Yes, we are looking into speeding up the scripting engine itself.

 

And we focus very much on the scripting interfaces. If you read through the release notes for the past few versions, you'll see a lot of incremental improvement there. (If I had to point to a single difference between me and my predecessors in leading the After Effects team, I'd say that this is the area that I prioritize higher than those who came before me.)

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Thank you for the clarifications Todd. Sounds like even with the previewing speed this is just an initial step but, if you are (as you said) "stepping fast" then I'm on board and will continue to invest my time learning and working with the app. I don't know if the next big release will be an interim release (say later this year) to add more performance enhancements but all I can tell you is working with this app on a Mac Pro with big amounts of RAM and zero hard drives (everything is SSD -- the app drive, the cache drive, all of it) has been frustrating to the point that I just don't work with it. I'm waiting to see what happens / spending my time working with other apps instead.

 

To be fair, Cinema 4D has some of the same problems and they're apparently not doing anything to remedy it, so I can at least give the AE team some props for now showing their hand / showing they're on the right track with what all the users were asking for. I wish Maxon were responsive enough to even put the survey out there, let alone be sure they'd act on it in the next release cycle.

Edited by Zmotive

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Thank you for the clarifications Todd. Sounds like even with the previewing speed this is just an initial step but, if you are (as you said) "stepping fast" then I'm on board and will continue to invest my time learning and working with the app. I don't know if the next big release will be an interim release (say later this year) to add more performance enhancements but all I can tell you is working with this app on a Mac Pro with big amounts of RAM and zero hard drives (everything is SSD -- the app drive, the cache drive, all of it) has been frustrating to the point that I just don't work with it. I'm waiting to see what happens / spending my time working with other apps instead.

 

To be fair, Cinema 4D has some of the same problems and they're apparently not doing anything to remedy it, so I can at least give the AE team some props for now showing their hand / showing they're on the right track with what all the users were asking for. I wish Maxon were responsive enough to even put the survey out there, let alone be sure they'd act on it in the next release cycle.

 

AE runs fine on my nMP. But I did upgrade from a lowish spec iMac so maybe it's relative to expectations. I have no real experience of other compositing/animation apps. Are they appreciably faster?

What is it you're after from Cinema 4D? Is it open CL rendering or viewport/object handling?

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