Adobe Systems After Effects CS4
The combination of powerful motion and graphics toolsets –- along with a relatively low price –- has made After Effects the most popular compositing software on the market.
- Innovative search function, improved 3-D navigation, bundled Mocha tracker
- Lacks 64-bit version and flowchart
After Effects CS4’s new tools are all welcome additions, but we were expecting more from the new release.
Price$ 1,495.00 (AUD)
The combination of powerful motion and graphics toolsets — along with A relatively low price — has made After Effects the most popular compositing software on the market. The CS4 version is still the best application available for high-end motion-graphics work and low- to mid-range visual effects, and the upgrade adds some useful tools — but it would have been great if Adobe had given it a more fundamental overhaul.
There are two major advantages that more expensive tools such as Eyeon’s Fusion and The Foundry’s increasingly popular Nuke have over After Effects — they both have full-on nodal flowcharts, and 64-bit versions of each is available.
AE is the tool that would have benefited most from extra RAM (though Lightroom comes a close second), so the introduction of Photoshop as the only 64-bit CS4 product was odd. Having access to more than 3GB RAM would improve the length of RAM previews and improve performance overall when dealing with HD comps.
Instead, Adobe has added controls that improve memory management. Another improvement that seems a little like a cop-out is the Mini-Flowchart. This is a pop-out window that shows how nested compositions sit within each other, making them easier to use. The nested compositions system is very useful for creating multiple versions of the same comp, or re-using elements. However, it’s also a reminder that AE lacks a full nodal compositing system. Being able to see how your effects are built in a flowchart makes creating and modifying complex effects easier.
To the list of what AE CS4 lacks, we could also add background rendering — for which you have to buy GridIron Software’s $US395 Nucleo Pro 2 plug-in — and a colour swatch and picker system like Illustrator’s.
One of AE’s core strengths over the competition is its timeline, which makes timing the motion of graphics (or VFX) elements easier and quicker than in other tools. It can get messy, though, when you’re creating complex effects — so the CS4 version adds a Search tool that shows only parameters that match what you type. It updates automatically as you type, so if you wanted to see the position parameters for your layers and elements, you’d only need to type ‘po’ or ‘pos’ to see them.
Once you’ve isolated your position parameters like this, it’s easier to match motions or take them into the Graph Editor for fine-tuning.
The search facility is also available in the Projects panel (to help with searching through complex projects) and the Effects and Presets panel, which is great if you can’t remember where the effect you want is.
AE’s 3D engine gains the Unified Camera tool for orbiting, moving and zooming using the same tool (by holding down left, middle or right mouse buttons). It’s tricky to master but fast to use when you do — though you do need a good mouse where you can middle-click without moving the scroll wheel. You can import Photoshop CS4’s 3-D compositions and roundtrip edit them — but we would have preferred the ability to directly import 3-D models, as with Boris Blue.
Only three new filters have been added: Bilateral Blur, Cartoon and Turbulent Noise. Bilateral Blur works as advertised, blurring flat areas while leaving edges intact. Cartoon is the ubiquitous A Scanner Darkly-style effect, which creates a more appealing look than most, but its output isn’t as crisp as Red Giant Software’s ToonIt. Turbulent Noise is like the old Fractal Noise filter, but with OpenGL enhancement. AE has a huge number of filters, so we don’t think the addition of just three is a point against this upgrade.
Adobe has bundled Imagineer Software’s Mocha-AE 2.5D tracking application, which has been updated to allow copy-and-paste of tracking data from Mocha to AE. However, this is still fiddly to use, and incorporating Mocha technology into AE’s built-in tracker would have been better.
Other additions include separate keyframing of X, Y and Z position parameters in 3-D space, better metadata support and full project export to Flash in the new XFL format.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Acer Swift 7
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Surface Pro 4
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Lenovo to integrate Amazon Alexa in Moto smartphones
- Google will start adding Assistant to Nougat and Marshmallow phones this week
- Google's new AI aims to end abusive online comments using 'Perspective'
- Village Roadshow aims to block 40 pirate sites
- Analysts peer into Microsoft's rumored Windows 10 Cloud
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPBI Commercial AnalystVIC
- CCSQL Database Administrator (DBA)NSW
- CCSalesforce - Functional Analyst (BA)NSW
- FTTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCSQL Database AdministratorQLD
- TPBusiness Intelligence Program ManagerVIC
- CCIT Procurement OfficerNSW
- FTChief Architect - Public SectorACT
- FTLinux Systems EngineerQLD
- CCCommercial Contract AdministratorACT
- CCDevops Consultant - 12 month contractVIC
- CCTest Reporter - Gold CoastQLD
- FTERP ConsultantQLD
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- FTPerformance TesterACT
- FTPMO Specialist - PermanentACT
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- CCWindows System EngineerNSW
- CCSystem EngineerSA
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - SQLACT
- TPBusiness Process Analyst (Newcaslte Based)NSW
- FTLead PMONSW
- CCTechnical Consultant - ITSM/HP Service ManagerACT
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC