Adobe has released After Effects 18.0, the latest version of the compositing software, adding new 3D features including a real-time Draft preview mode and ground plane, and a revamped Composition toolbar.
Performance changes include a “4x speed gain” in the Warp Stabilizer, and improvements to Team Projects.
Adobe has also released a separate beta build of the software introducing support for multi-frame rendering in the render queue, which it expects to make export up to 3x faster on highly multi-core systems.
Further smaller updates to the new 3D Design Space
After Effects 18.0 continues the overhaul of the software’s 3D compositing toolset begun in version 17.5, which added new transform gizmos for 3D objects, and new 3D camera controls.
Adobe describes the new 3D Design Space as being primarily aimed at motion designers who work in 3D, rather than being intended to compete with dedicated 3D compositing apps like Nuke or Fusion.
Version 18.0 is a smaller update, officially introducing a feature previously available in beta: the new real-time 3D Draft preview mode, which replaces the old OpenGL Fast Draft mode.
Described as a “gaming-style engine built by Adobe from the ground up”, it enables users to trade visual fidelity for interactive performance when previewing compositions in 3D.
It includes a built-in ground plane to make it easier to align objects in 3D space by providing a horizon line and vanishing point. The grid representing the ground plane can be toggled on or off.
The software’s Composition toolbar has also been reorganised to provide easier access to the 3D controls.
Updates to motion graphics templates and performance boosts
Other changes include the option to create motion graphics templates with replaceable media, enabling editors working in Premiere Pro to drop in their own images or video clips.
Performance improvements include an update to the Warp Stablizer resulting in a “4x speed gain” when removing camera shake from UHD footage; and faster searches in Team Projects.
Experimental support for multi-frame rendering available as a separarate beta
Adobe has also released a separate beta build of the software introducing support for multi-frame rendering, enabling the software to render frames in parallel on multi-core CPUs.
In the initial release, multi-frame support is confined to the render queue for final-quality export, but Adobe expects to add it to the composition preview and motion graphics templates in future.
The performance increase depends on the number of CPU cores and amount of system RAM available.
On a four- or six-core processor, Adobe predicts a 1.2-1.4x increase in render speed, rising to up to 3x on CPUs with 16 or more cores in systems with over 48GB of RAM.
Pricing and system requirements
After Effects 18.0 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.13+ on a rental-only basis. In the online documentation, the release is also referred to as the March 2021 update.
Subscriptions to After Effects alone cost $31.49/month or $239.88/year, while All Apps subscriptions, which provide access to over 20 of Adobe’s creative tools, cost $79.49/month or $599.88/year.
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