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Adobe hits a home run with After Effects CC

Jeff Foster | Aug. 19, 2013
New features in After Effects CC such as a live 3D workflow with Cinema 4D Lite, now included with Creative Cloud, give motion-graphics artists and compositors much-needed integration with true 3D object animation.

You can create a new C4D file from inside After Effects CC, which launches the Cinema 4D Lite app. The tools and features are somewhat limited compared to the full-license version, but you can still do some basic modeling, object animation, and camera moves inside the app. You can also open existing C4D models, complete with their texture and bump maps. All the material manager features appear to be identical, and you can easily edit maps in Adobe Photoshop CC.

Once you've completed your edits in Cinema 4D Lite, you simply save the file and return to After Effects CC, and the comp updates automatically.

Using the Cineware effect plug-in, you can select the Cinema 4D Lite camera or create a new 3D comp camera to control the views and animations.

One caveat, however, is that you can be only in Classic 3D mode--not Ray-Traced 3D. This limitation means that After Effects lights will have no effect on the C4D layers, nor will any 3D layers interact with or integrate into the 3D scene. You have to create or animate all of your 3D objects and text inside of Cinema 4D Lite if you want those items to be integrated with one another in reflections, shadows, and interactivity.

AME buys you some time
A big boost in productivity comes from the new menu/keyboard option to send a comp to Adobe Media Encoder (AME) to render in the background instead of locking up After Effects for a lengthy render. This means you can continue to work on other comps in your project instead of waiting for a render to complete.

Bottom line
Adobe After Effects CC is now more accessible than ever. Whether you're upgrading from a previous version or ready to dive in for the first time, you won't be disappointed with the flexibility the Creative Cloud model offers. The updates in this first release of the CC version are equivalent to those of a major version release, but knowing that we don't have to wait another 18 months for even more updates and new features is a huge bonus. I'm especially interested to see where the program goes in 3D functions now that Cinema 4D is part of the workflow, and I would really like to see more integration with Ray-Traced 3D layers.


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