Adobe has upgraded After Effects, Premiere Pro and Lightroom with better colour, puppet and VR tools


Digital Arts | 03 April 18

Next week is the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) trade show in Las Vegas. It’s traditional for Adobe to show new versions of its video post-production software tools – After Effects, Premiere Pro and their surrounding products – but this year Adobe is both announcing and releasing them a week in advance.

Upgrades to After Effects CC, Premiere Pro CC, Character Animator and Audition can be downloaded from your Creative Cloud application now. In what’s probably coincidental timing, Adobe has also released updates to its two Lightroom apps for photographers, and notified users that it’s ending development of its Muse web design application.

New After Effects features

After Effects gains four key new features: Master Properties, the Advanced Puppet tool, improved data-driven tools and better VR content creation tools.

Master Properties lets you apply changes to the parameters of an effect on your timeline, and see those changes applied across multiple versions of that composition – for example if you had different versions of a composition for different languages or output formats.

The Puppet tool started life in After Effects CS3 back in 2007, before being ‘borrowed’ by both Photoshop and Illustrator. The tool has been developed further in those so apps, so the new Advanced Puppet tool brings some of those features back into After Effects – such as adjustable density of meshes.

After Effects also gains Premiere Pro’s ‘Adobe Immersive Environment’ for 360-degree video. This lets you view 360 footage wearing a VR headset and scrub backwards and forwards using your VR controllers – and place markers. This aims to speed up reviewing and marking-up 360 footage while being able to view all of it, before returning to AE to apply changes. There’s also support for Windows Mixed Reality headsets such as the Dell Visor in both AE and Premiere.

Importing data into data-driven animations such as infographics is easier, as is connecting elements visually using the Pick Whip rather than having to script using expressions.

New Premiere Pro features

Colour Match is a new feature based on Adobe’s Sensei machine-learning platform that, as the name suggests, matches the colours of one clip to another. Rather than just apply the same set of Lumetri colour corrections to the clip you want to match, this makes adjustments based on the colour properties of that clip. In theory, you should be able to match clips even if they were shot with different types of camera or under different lighting conditions.

There's also a Split View for checking clips and changes against another.

Another automated feature is auto ducking, which drops the volume of a track featuring music or ambiences where it overlaps with dialogue track on separate track, saving you the time of doing this manually.

Premiere Pro also gains a Learn panel with beginner tutorials, as Photoshop did last year.

AMD’s Radeon Pro SSG graphics card is now supported by Premiere Pro. This is an unusual graphics card that has a built-in 2TB SSD that acts as a cache for the card’s 16GB of HBM2 memory - allowing realtime editing of uncompressed 8K video (also 4K, 2K etc).

Currently this works for Windows only, but AMD says it's working on support for the Mac, where you’d put the graphics card in an external chassi such as Sonnet’s eGFX Breakaway Box and attached it to your Mac via Thunderbolt 3 (as we saw at the launch of the iMac Pro).

New Character Animator features

Character Animator gains more realistic physics and new sample puppets.

New Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic features

Adobe has added six new profiles to its Raw rendering, giving you more options beyond the Standard way it renders Raw images: Colour (which is the new Standard), Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Vivid. These are designed to give you similar-looking results from whatever camera you use.

You can also use Profiles for creative effects. Here Adobe has provided four sets – Artistic, Black & White, Modern and Vintage – and you can download third-party ones both free and paid-for from the likes of Brian Matiash and Contrastly.

There are also a series of more minor updates. More info can be found here.

Adobe Creative Cloud has recently gone up in price in the US, but not in the UK.

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