New 'Master Properties' Feature in After Effects Promises to Reduce Time, Effort Required in Making Minor Changes to Comps
On the eve of NAB 2018, Adobe released the latest raft of improvements to its Creative Cloud suite of tools, including new features aimed at helping Premiere Pro editors dial in looks more quickly with its built-in Lumetri color cools. Other new features include welcome tweaks to the Essential Graphics panel that should make it easier for both Premiere Pro editors and After Effects artists to use.
The marquee feature for editors in this go-round is Comparison View, which allows users to load a second image in the program monitor. Click a button in the Lumetri Color panel and you can easily compare any two frames from shots in the same sequence side by side, or in a vertical or horizontal split view. Naturally, this comes in handy when you’re trying to color-match two shots in a sequence by hand.
But then, Adobe asks, why do it by hand? In a nifty bit of technology it says is driven by its Adobe Sensei machine-learning engine, Premiere Pro now has a Color Match feature that should get you most of the way there. Sensei is smart — it knows that skin tones are often the most important element of your shot, and so it uses face-detection technology (as an option) to help select the best match. Even better, the values are simply auto-dialed into Lumetri’s color wheels, meaning you can see what adjustments were made in case it helps you improve the results with some final tweaks.
Motion Graphics Templates have gotten a lot friendlier, too. Premiere editors now have the option to replace customized templates that are already in the sequence with new versions by alt- or option-dragging them onto the previous version on the timeline. At that point, a pop-up will ask if you want to update the template everywhere it appears in the sequence, or only at that one instance. Also, it’s now a lot easier to see and use the controls for position and scale, and text layers can be edited simply by clicking on them in the program monitor.
Adobe Sensei comes into play for another tedious Premiere task — ducking music against dialogue. Adobe Audition got an auto-ducking feature last year, and now the feature is migrating to Premiere Pro’s Essential Sound panel, where you can trust it to automatically lower the volume of music when dialogue or other audio is detected. Keyframes are created and displayed on the audio track so it’s easy to see what adjustments were made, which should give you confidence that the feature isn’t wrecking your mix.
And there are the usual minor tweaks that make little bits of editorial workflow go faster — there’s a new timecode panel with a wealth of display options, a new feature that allows the option of retaining sequence markers (including color, notes and duration) during copy-and-paste operations involving multiple clips, a new “immersive monitor” for viewing 360 footage, and additional camera format support, including Sony X-OCN for the Venice and Canon Cinema Raw Light for the EOS C200.
The big news in After Effects is the Master Properties workflow, which is an easier way to try out multiple variations on a single composition. Basically, an artist adds key layer and effect properties for a composition to the Essential Graphics panel. (“Almost every timeline property is available to add to the Essential Graphics panel,” explained After Effects Product Manager during a press briefing introducing the feature.) When that composition is nested inside another composition, those properties become Master Properties that are directly accessible and adjustable from the timeline. And the same composition can be nested again and again to make changes — you no longer have to duplicate the entire composition to make minor changes.
It’s hard to explain, but easy to demonstrate. Watch the above video to see Master Properties in action.
Other advances in the latest Creative Cloud software includes faster renders of H.264 and HEVC material, thanks to hardware-accelerated rendering on output, and a new Adobe Stock button for browsing available free and premium motion graphics templates that can be used in Premiere Pro.
Adobe also touted its fast and powerful Character Animator software, which is driving production of the animated Trump Administration satire Our Cartoon President, executive-produced by Stephen Colbert and airing on Showtime.