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Entries in Adobe After Effects (82)


Prolost Burns v1.6

After I released Prolost Burns, some folks urged me to rebuild it as a “Custom Effect” preset. This is a feature in After Effects that allows you to use XML to create something that looks exactly like a real plug-in, but with no actual guts of its own.

The XML editing happens in a file hidden within the After Effects application package. It’s not something most users will ever touch. I wouldn’t have regarded this as approachable without help. Batchframe features a wonderful tutorial on creating “Pseudo Effects,” another name for Custom Effects—as well as a rather amazing interactive tool for building them. Just design your interface and then press a button to get the XML code.

Now Featuring Errors

If you save a preset from one of these Custom Effects (presumably with some expressions and/or other effects to perform the actual awesomeness), and then apply that preset on a machine that doesn’t have the edited XML file, another After Effects feature kicks in—the ability to show the UI for a missing effect. Since the UI is all we need, a missing effect is as good as an installed one, with the one exception that the user will see a “missing effect” error when they apply the preset.

At first, I felt that this rather deplorable user experience was a dealbreaker, but I passed the Custom Effect version of Prolost burns to a few willing beta testers, and they unanimously reported that the advantages outweighed the inconvenience of the error message.

Those advantages range from purely aesthetic to quite practical:

  • The preset sure looks nice. Even with a big “Missing:” in front of its name, it’s lovely to have all the controls under one “effect” that looks just like a big-boy effect.
  • This consolidation isn’t just pretty though. It allows you to easily copy/paste settings from one layer to another (if both have the preset applied).
  • You can also reset the preset to the default values I set. In 1.0, you’d have to reset the sliders one at a time, and they’d revert back to the After Effects defaults rather than mine.
  • I can control the functionality of the sliders more, by limiting their ranges and determining whether they can be keyframed or not.
  • I can create groups of controls that can be twirled open and closed individually.
  • I can create a pop-up menu of options. Which I did for Burns, and I really like the results.

While I understand why After Effects is reporting these effects as “missing,” the truth is, there’s nothing missing at all. A missing effect is simply a shell of sliders with no innards, which is all the Custom Effect ever was in the first place. I’ve contacted Adobe about this issue.


Clearly I’m having fun with this little experiment of packaging up my household presets and selling them (and supporting them) at a fair price—something I only regard as possible thanks to the simplicity and power of the Squarespace 6 e-commerce platform. I’m planning a post about that whole process soon, because part of the experiment is sharing the results with you and maybe even inspiring you to do something similar.

See, I don’t really look at this as me selling you stuff. I see it more like we’re all a community of creative folks, making cool things, sharing them, and buying each other a beer here are there. In a world where we might buy a $2 weather app based on a screenshot and the promise of a slightly prettier way of avoiding sticking our heads out the window, it’s nice to know that so many of you feel comfortable sailing a few bucks off into the ether, with the trust that a useful thing will come zinging back to you in return.

So check out Prolost Burns v1.6. That’s right, it’s now up to 1.6, even though it’s 1.5 that you see in the video. Version 1.5 switched to the Custom Effects model and added the pop-up with four scale options. Version 1.6 adds an option called “Natural Scale.” This uses an exponential scale curve to make the zooming animations more perceptually uniform over time. It defaults to On, because it’s, like, a million times better than a simple linear scale curve.

Free Upgrade

If you bought version 1.0 or 1.5, the upgrade to 1.6 is free. Just reply to your order email and I’ll hook you up, as quickly as I can.

Note: If you’re upgrading from 1.5 to 1.6, don’t use 1.6 in existing projects that feature 1.5. Since the missing effects have the same matchname, you’ll experience conflicts. Maybe in the future I’ll include version numbers in the preset names to avoid this—like I said, it’s all a big experiment.

An experiment that’s successful enough that I already know what the next batch of presets will be, and they are so insanely cool that I can barely contain myself!

Get Prolost Burns v1.6 now on the Prolost Store, and don’t forget to throw the free DV Rebel Tools in your cart while you’re there!


Prolost Burns

When I was creating the demo video for the Prolost Lightroom Presets, I wanted a quick way to create the classic zooming/dissolving photo montages known as the “Ken Burns effect.” And because sometimes your scaffolding needs scaffolding of its own, I decided to make an Animation Preset to speed the process.

Prolost Burns is an Animation Preset for Adobe After Effects CS6 and greater that automates the process of creating this type of animation. It’s so handy that I thought you might get some use out of it yourself.

  • Set the start and end zoom values, and your layer will smoothly zoom over its entire duration. Changing the layer’s length automatically adjusts the animation.
  • Use any comp size and any layer size.
  • Layers automatically cross-dissolve based on how they overlap in the timeline.
  • Set a custom center point for the zooming animation, to draw the viewer’s focus.
  • Apply the preset to many layers at once for a near instantaneous setup.
  • Works with Adobe After Effects CS6 and CC, Mac and Windows.

Prolost Burns makes it insanely easy to set up gorgeous photo montages. Get it now for only $3.99.


Cutting Through the Cloud

Aharon Rabinowitz posted a wonderful breakdown of why you’re both right and wrong to be bent out of shape by Adobe’s announcement that most of their flagship software will go subscription-only.

Adobe is a company that makes tools we all love and rely on for our work in video post production. But with their latest announcement – that from here on in, all software will only be available through subscription – a lot of people are upset and feeling betrayed. I want to try to address it all in a balanced way. I’ll ask that you read all the way through because I am going to start with why, about certain things, you’re totally wrong. Then, I’ll move into why you’re also totally right – and have the right to feel angry and demand more.

Aharon’s words stick out like a sore thumb on the internet, because they’re rational, well-considered, researched, and nuanced. Creative Cloud is neither a money grubbing conspiracy designed to seize power, nor is it a deftly-handled modernization of a business model. The truth is somewhere in between, and Aharon has done us all a favor by taking the time to analyze the situation.

And the part about the ruler/stylus guy is priceless.

Adobe fans and haters alike, read it. Adobe employees, print it out and tape it to your wall.


After Effects Next

Adobe has revealed the new features they’ll be showing off at NAB. Here’s some of what’s new in After Effects:

  • Cinema 4D Lite and live 3D pipeline between Cinema 4D and After Effects
  • The Refine Edge tool, which adds crazy good soft edge matting to the already amazing Roto Brush.
  • Snapping. This doesn’t sound big, but it actually is. Make a cube in seconds rather than minutes.
  • Bicubic resampling. Ahem. Finally.

Read more here. And here’s a good rundown of what’s new in Premiere—looks like they focused on solid usability features rather than glitz, which is great to see.

Now, back to After Effects. Cinema 4D Lite will be bundled with this “next” version, and you’ll be able to create a C4D scene right from within AE. You create the 3D animation in C4D, but you can change your view on the scene using the AE camera. Then, when you render your After Effects project, the C4D scene is rendered on-the-fly. This is not just a welcome simplification of the standard render-import-render workflow, it puts powerful 3D features into any After Effects session. Pretty cool.

Creative Cloud subscribers will get these new features as soon as they are released, which, I suspect, will create a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings about the whole software-as-a-subscription model.

A big, personal congrats to my friends on the After Effects team. Nice work all!