Adobe users can be loosely divided into two groups: those who are happy with the feature set of its apps from 10 years ago, and those who are pushing the envelope looking for the ultimate productivity edge. If you’re a creative who works with audio or video and are in the latter group, Adobe is rolling out some slick new features in Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, and Character Animator ahead of the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) show. Most of the features are pretty technical, and hard to describe fully in an article, but we’ll cover the highlights to give you some idea of where to start exploring.
Color Grading Improvements for Premiere Pro
The Lumetri tools have been enhanced with better real-time previews of color adjustments, an improved interface for seeing what you’re doing when using curves, and some interesting pairings you can control, including Hue versus Hue and Luma versus Saturation. For those looking to replicate a particular, detailed, color look from one setting or scene to another, these enhancements should be quite helpful.
Video Editors Get Some Help With Audio
A great-looking video clip can be ruined by a mediocre soundtrack. There have always been plenty of tools in Premiere Pro and Audition to try and fix background noise or unfortunate reverb from surroundings. But Adobe has now taken them to another level with an automated set of tools that are found in the Essential Sound panel for cleaning up the sound, removing undesirable reverb, and even intelligently adding fairly realistic reverb that simulates various environments.
For those who dive into Audition for their audio editing, Adobe has given the Multitrack editor a complete makeover — designed to make it easier to see what’s going on and organize your work. Integration with Adobe Media Encoder has also been improved. Presets, preferences, and third-party effects can also be automatically imported when upgrading.
After Effects: Motion Graphics Get Some Solid Interoperability Upgrades
You can now author sophisticated motion graphics templates in After Effects for use in Premiere Pro. For many of us who use Premiere Pro but aren’t expert in After Effects, that allows for getting templates from those who are. And if you don’t have access to an in-house expert, Motion Graphics templates are also available through Adobe Stock. Another nice touch is that spreadsheets can be directly loaded into Premiere Pro to fill in the data for complex motion graphics templates like those used for movie or video credits. Template authors can also unlock font selection, so users can change the font without having to ask for the template to be re-authored.
Also in After Effects, the Expression engine has been rewritten and is now up to five times faster. The Mocha plug-in has also been more tightly integrated and implemented on the GPU. In general, Adobe says it has improved After Effects performance across the board. AE also gets many of the same improvements as Premiere Pro, including the improved Lumetri interface.
VR180 Becomes a Fully Supported Technology
Adobe has been adding 360-degree VR features incrementally over the last couple years, but now is also providing end-to-end support for the newer, but increasingly-popular VR180 format which has been showcased by Google for its YouTube platform. The VR180 workflow in Premiere Pro now includes tools for ingesting, editing, adding effects, and exporting VR180 content.
Adobe has also expanded support for using a VR headset to edit and preview both 360-degree and VR180 content through an Immersive Environment capability. The Immersive Environment now has a Theatre Mode that provides a reference monitor in its screening room where you can collaborate with other team members.
After Effects Adds Mesh Sculpting
For really advanced users, After Effects adds Mesh Sculpting, so you can shape and mold surfaces. That new feature set dovetails nicely with the new Depth Passes capability which allows the placement of 3D objects more quickly and realistically in a video.
If You Haven’t Used Character Animator, It’s Now Easier Than Ever
I’m not sure how practical it is for most users, but one of the most fun new features in Character Animator is Characterizer (initially shown as Project Puppetron), which lets you turn any work of art into an animated character. To help make your characters more capable, Adobe has added Magnets, which lets them throw, drop, and pick up items. The demo of Magnets was pretty cool, but not quite as natural-looking as a full-custom animation of the same activity.
You can now have your characters styling while they walk, with new shoulder and hip motion tags. Three-quarter walks are now possible, for example. I used the new capabilities to create a stylized version of myself. It seems there are still kinks to be worked out before release; in testing, I had to repeat the capture process several times, and then using the rendered character crashed the app. It was pretty cool to see myself speaking through a weird statue head, though!
Performance Hasn’t Been Forgotten
Even if you don’t use any of the new features, faster performance may be a reason to make sure and get the latest versions when they’re available. I’m particularly excited about the improved hardware-encode and decode support for H.264 and HEVC, as even with a high-end CPU and GPU video rendering and encoding can be a real bottleneck. There’s also new native support for ARRI’s Alexa LF (Large Format), Sony’s Venice v2, and HEIF formats.
Price and Availability
All these updates, along with its user-friendly Project Rush video editor, will be available to Creative Cloud subscribers later this year.
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