Adobe After Effects CS3 Professional
Some notes before you start
Contents Hello and welcome to the After Effects CS3 Professional preview. Please note that this preview is an
Some notes before you start 1 unfinished product and does not include all the functionality that will appear in the final release.
What’s new in After Effects CS3 While some may find the quality appropriate for use in a production environment, the preview is
not final-release quality and should not be used for critical work. Adobe does not offer technical
1 Managing projects 3
support for the After Effects CS3 Professional Preview.
2 Importing 3
3 Compositions 4 For a list of system requirements, please see http://www.adobe.com/products/aftereffects/systemreqs/.
4 Views and previews 5
5 Layers and properties 5
6 Animation 7
After Effects CS3 Professional Preview Limitations
7 Color 8
• This preview version does not include the ability to encode the following video and audio for-
8 Text 9
mats: MPEG-2, HDV, H.264, Dolby, MP3, MP3 Pro, and AAC/AAC+. In addition, you will not
9 Drawing and painting 9
be able to import most non-QuickTime MPEG compressed files.
10 Effects and animation presets 11 • Bundled third-party effects (Synthetic Aperture Keylight, Cycore Effects, and The Foundry Color
11 Expressions 11 Finesse) are not included in the preview.
12 Rendering and exporting 12
• The project file format of the preview is not compatible with previous versions of After Effects.
Projects created in or saved from the After Effects CS3 preview will open in the final release ver-
sion of After Effects CS3 Professional.
Note: The After Effects CS3 Professional preview is available for use for a limited time and will expire
on August 31st 2007.
After Effects CS3 Professional Preview Known Issues
• We recommend uninstalling Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta and Soundbooth Beta 1 and Beta 2
prior to installing After Effects CS3 Professional Preview.
• Uninstalling After Effects CS3 Professional Preview will disable the Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta,
uninstall Adobe Bridge, and disable Adobe Device Central. Running the Adobe Photoshop CS3
beta installer in repair mode will fix these problems.
What’s new in After Effects CS3 Professional
Use new shape drawing tools to create and animate vector graphics. Strokes and fills—including
editable gradients—can be added to shapes, and these properties can be animated. After Effects
also includes shape layer operations based on Adobe® Illustrator® vector effects.
Puppet tools let you quickly add natural motion to raster images and vector graphics, including
still images, shapes, and text characters. Use Puppet tools to easily distort any image with natural,
After Effects CS3 Professional
Photoshop layer styles, video layers, and Vanishing Point exchange
Layer styles and video layers are preserved when you import a Photoshop file. You can also add and animate layer
styles within After Effects and use advanced blending options. Export Vanishing Point data from Adobe Photoshop
CS3 Extended, and then import the data into After Effects to automatically build a 3D composition from the 2D
Flash CS3 Professional integration
After Effects timeline markers can be embedded as FLV cue points in order to create interactive video presentations
in Flash Professional. In addition, After Effects CS3 can batch render .FLV for use in Flash. Import SWF files with the
alpha channel preserved and continuously rasterize SWF layers to scale them without loss in quality.
Per-character 3D properties for text animation
Explore new text animation possibilities by making individual characters or words in your text move and rotate in 3D
Jump-start animations with Brainstorm, a new user interface that offers variations based on selected design and ani-
mation parameters. Choose which properties and effects you want to explore, and Brainstorm will propose animated
Enhanced color management
Use color management to maintain precise and predictable color from input to output. Simulate the output of various
film stocks and devices to control color quality
Streamline the review and approval process. Render your work into an Adobe PDF file that enables anyone with
Adobe Reader® software to make timecode-accurate comments. When you import the comments into After Effects,
they appear as markers on the Timeline.
Take full advantage of multiprocessor and multicore systems to render multiple frames simultaneously during RAM
previews and final renders.
Export and preview video for mobile devices
New export presets in the Export Settings dialog box make it easier to export movies suitable for playback on mobile
devices, such as mobile phones and the Apple® iPod®. Use Adobe Device Central CS3 to help ensure your video will
look great on an array of supported mobile devices
For more details on these new features and more, review the following sections.
After Effects CS3 Professional 3
1 Managing projects
After Effects now supports multiprocessing, so if you have additional CPUs and enough memory, when you do a
RAM preview or export through the Render Queue, After Effects will attempt to render multiple frames at the same
To enable multiprocessing, choose Edit Preferences Multiprocessing (Windows) or After Effects Preferences
Multiprocessing (Mac OS), and then select Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously. The bottom of the Preferences
dialog box shows how many additional processors (in addition to the worst-case scenario of one processor) will be
used at the current settings. To increase the number of background processes that can run, decrease Maximum RAM
Cache Size or install more RAM.
New Memory Cache preferences
There are some new preferences in the Memory Cache preferences dialog box for the Conformed Media Cache.
You can now do any of the following:
• Specify a location for the media database. The media database retains links to all cached media files. This media
cache database is shared with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore, and Adobe Soundbooth, so each of these appli-
cations can each read to and write from the same set of cached media files. If you change the location of the data-
base from within any of these applications, the location is updated for the other applications, too. Each application
can use its own cache folder, but the same database keeps track of them all.
• Remove conformed files for footage no longer on your hard disk by clicking the Clean button.
• Specify a location for the Media Cache where After Effects conformed files are stored.
New Memory Cache preferences
When you use the Vanishing Point feature in Photoshop CS3 Extended, you can then use the File Export For After
Effects CS3 (.vpe) command to save the results as a collection of PNG files—one for each plane—and a .vpe file that
describes the geometry of the scene. You can then import the .vpe file into After Effects using File Import. After
Effects uses the information in the .vpe file to recreate the scene as a composition containing a camera layer and one
perspective corrected 3D layer for each PNG file.
After Effects CS3 Professional
Photoshop CS3 Extended can create PSD files that contain video and animation layers. After Effects can import these
files just as any other Photoshop files, either as a footage item with all layers merged together or as a composition
with each Photoshop layer separate and editable in After Effects. (Working with Photoshop video layers requires
QuickTime 7.1 or later.)
When you import a Photoshop file as a composition, you can retain editable layer styles or merge layer styles into
footage. When you import only one layer that includes layer styles, you can choose to ignore the layer styles or merge
layer styles into footage. At any time, you can convert merged layer styles into editable layer styles for each After
Effects layer based on a Photoshop footage item. For more information on working with layer styles, see Layer Styles
later in this document.
Importing SWF files from Flash CS3 into After Effects
You can import SWF files into After Effects to composite them with other video or render them as video with ad-
ditional creative effects. When After Effects imports a SWF file, its internal keyframes are preserved so that you can
continue to use them for timing other effects. Each SWF file imported into After Effects is flattened into a single con-
tinuously rasterized layer, with its alpha channel preserved. Continuous rasterization means that graphics stay sharp
as they are scaled up.
Markers have been revamped in After Effects to offer more functionality, including the ability to assign FLV cue
points and parameters to use in Flash CS3. There are two types of markers you can use in a project: composition-time
markers and layer-time markers. Composition-time markers appear in the time ruler of the Timeline panel, whereas
layer-time markers appear in the layer-duration bar. Here are some of the changes associated with markers:
• You can now have an unlimited number of composition-time markers (previously you were limited to 10).
• Composition-time markers now have the same metadata options as layer-time markers, including fields for com-
ments and chapter and web links. To edit marker metadata, double-click a composition-time or layer-time marker
in the Timeline panel.
• You can specify cue points with up to three name/value pairs to be included in an FLV file. To add cue point infor-
mation, open the Marker dialog box by double-clicking a composition-time or layer-time marker in the Timeline
panel. In the Flash Video Cue Point and Parameters section you can specify a name ActionScript will use to target
the cue point embedded in the .FLV, as well as the type of cue point (Event or Navigation) and up to three name/
A. Composition-time marker B. Composition-time marker with cue-point data C. Layer-time marker D. Layer-time marker
with cue-point data
Other composition changes
• There is a new button in the Timeline panel that opens the parent composition that the current composition is
• The Exposure control in the Composition panel now works for 8-bpc and 16-bpc in addition to 32-bpc.
After Effects CS3 Professional
4 Views and previews
Real-time audio playback during RAM preview
After Effects now has real time audio playback during RAM preview or audio preview. Note that it doesn’t work for
scrubbing or spacebar playback. You will get real time audio if no effects are applied. In addition, some audio settings
have changed. Audio preview settings (except duration) have been removed from the Preferences. Sample rate op-
tions are now in the Project Settings dialog box.
5 Layers and properties
Photoshop provides a variety of layer styles—such as shadows, glows, and bevels—that change the appearance of a
layer. After Effects can preserve these layer styles when importing Photoshop layers. You can also apply the following
layer styles in After Effects: Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Glow, Bevel And Emboss, Satin, Color
Overlay, Gradient Overlay, and Stroke. Each layer style has its own collection of properties in the Timeline panel.
In addition to the layer styles that add visual elements—like a drop shadow or a color overlay—each layer’s Layer
Styles property group contains a Blending Options property group. You can use the Blending Options settings for
powerful and flexible control over blending operations.
For more information on working with layer styles, see the After Effects Help system.
Brainstorm creates multiple temporary variants of your composition and displays them in a grid. You can save any
number of these variants, apply one to the current composition, or redo the Brainstorm operation using only the
variants that you choose as input.
Brainstorm uses genetic algorithms to mutate and select property values used as input into each Brainstorm opera-
tion. You decide which variants to include as input to each generation and how much mutation (randomness) to use.
Brainstorm can help you explore creative possibilities, or it can help you quickly narrow in on a particular desired
look from a range of variations.
With Brainstorm, you can rapidly accomplish the following:
• Compare the results of multiple values for a single property so that you can find the value that works best.
• Explore the results of randomly modifying any number of properties to achieve a creative result.
To get started with Brainstorm, select one or more properties or property groups in the Timeline panel, and click the
Brainstorm button at the top of the Timeline panel. To learn more about Brainstorm, see the After Effects Help
After Effects CS3 Professional
Brainstorm dialog box. A. Original composition (original in center tile when using Brainstorm on single numerical value)
B. Maximize Tile C. Save As New Composition D. Apply To Composition E. Use In Next Brainstorm F. Randomness control
(Spread control when using Brainstorm on single numerical value) G. Back and Forward to previous and next generations
H. Playback controls
More layer-related features
• No limits on In/Out points for stills, lights, cameras, and time-remapped layers: In previous versions of After Ef-
fects, the In and Out points of certain layer types were limited in time by the duration of the layer. That limit no
longer applies. Just drag the In or Out point of a still, light, camera, or time-remapped layer wherever you want it to
be with no limits.
• Trimmed layers are more visible when the user interface is set to a darker scheme.
• In the Timeline panel, you can now select top-level groups like Transform, Masks, and Effects and copy and paste
them onto other layers. That means, if you want to copy all the transform properties from one layer to another
layer, for example, you no longer have to select each individual property. Instead, you can simply select the Trans-
form group and copy it.
• There are now 15 label colors available to assign to layers in your project. You can also choose to assign no label
color. To apply label colors, select one or more layers, and then choose Edit Label.
• When you double-click a shape tool to reset a shape or create a new default shape, the shape properties are also
reset and applied to the next shape drawn.
• When working with a time-remapped layer in the Time Remap graph, the speed at the time needle as displayed in
the Info panel is now in sec/sec floating point instead of timecode/sec for more precision.
After Effects CS3 Professional
Animating with Puppet tools
Use the Puppet tools to quickly add natural motion to raster images and vector graphics, including still images,
shapes, and text characters. The Puppet effect works by deforming part of an image according to the positions of pins
that you place and move. These pins define what parts of the image should move, what parts should remain rigid, and
what parts should be in front when parts overlap.
Each Puppet tool is used to place and modify a specific kind of pin:
• Puppet Pin tool : Use this tool to place and move Deform pins.
• Puppet Overlap tool : Use this tool to place Overlap pins, which indicate which parts of an image should ap-
pear in front of others when distortion causes parts of the image to overlap one another.
• Puppet Starch tool : Use this tool to place Starch pins, which stiffen parts of the image so that they are distorted
You can manually animate an image with the Puppet tools, or record animation by sketching motion. You’ll find the
Puppet tools in the Tools panel. Learn more about how to animate with Puppet tools in the After Effects Help system.
Puppet mesh created by placing Deform pins (left), and result of dragging a Deform pin
Graph Editor improvements
• When snapping a keyframe to a value at which there are multiple other keyframes, a yellow snap line is now drawn
between all keyframes at that value (in After Effects 7.0 the snap line was drawn inconsistently and often included
only some of the keyframes at the value). Dotted lines also help you line up your keyframes, particularly when you
have keyframes that are of close but different values.
• In the Timeline panel you can now enable the Graph Editor toggle on Boolean and popup properties. Properties
with the Graph Editor toggle enabled are displayed in the Graph Editor when you click the Properties button at
the bottom of the Graph Editor and choose Show Graph Editor Set.
• A bug in After Effects 7.0 made for some unexpected snapping behavior in the Graph Editor when using shortcut
keys like J and K to go to the next visible keyframe or layer marker. The behavior has been fixed so that shortcut
keys and Shift-dragging only snap to interesting points displayed in the Graph Editor.
Motion blur changes
• 2D motion blur previously used 16 steps at best quality. Now it uses an adaptive number of steps based on the
speed of each layer. This will speed up motion blurred rendering for layers that don’t move too fast (i.e. ones that
looked good before), and should make fast layers look much better (though render a bit more slowly).
• The initial default value for Motion Blur shutter phase is now -90 degrees. You can alter that value by choosing
Composition Composition Settings, and clicking the Advanced tab. After Effects remembers the last value you
used and uses that as the new default.
After Effects CS3 Professional
• There are two new motion blur settings: Samples Per Frame and Adaptive Sample Limit. Samples Per Frame con-
trols the number of motion blur samples for 3D layers, shape layers, and certain effects. 2D layer motion automati-
cally uses more samples per frame when needed, up to the Adaptive Sample Limit. You can adjust these settings in
the Advanced tab of the Composition Settings dialog box.
• Motion blur no longer “cuts corners” for non-linear motion when rotation is not animated.
After Effects now gives you more advanced tools for color managing your footage and projects. Color management
provides many benefits. With color management the colors in imported images appear as the creators of the images
intended; you have more control over how colors are blended within your project, for everything from motion blur to
antialiasing; and the movies that you create will look as you intend when viewed on devices other than your com-
You’ll find color settings in the Project Settings dialog box, and in a new Color Management tab in the Interpret Foot-
age dialog box and the Output Module Settings dialog box. Color management in After Effects now includes support
for the following:
• Color management of individual footage items: The Interpret Footage dialog box (File Interpret Footage Main)
has an updated tabbed design that includes new color management options. On the Color Management tab you
can view color profile information, as well as choose a color profile and specify other color management options
for your footage. For Cineon footage, click the Cineon Settings button on the Color Management tab for manual
Cineon options, or assign one of the many film negative profiles that ship with After Effects.
• Disable color management for footage items: You can prevent the conversion of colors into the working color
space for a single footage item by selecting Preserve RGB in the Color Management tab of the Interpret Footage
dialog box or the Output Module Settings dialog box. This option preserves RGB numbers; color appearance is not
preserved. Turning off color management for a specific footage item is useful when the footage item is not intended
for visual display, but is instead intended for use as a control layer—for example, a displacement map.
• Support for footage with ICC profiles: When you import footage that has an embedded ICC profile, the profile is
automatically used in rendering when color management is enabled unless you assign a different profile to the foot-
age in the Interpret Footage dialog box.
• Specify an output color profile: You can control color management for each output item using the Output Module
Settings dialog box. The output color profile for a render item determines what calculations are performed when
converting a rendered composition’s colors from the project’s working color space to the color space for the output
medium. If a working space has not been set—that is, if color management is not on for the project—then you can-
not specify an output color profile.
• Color profile display in the Project panel: When you select a footage item in the Project panel, its color profile is
displayed in the Info portion of the panel.
• Installing custom color management profiles: After Effects interpretation rules can access custom color manage-
ment profiles installed on your hard drive. Once installed, the profile can be assigned automatically by creating an
interpretation rule that refers to the profile by name.
• Display color management: When color management is enabled, you can disable the automatic project working
space to monitor transform by deselecting View Use Display Color Management. You can also simulate the look
of your output on a particular playback device by choosing View Simulate Output and selecting one of the pre-
sets. To create your own preset, choose Custom.
Tip: When Display Color Management is enabled, the Show Channel icon at the bottom of the Composition, Footage,
and Layer viewers has a yellow crosshair.
After Effects CS3 Professional
You can now move, scale, and rotate individual characters in three dimensions using 3D animator properties. These
properties become available when you enable per-character 3D properties for the layer. Position, Anchor Point, and
Scale gain a third dimension; and two additional Rotation properties (X Rotation and Y Rotation) become available.
The single Rotation property for 2D layers is renamed to Z Rotation.
Enabling per-character 3D properties causes each character in the text layer to behave like an individual 3D layer
within the text layer, which behaves like a precomposition with collapsed transformations. Per-character 3D layers
intersect with other 3D layers following the standard rules for 3D precompositions with collapsed transformations.
A per-character 3D layer is designated by a special icon in the layer’s Switches column.
To learn more about using per-character 3D animation, see the After Effects Help system.
More text features
• You can now opt to have the Character and Paragraph panels and the Paint and Brush Tips panels automatically
open when you select the Text or Paint tool, respectively. To automatically open panels, select the Text or Paint tool
and enable the Auto-Open Panels option in the Options area of the Tools panel. The next time you select the tool,
the relevant panels will open.
• The Font popup menu in the Character panel is now a listbox with a scrollbar, making it easier to navigate through
a long list of fonts. When the popup menu is active, you can use the arrow keys or mouse wheel to scroll through
the list. Pressing the Enter key selects a font, and the Esc key cancels out of the menu.
• When working with the Color Picker from the Character panel, you can now preview your color selections by
enabling the Preview checkbox. Also, there is a new Eyedropper tool in the Color Picker that lets you sample colors
from anywhere on your screen.
Tip: You’ll also see the new Preview checkbox when the Color Picker is opened from the Timeline or Effect Controls
• In previous versions of After Effects, Create Outlines would create a new solid layer containing a mask for each
character. Now it creates a shape layer instead. A separate shape is created for each character, so you can manipu-
late them individually.
• When you’re done editing a text layer, you can now press Ctrl + Enter (Windows) or Command + Return (Mac
OS) to commit your changes.
• When entering a block of text, the shortcut Shift + Enter (Windows) or Shift + Return (Mac OS) now enters a soft
carriage return. A soft carriage return creates a line break without creating a paragraph break.
9 Drawing and painting
Shapes and shape layers
Shape layers are a new layer type that let you create geometric primitives like lines, circles, curves, and polygons. You
can apply strokes, fills, and other shape effects, and you can animate almost any property of a shape layer.
Shape layers contain vector graphics objects called shapes. By default, a shape consists of a path, a stroke, and a fill.
You create a shape layer by drawing in the Composition panel with a shape tool or the Pen tool. You can then add
shape attributes to existing shapes using the Add menu in the Tools panel or in the Timeline panel. You can also cre-
ate new shapes within that shape layer.
After Effects CS3 Professional 10
A shape group is a collection of shape attributes: paths, fills, strokes, path operations, and other groups. Each group
has its own blending mode and its own set of transform properties. By assembling shapes into groups, you can work
with multiple shapes simultaneously—such as scaling all shapes in the group by the same amount or applying the
same stroke to each shape. You can even place individual shapes or individual shape attributes within their own
groups to isolate transformations.
The shape tools are the Rectangle , Rounded Rectangle , Ellipse , Polygon , and Star tools.
You’ll find much more about creating shapes and shape layers in the After Effects Help system.
A. Two shapes in a group B. Two paths in a compound shape C. Circle path with Wiggle Paths applied D. One stroke
applied to all paths above it E. Star path in a group by itself F. One fill applied to all paths above it G. One path with two
After Effects CS3 Professional 11
10 Effects and animation presets
There are a number of improvements and new features related to effects and animation presets, including the follow-
• When you copy and paste an effect from the Effects Control panel, it now behaves as it does when you copy and
paste the effect from the Timeline panel. That is, changes in effect parameters over time are copied and pasted. In
previous versions of After Effects, copying from the Effects Control panel would copy values as a snapshot in time.
This resolves issues with copying and pasting the Color Profile Converter, among other effects.
• The following effects have been converted to 32-bpc: Remove Color Matting (with a new Clipping control to over-
or under-range values), Solid Composite, Fractal Noise, Linear Color Key, Beam, Ellipse, Compound Blur, Audio
Spectrum, and Audio Waveform.
• You’ll find new animation presets in the 3D Text and Shape Layer categories.
• The Color Picker dialog box for all effect controls now has a Preview checkbox. When preview is enabled, the
Composition or Layer panel will re-render as you change values.
• A new option in the Clip parameter of the Levels effect toggles output behavior based on project bit depth. In the
Clip To Output Black or Clip To Output White parameter, choose Off For 32 bpc Color.
• The Gamma slider in the Exposure effect has been renamed Gamma Correction and its behavior has changed.
Higher numbers make the image lighter; lower numbers make it darker. The default value is 1.00. The new slider
behavior is opposite the behavior in previous versions of After Effects. Projects using the Exposure effect that were
created in previous versions of After Effects will still use the old behavior.
• Obsolete entries have been removed from the Conversion Type pop-up menu in the Cineon Conversion effect.
Projects created in previous versions of After Effects that use the now-obsolete conversion types will still be sup-
• The new Tritone effect alters an image’s color information by mapping bright, dark, and midtone pixels to colors
you select. It’s like the Tint effect, except with midtone control. The Blend With Original slider in the effect specifies
the intensity of the effect. Tritone works with 8-bpc, 16-bpc, and 32-bpc color.
• When applying the Lens Blur effect, you can now opt to repeat edge pixels. Repeating edge pixels lets you blur the
contents of the layer while keeping the edges of the layer sharp.
• The Overflow parameter in the Fractal Noise effect now defaults to Allow HDR Results (previously it defaulted to
Clip). Overflow remaps the values that fall outside of the grayscale range of 0–1.
Link shapes to other shapes using expressions
You can now link the shapes of masks, shape layers, and paint strokes to each other using expressions. For example,
you can link a paint stroke shape to a mask shape. Create a paint stroke and then create a mask. Select the paint
stroke’s Path property, and then choose Animation Add Expression. Drag the expression pick whip from the
paint stroke’s Path property to the Mask Path property. The paint stroke will follow the mask path.
Show Expression Editor when add an expression in Graph Editor
When you add an expression to a property while working in the Graph Editor, the Expression Editor is now automat-
ically opened so you can view and edit the expression. This saves the step of having to choose Show Expression Editor
from the Choose Graph Editor Type and Options menu.