Adobe MAX 2020, Adobe’s annual mega-conference for creatives, began yesterday and ends Thursday. There are an amazing number of virtual sessions to check out, and they’re all taught by experienced instructors. You’ll find that topics are aimed at creatives, covering areas such as digital photography, filmmaking, graphic design, AR, VR, and much more. Like previous Adobe MAX conferences, there are special guests, such as Conan O’Brian, Chelsea Handler, Ava DuVernay, Annie Leibovitz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ai Weiwei, Wes Anderson, and more. You know Photoshop must be pulling in some serious coin if you can order up guests of this level.
Every year at MAX, Adobe upgrades its applications with new features and this year is no exception. While there are many applications in the Creative Cloud, in this story I will focus on the new features and enhancements to the video applications.
Adobe After Effects
After Effects is an extremely versatile program that can handle all kinds of projects including motion graphics, animation, and visual effects work. However, an area that I have long felt it could improve upon was its approach to manipulating and navigating elements in its 3D environment.
In this latest version of After Effects, Adobe has improved the 3D capabilities of the software. Cameras have been improved, now allowing you to pan, dolly, and orbit around the scene using keyboard shortcuts similar to how most other 3D programs work — in other words, the standard way professional 3D artists would expect.
In addition, 3D objects and layers now have 3D Transform Gizmos. When selected, it allows you to rotate, scale, and transform the object with one convenient control. This, like the navigation controls spoken of earlier, is also a common feature in many 3D programs and makes the manipulation of objects a lot easier.
3D Ground Planes and more
While those features are available for download today, there are a couple of other 3D features which I am told are in public beta, meaning that they will be added very soon. They include a real-time 3D preview powered by a fast new game-style 3D rendering engine. That should speed things up nicely when interactively moving elements around in your scene.
Another “public beta” feature set for release is a new 3D ground plane which will provide a horizon line and vanishing point. This will allow for better control when laying out objects in the scene. It’s a good move. This is a common feature in all serious 3D programs. It’s an indispensable tool when it comes to understanding where the ground plane is and the relationship of 3D objects to it and each other. You will be able to toggle the grid on and off as well as align and snap objects onto it.
The new 3D features in After Effects are welcome additions which will make seasoned 3D artists feel more at home if they are used to working in other 3D software.
A Roto Brush to Make Life Easier
Besides the updates to the 3D environment in Adobe After Effects, the Roto Brush tool has been significantly revamped. When I first started in this business, when it came to rotoscoping, you relied on the pen tool to create masks, advancing frame by frame, while painstakingly adjusting the mask each step along the way (a tedious process that could take hours). The introduction of the Roto Brush tool helped automate the process to a certain extent, and now the Roto Brush 2.0 does an even better job.
Based upon a demonstration of the new roto brush I saw, it seems that it works amazingly well, even in scenes where there is not a clear demarcation between background and foreground. I am looking forward to trying it out the next time a project comes up that requires rotoscoping.
Adobe is also rolling out new features to its video editing app, Premiere Pro, which will make the process of creating captions a lot easier. First is Speech to Text, which will automatically transcribe the spoken words in your video into text. The app will then automatically generate captions on the timeline. This technology is powered by Sensei, Adobe’s artificial intelligence technology.
In fact, there is an entirely new captions workflow in Premiere Pro which will better integrate into the editorial process. If you have worked with captions in Premiere Pro in the past, you will be happy to hear this news. New design tools make it easier to customize and stylize caption text with a reimagined interface. Captioning just got a whole lot easier and better.
Other New Features
There are other new enhancements to the video tools in Adobe Creative Cloud worth noting. Premiere Rush, a mobile editing solution that works on phones and tablets, includes a new graphics and audio browsing experience. There are also hundreds of new royalty-free soundtracks, loops and sound effects powered by Splice, an expanded graphics collection with animated titles, overlays and transitions, as well as Pan and Zoom. All these features will be available across all platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows and Mac.
Character Animator also sees some interesting improvements such as speech aware animation which can automatically generate head and eyebrow movement based on the recorded voice track. There is also more accurate lip syncing. Advanced animators will be pleased to hear the addition of inverse kinematics to the program, an indispensable tool when doing character animation, is now available with Limb IK. There are also improvements to the timeline including filtering by type, color coding and the ability to hide and group takes.
Other important features to the video apps include support for the Rec2100 PQ color working space in Premiere Pro and After Effects for HDR workflows. There is also better color management for ARRI ProRes allowing users to work with embedded LUTs in Premiere Pro as well as ProRes RAW to LOG color space conversion. Finally, there is new hardware decoding for AMD and Nvidia GPUs on Windows which will result in faster playback and more responsive timeline performance when using H.264 and HEVC video formats.
All-in-all, Adobe doesn’t disappoint when upgrade time comes around. But why not find out for yourself by checking out Adobe MAX 2020 by clicking this link.