Adobe After Effects and the Company it Keeps

One of the most attractive features of Adobe After Effects is the company it keeps. Perhaps the most famous guest at this party is Mr. Red Giant, home of Knoll Light Factory and the Trapcode Suite. The Knoll Light Factory itself is a celebrity. Its namesake is John Knoll of Star Wars fame. John Knoll is currently Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic. His recent credits include visual effects supervisor for Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and of course, Avatar. John Knoll is one of the original creators (along with his brother, Thomas) of Adobe Photoshop, the most widely used image editing application that has transformed and redefine the world of digital imaging.

Knoll Light Factory is an additional purchase that does not ship with After Effects but it is one of the most widely used motion graphic tools for special light effects.

After Effects has many ‘add-ons’ from like minded special effects shops and collaborators and it’s not unusual when one makes an indelible mark in the media world, Adobe strikes a deal and the next version of After Effects includes this third party application.

In the previous release of AE, ‘Mocha’ produced by Imagineer Systems was added as part of your purchase. This planar tracking system has received widespread acclaim for it special approach to tracking motion and separating subject and background. Mocha is distinguished as a ‘planar’ tracking system versus a point tracking system. Instead of selecting points to track, like traditional trackers in compositing software such as After Effects, Mocha uses a planar tracking system that tracks planes rather than points – an easy alternative to problematic point tracking. Instead of matching the timeline motion of a point, planar tracking maps a ‘plane’, a face as it not only move but shifts and bends in it’s relationship to the viewer. Mocha exports 4-corner tracking data for import into After Effects. The result is much better tracking results for following an object or removing it from it’s background to apply to one of your choosing.

3D ‘mesh warp’ provides the ability to add depth and dimension to our two plane images. Adding 3D dimension is an obvious application but we can use depth and displacement to animate motion, create a breeze, or rippling water. ‘Digieeffects’ is an industry leader here. Their Website testimonial, ‘digieffect in action’ includes businesses as diverse as CNN to Comedy Central, from Fox News to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to the Boy Scouts of America.

With the CS5 release of After Effects, digieffects ‘FreeForm’ is now included with the AE effects library.

After Effects is a hub for the creative community. It is a great meeting place, creative tool and learning application too. It speaks to their vision that is regularly adds 3rd party applications sharing the versatility and greater possibility of the company it keeps.