After Effects, the popular postproduction tool for video professionals, offers numerous workflow improvements for the CS4 release. Echoing its partner CS4 applications, these improvements include pull-down menus for flipping among various workspaces and easily resizable panels.
In addition, you can search timelines and projects. For example, typing "PSD" within a search field will bring up Photoshop files related to your project. That time-saving improvement alone might be worth the upgrade price for a well-funded production studio. Plus, there's XMP metadata support for managing assets.
Working with 3D imagery expands, as you can import Photoshop Extended 3D layers into After Effects. Plus, 3D compositing gets more control with a Unified Camera tool for viewing every angle, as well as independent animation of X,Y, and Z frames.
Creative Suite 4 integration also includes the capability to export layered After Effects work in the new, XML-based XFL format for Flash CS4.You can also import FLV media.
Joining some 250 effects, the new Cartoon option gives an anime look and feel to live footage, similar to what you may have seen in films such as Sin City and Waking Life. Bilateral Blur is supposed to soften the edges in scenes without losing details around edges. The Turbulent Noise Effect is built for whipping up clouds, fog, and flames without needing stock footage.
Adobe is bundling Imagineer Systems' Mocha for After Effects CS4, for tackling advanced 2.5D planar motion tracking.
The options in After Effects expand to work with the latest video formats, including P2, XDCAM, EX, and XDCAM HD, as well as Web applications. Adobe Device Central continues to broaden the number of mobile device skins with which you can preview your projects.
After Effects CS4 costs $999, or $299 to upgrade. This application is set to hit stores later this fall along with the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite 4.