There’s been a lot of stir in the AE community lately about After Effects feature requests, probably due to Todd Kopriva’s recent article and Andrew Kramer’s latest blog post. While I’m not a hardcore AE professional like some, I thought I’d share some of my opinions and desires. Aside from everything Andrew said, I’d like to add:
Layer Folders/Expandable Pre-comps
I would love to be able to organize my timeline and projects better with folders. Although there are a few workarounds, it’d be awesome to have native folders like Photoshop integrated in so I can work while having all my files accessible yet grouped (not flattened). Pre-comps should be expandable as well so we can quickly and visually see the pre-comp’s contents without having to manually open them. Just some basic tweaks to allow us to work a little more organized and faster.
Call me a dummy, but it’d be pretty useful to have a spell checker built into After Effects (or even Photoshop). This would save me a few re-renders if I accidentally mistyped a text layer.
Adjustment Layer Exceptions
Adjustment Layers effect everything underneath it, which would be troublesome if you had a crucial layer that needs to be unaltered at the bottom. It’d be cool to have a little switch (similar to the motion blur/shy switch) that would exclude the layer from being affected by Adjustment Layers (or at least the closest one above it).
Better 3D Camera Navigation
I actually don’t know where to start with this. Using a 3D Camera only in AE is very frustrating and confusing, there’s no point of reference and sometimes AE gets too oversmart that it screws up your camera moves (which is why we make camera “rigs”). Having some sort of a grid or some way to visually reference where you are in the 3D world quickly would be fantastic. It’s easy to get lost in that deep dark 3D space.
Better Camera Depth of Field Controls
Sometimes it’s a bit of a hassle to set up the correct DoF, focal length, etc. It’d be cool to have some sort of guild line in the viewport to see where you’re in focus and where you’re starting to blur off. Basically, something more visual other than some parameters in the Camera.
Save to Previous Versions
I know CS5.5 and CS6 have a feature to save one version lower, but it’d be useful to be able to save to versions such as CS4 and CS3 as well for compatibility sake. There has been a large debate on this which ultimately boils down to resources. Todd explains that investing in this feature would take away resources for developing other features. How important is saving to an earlier version to you?
Improvements on Ray Traced 3D Render Engine
Something that was very hyped at launch, but quietly died away. The ability to work faster in the ray-traced environment would be much welcomed. Adding more customization options and bevels to extruded objects such as text would be neat as well. Currently, the ray-traced 3D engine is just too slow to use compared to ShapeShifter or Element.
Warp Stabilizer Stability
I wish Warp Stabilizer would work on re-scaled layers from the start, instead of having to re-scale and pre-compose. I’ve also had some pretty bad experiences with Warp Stabilizer: sometimes it works, sometimes it just adds more shake to my footage regardless on how many times I try to tweak it. An improvement on the Warp Stabilizer would help my work tremendously, especially on shoots.
So those were some of my feature requests for After Effects. Some are viable and rational requests, some are just in my dreams, but nonetheless! Here’s a page where you can actually make your dreams come true: Submit a Feature Request.
So, what type of new features would you like to see in After Effects? Do you have any solutions to your current problems? If so, let me know in the comments below!