Post Production

The Future of After Effects: feature requests, nodes, GPU

after effects feature wishlist

Adobe is nearing release of the “IBC” update to video apps in Creative Cloud 2015, which itself was just released in June, so community attention is turning towards future features for After Effects.

The After Effects team balances needs for power and simplicity with demand for features suited to motion graphics, effects for editors, and visual effects – all at an affordable price. As a result, no single release satisfies everyone (it hasn’t since perhaps AE 5.5; we’re at 13.5 now). Improved support for color space, time remapping, tracking, and codec and file format advancements keep After Effects in the game but not really abreast of developments in VFX. You can find related feature requests, and more, made by Stu Maschwitz on Prolost, and you’ll probably agree or disagree with his suggestions depending on mood or what role you play in the larger ecosystem.

Still, After Effects itself has been very successful and used in many many movies, and dynamic links between Premiere and After Effects deepened the draw. Despite slow progress in developing a new renderer or NLE-style playback, the duo of Premiere and After Effects is now a presence in feature film editorial teams. In the 2014 Hollywood movie Gone Girl (storage: 36 TB for offline 2K, 320 TB for online 6K), there were “probably more than 200 shots” done with After Effects–mainly for compositing screens, performance retiming, split screens, and reframing (Gone Girl roundup).  

In January 2014, with 4K gaining steam, the AE team hinted that performance, workflow, and improved creative capability was the main focus behind the scenes for 2014-2015. The fruit of the retooling year can be found in the features outlined in roundups Creative Cloud 2015: the big yearly update rolls out and Creative Cloud video updates at IBC 2015. Now that the retooling year is over, there’s expected and unexpected dissatisfaction with the changes, and renewed interest in favored features.

Usually feature requests are made amidst a flurry of anxious workarounds, and blogs and forum and e-mail posts are greeted with reference to AdobeApp/ Despite being the most friendly company “A,” it might seem that feature requests (if they are actually made) end up in a black hole at Adobe. At least it seems that’s where some feature ideas went, like a sensible unified 3D space or a great Graph Editor. To remedy communal inertia, Sander van Dijk is Imagining a better After Effects, according an interview with Justin Cone of Motionographer.

Sander’s project organizes motion graphic-oriented feature requests and allows AE users to vote on his suggestions or comment to suggest other features by topic. In addition to sparking discussion, it seems that Sander also wants to coax code-oriented UI/UX designers into the AE world, which might well end up adding more features to through new AE scripts. New scripting-based tools have filled many needs that the AE team itself has not had the bandwidth to service. To join the discussion about Sander’s feature proposals, visit After Effects – Feature Platform. Here’s the intro video:

At the same time as the feature request initiative, @slashCAM released a talk with After Effects product manager Todd Kopriva, who welcomed feature requests and spoke on the general direction of After Effects, including interesting hints on the future of nodes and GPU rendering (via @mamoworld). For additional perspectives on development, see an earlier talk with David Simons (an original developer) and Steve Forde (former product manager).

David Simons and Steve Forde, After Effect’s current product manager – See more at:


While the big picture is often just more about the present, it does provide context. So, see the recent but now dated The Future For Adobe – Interview With Bill Roberts and The Future For Adobe Pt 2 – Interview With Lars Borg by Video&Filmmaker, and an interview video with Bill Roberts (Adobe’s senior director of Product Management for Creative Cloud Video), with a summary by Kevin Monahan.


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Rich Young is a long-time After Effects user from the San Francisco Bay Area. His After Effects and Premiere Pro round-ups provide viewers with an easy-to-digest summary of developments. He also supplies info and links…

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