Price: 875 . 209 . 1409 . 1969
Pros: Innovative search function; improved 3D navigation; bundled Mocha tracker.
Cons: Lacks 64-bit version and flowchart.
Once you’ve isolated your position parameters like this, it’s easier to match motions or take them into the Graph Editor for fine-tuning.
The search facility is also available in the Projects panel (to help with searching through complex projects) and the Effects and Presets panel, which is great if you can’t remember where the effect you want is.
AE’s 3D engine gains the Unified Camera tool for orbiting, moving and zooming using the same tool (by holding down left, middle or right mouse buttons). It’s tricky to master but fast to use when you do – though you do need a good mouse where you can middle-click without moving the scroll wheel. You can import Photoshop CS4’s 3D compositions and roundtrip edit them – but we would have preferred the ability to directly import 3D models, as with Boris Blue.
Only three new filters have been added: Bilateral Blur, Cartoon and Turbulent Noise. Bilateral Blur works as advertised, blurring flat areas while leaving edges intact. Cartoon is the ubiquitous A Scanner Darkly-style effect, which creates a more appealing look than most, but its output isn’t as crisp as Red Giant Software’s ToonIt. Turbulent Noise is like the old Fractal Noise filter, but with OpenGL enhancement. AE has a huge number of filters, so we don’t think the addition of just three is a point against this upgrade.
Adobe has bundled Imagineer Software’s Mocha-AE 2.5D tracking application, which has been updated to allow copy-and-paste of tracking data from Mocha to AE. However, this is still fiddly to use, and incorporating Mocha technology into AE’s built-in tracker would have been better.
Other additions include separate keyframing of X, Y and Z position parameters in 3D space, better metadata support and full project export to Flash in the new XFL format. After Effects CS4’s new tools are all welcome additions, but we were expecting more from the new release.