NAB 2012: Adobe After Effects CS6 launched with 3D graphics, 3D camera tracking and souped-up effects engine

Adobe has launched After Effects CS6 at the NAB 2012 exhibition in Las Vegas. It features a improved RAM preview performance, 3D camera tracking, better integration with Illustrator, raytraced motion graphics and more.

Adobe has also announced Premiere Pro CS6, and Photoshop CS6 has been available as a beta since last month. The rest of CS6 is expected to be launched soon.

The global performance cache boosts RAM previews by essentially only re-rendering elements you change and keeping in memory what it can. It also saves previews with projects, so when you open a project, your preview is ready to go.

GPU acceleration has been extended to more interface elements to boost overall performance, such as the title safe overlay.

The new Create Shapes From Vector Layers command converts AI and EPS vector files from Illustrator into Shape Layers. This allows you to edit their shape, fill, stroke and other properties within AE.

Shape layers can now be extruded in 3D, as can text. A new raytracing engine enables you to apply realistic lighting with reflections, refractions and environment maps. The engine can be accelerated by any NVidia graphics card that supports its OptiX rendering technology, which includes GeForce boards as well as Quadros.

The 3D tracker (below) analyses motion in a scene and creates a 3D camera that moves in a matching way – making it easier to add visual effects and other elements that appear to sit or move in line with what’s in a scene.

Also new is rolling shutter repair, for getting rid of the rippling motion common on digital SLR footage, and variable feathers on different sides of masks.

Bundled with After Effects CS6 is Automatic Duck’s Pro Import AE for bring in projects from Avid Media Composer or Symphony or Apple Final Cut Pro 7 or earlier – plus the CycoreFX HD Suite of 16-bit and 32-bit effects plug-ins. 32-bit support has also been added to AE’s own effects including Cross Blur, Color Neutralizer, Kernel, Threads, Environment, Rainfall, Snowfall, Block Load, Plastic, Line Sweep, WarpoMatic, and Overbrights.

Despite the new 3D tracker, the Mocha AE 2.5D plug-in is still included with After Effects, and AE gains a new Track in Mocha AE command that opens Mocha within AE.

Adobe hasn't released details of pricing or when CS6 will ship, beyond confirming it will be in the first half of the year.

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