I don't know what you mean by "feel". If you just mean the UI brightness, then you can change that; there's a slider in the Appearance category of the preferences. The default is set the way that it is because nearly all video professionals that we've surveyed prefer the dark UI for doing color work; it keeps their eyes from being distracted by colors in the UI.
You can also customize the UI as much as you like as described here.
From v6 to CS6? Welcome to the 21st century!
Yeah, the "unified" window was introduced in v7. You could theoretically get your free floating palettes you are used to in v6 by right-clicking each window tab and selecting "undock frame" and/or "undock panel".
But really, you should get used to it. The uni-window is pretty much used by every modern pro graphics app.
We even included a workspace that you can switch to called Undocked Panels if you want to go old-school---though I've never seen anyone use it, because it's much less functional than the new setup.
Well you're absolutely right that I'm long in the tooth !
I've been using After Effects since about 1993 or 94 when it was originally put out by COSA.
So after 20 years of using it I really don't feel the need to worry about what are considered to be the modern ways of doing things. I've done my time and all I'm looking for is to be able to be productive for a bit longer. Something vaguely familiar helps that.
Otherwise by the time I've adjusted I'll be dead !
Anyway, many thanks for the replies and I will have another look at the preferences.
Oh, you're that Rod Lord.
Thanks for the Hitchiker's Guide and Max Headroom work.
It was a VERY long time ago !
But once upon a time actual back-lighting all really needed a black background - or at least a pretty dark one.
Maybe that's the origin of my slight discomfort now with dark BGs - not for output, but for work environment. I find it all too oppressive and very Windows-ish. Perhaps I feel things should have moved on as we can have whatever we like now.
Anyway - thanks for sending me back for a closer look at preferences. I'm much happier now ... except for the pale blue text for paramaters in the timeline window. But I can't see any way of changing that to something more readable.
Thanks again - and thanks also to Navarro Parker.
Wow! A celebrity! Your HG2G screen work is absolutely legendary! Your work is incredibly influential to my own career getting into fictional interface design.
Hardly a celebrity - just an OAP doing jobbing motion graphics and 3D animation for Oil stuff.
But I thank you for your kind words and I feel it as a huge responsibility that someone made career choices based on what I was doing way back when.
I do hope you are happy with the choice you made !
I'll say good night now as I'm not sure I can take building yet more 3D spline contours for a North Sea geological reservoir. Enough for one day.