30 Replies Latest reply on Oct 7, 2017 9:53 AM by Szalam

    Is Node workflow possible in Ae?

    aballar5

      Is there a way of providing a node workflow (such as Fusion does and is illustrated in the image below) rather than working in grids in the timeline?

      Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 11.42.05 AM.png

      Help would be greatly appreciated thanks

        • 1. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
          Dave LaRonde Level 6

          No.  There's no way to do it in AE.  None.  You'd need to get Fusion.

          • 2. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
            Todd_Kopriva Level 8

            The most useful thing to know is what exactly you're trying to accomplish that you think that you need nodes for.

            • 3. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
              Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              I was just reading through that page's explanation for why nodes are better.

              It says you don't have to sort through "nested stacks of confusing layers". You don't have to do that in AE either if you label your layers!

              But seriously, as Todd says, if we knew what you were trying to do, we could possibly suggest a way to do it in AE that doesn't involve nodes.

              • 4. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                Answering this question isn't just an academic exercise, either. If we hear that folks are having an easier time doing something in another application than in After Effects, we try to fix that.

                 

                For example, a little more than a year ago, I asked this question, and the response that I got was that the person had an easier time creating "instances" of effects in a nodal compositor, so that they could change one master instance and have that update live through multiple other layers. So we introduced the property link feature in After Effects CC (12.1), which enables that workflow with any set of properties.

                 

                Similarly, we're working on a feature for next year that will make it easier to use a layer as input to multiple other layers as a matte or other control layer, without extraneous precomposing.

                • 5. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                  Herbert2001 Level 4

                  It's also very dependent on the type of Vfx/compositing/motion graphics job you intend to do. Afx's layer oriented workflow is great for a number of things (like broadcast animated titling), but not so great for others (like true 3d environment film compositing, where a node based workflow works really well).

                   

                  Fusion also supports an excellent 3d environment, while this is arguably rather more painful to work with in After Effects.

                   

                  With Fusion now (amazingly) free to download, why not combine the two in your workflow, and learn some node-based compositing? It's fun and educational. Both have their own respective strengths.

                  • 6. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                    Arivl Level 1

                    Todd, I can't like that in-development feature enough! 

                    • 7. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                      Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                      After Effects' layer-based workflow is really a point of differentiation to a nodal compositor like Nuke, and one of its greatest advantages.

                       

                      That said, the feature most craved from every AE designer is know is commonly referred to as "uber-twirl" - the ability to twirl down precomposed layers within one comp of After Effects.  Precomposing is very functional, but it can get very complex and confusing.  Uber-twirl might work like Groups in Photoshop, where you folderise multiple layers and can continue to deal with them individually, or as a group, without having to move to another tab or window.

                       

                      An alternative to this would be a more nodal workflow within each AE layer, allowing you to stack a layer's pipeline components in any order you wish.  So, for example, you could apply a blur, then a mask, then a drop shadow, then another mask, then a glow, all personally stacked within one layer, rather than having to pre comp multiple times to control the pipeline.

                       

                      Either of these options would obviously require HUGE redevelopment of After Effects' underlying code.  Easy to talk about, but massive to implement.

                      • 8. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                        Herbert2001 Level 4

                        Andrew Yoole wrote:

                         

                        After Effects' layer-based workflow is really a point of differentiation to a nodal compositor like Nuke, and one of its greatest advantages.

                         

                        I am not too convinced about that anymore at this point - I've been playing with Fusion in the last two days, and after years of After Effects experience, I have to concede that the node based workflow in Fusion is not really slower even for simple projects.

                         

                        It's just a different approach - arguably the only difference is in how the layers are represented: in AE they are rigid - like a spreadsheet. In Fusion they can be moved around and grouped as you want, and you have to link them. The same controls are there for blending, and the only real difference so far, that I can discern, is that Fusion gives more freedom in combining things - which may lead to complex node trees.

                         

                        Then again, working with precomps in AE can become a frightful proposition, as you also note.

                         

                        Instead of clicking on a layer to access (ALL) the effect controls, in Fusion you arguably have easier access to a specific effect by simply clicking on that effect node.

                         

                        Grouping also makes more sense, and the way it behaves in Fusion: in AE we are forced to pre-compose all the time - there are no layer groups, for example, as you have noted as well. The stacking order is also very important, making it at times very awkward to work with comps. In Fusion I can easily group nodes, and they behave like comps, but they just behave much more flexible, and less... rigid. Then I can re-cycle those groups in other node networks, and the pipeline is way easier to control.

                         

                        For input and output Fusion again just as easy as AE. Just drag an asset (like a movie clip), and then drag another asset in, and link them, and the automatically become a layer "pair". Not much different from AE - I counted the number of clicks/drags, and the number of actions pretty much balance out between the two when creating layered comps.

                         

                        For output the nodal approach is arguably superior - just add a couple of output nodes with different output settings for your work, and render - done! AE's render queue feels convoluted in comparison.

                         

                        The graph editor in AE has always been my bane in life as a motion graphics editor. Compared to other 3d apps like C4d, Blender, Lightwave, etc. AE's graph editor is an abomination to work with (in my opinion). Being forced to use a "separate XYZ Position" effect which does not play well together with the view, as well as behaves inverted, is rather tiring. Fusion's graph editor is heaven.

                         

                        And I found the timeline view in Fusion similar in function as the layered timeline in AE - works just as fast. And the true 3d capabilities of Fusion are excellent.

                         

                        Anyway, I always convinced myself that a nodal approach takes more of an effort, especially for motion graphics work (I use Blender's nodal editor, and that one does that more work!). After two days of Fusion, I feel I have to reconsider my stance on this. Of course, I have not done a serious project yet in Fusion, so I might have to retract that statement. But my gut feeling is that Fusion's nodal approach will only become more convenient the more complex the project becomes (and this is what experienced VFX colleagues of mine have told me as well).

                         

                        I still believe for that for quick 2d motion graphics Afx may be quicker to deal with initially, but after working with Fusion for only two days, I have come to the conclusion that with slightly more complex projects Fusion is just as easy and fast to handle as AE. For more complex projects probably far easier - although I have not experienced that for myself.

                         

                        Good times indeed, with such powerful software now accessible for free for anyone!

                        • 9. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                          MikeCL Level 1

                          I am also pro nodes. The Flowchart is the one thing that has been keeping me sane when dealing with complex comps in AE but I feel it's lacking.

                           

                          A question. Is it possible to create such an interface? I mean on a technical level. I might actually dig deeper in to coding to develop a plug for my pipeline.

                          • 10. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                            Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                               A node based compositing system may be better, or should I say easier to understand when layering effect and images. On the other hand, when you are animating, there's nothing easier to understand than a timeline.

                            • 11. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                              MikeCL Level 1

                              Is it possible to create a node based interface through scripting? Or does one need to dig deep into C++ plugin programming? Is it even possible?

                              • 12. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                Dave LaRonde Level 6

                                MikeCL wrote:

                                 

                                Is it possible to create a node based interface through scripting? Or does one need to dig deep into C++ plugin programming? Is it even possible?

                                 

                                Nope.  This would be called, "re-writing the application".  Mere scripts wouldn't be nearly enough.

                                If you want node compositing, get a node compositing application.  What you're hoping for is like getting a Cuisinart food processor to do the same work as a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

                                • 13. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                  Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Dave LaRonde wrote:

                                   

                                  MikeCL wrote:

                                   

                                  Is it possible to create a node based interface through scripting? Or does one need to dig deep into C++ plugin programming? Is it even possible?

                                   

                                  Nope.

                                  I dunno. I wonder if a clever plugin or script would be able to achieve something of a nodal experience. Again, as mentioned earlier, if we know what folks were trying to get out of a nodal workflow, we might be able to offer better suggestions. Copy with relative property links goes a long way towards improving AE's workflow.

                                  • 14. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                    Dave LaRonde Level 6

                                    You might be right, Szalam, but I say there have been enough Band-Aids put on the AE workflow.

                                     

                                    I don't think I'm the only one who thinks it's high time for the folks in Seattle to start re-thinking a lot about how people work with AE, and how it works with other applications.  It's gotten too kludgy. 

                                    • 15. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                      Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      Dave LaRonde wrote:

                                       

                                      You might be right, Szalam, but I say there have been enough Band-Aids put on the AE workflow.

                                       

                                      I don't think I'm the only one who thinks it's high time for the folks in Seattle to start re-thinking a lot about how people work with AE, and how it works with other applications.  It's gotten too kludgy.

                                      That's why I'm excited about the massive rewriting they're doing. Once they get all that old code sorted through and pulled apart, surely they'll be able to start re-thinking a lot about how people DO work with AE and how to improve things in ways that matter. Once that code's cleaned up, it'll be that much easier to fix/redo other things.

                                      • 16. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                        MikeCL Level 1

                                        I figured it needed to be something deeper than regular scripting and towards a proper plugin with its own interface. There are so many good things with a nodal workflow compared to a layered timeline when dealing with big comps. Don't get me wrong, layers with timeline is great for working with animation etc. but when you are actually using AE for comp work rather than animation (Like a lot of people I know in the industry does) you start to have a lot of pre comps within pre comps and eventually it starts to get really messy. Try leaving that project for someone else to open it weeks or months after, their heads will explode. That's why I think it's great that the flowchart exists as you can get great overview of your project just like a node based compositor. BUT what bothers me is that you can't even zoom properly in flowchart, the navigation is a mess and you can't work with it other than selecting the comps. So what would make AE really powerful compared to the node based competitors would be for example to further develop the flowchart to behave more like a node interface while still keeping the layer timelines which works great for animating. That would be a dream!.

                                         

                                        I personally want to push this since I'm already paying for the whole suite and it wouldn't make any financial sense to buy another expensive copy of Nuke for example. And not everyone have the luxury of deciding their studio software pipeline. That why I ask, is this possible to make? IF changing software isn't an option.? And to add AE already works well with the rest of adobe products. So if I would for example change from AE I would probably change the whole suite to something else.

                                         

                                        So.. Lets play with the idea. Would it be possible coding a C++ plugin interface for it? To me it would be weird if it wasn't Plugins like element 3D, John knoll light factory and many others have their own interface. So why wouldn't it be possible to create something similar to flowchart but more developed in it's own interface.? Just a thought I'm circling around a lot these days.

                                        • 17. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                          Herbert2001 Level 4

                                          This feels like carrying water to the river: the After Effects core is in desperate need for a rewrite, and that is what the development team seems to be focusing on first. I would be surprised if they would not have some idea of node-based editing on the drawing board, because, as you state, layers are great for animation, and rather iffy for more complex comp work.

                                           

                                          That, and the 3d viewport and 3d workflow in After Effects requires a complete rethink as well, in my opinion. The switch from a 3d application such as Blender, Modo, Maya, Cinema4D, etc. is quite jarring - the 3d viewport in After Effects is quite primitive and inconvenient to use in comparison.

                                           

                                          You know, currently there are nodal options available (for free) for you to integrate in your workflow: Fusion (up to 4K), Blender, and Natron. Use After Effects for the layered animation workflow when it makes sense to do so, and switch to one of the other three for a nodal approach when required.

                                           

                                          That's what I do. And I found myself using After Effects less and less, once you get used to the nodal approach. I also do quite a bit of 2d (character) animation, and Anime Studio, together with Blender, perform well for that task (Afx just does not compare). And Davinci Resolve I use for colour grading tasks where required.

                                           

                                          Another issue, of course, is the lack of GPU support in Afx. In Blender my renders and render previews are lightning fast due to CUDA GPU rendering, and it does speed up the workflow. I think the After Effects dev team is aware of the possibilities, and hopefully they'll make use of this resource in the re-write.

                                          • 18. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                            MikeCL Level 1

                                            Yes. And agree on the 3D part!. 3D Compositing is super important!. Something I use a lot in my comps. Works flawlessly in Nuke and fusion on earlier projects years back. Today I'm really struggling with it. I had to buy element 3D for it. As long as I don't have to navigate in 3D space in AE it works somewhat.. But If I have to navigate it becomes a nightmare.

                                             

                                            Is there anymore info on this re-write? Any time estimate we might get more info on this?

                                            • 19. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                              I've worked in AE since version 1 - more than 20 years and there's a single compositing problem that I've run into that I couldn't solve. I've also used Nuke and Fusion and several 3D apps that use nodes for compositing. Sure, some things are easier with nodes, some more difficult. If you want to see some kind of node based interface in AE then submit a feature request. That's the only way changes are made. Bugs are fixed by submitting bug reports and features are changed by submitting feature requests. It's a democratic process, the more votes for a feature, the more reports of a specific but, the more resources a manufacturer (Adobe) will throw at the problem. Editorializing and complaining are as ineffective as they are in politics.

                                               

                                              Adobe - Feature Request/Bug Report Form

                                              • 20. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                MikeCL Level 1

                                                It's not really about problems you can't solve. More about meeting deadlines with less headache. And it's awesome you can submit feature requests and bugs. But as long as they aren't announcing anything we have no idea what they are actually working on. At least my question wasn't really a complaint (ok.. the 3d part yes which is lightyears behind), but more a question if possible someone else outside of adobe could write such a plugin, theoretically that is. And I get Adobe can't make everything, that's why I think it's awesome with some of the plugins that are made. And if adobe doesn't want to or have the resources (maybe tons of other things have higher prio) for the node things we are discussing I wonder if it's possible for an outsider to create it. that's all.

                                                • 21. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                  Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                  MikeCL wrote:

                                                   

                                                  I wonder if it's possible for an outsider to create it. that's all.

                                                  One of the great things about AE is the robust nature of the plugins available for it. I would love to see if someone could do something like a node-based workflow via a plugin. I mean, when I saw what Zaxwerks was doing with their plugins back in the day (around AE version 5 or so), I was blown away. This could be the next, big step. (Or it might be impossible - we won't know until someone tries.)

                                                  • 22. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                    Joe_Walker Level 1

                                                    If you're working on individual shots that you need to quickly identify process flows and re-pipe those flows for different outcomes or better efficiency, node based is the way to go. For everything else use AE and C4D.

                                                    • 23. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                      Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                      Personaly, and I am also a Nuke user, I think that for some compositing tasks nodes make it easier to swap things around but to say nodes are easier to understand and learn is a gross over statement.

                                                      • 24. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                        pawlucam

                                                        Here is your Reply

                                                        1 day long time ago on a site far far away there was DV Garage  with came up with this plugin

                                                         

                                                        dvGarage - Conduit 2

                                                        now it is discontinued!

                                                        • 25. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                          pawlucam Level 1

                                                          Please See Stu's argument which I think is the way to go!

                                                          More Nodes vs. Layers — Prolost

                                                          • 26. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                            Arivl Level 1

                                                            Hey Todd, did this happen?  "working on a feature for next year that will make it easier to use a layer as input to multiple other layers as a matte or other control layer, without extraneous precomposing"?  If so, what is that feature?

                                                            • 27. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                              Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                              Arivl wrote:

                                                               

                                                              Hey Todd, did this happen? "working on a feature for next year that will make it easier to use a layer as input to multiple other layers as a matte or other control layer, without extraneous precomposing"? If so, what is that feature?

                                                              Todd no longer works for Adobe.

                                                              Now, CC 2015 sorta put a bump in the road for the AE development team. There were a lot of bugs that they didn't anticipate when they started introducing the new core architecture of AE. So...it took them a bit to get that all sorted. Judging by the latest version that released, they are past all of that and can get back to working on making a better AE.

                                                               

                                                              Set Matte is an effect that does this, however, it doesn't work in some circumstances (if layer sizes don't match right, for example, it won't do what you want). If the Set Matte effect doesn't do it for you, please file a feature request! The more requests they get, the higher priority it will have. Feature Request/Bug Report Form

                                                              • 28. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                                Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                It's happened, by the way.

                                                                • 29. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                                  Gutter-Fish Level 4

                                                                  Szalam  wrote

                                                                   

                                                                  I would love to see if someone could do something like a node-based workflow via a plugin.

                                                                  Superluminal has made a really nice node-based particle plug-in.  I guess that's different than a plug in that makes AE's regular workflow node-based though.  But maybe it's evidence that something could be done

                                                                  • 30. Re: Is Node workflow possible in Ae?
                                                                    Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                    There's also Nodes 2 - Plugin for After Effects, FCPX, Motion and Premiere Pro

                                                                     

                                                                    But props to the AE team. The new feature where you can use Set Matte, Displacement Map, etc. without having to precompose the source layer first makes a HUGE difference in my workflow. It saves a lot more time than I expected.