1 2 Previous Next 41 Replies Latest reply on Feb 16, 2016 5:09 PM by NathanClark

    After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?

    NathanClark Level 1

      At the start of last year we were asked the following question by Steve Forde:

       

      "What if we did NOTHING else in After Effects during 2014 other than make it faster? I mean MUCH faster. I mean much faster without a specific hardware requirement (new CPU, GPU, disk, machine, etc., etc.)?” (1)

       

      This question was met with great enthusiasm from the AE community. After Effects had become archaic in its UX; with a slow and glitchy working environment that hampered creativity. Addressing this issue was almost unanimously a user priority.

       

      Then, in April, it was announced that Adobe had listened to this feedback:

       

      “The great majority of the After Effects team has been hard at work for the past year on a fundamental re-architecture of the application that lays the groundwork for performance improvements of many kinds, and this major update that we will be releasing soon bears the first fruits of this effort.” (2)

       

      Last week the new After Effects CC 2015 was released. Having spent some time with the new version, clearly it does not deliver. It’s apparent that something has happened ‘under-the-hood’ and the performance of AE’s interface has improved in some ways. Sadly these changes are trivial. If this release was meant to revitalize After Effects and provide a smooth, modern & fast creative environment, Adobe has failed.

       

      A worrisome question is how long Adobe expects this new architecture to last? Is this really going to be the core of After Effects for the foreseeable future? For an application that has felt slow and dated for several years already, perpetuating such a mediocre user experience is only going to drive users away.

       

      I challenge Adobe to concede its failings on AE’s re-architecture and to give it another shot. Develop something that is a joy to work in. Even if it takes more resources than expected, failing to do so could be much more costly. At the moment AE’s heavy, sluggish experience continues to get in the way of creativity. What a shame.

       

       

      1 - http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2014/01/happy-new-year-and-a-question.html

      2 - http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2015/04/after-effects-cc-update-revealed.html

        • 1. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
          Jim Curtis Level 3

          I'm underwhelmed with it due to the fact that I can't get a RAM-Preview to play in real time, and because of the fact that Pr also has playback (dropping frames) issues, and Dynamic Link only works between equivalent versions, I won't be using the new suite for much of anything until these basic problems get fixed.

           

          But, I have nothing to compare Ae to.  I'm on Mac.  What is a comparable design tool and compositor that is faster and doesn't get in the way of creativity?

          • 2. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
            dcfreelancelot Level 2

            Perhaps I'm in the minority but life hasn't been nearly as much doom and gloom on my system with AE2015.  I do still wish Adobe would bring back the old yellow/orange text/keyframes highlight color or give us the option to define our own color - even with the brighter blue options it is still straining on the eyes.

             

            Other than that, I've finished 2 projects with the new release so far and it's yet to crash on me - knock on wood.  And navigating the timeline is noticeably faster and more responsive.

             

            Keep at it, Adobe.  Though there's still lots of work to be done, this is a step in the right direction.

            • 3. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
              the_dudes Level 1

              This is some good critique. You put some time and effort in your post. Now, you might want to be a little more specific about what you mean by "sluggish". Then, you could also elaborate on what you mean with a "smooth, modern & fast creative environment". Like this, everybody can take your suggestions and help thinking on them!

              • 4. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Nathan Clark wrote:

                 

                If this release was meant to revitalize After Effects and provide a smooth, modern & fast creative environment, Adobe has failed.

                 

                A worrisome question is how long Adobe expects this new architecture to last? Is this really going to be the core of After Effects for the foreseeable future? For an application that has felt slow and dated for several years already, perpetuating such a mediocre user experience is only going to drive users away.

                 

                I challenge Adobe to concede its failings on AE’s re-architecture and to give it another shot.

                This isn't the full architecture change. This is the first step. Interactivity is now separate from rendering. This is huge, but it is just the first step.

                Once the bug fix release comes out in July, it should be a much smoother experience and then we can all wait for the near future release with even more changes. Some more info is here on the page where they discuss the removal of the old and busted multiprocessing: features not available in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) | After Effects region of interest

                Also, some more info that might help you deal with some of the new changes: all about previews in After Effects CC 2015 (13.5) | After Effects region of interest

                 

                Also, for me, the snappiness in the interface and the improved expression handling DOES make this new version a joy. The fact that I know they're on the road to greater things adds to that joy.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                  NathanClark Level 1

                  There are several issues that make After Effects feel dated, but I’ll focus on what we expected to be addressed: responsiveness.

                   

                  Responsiveness or “snappiness” is one of AE’s main shortcomings. The principal offender being mouse lag, which occurs in the viewport and the greater interface.

                   

                  The below screen captures were recorded at 60fps, then interpreted at 10fps for playback.

                   

                  I’ll start by demonstrating mouse lag in the viewport. For this example, let’s first take a look at performance in AE CC 2014 (13.2.0.49). In a simple scene with just one solid, mouse operations result in noticeable lag.

                   

                  Moving over to AE CC 2015 (13.5.0.347), the lag is compounded by the new architecture. Now we have the usual interface lag between the mouse and the solid’s bounding box. But additional lag is introduced between the bounding box and the actual pixels.

                   

                  This behaviour extends beyond the viewport. Below is a demonstration of poor responsiveness during basic timeline manipulation.

                   

                  How this gets in the way of creativity is mostly psychological. Moving a solid across screen doesn’t necessarily take more time with this lag. But the experience feels slow and unresponsive. The idea of “snappiness” is about smoothness as much as speed. UI’s that fail at responsive interactions feel dated and frustrating to work with.

                   

                  Side note: The viewport demonstrations were achieved using a mouse macro recorder and “playing back” the mouse actions in both versions of After Effects. Gif versions are available here

                  • 6. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                    martinc13962311 Level 1

                    Way to shut down the true believers! Nothing like actually showing them how utterly tiresome AE is to work with!!! Where do they find these guys...

                     

                    I absolutely state this now... The next patch will not fix any of this. These guys live in cloud cuckoo land, and ignore all evidence no matter how conclusive. Your original post was spot on. Let's be frank, Adobe don't care about AE, it's not one of their core apps and has a small user base.

                     

                    AE can't do even simple tasks well, import.... Slow.... Playback..... Slow.... Render... Slow... And can't even animate a solid!!! It's a complete unfunny joke. Who has time to wait around for this mythic version that will never appear!

                     

                    If you want to see a lesson in corporate denial read the "known bugs" page released yesterday. They really need a new dev team right now...

                     

                    We had a demo of Fusion at NAB, chalk and cheese with interactivity and ease of use. Just need to get my head back in the nodal compositing space I left in Shake! We are going to start trialling a Resolve - Fusion workflow and see if we can post some how -to's for AE users. Be good to get some direct comparisons with workflows and motion graphic jobs.

                     

                    Watch this space...

                    • 7. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                      Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                       

                      This isn't the full architecture change. This is the first step.

                       

                      Let me correct your spelling: First mis-step.

                       

                      Mylenium

                      • 8. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                        Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                        Responsiveness or “snappiness” is one of AE’s main shortcomings.

                         

                        Absolutely! Ironically these speed changes are pretty useless since AE takes too long to think over some things elsewhere. To be fair, though, Apple screwing around with OSX as well is probably not making any developer's life easier...

                         

                        Mylenium

                        • 9. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                          martinc13962311 Level 1

                          Think that's hugely optimistic calling this the first mis-step..... 2014 wasn't exactly a glowing example of coding! A good example of how to blame everyone but themselves for it's poor quality!

                          • 10. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                            martinc13962311 Level 1

                            Apple can be blamed for RAM preview issues, no doubt. How about import? Slow, unresponsive especially with large image sequences (still not shown as truncated lists), or the fact it just stops working? The collect files issue? General RAM responsiveness and not being released by AE? This was happening in Mavericks... And before. It's the only app we use that sucks the computer dry and then doesn't release memory. Rendering? Slow, unreliable and again sucks up RAM and slows everything to a crawl. If our machines are rendering C4D for instance, you can still read emails, paint in Photoshop... Pretty much do most things. Hit render on a AE comp and it's like someone stuck their hand and your computer with a fist full of poo, and starting flicking!

                            • 11. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                              martinc13962311 Level 1

                              It is a great tactic though, release a new version which is so bad you are clambering to get back to the version which is just moderately bad compared with the absolute horror show you just falsed on your customers! Genius...

                              • 12. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                                *lol* Don't spell it out too loudly or it might give someone ideas... Agree, though, it sucks. Adobe apps never before were in such bad shape... Even if there were bugs in older versions, you could at least work, but this time you can't sometimes even get the programs to launch, much less use them...

                                 

                                Mylenium

                                • 13. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                  martinc13962311 Level 1

                                  It's embarrassing on so many levels... If they had a single ounce of corporate responsibility they would withdraw this version now. Or at least offer compensation on CC subscriptions until they can get a product capable of even the simple functions it is intended for.

                                   

                                  It would earn them some much needed respect and make us all more likely to help them out of this mess. Instead you will get denial, pointing blame somewhere else, statements about AE team size and the continued draining of the trust of users.

                                   

                                  You can't charge for something this bad and not lose respect... Especially with a culture of burying your head in the sand and ignoring all the clear evidence in front of your face!

                                  • 14. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                    Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                                    It's embarrassing on so many levels... If they had a single ounce of corporate responsibility they would withdraw this version now.

                                     

                                    Won't happen. You would probably need to get millions of users to cancel their subscriptions to trigger any reaction...

                                     

                                    Mylenium

                                    • 15. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                      martinc13962311 Level 1

                                      Of course it won't happen, and that is why this merry-go round will continue... This has finalised our plans to move away from AE. Currently trying to get that concession from the wonderful sales team! We only want to pay for Photoshop and illustrator. They can keep the rest.... Utter junk.

                                      • 16. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                        MennovD Level 1

                                        It is the same on Windows with this new AE 2015 version! It is frustrating to work with.

                                        • 17. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                          dcfreelancelot Level 2

                                          Nathan - you definitely deserve props for taking the time to do screengrabs and for a second you had me convinced... but I decided to do a similar test - though admittedly not as thorough as yours.  Also, I used shape layers instead of solids to make it a little more challenging for AE.  Not sure what kind of hardware you're running AE2015 on, but on my system, the UI performance has been outstanding.  I'm running a dual x5690, 48GB RAM, windows 8.1, quadro 5000 with dual 27" monitors.

                                           

                                          • 18. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                            TimmyCrackCorn Level 1

                                            I do notice on even yours, dc, that the box lags behind the control points movement.  I have discontinued my CC subscription since the blue-keyframe debacle and removal of certain export functionality, so I am back to CS5.5.  So maybe this was introduced with the CC's, but when I move a box (or just about anything for that matter) the contents move in-sync with the handles.  There is zero lag and the interface (up through at LEAST CS6 and I believe CC) was completely butter smooth.

                                             

                                            So I don't understand posts like the OP's when they say: 

                                            ... After Effects had become archaic in its UX; with a slow and glitchy working environment that hampered creativity. Addressing this issue was almost unanimously a user priority.

                                             

                                            I never experienced this with After Effects ... ever.  It ALMOST NEVER crashed, was very responsive, and a joy to use for the most part.  Was this sluggishness on previous version just on Mac's or something?  When it became the opposite of this was the introduction of the blue color-scheme, etc.  (speaking of Macs.)

                                            • 19. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                              martinc13962311 Level 1

                                              Comparison test between AE2014 - AE2015.

                                               

                                              280 frame CG elements comp, HD 25fps. Plugins used: Camera lens blur, SA Colour Finesse, Magic Bullet Looks, Hue and saturation, Color Balance and levels. 16bit Colour

                                               

                                              Test machine: Late 2014 5k iMac 4ghz i7, 32 GB Ram, AMD Radeon M295X 4096MB.

                                              Connected to a Raid over 10gb network, confirmed connection speed of over 600MBs.

                                               

                                              Both were equally slow at importing the passes via import, beach balling when first entering the folder with over 4000 frames in. Extremely slow to navigate down the file list and find each pass. Beach balling once you hit import. 2014 slightly better performance but not by much. This is a large issue with productivity in the studio. Just importing passes is slow and cumbersome. EXR passes are used sometimes but we have run into specific issues with Vray in Maya and EXR frames.

                                               

                                              Please take the time to just use import in Nuke and see how much quicker and intuitive this simple essential function is.

                                               

                                              RAM preview 100 frames full res (multiprocessing disabled).

                                              2014: 4mins 53secs - 2015: 4mins 50secs.

                                               

                                              2014 skips the beginning first play through then plays audio and animation in sync and realtime.

                                              2015 doesnt play audio, then audio skips, crackles and plays third time through. The audio then distorts on a few more play throughs. Not realtime playback continuously, erratic performance.

                                               

                                               

                                              Render 280 frame Quicktimes back to raid. Apple prores 4444 trillions of colours with audio.

                                              Caps lock on for both. Multiprocessing used in 2014.

                                              2014: 11mins 58secs 2015: 11mins 50secs

                                               

                                              Completely negligible performance increase between 2015 and 2014. Audio bug and worrying black flash frames over 5k screen have made 2015 unusable at this point.


                                              • 20. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                This performance is mirrored across macs and projects. Not an amazing performance increase for months of work recoding...

                                                • 21. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                  martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                  One slight caveat to these results, there seems to be a particular issue on the 5k iMacs with displaying the viewport at 200%. Obviously viewing HD at 100% on a 5k monitor is not great so you need to zoom it up.

                                                   

                                                  This seems to be the cause of the black flash frames and erratic playback.

                                                  • 22. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                    martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                    It works fine in 2014 zooming 200%, playback is not effected at all.

                                                    • 23. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                      dcfreelancelot Level 2

                                                      @orchard

                                                       

                                                      It's clear by Nathan's screen recordings that he's using OSX. But what wasn't clear and would be helpful for the Adobe AE team in addressing his otherwise we'll-thought concerns are the specifics of his system.

                                                       

                                                      [personal attack removed by moderator]

                                                      • 24. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                        martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                        Almost as charming as implying he was lying for some reason....

                                                        • 25. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                          dcfreelancelot Level 2

                                                          your words, not mine.  I was actually quite impressed by his well-articulated concerns.

                                                          • 26. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                            martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                            So impressed "he almost had you convinced". People don't take time out their days to come on here for fun. The least you could do is show some respect, that is the exact performance we also get in the viewport.

                                                            • 27. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                              TimmyCrackCorn Level 1

                                                              orchardpost30 wrote:

                                                               

                                                              He is showing performance on a mac xxxxxxxxx  ...

                                                               

                                                              Pay at least a little attention otherwise you are just wasting everyone's time.

                                                               

                                                              I won't resort to ad hominem (don't need to of course), Orchard, but I will point out the irony and hypocrisy in your statement ...

                                                               

                                                              If you would CAREFULLY read my post (or "pay at least a little attention"), you would know that is NOT AT ALL the question I asked, or reason for my post.  I know HE is using a Mac/OSX.  But the basis of Nathan's entire original post was that "... After Effects had become archaic in its UX; with a slow and glitchy working environment that hampered creativity. Addressing this issue was almost unanimously a user priority."

                                                               

                                                              As I mentioned, this was not my experience ... at all.  (Nor that of quite a few people I know using AE on the Win OS).  Quite the opposite in fact.  So, my question was, IN GENERAL (since he was indicating this was the feeling of a lot of users, not just HIS system(s) ), was this perhaps an issue on Macs? Perhaps some kind of incompatibility between as OSX change and AE.  (It's not like that hasn't happened before.)

                                                               

                                                              Hope that is clear enough now.  So, could you (or anyone) perhaps address my actual question please?  Thanks.

                                                              • 28. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                                It is... As you can see from my reply you choose to ignore for the chance at a witty retort.


                                                                There is at least one clear mac only issue with playback on iMac 5k's. Screen tearing, black flash frames and poor playback and audio due to viewing the viewport at 200%. This is also seen on Mac Pro 2012's with similar lagging viewports you have shown and we have replicated.


                                                                The one fly in the ointment is the guy further up saying he is getting it on Windows, but not enough info from him.

                                                                • 29. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                  martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                                  There has also been the well documented Yosimite RAM handling issue which has been widely discussed on here, and was at least partially a reason to rewrite RAM preview.

                                                                  • 30. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                    martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                                    You can kind of see why it's hard for Adobe to localise these issues with so many conflicting reports....

                                                                    • 31. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                      martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                                      I was all set to write it off to Mac OS issue but it does seem some Windows users are reporting similar issues...

                                                                       

                                                                      • 32. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                        martinc13962311 Level 1

                                                                        And just to be clear I was answering Nathan's original post and his quite clear evidence. Supplying actual case studies of our own.

                                                                         

                                                                        There didn't seem to be too much point in replying to someone with no point of reference as they aren't even using the software in this discussion.

                                                                        • 33. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                          NathanClark Level 1

                                                                          Woah, I never imagined I'd stir up such heated passionate responses.

                                                                           

                                                                          I should have included this in my original post, sorry. I've experienced these ongoing issues on 4 machines I've used in the last couple of years, all under OSX:

                                                                           

                                                                          • 2012 Mac Pro with Nvidia GTX 970 (work daily driver)
                                                                          • 2013 Macbook Pro core i7 (work laptop)
                                                                          • 2008 Mac Pro (old work daily driver)
                                                                          • and a high spec X79 Hackintosh (home)


                                                                          Also, a colleague of mine uses a fully specced mac pro 2013 in the grading suite and has had similarly janky experience inside After Effects. (Luckily for him, his daily software is outside Adobe's umbrella and performs beautifully I hear.)


                                                                          These are all relatively powerful machines. It's clear that whatever drives AE's interface (on OSX) is dated and not making optimal use of the hardware. You can clearly see the super slow redraw rates in my earlier screen captures. Woeful.


                                                                          I don't know if the problem is limited to OSX. Regardless, if this core rewrite is all Adobe's got… then I'm just about ready to abandon After Effects all together.

                                                                          • 34. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                            Snakedogman Level 1

                                                                            Nathan, I'm not sure what's going on in your case with the laggy performance. You say it's just a basic scene with one solid? If I make that the performance does not look at all like what you are showing. There is no lag, no responsiveness issues. There might be in bigger comps but certainly not in an empty comp with just a solid.

                                                                            I wonder if it might be a Mac/OSX problem? I'm on a PC and not even a super high-end one. I'll try see what it's like next time I'm using it on a Mac.

                                                                            • 35. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                              NathanClark Level 1

                                                                              Bumping this. AE's UX continues to be rubbish despite several updates. Such a continued let down.

                                                                              • 36. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                                Warren Heaton Adobe Community Professional

                                                                                AE's UX continues to be rubbish despite several updates. Such a continued let down.

                                                                                 

                                                                                I'm sorry to hear your finding the interface so frustrating to work with.  I find that it's served me well since AE 1.5.  It was a little annoying to not have the Time-Vary Stopwatch at first, but AE 2.0 took care of that.

                                                                                 

                                                                                As far as the UX looking dated goes, I used to make fun of how Avid Media Composer looks the same today as it did back in 1997.  Until, of course, Apple did what they did to Final Cut Pro a little more than five years ago.  When your livelihood depends on an application, there is a very, very strong argument to be made for consistency in an application's appearance and feature set.

                                                                                • 37. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                                  Warren Heaton Adobe Community Professional

                                                                                  … then I'm just about ready to abandon After Effects all together.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I have to ask:  what would you use instead?

                                                                                  Commotion?

                                                                                  Shake?

                                                                                  Combustion?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  (Oh, yeah, they're all gone.)

                                                                                   

                                                                                  But in all seriousness...

                                                                                  Motion?

                                                                                  Nuke?

                                                                                  Fusion?

                                                                                  Animoto?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I guess part of that answer depends on what you're using AE for in the first place, right?  Motion graphics, 2D animation, character animation, DVD menu design, Blu-Ray menu design, composing, color correction, video graphics, title design, 3D finishing, digital signage... what am I missing?

                                                                                  • 38. Re: After Effects re-architecture. Seriously, is this it?
                                                                                    martinc91219171 Level 1

                                                                                    I'm guessing by dated he means slow and unresponsive... No multi processing, slow gui, slow rendering, slow playback, can't import image sequences over SANs! So yes I would suggest using any of that software over this Frankensteins child of a program!

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