7 Replies Latest reply on May 30, 2008 1:22 AM by Mylenium

    WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface

      I think it would be cool if there was a quicker way to see a layers opacity in the timeline window.

      Such as fading each layers colored bar, so if the layer is at 100% opac, the bar looks regular, and if its at 0%, the bar looks like it does when you trim off the end of a clip. Or perhaps a 1 or 2 pixel line that runs along the bar at the top for 100% and at the bottom for 0%.

      Often I have a layer that comes on does something, then fades off for a long while, and then comes back again; and it would be nice to have a quick visual reference to see what it is doing without having to lose precious vertical space that could be showing me other layers instead of the channel.

      Speaking of which, it would be really cool if you could click on the name of any property and drag it onto the bar, and those keyframes would always appear on the bar, even when you minimize the layers properties. And if said property is a percentage, like opacity or scale, it could have the line to show where it is at...

      Basically, I just want more ways to see what layers are doing, and how they time with each other, without the wasted vertical space of the color bar and the property.
        • 1. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
          bogiesan-gyyClL Level 3
          The problem with redesigning AE's interface is that your particular issues don't mean much to me and I have a long list that probably don't apply to your workflow.
          But I just wish Adobe would commit all of their energy to fixing everything anything that is broken or flawed before doing anything NEW.

          bogiesan
          • 2. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
            I don't think that this idea has too much practical value. It collides with the current model for displaying trimmed areas anyways and to me it does not have any benefits over just displaying the keyframes of an animated property. To elaborate: What were to happen if you accidentally moved the entire layer by one frame? Does the opacity gradient give you any concrete feedback on that? Can you even guess the exact combined opacity value of 2 layers this way? Do you not still move your timeline marker to verify the result? Would you not still reveal your keyframes to re-align them in time? The disadvantages far outweigh the small benefits it may have for some users. You should also consider that for such simple things as opacity fading today's computers really have enough juice to do it in realtime for spacebar playback or generating RAM previews extremely fast. Even more so, the more functions are accelerated using your graphics card.

            I also don't quite agree on your idea with inline display of keyframes on the layer bar. What happens if one also uses layer markers? What if you want to display multiple properties? do they get colored keyframes? Does the newly applied property replace the previous display? Won't users get tired of always dragging stuff just for things that don't substantially add production and workflow value? Just like the much demanded "timeline groups", there are deeper repercussions to even such a seemingly simple change in behavior...

            Mylenium
            • 3. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
              >But I just wish Adobe would commit all of their energy to fixing
              >everything anything that is broken or flawed before doing anything NEW

              Then we'd still be using AE 6.5, just updated by a number of patches to 6.5.22 or something. ;-) Developing commercial software simply doesn't work this way. Satisfying existing users is one thing, attracting new ones another. The latter simply can only be achieved by providing new features not found in previous versions or apps from competing vendors.

              Mylenium
              • 4. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
                Level 1
                The primary "practical value" of these ideas is conserved vertical work space. For anyone who often works on a laptop, without the benefit of a second monitor, it gets pretty annoying to constantly be scrolling up and down in your timeline window trying to align various layers that you cant see at the same time.

                I tend to think that an opacity fade on the layer bar is more an extension of the current model for trimmed areas, than in collision with it; but really I think the idea of a thin horizontal line drawn between the top of the layer bar for 100% and bottom for 0% would be a clearer visual cue of what the layer was doing. Opening the opacity keyframes doesnt necessarily tell you what they are doing. You know where they are, but if there are a lot of them it can be difficult to keep track of which ones are up, down, and in between; and again you're now using 2 vertical slots to display 1 piece of information. The idea is not to have to move your timeline marker to verify layer 1 is synced with layer 12, because you can quickly see that it is. Simple things like opacity fades are fast, but not if they coincide with a bunch of other crazy stuff happening on other layers.

                As for dragging a property onto the layer bar, layer markers could be displayed on top of the keyframes. I was picturing that you would only be able to display one property at a time, which should probably be labeled at the left edge of the layer bar; but now that you mention it, multi colored keyframes for various properties might be useful (but likely confusing as well). Users won't get tired of always dragging stuff because they wont be. Work flow would be just as it is now, except that if you decide it would be useful to have some property readily viewable/accessible, you would have the option to do so, without losing any of that precious vertical space...
                • 5. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
                  Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                  I still don't agree. The limitations of working on a notebook are clear to me (fixing up some graphics for a tradeshow on location here in Düsseldorf as I type), but they could be much better resolved by improved navigation and UI layout (how 'bout vertical timeline zoom for instance?). In general I would think that all the others points raised by you would hinge on the question, whether they all could be implemented. Either request does not make much sense as an isolated item. so for instance in my book, your fade gradients would only have information value if they fitted between two keyframes, but loose their value without keyframes displayed (as then they could just as well be some obscure UI decoration and confuse new users...) As I said, this needs some more thinking IMO and cannot be implemented in a bold stroke overnight (or one version jump, for that matter).

                  Mylenium
                  • 6. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
                    bogiesan-gyyClL Level 3
                    > The latter simply can only be achieved by providing new features not found in previous
                    > versions or apps from competing vendors.

                    But this is all wrong. Any marketing expert will tell you it costs ten times as much to win new customers as it does to keep old ones. The same expert will tell you that marketing departments at software companies only know one thing: their jobs depend on driving product development. And the VP of Marketing isn't interested in spending money to maintain market share. It's stupid, rude, and is the epitome of shortsighted business decisions.

                    Take Final Cut Pro, currently in version 6+. There is an endless list of stupid programming, lame bugs, and terrible interface design choices (not to mention broken promises and lies) that have existed since v1 and v2. The code monkeys at Apple have never bothered to address these failures and shortcomings in spite of our screams and demand. They just keep adding complexity which, of course, leads directly to more failures and lies and louder screaming.

                    There is so much in these complex applications that should be repaired or made whole.

                    bogiesan
                    • 7. Re: WISH upon a faded star - ideas for interface
                      Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                      But don't you agree that even existing users are enticed by new features that may potentially streamline their workflow or open up new venues for business? I would also think there is a difference in what you consider "new" users. In my view, that includes users of older versions of AE who may never have considered upgrading as all they do is "simple" stuff and they never needed a new feature, until a particular new version came along... Anyway, any hope of getting perfectly "clean" apps is illusory. there will always be bugs and legacy features that break as their will always be changes in the underlying foundations (operating system, Quicktime) that draw resources for circumventing their shortcomings by adding extra code. It's an imperfect world - literally and in a more general sense. ;-)

                      Mylenium