Apple Updates MacBook Pros

Amid swirling rumors of new MacBooks and (maybe) the Mac mini being updated, Apple updated its MacBook Pro line. The big news is that with the move to Intel’s 8th generation processors, the entire line gets a core bump, with the 13in models getting quad core i5/i7 and the 15in models getting hex core i7/i9s. Along with this move comes DDR4 RAM and a boosted max of 32GB on the 15in model; the battery has likewise gotten larger to accommodate the power-hungry RAM.

The good:

  • People who use their MacBook Pros as desktop replacements and workstations now have more and faster RAM. Especially if you’re running use cases like rendering and virtual machines, this is a major upgrade. Likewise, the added higher storage options (4TB) make it a more capable machine.
  • The press release mentions an “improved third-generation keyboard” for quieter typing. Presumably there’s also additional design done to mitigate or stop the higher-than-normal keyboard failures that have cropped up. People will probably have to wait a year to see if it’s as problem-prone as its predecessors under the repair program. It’s probably also not going to mollify people whose issue with the keyboard was not its reliability but its feel, but early impressions seem positive.

The bad:

  • Not updated: the non-touch bar 13in MacBook Pro, and the 2015-era 15in model was also discontinued. This means Apple continues to have weird pricing holes in their lineup. The consensus seems pretty clear that for most people, even if they like the touchbar, they’d like paying a couple hundred bucks less even more, and now the base price of a 13in model has crept up to $1800, while the 15min model is $2400—that’s a bump in price of $500 and $400 respectively from the equivalent machines in 2015. Keeping the non-touchbar model around without updates is another “zombie Apple” problem as of late—there’s a lot of models to avoid because you’re paying high prices for outdated hardware, and that problem still remains throughout their lineup.
Screenshot of After Effects CC

The Joy of AEScripts

If you’re a motion designer, you’ve probably got a custom toolkit of third-party tools, plugins, scripts, and setups unique to you. The big appeal of them is time-saving—whether enabling you to achieve a look without a huge amount of effort, or to make quick projects that much quicker. Over the years I’ve assembled a kit that I pretty much always install on a new machine immediately, in no particular order. Most of these come from AEScripts, which is a pretty smashing site if you’re looking for After Effects mods.

  • Ease and Wiz: The simplest way to get motion keyframe style in a click or two. Especially when I just need to animate things quickly or don’t have time to massage keyframes for a bespoke effect, this fills in nicely.
  • True Comp Duplicator: After Effects’ composition duplication is in my opinion a bit non-intuitive, and on complicated projects with multiple nested compositions True Comp Duplicator saves oodles of time.
  • Reposition Anchor Point: A fantastically simple and fantastically important part of my workflow: I have no idea how much time I’ve saved with this far-more-intuitive method of dynamically changing anchor points of objects, but whatever it is, I probably owe the developer a lot of money.
  • Unmult: A really simple plugin from RedGiant that like Reposition Anchor Point, saves me a ton of time by knocking out black pixels and not requiring any blending modes to do it.

Looking at my AEScripts purchase history, I’ve been relying on some scripts and plugins I use weekly for more than seven years at this point. The amount of time they’ve saved me is probably incalculable, as is the new approaches they’ve enabled me to try.