Maxon and Red Giant merge

This is interesting news for the motion graphics community that I missed over the holidays. Red Giant makes the universe of After Effects plugins that are pretty much essential, such as Particular and Form, along with the random and niche, like Psunami.  Maxon, of course, is the company behind the very popular 3D program Cinema4D. Perhaps most interesting is this isn’t an acquisition, like how Maxon acquired Redshift earlier this year, but a merge. I wonder what this will all mean in the near future, if anything.

Photoshop for iPad

Bloomberg has a piece out today that suggests the iPad version of Adobe Photoshop is coming soon, and profoundly disappointing in its featureset:

Adobe has been testing Photoshop for iPad under the codename Rocket with a small group of beta testers since earlier this year. Participants have told Bloomberg News that some beta versions don’t include well-established features they expected to be part of the release. They complained about less advanced or missing features around core functionality like filters, the pen tool and custom paintbrush libraries, vector drawing, color spaces, RAW editing, smart objects, layer styles and certain options for mask creation. Their disappointment about these limitations stems from Photoshop’s established reputation as a leading professional photo-editing program on the desktop.

To be fair to Adobe, Photoshop is an ancient program that is the bedrock of a huge chunk of all media production on the planet. You can’t easily replicate that featureset in a 1.0 release on a platform with a different user interface paradigm.

But Adobe is also nearly a decade late to the party here. After the success of the iPhone and the instant success of the iPad, it should have been obvious which way the wind is blowing in computing, and Adobe was still trying to keep a dead platform limping along rather than embrace the future. Since Adobe hasn’t stepped up, smaller developers have made very nice programs that are great in part because they are designed for the iPad first.

I’m starting to wonder if Adobe is paving the path for its future ruin by its relative inaction. The switch to a subscriber revenue model and the power of the interconnected Creative Cloud synergy between applications is not to be trifled with, but while some parts of Adobe CC have no real peers, that’s not the case with Photoshop. A lot of work will continue to be done on the “real” computers of yesteryear, but if Adobe can’t demonstrate that it can produce a first-class tablet experience, it’s basically ceding the market and the mindshare of an emerging generation.

“Optima: A Rant”

Every designer has their own personal bugbear. The overuse of the typeface Optima is mine. So I made a video about it.

After Effects CC 2019 Preview

Last month Adobe announced its upcoming feature additions for Creative Cloud coming later this year. After Effects picks up some nice changes, such as faster scripting, native Mocha plugin, better puppet tools, and additions for working better with Premiere editors. These all seem like great additions, but I will continue to harp on the lack of effective rendering muscle—multiprocessor rendering remains AWOL since 2014.

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.