Adobe® After Effects® CS5.5 . November 2011 . Vol. 17 No. 11

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.

October 2011 --Adobe ® Premiere Pro CS5.5
September 2011 --GroupMail Business Editon V5.2.089 from Infacta Ltd
August 2011 --Adobe® Dreamweaver CS5.5 Website Design Program

Adobe® After Effects® CS5.5

By Howard Berenbon

So, you say you’ve finished editing your movie masterpiece (using Adobe® Premiere Pro), but you think it needs some spicing up? Well, then it’s time to turn to Adobe® After Effects® CS5.5 to enhance your creativity.   After Effects is Adobe’s special effects application used to add creative enhancements to any video or animation, so it’s just what you need!  You can combine video, still images, graphics, text, and sound in 2D or 3D space and then animate any aspect of each element for a creative effect. Because of their 64-bit operating system support (first featured in CS5), you will get improved speed and performance, especially needed when rendering high definition (HD), high resolution projects.

After running After Effects CS5.5 for the first time, a box opened saying QuickTime was not installed on the machine, but required.  So, I headed to the Apple site and downloaded and installed QuickTime 7.7 for my PC.   Then I ran After Effects again and the main menu loaded along with the Welcome window with the tip of the day (1 of 292).  Here you can open a recent project, start a new composition, browse templates, see what’s new or search for help, and get some support at  If you click on Browse Templates, a new window opens displaying several pre-designed effects you can use.  Double clicking on a template will open it as a new project with all its elements listed. You can also access the templates from the File menu by clicking on Browse Template Projects.

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To begin a project, click on New Composition in the Welcome Screen, or from the main menu under Composition and you’ll start with Comp 1.  Then you can import an element, or objects, which can be videos, animations, sounds or photos, to combine and add your effects. Adobe refers to, all elements or project assets that you bring into the Projects panel as “footage” even though they may be photos or sounds.  Hundreds of effects are selectable from the Effects & Presets pane at the right.  To load an object, right click on the Projects Panel, under Comp 1 (short for Composition) and a box will open that lets you import a file, or even load an Adobe Premiere Pro project.  Once you get an object, like a video, into your Project Panel, you can start creating.  But, first you need to get that element (asset, footage) into the Composition Panel, which is the panel at the top middle of the screen, so you can add your effects.  To move the project element that you loaded into the Project Panel so you can work on it, you need to drag the file down to the Comp 1 pane just below the Project Panel, it will appear in the Composition Panel (top middle of the screen) and in the Timeline Panel below.  While you’re creating, Adobe offers a quick way to get answers to your questions, especially important for people new to After Effects.  At the upper right hand corner of the screen, you’ll see the Search Help box.  Simply type your question into the box, and you’re taken online to the very important Adobe Community Help site where you’ll see a list of matching answers to your search, on the left side of the screen.

To preview your video, the Preview pane is below the search box where you can play and pause the video, mute audio and change the loop options. Also, the Effects & Presets pane is below the Preview pane and below that is the Timeline Panel (in the center below the Composition Panel).

When you’ve finished adding all the elements (or layers) to your project, you can start adding effects one layer at a time.  To begin, let’s say you want to add a light burst visual effect to one clip.  First, you click on the name of the clip now in the Comp 1 pane.  Then move your mouse to the Effects & Presets Panel and find the effect you want to add.  In this case you’d click on CC Light Burst 2.5 under Generate.  The effect name will appear in the Project Panel under the Effect Controls tab with variables you can modify to adjust the effect.  In this case, I left the default settings.  The effect took affect immediately with the image slightly blurred and the light from the center flaring to the sides of the frame.  While you’re there, you can change the settings, or try another effect.

This is a great program to help you make that project perfect for final production, but it will take some time to get up to speed because it offers lots of features which can get a little complex to master.  So, if you run into problems or are having trouble, don’t forget to use Adobe Community Help and the After Effects video tutorials from Adobe TV.
Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
Effects & Presets in CS5.5

For a general idea of what’s offered, here’s a partial list of the effects and categories available to you in After Effects
Under Animation Presets you’ll find Backgrounds (curtain, flog lights, green crystals), Behaviors (rotate over time, scale and fade in and out), Image-Creative, Image-Special Effects, Shapes, Sound Effects, Transform, Transitions (Dissolves, Movement, Wipes). Listed under 3D Channel you’ll find 3D Channel Extract, Depth Matte, Depth of Field, Fog 3D, etc. Under Audio you’ll find Backwards, Bass & Treble, Delay, Flange & Chorus, High-Low Pass, Modulator, Reverb, Stereo Mixer, Tone, etc. Other categories include Blur & Sharpen, Channel, Color Correction, Digieffects FreeForm, Distort, Expression Controls, Generate, Keying, Matte, Noise & Grain, Obsolete, Perspective, Simulation, Stylize, Synthetic Aperture, Text, Time, Transition and Utility.

What’s New and Improved in After Effects® CS5.5

If you’ve been using After Effects CS5, then you’ll find these new improvements important to making your work the best it can be. (Note: improvements from CS4 to CS5 were Roto Brush, Digieffects FreeForm, AVC-Intra and Enhanced RED Support, Mocha for After Effects v2, Auto-Keyframe Mode – New, Color LUT Support and Refine Matte Effect).

Camera Lens Blur

Create soft-focus effects with Camera Lens Blur. Set iris shape, blade curvature, and diffraction fringe characteristics for beautiful bokeh, and use these same settings for fantastic depth-of-field control with the After Effects 3D camera.

Expanded color LUT support

Expand your color management options by using additional LUT variants in the 3DL and CUBE formats to simulate film and alternate devices or to apply different looks to your footage. Export 3D LUTs to promote more consistent, predictable color.

Light falloff

Control how light intensity falls off across 3D distances, just as it does in the real world.

Warp Stablizer

Smooth a bumpy camera move, or lock a shot automatically. Warp Stabilizer removes jitter and compensates for motion-related irregularities.

Stereoscopic 3D workflow improvements

Animate and composite stereoscopic projects more easily. Quickly set up stereo camera rigs. Save time with simplified rendering of multiple cameras, and work with an updated 3D Glasses effect.

Source timecode support

Take the guesswork out of source footage edits. Timecode data in QuickTime, AVI, Broadcast WAV (BWF), DPX, and some variations of MXF is read directly in After Effects, and the Timecode effect can display both source timecode and composition frames.

RAW digital cinema workflow improvements

Gain instant access to high-definition source formats. RED Rocket card and RMD metadata dramatically improve the performance and look of RED footage. Import footage in CinemaDNG format, an open standard that offers a common solution.

XDCAM HD export

Render in the XDCAM HD format using multiple bitrates, pixel aspect ratios, and frame rates. This allows you to roundtrip footage shot on popular Sony cameras so that your output is consistent with files being edited directly from source.

Save As After Effects CS5

Work easily on projects with colleagues still using After Effects CS5: Save projects in After Effects CS5 format to take advantage of new features and performance improvements without the need for colleagues to upgrade.

Improved disk caching, search reviews and new sorting options

Benefit from big productivity gains: more efficient rendering with improved disk caching, review of recent searches, and new sorting options in the Project panel.

Affordable subscription option

Get ongoing access to After Effects CS5.5 software for an affordable monthly fee. Choose a one-year plan for lower payments or a flexible month-to-month plan you can stop and restart as needed.

Adobe® After Effects CS5.5 sells for $739.15 (upgrade for $179) and is is available for the IBM PC or compatible multi-media computer with an Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Anthlon 4 (Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 or AMD Phenom® II recommended) or faster processor running Windows 7 / Vista / XP with 2 GB RAM, 3 GB of hard disk space for installation, 1280x800 display, 64-bit operating system required, DVD ROM drive and QuickTime 7.6.2.  Also available for the Mac with a Multicore Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.5.8 or v10.6, 2 GB RAM, 4 GB of hard disk space for installation, 1,280 x 800 screen resolution, QuickTime 7.6.2 software and a DVD-ROM drive. For more information, or to order, visit

Software Companies Mentioned

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Ave
San Jose, CA 95110-2704