The top 5 new features in After Effects CC 2014

We reveal what's new in the latest landmark release of Adobe's motion effects software.

In 2013, Adobe moved from its traditional software sales model, the Creative Suite, to its Creative Cloud subscription model. That meant that, rather than waiting a whole year for a new version, subscribers could get new features on a continuous rolling basis.

However, Adobe has released a slew of new features all at once. A total of 14 applications have received upgrades, under the heading 'Creative Cloud 2014'. So the new version of Photoshop is called Photoshop CC 2014, the new Illustrator is called Illustrator CC 2014, and so on.

Adobe is also fortifying its mobile offering, with brand new apps, and expanding its reach into hardware to boot. You can find out about all the changes Adobe's announced here, but in this article we'll look specifically at the new features in After Effects CC 2014...

01. Edit text templates in Premiere Pro

Templates created in After Effects are now editable in Premiere Pro

One of the benefits of the Creative Cloud is to make it easier to work across the different CC apps, and After Effects CC and Premiere Pro CC are an obvious case of where this can reap benefits. So as time goes on, we can expect more and more interconnectivity between the two. One example of this in the Creative Cloud 2014 release is that you can create text template compositions in After Effects for which the source text remains editable in Premiere Pro.

Any composition with text layers can be used as a text template, and any unlocked text layers in that composition will remain editable in Premiere Pro. You can see the new text templates workflow in action in this video on the Adobe website.

02. Import Premiere Pro masks

And here's another way the two Adobe tools are working together better... In After Effects 2014, when you import a clip from Premiere Pro that includes masks, those masks are now preserved and converted to After Effects masks.

This works for all methods of importing clips from Premiere Pro, including using the Replace With After Effects Composition command in Premiere Pro, copying and pasting from Premiere Pro to After Effects, and importing a Premiere Pro project into After Effects. The mask shape, feather, opacity, expansion, and inversion properties are all preserved, including keyframes on those properties.

If a clip has a Crop effect applied in Premiere Pro, this is converted to a mask on a layer when imported into After Effects.

03. New keyring effects

You can use an effect mask on the Key Cleaner effect to restrict the result of a wider Additional Edge Radius value, such as hair, without causing unwanted semi-transparent regions in sharper regions

After Effects CC 2014 introduces two new keyring effects. The Key Cleaner effect recovers detail from a scene keyed by a typical keying effect, including recovering detail from a keyed scene with compression artifacts. The Advanced Spill Suppressor effect removes color spill on a foreground subject from a colored background used for color keying.

These two new effects are intended to be used along with any keying effect that can provide the original RGB data as input. You can see them in use in this video.

04. Kuler panel

Premiere isn't the only Creative Cloud tool that Adobe is keen to become more connective. The After Effects CC 2014 release also includes a new integrated Kuler panel.

This enables you to capture capture colors on your iPhone or in your browser and save them as color swatch themes, to use in motion graphics compositions, or as references for VFX work.

05. Compositing options for each effect

You can add any number of mask references to an effect to constrain the area within which the effect’s operations are applied. This screenshot shows use of a mask to obscure a licence plate

In the Timeline panel, each effect’s property group now includes a Compositing Options property group. By default, the Compositing Options property group includes an Effect Opacity property. This provides similar functionality to the Blend With Original control found in some effects in previous versions of After Effects.

You can also add any number of mask references to an effect to constrain the area within which the effect’s operations are applied. For example, you can draw and track masks around a subject’s eyes and constrain the Change To Color effect to only operate within those two masks to change the eye color, leaving colors outside the masks unaffected. Brian Maffitt demonstrates the new effect masks and compositing options in this video.

Other new features in After Effects CC 2014 include:

  • Automatic adjustment in Curves effect, plus improvements to Curves effect user interface
  • Menu command to add fonts from Typekit
  • ProEXR v1.9: higher-performance OpenEXR importer, updated IDentifier and EXtractoR effects
  • Import of Sony RAW footage (raw files from F5, F55, and F65 cameras)
  • Import of MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio Profile) Sony SR MXF files
  • Video preview on external monitor using Mercury Transmit
  • Scripting access to render settings and output module settings
  • Digital Cinema Package (DCP) export through Adobe Media Encoder

You can find more details of the new and recent features here.

Head here to read our round-up of the Creative Cloud 2014 releases.


Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.