Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Updated previewing, part of After Effects: 2015 Creative Cloud Updates.
- [Voiceover] In general After Effects CC 2015 has seen a large change to the way After Effects previews the composition. They keep tweaking it in subsequent releases and now in version 2015.3 they have a new engine underneath the hood that's been borrowed from Premiere and Audition. Since so many things have changed over time let's look at Preview in detail again. There's several different shortcut keys that can initiate and stop a Preview. The (mumbling) in CC 2015 has been changing how the Spacebar Preview works to make it more like a non-linear editing system.
Spacebar Preview previews both the video and the audio. It will preview what's called Work Area Extended By Current Time. In this particular case my Current Time Indicator is before the start of my Work Area. If I press the Spacebar you notice the Preview started from time zero, not from one second where the Work Area started. I pressed Spacebar to stop my Preview and as a result it moved to the Current Time, the last frame it was playing.
This is unlike the Numpad 0 Preview that many of us are familiar with where the Current Time Indicator resets to where it was originally. A small variation on this is the Shift+Spacebar Preview. And this has a behavior that has thrown a lot of users off. If caching, in other words, if it has not previous cached all of the requested frames to RAM, indicated by this green bar, when you try to stop a Preview using Shift+Spacebar it will loop just the frames it has cached rather than stop Preview altogether.
Let's try that out. I'm gonna hold down Shift and use Spacebar to start and stop our Preview. When I hit Spacebar again it's looping the section it's previewed, since it did not finish caching the entire Work Area. There I use a normal Spacebar Preview to stop. The old shortcut key many After Effects users are used to is Numpad 0, 0 on the numeric keypad. On a Mac you can also reach that by pressing Control + zero on say your MacBook's keyboard. The behaves a little bit differently.
It previews just the Work Area, not extended by where the Current Time Indicator may be in relation to the Work Area, it defaults to this If caching play cached frames behavior, which means loop what you have cached when you try to stop a Preview, and otherwise it previews video and audio. I'm gonna move the Current Time Indicator to before my Work Area, just to show what's going on, and I'm gonna use Numpad 0 to start and stop my Preview. I'm gonna start a Preview, you notice it jumps to the start of the Work Area. When I press Numpad 0 again it loops just the cached area, since it had not finished caching the entire Work Area bar.
I'll press Numpad 0 again to stop. I'm gonna press Numpad 0 yet again, and this time let it finish caching my Work Area. And you see that it loops that Work Area. Since my Work Area is fully cached if I press Numpad 0 again now it just stops, it does not loop the cached area. And again, you can change any of these default behaviors by checking or unchecking various options.
You'll also notice that Numpad 0 has unchecked the option Move time to preview time. With the Spacebar Preview when I press Spacebar to stop it leaves the Current Time Indicator where it was playing, with Numpad 0 by default when I press Numpad 0 again to stop a Preview the Current Time Indicator jumps back to where it was previously. And there's also Shift+Numpad 0, which defaults to skipping every other frame and also extends the Work Area. So it has more of a Spacebar Preview behavior. I'll press Shift, press Numpad 0, you see this time it started from where the Current Time Indicator was, even though it was outside the Work Area.
It's playing just every other frame. And finally, there's the audio only previews, Numpad . or Numpad decimal point. The video icon has been turned on, the audio icon is still on, this allows audio only previews. I have unmuted my computer audio, so you can hear what's going on, and I'm when I press the decimal point on the numeric keypad there you hear the audio playback, but notice that nothing's updating in the comp panel, no video is playing back. Now I'll press the decimal point again. This is a good time to start talking about some major changes in the way that audio is handled inside After Effects 13.8 or CC 2015.3.
In this version they have actually done a lot of rewriting underneath the hood of how previews are taking place. They have borrowed the engine from Premiere and Audition and used it in After Effects. For one, that has solved some of the problems we had during the CC 2015 release of not hearing audio for say the first two seconds during a preview. That's in the past now, that's been fixed. However, one additional thing we got with this new version is a new way of handling audio when playback's not real time. And you can see the playback speed up here in the Info panel. Now instead of stuttering or muting the audio they changed the speed of the audio.
And they'll slow it down to match the slowed down video. Now this is all cached, so it should be nice and clean, but if I start turning layers on and off or start playing around with the effect, in this case the Lumetri Color effect, which I have applied, we'll talk about this more in a couple movies, but it's a fun thing to use for demo purposes now. I might get in situations where my playback slows down. And let's hear what happens to that audio. I'm gonna press zero on the numeric keypad to start a Preview. - [Voiceover] 78.5, code six, it's 105 north avenue. - [Voiceover] Audio sounds normal, life is good. But you saw, even moving my mouse, doing something in the user interface slowed the audio down there.
- [Voiceover] 78.5, code six. - [Voiceover] Let's change what preset I'm using. (garbled music) Here the audio's slowed down to match the slower frame rate. Usually you have to cycle through the entire RAM cache once to get back up to full speed. And there we are. Sometimes turning video tracks on and off, which requires new frames to be loaded, will also cause the same problem. (garbled audio) (sirens blaring) I'll stop the Preview.
Now if you're an old timer like me and you're used to actually rocking the reels and manually changing the speed on a tape deck you might be used to this vary speeded audio playback. If you find it more distracting than useful there's a couple ways to work around it. One, you can go into your Preferences, for Previews, and enable Mute Audio When Preview is Not Real Time. This will take you back to the behavior where audio is just silent whenever it's not ready to play at full speed. I'll click OK. I'll start a Preview, change a parameter, make a couple video tracks, and notice it's silent now while playback's not in real time.
Again, you usually have to go through the entire loop of your Preview Work Area before you get back to full speed playback. (sirens blaring) And there we are. (jazz music) The other workaround is to bring back an old feature that we're used to from the earlier version of After Effects, Cache Before Playback. Previous to After Effects CC 2015 when you did a Numpad 0 Preview first the entire RAM cache would get filled up, then playback would start, just to make sure the playback could be at its optimal speed.
If I change this to say Numpad 0, and enable Cache Before Playback, and do something that gives me a different look, such as choose a different look present in Lumetri Color, notice my RAM cache, the green bar is gone now. Now when I press Numpad 0 you'll hear no audio, you'll see it's counting the cached frames, it's calculating those frames as fast as it can. - [Voiceover] 78.5, code six.
- [Voiceover] And now we get the audio and the video at full speed. Some UI interactions will still slow down the playback, but in general it's more solid than earlier versions of CC 2015. - [Voiceover] 105 north avenue. (sirens blaring) - [Voiceover] And let's stop Preview. If you have been using After Effects CC 2015 it is worth updating to this latest version, 13.8, because Preview is now better than it was before. If you're the type of person though who did not rely on interactivity during the Preview and you just want a rock solid Preview I'd still stay in a version prior to CC 2015, 'cause Preview is optimized for real time playback at the expense of no ability to edit anything during that Preview.
The choice is yours to make. Do remember that when you do go to update any app inside your Creative Cloud application and click on Update for it that you do have an option here, Advanced Options, that allows you to decide whether or not to remove the old versions, which is the default, or to keep your old versions. So one strategy is to go ahead and download the latest version, CC 2015.3, but keep your prior versions. Play with the new version, see if you like it, and if you don't, go back to using the old version. You can also get at old versions inside the Creative Cloud application by going to Find Additional Apps, View Previous Versions, click on Install, and it will show you all of the versions that you can download and install on your computer as part of your Creative Cloud license.
Check back often for updates. New chapters will be added each time Adobe releases a major After Effects update.
- Preview options
- Editing a project without stopping preview playback
- Navigating the CC Libraries workflows
- Moving animations from Adobe Character Animator to After Effects
- Using expressions to dynamically measure facial dimensions
- Setting up layers in CINEWARE and CINEMA 4D Lite