After Effects 2023 adds small, but incredibly handy new features as well as a few major upgrades.
Every year at Adobe MAX, Adobe unveils new features for their Creative Cloud suite. We like to sit around, eating popcorn, and squealing with glee as new features get announced. "Unversal Track Mattes..." SQUEEEEEEEEEE!
Alright, maybe we do take things a little far sometimes, but we do think this year's update to After Effects has some pretty awesome upgrades. Let's dig in, and talk about the small quality-of-life improvements and the major-league-holy-crap-this-changes-everything stuff, too.
What are the new features in Adobe After Effects 2023?
Here are a few of the features we think are noteworthy in this year's release. If you'd like to see a full-list of updates, make sure to check out Adobe's release notes page for After Effects, where they list out every new thing.
New Keyframe Tools
After Effects 2023 adds a slew of new features that make working with keyframes easier and more powerful. For starters, you can now color-code your keyframes.
This may not be a huge deal on its own, sure. But when you combine this feature with the ability to select groups of keyframes based on color, now we're talking! This saves a ton of time, especially when doing keyframe-heavy tasks like character animation.
There are also new keyboard shortcuts for navigating keyframes that will save you time. And time is money. And money makes the world go round, right round, baby, right round. Like a record ba... sorry.
Tired of having to right-click your position property to separate dimensions every. single. time?
There's now a new preference setting that allows your position properties to be separated by default. If you're value-graph fan (holla!) then this is going to be a nice option for you to check.
New Comp and Animation Presets
These are small upgrades, but they really help make After Effects more accessible to new artists. There are now convenient presets for common social media sizes as well as 4K and several common frame rates.
Adobe also refreshed the animation presets, giving us some useful things like pre-animated map icons with expression controls built right in! Little things like this come in handy more than we'd like to admit.
A new universal track matte system
This one is a big deal. Up until now, alpha or luma matte layers in After Effects needed to be placed directly above their fill layer in the timeline. This has meant that you often need to precompose things or duplicate matte layers to get certain types of effects.
Well, no more! You can now use ANY layer as a matte, no matter where it lives in the timeline stack. This is going to change the way you use After Effects, and will make lots of tasks easier and less tedious to do.
Native H.264 Returns!
Yes, this is a super nerdy thing to get excited about, but be honest... you're excited. No more 3rd party tools just to quickly render an H.264, no more Media Encoder. H.264 encoding is back, natively, inside of After Effects.
This is a beta feature, only available in the beta version of After Effects which you can in your Adobe CC app in the "beta apps" section.
If you use Photoshop or Illustrator, the Properties Panel will look familiar to you. While the feature isn't fully-baked yet, you can already see how it will change the way you work in After Effects. The panel shows you all of the properties you can change / animate on the currently selected layer. For things like shape layers, this is a godsend.
Native 3D Objects in After Effects
This feature is as beta as beta gets... but we're already mad with power! For as long as man has roamed the earth, motion designers have wanted to have native 3D capabilities inside of After Effects. And now, at long last, it seems our wish may be granted.
This feature is very, very, very rough around the edges at the moment... but give it a whirl! In another version or two, this will likely spawn a new trend in mograph as it becomes easier than ever to mix and match 2D / 3D animation.
What if using After Effects felt easy?
If you're looking to use After Effects professionally, it really helps to learn how professional artists use it, how they set up projects, and how they approach structuring animation projects. If you're ready to go to the next level with your After Effects skills, check out After Effects Kickstart. In this 8-week interactive bootcamp, you and your classmates from all over the world will learn from an award winning animation director, Nol Honig. This course has supercharged the careers of thousands of artists, and the next session is just around the corner!
Check out After Effects Kickstart and register for the next session!