There are several new features in After Effects CS5.5, but the most impressive and frankly jaw-dropping effect that I’ve seen is the Warp Stabilizer. It sounds like something Captain Picard would need, but in fact it’s a way to stabilize camera footage.
When shooting film or video, there are several options for how to achieve camera motion while keeping the camera stable. If you’re a professional filmmaker, you might have access to a Steadicam rig, which uses gyroscopes to allow a camera operator to move freely while the camera stays still. However, for an amateur, this isn’t really an option due to the expense of such rigs.
But now in After Effects CS5.5 Adobe has introduced the Warp Stabilizer, which can take handheld camera footage, and stabilize it to the degree that it appears as if it was shot with a Steadicam. Stabilizing features have been part of After Effects for a long time, but the degree to which you can stabilize motion with this new effect is absolutely amazing. Watch this video to see an example of the stabilization and how to use this new feature.
The next feature we will look at is the Camera Lens Blur effect. On a real camera, we can change the focal length of the lens as the shot is going on, which is a way to point the viewer at specific parts of the shot. This is called Rack Focus, and is quite complex to complete on an actual film set. It requires excellent timing and a second camera operator, called a Focus Puller in order to change the focus as the shot is happening.
Now we can do this in software with After Effects CS5.5. As long as the entire shot is in focus, we can use this effect to blur out specific parts of the image, and animate it so that it mimics the focus of an actual camera.
We also have a new effect for the people who work in 3D. After Effects CS5.5 has added some new light falloff features that more closely mimic real world lighting conditions. This can improve the look of your 3D effects in After Effects.