Feature Focus: Redesigned Composition Panel Toolbar and New 3D Ground Plane button

Adobe Employee ,
Feb 09, 2021 Feb 09, 2021

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Greetings!

 

We’d like to introduce you to two new features in After Effects Beta, available today in version 18.0.0.20 and later:

  • Redesigned Composition Panel Toolbar: The row of buttons at the bottom of the Composition panel has been streamlined and re-organized to show only the most used features. 3D options are now contextual and won’t get in your way when you don’t have 3D layers in your comp. Settings that are no longer accessible via the toolbar, such as pixel aspect ratio correction, can still be controlled via the Composition window menu.
    Screen Shot 2021-02-09 at 10.57.23 AM.png
  • 3D Ground Plane button: When Draft 3D is enabled, a new button in the toolbar at the bottom of the Composition panel allows you enable or disable a ground plane in the comp’s 3D space.
    Screen Shot 2021-02-09 at 10.56.33 AM.png

 

What We Want to Know

We want your feedback on these features. Primarily:

  • Does the redesigned Composition panel toolbar improve your workflow? What would you change?
  • How does the 3D ground plane feel? Is it helpful when working in 3D comps?

 

What’s New

Changes to the Composition panel toolbar and related functionality include:

  • The most used controls have been reorganized and moved to the left side of the toolbar. 
  • 3D controls have been moved to the right side of the toolbar and only appear when there is at least one 3D layer in the comp. 
  • The new Draft 3D button enables or disables the new real-time draft 3D renderer introduced to After Effects Beta last October. This feature was previously enabled by changing the Fast Previews mode to Fast Draft. Please note the real-time draft 3D renderer is different from the Timeline panel “Draft 3D” control, which has been removed. 
  • The new 3D Ground Plane button enables or disables the 3D ground plane when Draft 3D is enabled. The 3D ground plane was also introduced last October, but could not be disabled. Improvements and bug fixes have also been made to the 3D ground plane. 
  • The new 3D Renderer menu allows you to switch between composition 3D renderers without opening the Composition Settings dialog. 
  • 3D Reference Axes are now enabled by default. (This was added to After Effects 17.7, also released today.) They can be disabled via the Grids and Guides Options menu, on the left side of the toolbar. 
  • The Select View Layout menu has been streamlined. 
  • The Fast Previews menu has been streamlined. Fast Draft is now known as Draft 3D and is controlled by the button on the right side of the toolbar. Draft mode has been removed; it is no longer applicable. The Renderer Options command is now in the 3D Renderer menu on the right side of the toolbar. 
  • Controls that don’t need to be within easy reach have been moved to commands in the Composition panel’s menu (the three-bar menu button on the panel’s tab): Always Preview This View, Primary Viewer, and Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction. 
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio correction is now enabled by default. 
  • Controls with low usage have been removed: Adobe Immersive Environment, Show Timeline, and Show Composition Flowchart. (The Timeline and Flowchart panels can still be opened from the Window menu, if not currently open in your workspace.) 

 

Screen Shot 2021-02-09 at 10.56.56 AM.png

 

Known issues: 

  • The Exposure value (for previewing HDR overbright values) can’t be adjusted; the Adjust Exposure hottext is missing. This has been fixed as of After Effects 18.0.0.21.
  • The 3D ground plane is not always positioned at the center of the comp. 
  • The Composition panel toolbar has a gradient between the controls on the left and the 3D controls on the right. 
  • There is a dark line above the Composition panel toolbar. 

 

Thank you! We’re looking forward to your feedback.

 

(Use this Beta forum thread to discuss this feature and share your feedback with the After Effects team and other Beta users. If you encounter a bug while using this feature, let us know by posting a reply here or choosing "Report a bug" from the "Provide feedback" icon in the top-right corner of the app.)

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Explorer ,
Feb 10, 2021 Feb 10, 2021

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Hi Tim! The new Camera and 3D controls on the right are great and streamlining the toolbar looks good, too. As the order of the icons is probably hard wired with many AE users (especially the heavy users), may I suggest that with reordering the toolbar the icons themselves could stay like it is now – ie. the grid toggle left to the mask toggle and the region of interest left to the transpacency. Please see attached mock-up.

 

buttons.jpg

 

 


Would it be possible to give the user the an adjustable toolbar? So everybody could arrange the icons to their own liking? Also maybe with a “spacer” icon to create “groups of icons”.

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 10, 2021 Feb 10, 2021

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Thanks for the feedback, @Rene Andritsch. We've passed it along to our UI designers. Quite a bit of research, including validating designs with users, went into all of the changes we're making to the 3D experience in After Effects. This includes the Composition panel toolbar.

 

Would it be possible to give the user the an adjustable toolbar?

That is something I'd also like to see. But it is a larger, longer-term project. The intent of the current changes being made to the Composition panel toolbar is to clean up UI that has grown over almost 30 years and needed some pruning.

 

That said, I've poked our UI designers about this, too. Are you familiar with the customizable toolbar in the Program and Source monitor panels in Premiere Pro? Would that set of functionality work for you in After Effects?

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Explorer ,
Feb 14, 2021 Feb 14, 2021

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Dear @Tim Kurkoski ! Thank you for pointing out these features in Premiere. Yes, that would be fantastic. And obviously the most important things is that it already exists and you hopefully can build upon it. Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 16, 2021 Feb 16, 2021

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Love PPro's Customizable Source/Prog Monitors  — what it needs now is some Human TLC like 'syncability' which the major UI parts have.


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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 16, 2021 Feb 16, 2021

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AE_CompPanelToolbar_Feb2021_RRK_01.PNG

 

I like the delineation as per above - I'm not biased!   😉

More thoughts
1) 3D contextualized icons should always be present; for a consistent UI — just grey them when not in context.

2) The most important part of the Comp TB are what I've placed in the middle -
a) TC
b) Comp Magnification
c) Comp Rez
d) Channel Selector
e) Toggle Alpha View

When a user looks at the Comp Panel, it is instictive that the bottom-center is their focal point. The most critical Comp Info should be there, bottom-centered and the most frequently selected/changed Comp Details should also be bottom-centered. It's also less tiring on the eyes.

3) Separation of the different Comp TB; based on Function and Frequency of Use/Important will help new users get acquianted more quickly with these features.

4) The delineation as per  above is based on function as well as being user-centered by putting the most important and frequently changed items in the middle (except for the 3D Views).

5) Draft 3D may be pushed to the left of the Cam View selector

6) Users may be confusion with the Draft 3D and Fast Previews. I'm not in front of my AE Encyclopedia — can Fast Previews be renamed, "2D Views" — even if it means adding additional views to the existing "Draft 3D" selector.


 


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New Here ,
Mar 04, 2021 Mar 04, 2021

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"Pixel Aspect Ratio correction is now enabled by default." seems to me an avenue for disaster. I have many students that select HDV instead of HDTV presets when creating a new composition and the only way they find out is when they see all their designs and shape layers all squeezed up.

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New Here ,
Apr 20, 2021 Apr 20, 2021

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Hi Tim, all the improvement about dealing with 3D in after effects are really nice and it's good to see you focusing on it among other things to improve user's experience so thanks a lot for that!

I was wondering if the option to have 4 3d views separated with one main panel and 3 other small ones on the left/right/top/bottom have been removed cause that is the configuration I used the most and it was really handy, but I can't find that option anymore in the update with the new toolbar.

Also another thing I noticed is that the toolbar doesn't display well when there's a system display scaling on a 4k monitor on windows (like scaling the display top 125% for example) the toolbar seems to disapear far to the left and the only way I found to get it back was to redimension the panels, but it's really not usable as it is, so I had to get back to a normal 100% display scaling on my 4k monitor which make everythign so tiny from my postion that it's a bit hard to read. Hopefully there will be some fixes soon for those issues but overall that is nice to see things evoluate!

Many thanks and have a great day!

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Adobe Employee ,
Apr 21, 2021 Apr 21, 2021

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Thanks for the kind words, @martialC!

quote

I was wondering if the option to have 4 3d views separated with one main panel and 3 other small ones on the left/right/top/bottom have been removed cause that is the configuration I used the most and it was really handy, but I can't find that option anymore in the update with the new toolbar.

 

You're not missing anything; the views that included unequal divisions were removed. During our research phase for the improved toolbar, our user interviews suggested those views were little-used and were just cluttering the menu.

 

That said, we're open to restoring them if the functionality is important to common workflows. I strongly urge you to post this as a request at our UserVoice site so it can gain visibility and votes:
https://adobe-video.uservoice.com/

 

As a workaround, I recommend you create multiple Composition viewer panels and arrange them as you'd like, and save that as a workspace.

 

quote

Also another thing I noticed is that the toolbar doesn't display well when there's a system display scaling on a 4k monitor on windows (like scaling the display top 125% for example) the toolbar seems to disapear far to the left

 

Could you please provide a screenshot? I tested multiple monitor scaling settings on my Windows machine just now and the toolbar is behaving as I expect it. So I'm clear on where the problem is. A visual and more description of the problem would be helpful. Thanks!

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