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Five Best New Features of Adobe® After Effects® CS5

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Rob Birnholz and Ian Robinson, contributing authors to Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques, take a break to discuss their top five favorite new features of Adobe After Effects CS5. Whether you use After Effects for hard-core compositing or you’re a designer looking to push your projects to the next level, there’s something new for everyone.

1. The Roto Brush

The Roto Brush is by far the coolest and most powerful addition to After Effects CS5. Rotoscoping, (the process of manually isolating an object from its background using masks and paths) has always been among the most difficult -- and certainly one of the most tedious -- tasks an AE artist often has to perform. Just the mention of "rotoing" a clip sends many people scurrying away from a project. The Roto Brush doesn't eliminate rotoscoping or magically make it completely painless. In the right circumstances it can significantly reduce the amount of time it would otherwise take to painstakingly isolate your foreground and background objects. Based loosely on Photoshop's Quick Selection tool, the Roto Brush makes it easy to specify foreground and background objects in your scene with just a few simple brush strokes. Once you’ve defined your basic mask shape, you define a range of frames and watch as the Roto Brush automatically tracks your object. Amazing! Since the accuracy does drift a bit over time, there are extensive controls for fine-tuning your mask. Anyone who has ever had to rotoscope in After Effects will go crazy over this new addition.

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