When I originally set out to write the 30 Days of CS5 blog series, I didn’t intend to spend so much time on After Effects. But, the more time I’ve spent with After Effects, the more potential I see for photographers and others, who aren’t videographers or motion graphics experts, to begin incorporating After Effects into their workflow to improve the quality of their video clips, add animated titles or create engaging slideshows. After Effects really is the Swiss army knife of motion graphics and its utility extends to almost every aspect of motion graphics from video to 3D compositing.
Here’s one example of this utility. With After Effects CS5, you can import camera raw files into your composition and then re-edit the images just as you would a Smart Object in Photoshop. This affords you a lot of flexibility in your After Effects workflow.
1) Import the item normally into After Effects’ Project panel. (Unfortunately, most raw files don’t preview correctly within AE’s Import dialog.)
2) When you need to correct the image in Adobe Camera Raw, select the image in the project panel and choose Edit>Edit Original. Your photo will open in ACR for adjustments.
3) Press OK to apply the changes to the raw file. Your changes will appear momentarily within your composition.
Note: I have noticed the previews for raw files are a little less responsive than other image formats. If you’re creating a 100-image 3D composite, working with raw files may not be the best idea because of the lag in generating all the preview thumbnails from the source files. Still, if you’re working with a small number of images, and want the most flexibility in your corrections, you’ll find this to be a welcome addition to your workflow.