Adobe After Effects is a digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing application developed by Adobe Systems and used in the post-production process of film making and television production. Among other things, After Effects can be used for keying, tracking, compositing and animation. It also functions as a very basic non-linear editor, audio editor and media transcoder.
After Effects was originally created by the Company of Science and Art in Providence, Rhode Island, where the first two versions of the software, 1.0 (January 1993)  and 1.1, were released by the company. CoSA along with After Effects was then acquired by Aldus corporation in July 1993, which was in turn acquired by Adobe in 1994, and with it PageMaker. Adobe's first new release of After Effects was version 3.0.
The following is the list of versions of After Effects over the years, including the first two versions released by CoSA.
|Developer||Date||Version||Codename||Major features added|
|CoSA||January 1993||1.0||Egg||Layered compositing with mask, effect, transforms, keyframes; Mac only|
|May 1993||1.1||More effects|
|Aldus||January 1994||2.0||Teriyaki||Time Layout window, image sequence support, motion blur, multi-machine rendering, frame blending, proxies|
|May 1994||2.0.1||Power Macintosh version (PPC) |
|Adobe||October 1995||3.0||Nimchow||Render queue, bezier masking, time remapping, keyframe assistants (wiggler, motion sketch, smoother), multiple effects per layer, advanced keying, velocity graph, 1/2/4 point motion tracking, motion math, first Japanese version, layer transfer modes, continuously rasterize Illustrator files, Photoshop as comp import with layer/transfer mode/alpha channel support, 3:2 pulldown, non-square pixel support|
|April 1996||3.1||File formats, multiprocessing; last Mac 680x0 version|
|May 1997||3.1 (Windows 95/NT)||Dancing Monkey||First Windows version, contextual menus, first French & German versions; in November 1997, Path Text effect and Animated GIF output were released for free to registered users of 3.1 |
|January 1999||4.0||ebeer||Tabbed windows, movable time layout columns, multiple masks per layer, warping effects, particle playground, audio effects, transform effect, adjustment layers, align palette, rulers & guides, RAM preview, glows/blurs no longer clip at layer edge, Premiere import, Illustrator layers support, label colors in timeline; first simultaneous Mac & Windows release|
|September 1999||4.1||Batnip||Flowchart view, watch folder, 3D channel effects, collect files command, auto deinterlacing, sequence layers, save favorite effects (.ffx), separate text fill/stroke, 30,000×30,000 image support|
|April 2001 ||5.0||Melmet||3D layers, 3D lights, dynamic previews, parenting, vector paint, expressions, pick whip, draw/edit masks in comp window, integration of Atomic Power plug-ins (foam, wave world, card dance, shatter, vegas), 16 bits per channel color, Illustrator transparency support, SWF export, mask colors, mask motion blur, mask expansion, RAM Preview region of interest, Photoshop 6 vector mask import, PDF import, solo switch, scrubbable property values, custom workspaces, effect reordering, PAR correction, reveal file on disk, reduce project, trim comp to work area, >2GB movie output|
|January 7, 2002 ||5.5||Fauxfu||Advanced 3D renderer, multiple 3D views, import camera data, colored shadows, projection layers, effects palette, post render actions, advanced lightning, adjustment layer lights, smart mask, looping via expressions, RealMedia output, expression controllers, Zaxwerks 3D Invigorator Classic bundled; first OS X version|
|August 2003||6.0||Foodfite||Paint, scripting, text layers and animators, editable Photoshop text layers, OpenGL support, new motion tracker, Rotobezier, Keylight, Liquify, Scribble, Dust & Scratches, background rendering of RAM Previews|
|June 16, 2004||6.5||Chambant||Advanced clone tool, presets gallery, grain management, integration of Cycore Effects plug-ins, Color Finesse bundling, disk caching, Firewire video output, interface light/dark controls, motion track with scale, Grain Surgery bundling, AAF & OMF support |
|January 2006||7.0||Clamchop||New unified window UI, timewarp, graph editor, OpenGL 2.0 support, 32 bpc HDR color, 32-bit audio, Adobe Bridge support, display color management, dynamic link with Premiere Pro, script editor, auto save, Photoshop file creation, smart blur, lens blur, per-character text blurring, first Spanish & Italian versions|
|July 2, 2007||CS3 (8.0)||Metaloaf||Shape layers, puppet tool, brainstorm, clip notes, Photoshop vanishing point import, adaptive motion blur, per character 3D text animation, real-time audio playback, simultaneous multi-frame rendering, SWF vector import, 32-bit linear blending, full color management; first Universal Binary Intel Mac version|
|February 22, 2008||CS3 (8.0.2)||Loafdot||Panasonic P2 support; last Mac PowerPC version|
|September 23, 2008||CS4 (9.0)||Chinchillada||QuickSearch in the project & timeline, mini-flowchart, breadcrumbs, live PSD 3D layer import, separate XYZ, Imagineer Mocha bundled, cartoon effect, XFL export, XML export, XMP metadata,|
|December 10, 2008||CS4 (9.0.1)||Chinchidotta||RED R3D file support (via REDCODE v1.3 plugin)|
|May 29, 2009||CS4 (9.0.2)||Lottadotta||Clip-level RED R3D support (via REDCODE v1.7 plugin), XDCAM HD (Avid-style MXF) support|
|October 6, 2010 ||CS4 (9.0.3)||Yaddadotta||Fixes "locking existing frames" message delay at start of RAM preview, decreased performance due to Wacom driver conflict, aerender not shutting down background processes, and miscellaneous crashes especially on Mac OS X 10.5 during drag-and-drop operations|
|April 30, 2010 ||CS5 (10.0)||Esgocart||64-bit native (mandatory) on OS X and Windows, Roto Brush tool, Refine Matte effect, mocha v2, LUT support, AVC-Intra import and improved RED (R3D) support, Align panel improvements, Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse 3, Digieffects FreeForm, auto-keyframe mode,  animated GIF export functionality removed.|
|September 3, 2010 ||CS5 (10.0.1)||Esgodot||RED updates (color science v2, ROCKET, RMD metadata), improved LUT compatibility (.3dl with floating-point values or 3DMESH/Mesh keywords, or saved from ASSIMILATE SCRATCH systems), updates to bundled third-party plug-ins|
|April 8, 2011 ||CS5 (10.0.2)||Esgodoh||Fixes an "Unexpected data type" error opening project with missing effects, a crash with Directional Blur and other effects on computers with 16 or more logical processors, and a crash opening a composition created by Automatic Duck Pro Import AE.|
|April 11, 2011 ||CS5.5 (10.5)||Codname||Warp Stabilizer effect, Camera Lens Blur and camera layer improvements for depth-of-field and bokeh, source timecode support and Timecode effect enhancements, stereoscopic 3D rig creation and improved 3D Glasses effect, light falloff, CinemaDNG import, expanded RED (R3D) features, XDCAM EX and XDCAM HD output, integration with Adobe Audition CS5.5, save project as CS5.|
|June 30, 2011 ||CS5.5 (10.5.1)||Codot||Fixes for delay when typing in a text layer if mouse pointer was above the Composition panel, and inability to use an upgrade serial number.|
|April 23, 2012 ||CS6 (11.0)||SpinalTapas||Global Performance Cache, 3D Camera Tracker, ray-traced and extruded text and shapes, variable-width mask feather, Automatic Duck Pro Import for importing projects from other applications, including Final Cut Pro and Avid software, new and improved GPU acceleration features, Rolling Shutter Repair effect, Mocha for After Effects CS6, new and updated effects. Live PSD 3D layer import was removed.|
|May 25, 2012 ||CS6 (11.0.1)||BigDottom||Support for Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, AtomKraft.|
|October 12, 2012 ||CS6 (11.0.2)||NoneMoreDot||Support for more Nvidia cards and Intel HD Graphics, new memory handling preference allowing reversion to CS5.5 behavior.|
|June 17, 2013 ||CC (12.0)||Sconehenge||Maxon Cinema 4D Lite & Cineware integration, Refine Edge tool, Refine Soft Matte, layer snapping, Warp Stabilizer VFX|
|October 31, 2013 ||CC (12.1)||Plabt Blue Ribbon||OS 10.9 & Retina support, mask tracker, Detail-preserving Upscale effect, property linking, improved snapping|
|December 13, 2013 ||CC (12.2)||Pinot Butter||Automatic creation of folders for image sequences, command to convert parametric shape layer paths to Bézier paths, more snapping improvements, lots of small "polish" improvements|
|June 18, 2014 ||CC 2014 (13.0)||Goatmeal Stout ||Key Cleaner effect and Advanced Spill Suppressor effect, text templates created in After Effects editable in Premiere Pro, compositing options for each effect including ability to confine the area affected by each effect with masks, import of Sony RAW footage (raw files from F5, F55, and F65 cameras), import of MPEG-4 SStP (Simple Studio Profile) Sony SR MXF files, video preview on external monitor using Mercury Transmit|
|Sept 7, 2014 ||CC 2014.1 (13.1)||Hefe Marathon||High-DPI content and UI (Mac OS, Windows), refreshed "blue" UI, Copy With Relative Property Links command, color management for Dynamic Link, Maxon CINEMA 4D Lite R16 and CINEWARE 2.0, Collect Files for CINEMA 4D assets, native GoPro CineForm codecs, scripting improvements for text layers|
|Dec 16, 2014 ||CC 2014.2 (13.2)||Finish Lime||More scripting improvements for text layers, expression access to dynamic layer bounds, new keyframe icons.|
|June 15, 2015 ||CC 2015.0 (188.8.131.527)||Mussel Car||Uninterrupted playback, new Adobe Character Animator (Preview 1),  Creative Cloud libraries, face tracker, Maxon CINEWARE v2.0.16, smooth experience and interaction for the user even when rendering is in progress. |
|November 30, 2015 ||CC 2015.1 (13.6.0)||Currant Time||Character Animator (Preview 3), refinement of playback performance and interaction, multi-touch gestures, stacked panel groups, new Lumetri Color effect, additional ICC profiles, two new Cycore FX plugins. |
|January 27, 2016 ||CC 2015.2 (13.7.0)||Fibonachos||Maxon CINEWARE v3.0 (R17) (including support for the Take system, OpenGL renderer, and syncing timelines between After Effects and Cinema 4D), option to auto-save when starting Render Queue, improvements to Cache Before Playback previews.|
|June 21, 2016 ||CC 2015.3 (13.8.0)||Abbacore||New playback architecture, Maxon Cineware 3.1, export 3D text and shape layers to Maxon CINEMA 4D, GPU accelerated effects (Lumetri Color, Gaussian Blur, and Sharpen), improved caching and playback of image sequences, send compositions from Render Queue to Media Encoder, Character Animator (Preview 4)|
|November 2, 2016 ||CC 2017 (14.0)||Codfather||CINEMA 4D rendering engine for 3D compositions, Creative Cloud Team Projects (Beta), Real-time playback of unaltered source media, more GPU accelerated effects, Live Text Template improvements, Date & Time Tokens, Also includes: Better UI retina support, improved markers, scripting enhancements, Adobe Media Encoder export improvements.|
|January 18, 2017 ||CC 2017 (14.1)||The Codfather Part Tuna||Ability to save Team Projects as local projects.|
|April 19, 2017 ||CC 2017 (14.2)||Plabtjacks||Lumetri Scopes, Effect Input Layer Options, Camera-shake deblur, multiple GPU optimizations.|
|June 13, 2017 ||CC 2017 (14.2.1)||Blueberry Plabtjacks||Performance improvements and bug fixes.|
|October 18, 2017 ||CC (15.0)||Darth Tater||Data-driven animation and JSON import, expression access to path points, immersive/360 VR tools (formerly Mettle Skybox), GPU accelerated motion blur, new font menu, font ligature support, keyboard shortcut editor, Maxon CINEMA 4D Lite R19.|
After Effects has extensive plug-in support; a broad range of third party plug-ins are available. A variety of plug-in styles exist, such as particle systems for realistic effects for rain, snow, fire, etc.
With or without third-party plug-ins, After Effects can render 3D effects. Some of these 3D plug-ins use basic 2D layers from After Effects.
In addition to 3D effects, there are plug-ins for making video look like film or cartoons; simulating fire, smoke, or water; particle systems; slow motion; creating animated charts, graphs, and other data visualization; calculating the 3D movement of a camera in a 2D video shot; eliminating flicker, noise, or rigging lines; translating timelines from FCP or Avid; adding high-end color correction; and other workflow improvements and visual effects.
Adobe Creative Cloud and Maxon Cinema 4D Lite
Beginning in 2013, Adobe switched to a subscription based model that provided customers with access to either one Adobe product of your choice or all of them as well as monthly and annual payment plans. Adobe marketed this as an opportunity to release updates more often than just once every other year. In addition to other updates for After Effects, Adobe formed a major partnership with Maxon to bundle CINEMA 4D Lite and the Cineware plugin inside of the After Effects application. You can create, import, and edit CINEMA 4D files. However, if you have another edition of CINEMA 4D, such as CINEMA 4D Prime, you can use it instead. The CINEMA 4D Lite application gives you the ability to edit, create, and work with native CINEMA 4D files.
- Nuke – The Foundry
- Combustion, Toxik and Smoke – Autodesk
- Motion – Apple Inc.
- VSDC Free Video Editor
- Fusion – Blackmagic Design
- Boris RED – Boris FX
While not dedicated to compositing, the open source software Blender contains a limited node-based compositing feature which, among other things is capable of basic keying and blurring effects.