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4 Wonder Tips for After Effects CS6

The upgrade from After Effects CS 5.5 to CS 6 is a big one.

Several of the new features like 3D extrusion & variable-width mask feathering have been requests from users for several versions. Others like Rolling Shutter Repair, 3D Camera Tracker, & Pro Import were previously provided by third party effects. These, plus some behind the scenes performance tweaks, make CS6 a must-have upgrade in my opinion. Let's jump in and take a quick look at 4 new features. (We'll cover 3D Camera Tracker and other improvements in a future article.)

Tip 1 - Create ray-traced extruded text and shapes (3D)

It isn't immediately apparent how to do this. Make the layer 3D (this step is crucial), and a “Renderer: Classic 3D” box appears in the top right of the Composition window. 

Classic 3D

Click on the box and in the pop up box change the renderer from Classic to Ray-traced 3D. 

Ray-traced 3D

Select the text and press A twice. This opens the text Geometry Options. 


Change Bevel Style from none to Angular, Bevel Depth to 4 and  Extrusion depth to 5. To see the Extrusion & Bevel, Add a point light at 100% Intensity and an ambient light around 40% percent.

Geometry Options

Now switch to 2 Views, adding Custom View. Use the camera tool (C) rotate around the text in Custom View to better see the 3D extrusion. With the text layer selected, choose Animation > Animate Text > Bevel > Color > RGB.

You will now see a Bevel Color swatch, click on it and pick a Bevel Color. Click and hold on the “Add” pulldown to add other properties (Side, Back, etc.)

Note- ray-traced extruded text is GPU accelerated. This means unless you have a supported Nvidia card, working with the Ray-traced 3D will be very slow.

Bevel Color swatch

Tip 2 - Pro Import (Bringing in Timelines from FCP & Media Composer)

If you edit in FCP 7 or Media Composer, you can import your timelines intact, without having to render out a flattened movie or pay the $500 this plugin cost before Adobe acquired them.

After Effects > File > Import > Pro Import After Effects

If you are using an earlier version of AE you can get the plugin for free here.


After Effects > File > Import > Pro Import After Effects

Tip 3 - Rolling Shutter Repair 

This effect fixes the wobble, smear, and skew with CMOS chips (DSLR’s, Smart Phones) referred to as the jello effect.

In the “Effects & Presets” panel, type rolling. Select your clip in the timeline and double-click on “Rolling Shutter Repair” to apply the effect. In the example I tried this on (moving the camera while tilting down on a concert poster), I found a frame that looked warped and dialed up the rate til the vertical lines looked less skewed (around 75%).

If you turned your camera sideways or upside down, you can pick one of the other options in “Scan Direction”.

Rolling Shutter Repair

Tip 4 - Variable Width Mask Feather

In previous versions, to feather one side of a mask, you created 2 masks, put the 2nd one in subtract mode, and feathered it. Thankfully in CS6 we have the mask feather tool.

Draw a rectangle mask around a layer. Press the G key twice to bring up the mask feather tool (it is one of the pen tool options). 

mask feather tool

Click on a corner of the mask to create a soft mask all around the layer. 

Next, click on the corners you don’t want to feather to make those corners hard. Click and drag the feather handle to adjust radius/angle of the feather.

Check out these After Effects tutorial-videos to learn more!

Clay Asbury

Clay Asbury | Articles by this author

Clay is an Adobe/Apple Certified Instructor with over 13 years video production/editing experience. His approachable and effective teaching style has developed from teaching at Adobe/Apple Training Centers and various colleges.. He writes video editing tips and articles at claygasbury.com . He wrote the chapter on trimming in "Edit Well: Final Cut Studio Techniques from the Pros", from Peachpit Press.


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