Adobe has released After Effects 7.0, its tool for producing motion graphics and visual effects for movies.

The release comes as part of a slew of Adobe product updates across its video creation range, but only After Effects is Mac-compatible.

Open GL improved

The new version offers a better user interface, accelerated OpenGL 2.0 support and "the industry's most comprehensive Flash Video (FLV) export capabilities", the company said.

After Effect's expanded OpenGL 2.0 support increases production time, the company explained. It does this by accelerating the on-screen rendering of 2D and 3D composites and delivering high fidelity support for blending modes, motion blur on 2D layers, anti-aliasing, track mattes and shadows.

"Adobe After Effects 7.0 meets the needs of the most demanding film and video professionals and allows creatives who are moving into time-based design to easily create compelling motion graphics and visual effects," said Jim Guerard, vice president of product management, Web and Video Solutions for Adobe. "With this release, After Effects has extended its leadership role in motion graphics and visual effects, on both the Mac and Windows platforms."

User focused

The user interface introduces dockable panels, which helps users maximise the amount of working screen space they have by allowing them to decide what tools to have open and where on the screen they want them to be.

The software also offers hundreds of fully-customisable Animation and Behavior presets for animating text, effects, transitions, and backgrounds that can be accessed through Adobe Bridge.

Also new in this release is Adobe's Graph Editor. This tool helps creators build precise animations across multiple layers, offering complete visual control over keyframe editing and easy synchronisation of effects.

Pro edition - better colour and animation support

New 32-bit High Dynamic Range (HDR) colour support in the Professional edition allows users to match the behaviour of colour and light to achieve a high degree of photo-realism.

The Professional edition also offers Timewarp, which uses motion vectors to slow down or speed up footage and promises to protect against unwanted artefacts, the company said.

Adobe After Effects 7.0 for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or 10.4, and Microsoft Windows XP is available now. UK prices are expected later today, but US prices are: $999 for the Professional edition and $699 for the Standard edition. Upgrade pricing is estimated at $199, and $499 to upgrade from Standard to Professional edition.