Adobe today announced After Effects 5.0.

After Effects 5.0 is Adobe's motion graphics and visual-effects solution for video, TV and the Web. It's a higher-end product than Adobe's recently-launched Premiere 6.0 video-editing application, and is available in both Standard and Production Bundle (PB) versions, Standard provides the core 2D and 3D compositing and effects tools; PB includes a host of extra, high-end features.

The Web elements of the application have been beefed-up, following customer research, which showed that 52 per cent of After Effects customers used it to develop Web video. It has an export-to-Web feature, as well as the facility to export to Flash.

The application sports the ability to embed URLs into Web output – these can be files exported as Macromedia Flash, AVI or QuickTime movies. After Effects permits embedded URLs to be added with a layer marker.

Layer player After Effects 5.0 features support for composite layers in either 2D or 3D projects with control over multiple camera views and lights. The application allows layers to be animated, and the newly introduced vector-painting tools can be employed in the movie/animation edit.

The new Parenting feature offers fresh possibilities for After Effects users –adding a logical sequence by which to create animations, doing so hierarchically by defining parent-child relationships between layers. The child layer will automatically inherit all the transformations applied to the Parent layer.

The application is more tightly integrated with other products in Adobe's dynamic-media range, including Photoshop 6.0, Illustrator 9.0, and Premiere 6.0. The interface has also been refined to reflect the look-&-feel of other Adobe applications.

Adobe Illustrator 9.0 users will benefit from After Effect's ability to conserve Illustrator 9.0's layer, transparency and transfer settings when importing Illustrator-generated files using the PDF file-format.

New effects The application will output files in myriad formats, including film, video, multimedia and Web. The Production Bundle offers 16-bit per channel colour support, and has the ability to create fully editable masks on the fly.

The application includes new visual effects – Shatter, Radio Waves, Vegas and Colorama effects. The PB version also includes an Inner/Outer Key feature, used to extract an object from its background – useful to splice specific images into and out of projects. The PB version offers two further effects – Fractal Noise and Optics Compensation.

Performance has also been given a boost. To make better use of RAM, the application utilises 'intelligent caching' – when changes are made to a composition only the cached frames affected by the edit are invalidated. This means only specific frames need to be re-rendered when the project is previewed, saving time and meaning users need not re-render entire sequences.

After Effects 5.0 permits layers to be manipulated interactively, so results are visible as changes are applied. The RAM Preview feature has also been improved. Adobe claims this feature permits a particular portion – 'Region of Interest' – to be assigned, and a number of RAM preview-options have also been added. This delivers results faster and with more control over what's seen than the application was capable of in the past.

Compressed-audio output – MP3 and QuickTime – is supported. Third-party technologies support has also been improved – After Effects 5.0 will import and export Microsoft DirectShow files directly. QuickTime integration has been refined so its video Out component will permit it to drive a second video monitor when creating and editing a movie.

After Effects 5.0 is scheduled to ship in the second quarter this year. The Standard version will cost £450 and the Production Bundle £999. Upgrading to the Standard version costs £130, and to the Production Bundle, £189.