Tonight I ran across a problem using a Wacom Intuos3 tablet with Adobe After Effects CS5.5. The pen pressure would not work with the brush tool in AE, and the brush acted as if I was using a plain old mouse. Having some detailed work to do, I needed both the Wacom pen input and pressure sensitivity, which I’ve fallen in love with for Photoshop use. (Seriously – if you do any significant amount of Photoshop work, get a Wacom tablet. It’s the best money you’ll spend.)
Since I’ve had far too many years of professionally dealing with PC troubleshooting, I went through all the normal steps you might expect: uninstall and reinstall the drivers, install different driver versions, blow away the preferences file, restart Windows, etc. Nothing worked. To be clear: this is a 64-bit install of Windows 7, and I tried Wacom driver versions 6.1.6-7 and 6.1.7-3, with the latest After Effects CS5.5 updates (reported as version 10.5.0.253).
It struck me that the pen was working much like a mouse, I could gleefully get motion and clicking, but no pressure, tilt, or any of the good stuff. Remember, this is only in After Effects; the pen worked fine in Photoshop. During one of my uninstall / reboot / reinstall iterations, I noticed that Windows picked up the Wacom Intuos3 as a mouse, but of course nothing used the tablet features because there were no drivers installed. So, I checked the Device Manager, and found that there was a generic ”HID-compliant mouse” installed for the tablet. I verified the Vendor ID, and also unplugged my regular mouse to be certain it was the tablet. It was.
This made me suspect that perhaps After Effects was binding to a mouse driver before it got around to the Wacom tablet driver, precipitating the pressureless performance of the pen. I reinstalled the latest Wacom drivers, and checked back with the Device Manager, and found this:
Notice that there are at least four devices associated with the Wacom Intuos3 tablet, which I highlighted in yellow. Two of them, under the Pointing Devices grouping, seemed very mouse-like, and probably serve to drive the pointer around. The other two, listed under Human Interface Devices, smelled a bit more tablet-specific, and probably provide the pressure, tilt, and other fun stuff to applications. This is just a guess on my part.
Going ahead with my theory that AE was binding to the wrong device first, I wanted to force After Effects to find the tablet drivers before the mouse drivers. I disabled the two Wacom mouse driver entries (which prevents the pen from moving the pointer, by the way), then launched After Effects, and finally re-enabled the two Wacom mouse devices.
It worked! Lovely, glorious pressure sensitivity! I could brush my roto masks with finesse! Retouching became fun instead of a chore! The promise of the pen was fulfilled! Oh, happy day.
My guess here is there is a bug on the Adobe end of things, whereby AE is binding to the mouse-flavoured drivers in lieu of the tablet-flavoured oens. I’ll go file a bug report with them shortly, and hopefully it will get cleared up in the next release. But for now, we have a workaround for the Wacom pen pressure not working in After Effects for the Brush tool:
- Disable the two devices: Wacom Mouse and Wacom Mouse Monitor
- Launch After Effects
- Enable the two devices disabled in the first step
- Scribble away!
And there we have it. A working, if annoying, method to enable Pen Pressure in After Effects!
Update: After you do this, if you use Wacom’s mouse on the tablet at all, AE will switch back to mouse mode and not use pressure with the pen. So, keep the mouse away from the pad! You can use a regular mouse just fine, but the tablet mouse will switch things back to sucky mode.
So, I’m working on all the postproduction for Binary Samurai, and I’m doing it with Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 – Premiere Pro for the edit, which is done, and After Effects for the VFX. As many resources as are out there already, I couldn’t find much information on best practices for managing a project the size and scope of a full feature film. Even with a great book on AE VFX work by my side (highly recommended btw), I still had questions! Things like, do you break things up into individual project files, or use one giant one? Can Dynamic Link come into play effectively? Many more.
Since I couldn’t find any answers, I’ve been blazing ahead and devising my own. I decided to contribute to anyone who may have the same questions by posting an ongoing log of my experiences here. Adobe has come a long, long way with their Creative Suite products when it comes to video, and they are more than ready to tackle the big jobs. Stay tuned for more!
Today I had to transfer a lot of DVCPRO HD footage from a Panasonic AG-HPX170 camera. I discovered that the USB 2.0 port transferred easily twice as fast, if not faster, as the 1394 FireWire port, when connected to a Macbook Pro. This was a surprising result! I suppose the FireWire port is more useful for direct video capture and monitoring than it is for transferring video from the P2 media cards. Adobe OnLocation plus a laptop with a high-resolution screen makes for a great field monitor, with scopes and annotation tools included!
And praise to Panasonic for releasing an update to P2CMS that now works with Snow Leopard!
I have put together a promotional poster for the upcoming film Cleric. We wanted a soviet constructivist design aesthetic for the text, so instead of using a canned font I drew the CLERIC logotype custom for this project. Call it retro-futuristic avant garde soviet constructivism with a dose of unsettling lines to echo the film’s string-theory timeline warpage. Yeah, that doesn’t make any damn sense to me, either. The rest of the film will have even more references to the soviet-esque aesthetic subtly scattered throughout. I have plans for a few other posters in other styles, some leaning towards graphic novel, others towards illustrated propaganda poster. We’ll see how much time I can take to make them, being completely swamped in post-production hell right now. Visual effects take a loooong time to do right!
As promised, you may download a zip archive of the Cleric production photos (121MB). Enjoy!
Wrap party for the film shoot for Cleric.
It’s a wrap, folks! Scorpion vodka and cigars for all.