Adobe Photoshop CS4′s Animation Panel – Serious Limitations
First of all, let me start this post by stating that I DO applaud Adobe for combining the animation capabilities of Image Ready into Photoshop, starting with Photoshop CS3. I was hoping they would have stepped up to the plate and given us a bit more in CS4, however. Simple things like a little more control of keyframe interpolation. Allow us a little finesse in the control of keyframes, as we have in After Effects (for several versions now). Also, the biggest disappointment is the stuttering layer movement that makes your animations look like a GIF animation from 1998. Opacity fades are a bit more smooth, but move a layer over time, and you may be a bit disheartened.
Let’s take a look at the Photoshop CS4 Animation Panel:
Photoshop CS4′s Animation Panel – showing a 3-layer animation
This is an example of a simple 3-layer animation… a background in motion, along with a mid-ground element and a foreground layer. In After Effects, this would go together quickly with many simple controls to chose from on the Timeline. However, this is a much more complicated process in Photoshop, since there are so many limitations and lack of simple animatible functions and keyframe tools.
For instance, the simple tools that would give you more control over layer animations would be:
• Keyframable Scaling
• Keyframable Rotation
• Keyframe Interpolation controls – more than just Hold or Linear (on/off)
• Smoother motion of layer elements in an animation (perhaps adjustable by frame rate?)
In comparison, let’s take a look at the After Effects CS4 Timeline Panel:
This is the After Effects CS4 Timeline Panel, split & stacked to view the details
Again, there are far more tools for animation on the Timeline Panel in After Effects than there are in Photoshop, such as Motion Blur, Frame Blending, 3D Layers, Graph Editing, and much, much more…
But what I’d like to compare are the “logical”, simple tools that Photoshop should include at minimum, like SOME Keyframe Interpolation control (even just a simple on/off for Easy Ease In/Out) and the ability to animate Scale and Rotation (or any other Transform functions, if they should chose to do so)!
Okay – so how about we take a look at the end results of this simple animation, with a side-by-side comparison video:
*Download a hi-res, non-streaming version of this video clip to really see the difference here: Hi-Res h.264 Movie Clip
Notice the difference between the smoothness of the After Effects animation compared to the Photoshop version? The only thing I did different between them was to use an Easy Ease In/Out on the Keyframe Interpolation in AE CS4… something not available in Photoshop CS4. But the quality of the layers in motion between the two examples is what I’m mainly concerned about. Both were set to 30fps as well.
So why am I so bothered by this, anyway? Why should I care if Photoshop has these tools when obviously, I have After Effects and have self-admittedly stated that I find that workflow much easier to achieve the results I’m looking for?
Well, I’m thinking about the average guy/gal here. You know, “Joe Six-pack & Jane Wine-box”. They probably don’t have the premium suite which includes After Effects, or maybe they’re intimidated by it’s complex UI, that they have to take a nap by merely opening it up and viewing it. Either way, they’re promised something in Photoshop that is still only “barely” there in my opinion.
I don’t think this is asking too much from Adobe – and I’m not trying to circumvent the After Effects capabilities by trying to do everything in Photoshop, or suggest that Photoshop is any kind of replacement for After Effects – only that Adobe considers that if they are going to go down that road by claiming Photoshop’s keyframe animation capabilities, that they NOT take a half-assed approach at it!
I’ve come down to the point where I actually swore in my blog.