After Effects is a great program, but it’s far from perfect. Here are 11 features we’d love to see in future versions of After Effects.

If you’ve used After Effects for any amount of time, then you’ve probably come across a few annoying design quirks. While AE isn’t necessarily missing anything important, there are a few ways Adobe could make it more functional. Here are 11 things that we think could make AE even better.

1. Folders

After Effects Folder

For years, people have been asking for folders in After Effects. Other Adobe programs (like Photoshop) have the ability to create folders named groups, but, unfortunately, it seems After Effects will have to go folderless for many more years to come.

2. Usable 3D

After Effects 3D Objects

A few updates back, Adobe unveiled ray-traced 3D and the world rejoiced. But when users clicked the button to switch from classic 3D to ray-traced 3D, what they found was impossibly slow render times.

Adobe still insists that Cinema 4D Lite is the best option for designers, but even better would be to create an “Element 3D” style feature directly into After Effects. Simple extrusion, beveling, and texturing is all we ask for. We know it’s possible, thanks to Video Copilot.

3. Color Palettes

After Effects Color Palettes

In Illustrator and Photoshop, users have the ability to look at color palettes to ensure that their colors perfectly match. It would be incredibly helpful for motion designers if After Effects had a built-in color palette tool. This would be a great way to guarantee that your colors look great with each other when coloring your projects.

4. VR Workspaces

After Effects VR Headset

It’s no secret that virtual reality is going to be incredibly popular in the next few years, but we are surprised to see that there is no current workspace to create “looping” compositions in which objects that pass from the right side of the composition will automatically pop up on the left. A feature like this would also be incredibly helpful for doing things like video boards or projection maps.

5. Advanced Painting Features

After Effects Advanced Painting

If you’ve used the brush features inside of Illustrator or Photoshop, then you know how terrible the brush feature is inside of After Effects. It would be incredible if Adobe would update the brush features inside of After Effects to include things like brush dynamics when using devices like Wacom tablets. It would also be nice to be able to import photoshop brushes directly into After Effects.

6. Actions

After Effects Actions

About half of the paid scripts out there would simply go away if actions were designed into After Effects. If you’re not already familiar, actions basically allow you to record your mouse clicks and keyboard strokes. You can then “play” the actions and your mouse clicks and keyboard strokes will be applied automatically. It’s a great way to perform repetitive tasks and save a ton of time.

7. Open More than One Project at Once

Currently you can open an After Effects project inside of another project — but what if you could open up two separate projects within the same iteration of After Effects? Specifically, it would be amazing if you could copy and paste assets and effects from one project and place them into another.

8. Separating Dimensions from All Transform Properties

After Effects Separate Layers

When you are trying to parent objects to each other or write expressions, the ability to separate the x and y dimensions for the position property is incredibly helpful. However, it would be even better if you could separate 2-value parameters for all of the transform properties. Sure, you can access each dimension separately using expressions and arrays, but having the ability to quickly separate dimensions would be amazing.

9. World Transform Tool

Have you ever decided that you want your entire composition to shift in x and y space? If you are working with 3D layers and a camera, this is no problem — you can simply use the track XY camera tool. But if you’re working with 2D layers, it’s not that simple.

If you had a series of 2D layers with multiple keyframes, you would have to link the layers to a null object, move the null object, and then delete that object. If you had a World Transform Tool, you could simply move the entire composition frame until you were happy with the layout.

10. Aligns Tool Based on Other Adobe Software

After Effects Align

While the Align tool is helpful in After Effects, it’s certainly not perfect. Namely, it averages the distance between two objects and aligns them to the middle. This is annoying if you simply want one object to align with a parent object. In this way, we would love to see the align tool work like Illustrator.

11. Fully Manipulatable Gradient Ramp

After Effects Gradient Ramp

Right now, when you use a gradient ramp in After Effects, you can only choose 2 colors. This is annoying if you want to create a ramp with more than one color or if you want to control the way in which the ramp falls off. Sure, you can use hacks like employing the Colorama effect, but it simply isn’t a good alternative to custom gradients like those found in Photoshop.

BONUS: Cinema 4D

Hey, Adobe… If you love Cinema 4D so much, why not just marry it? Adobe needs a 3D software. For a company that likes dominating the creative software marketplace, it’s honestly very surprising that they haven’t tried creating or buying out a 3D software on the market already.

Sure they’ve introduced Cinema 4D Lite into recent versions of After Effects, but why not simply buy out Cinema 4D and include it into the Creative Cloud?

What are your hopes and dreams as far as future After Effects updates? What features would you like to see in After Effects? Let us know in the comments below.