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Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video

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Phil Taberner
Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 12:10:05 am

Hi all!

I've been commissioned to create an animation for a digital six sheet and have been given some pretty tight specs to work to, but I'm having trouble outputting a clean render that follows the specs provided; every time I try, the resulting video has a ton of compression artifacts on it.

The specs are as follows:
Format: QuickTime .MOV
Size: w1080 x h1920 pixels
Rotation: Portrait
File Size: 30MB or less
Encoding: H264
Frame Rate: 25fps
Data Rate: 8mbits/sec or less
Length: 5 secs

Now the strange thing is that a few months ago I created an animation for the same campaign that, as far as I can recall, followed the same specifications to the letter and yet - despite it being identical in concept and largely identical in content - I didn't have any issues with the render.

My initial workflow was to render directly out of AE via AME following the specs, but I have since tried rendering out of AE as a JPG sequence, then reencoding that via AME, but I still end up with the same issues. Here are my render settings:


(the only thing missing is the H264 codec, which is just above 'Basic Video Settings' out of frame)

Does anyone know of any way to minimise these artifacts? I've tried downloading Handbrake and iSkysoft's Media Converter to see if the problem lies with AME, but neither offer the flexibility I need.

Thanks in advance!


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Kalle Kannisto
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:41:59 am

A couple of things stand out to me:

- Source is progressive, but you're using lower field for output
- Quality at 100 might actually work against the compression (data rate), you could try lowering it
- Frame rate difference between source and output


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Phil Taberner
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:28:52 am

Hey Kalle! Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately neither switching over to progressive nor reducing the quality of the render helped, sadly! As for the frame rate, I think must just be a quirk of AME; the input media is a JPG sequence consisting of 125 images, which would imply (unless I'm missing something!) that despite what AME says, it's running at 25fps.
Thanks anyway!


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 9:36:35 am

[Phil Taberner] "I think must just be a quirk of AME; the input media is a JPG sequence consisting of 125 images, which would imply (unless I'm missing something!) that despite what AME says, it's running at 25fps."

You'll need to set the indeterminate footage frame rate in the settings for image sequences that do not have frame rate metadata. It is an image sequence, yes, but for this purpose it needs to be running at a certain frame rate.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 1:50:31 pm

I wonder if your previously-successful render was actually 1920x1080. Highly-compressed video often relies on a limited set of dimensions to compress effectively; 1080x1920 may not be among them. It would be fairly simple to check by nesting the current comp in a horizontal comp.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Walter Soyka
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 1, 2016 at 5:29:46 pm

Using QuickTime MOV as the wrapper for your H.264 means handing the video off to QuickTime's H.264 compressor. If you can deliver MP4-wrapped H.264 instead, you can use AME's native H.264 compressor (from Main Concept) which should provide superior results in most cases.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Daniel Waldron
Re: Reducing artifacts in low bitrate video
on Aug 2, 2016 at 6:18:08 pm

I agree with Walter. Quicktime H.264 from AME is awful. If you absolutely need to create a Quicktime H.264, you can export a high-quality master convert to Quicktime H.264 using with Quicktime Player or MPEG Streamclip.

The easiest solution is to export a MP4 H.264 from AME, bit I guess that depends on how flexible your client is.


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