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Adobe AE Black Screen (Project Viewer)

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Stephen Curry
Adobe AE Black Screen (Project Viewer)
on Dec 31, 2016 at 1:51:22 pm

I would like to pick some people's brains on a phenomenon that occasionally happens to me using AE.

This has happened in AE CS 5, 5.5, 6 and CC 2015.


When importing (almost always a video clip...well only video clips that I know of), those clips will be displayed in the Comp View Window as Black. The audio is still there, and you can move your color picker throughout the Comp View Window and it will pick up the colors from the video but the viewer itself only displays black.

I've seen posts where this is called the Adobe Black Screen of Death...(a take off of Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death)

What I have noticed about this phenomenon (my new word of the day) is that it is something to do with individual projects and how AE translates or decodes the video, and is not the video itself. (Although sometimes converting the video to another format solves the issue for the project you're working on, its doesn't resolve the bug in and of itself as it will eventually happen again.)


I was working with an Opener project file from VideoHive created in an older version of AE. The Opener project file and all the elements of that opener worked flawlessly. However, when I imported some of MY video clips (both drag and drop, double click, and File>Import) to add my clips to the project, those clips would only display as black in the Comp View Window. (when I scrubbed, when I refreshed, when I resized, when I closed the panel and reopened it)

It was driving me crazy. So, I saved and rebooted. No luck.
I converted those clips to various other formats. No luck.
Purged memory. No luck.
Screamed at computer. No luck.

Nothing instills panic like losing hours of work....

However, I still thought it odd that the project elements worked, but my video wouldn't.

So, I rebooted and launched AE again but this time, to a clean new project.
I then 'imported' my video files (in their original .mp4 format) to this newly created project and they worked.

I closed that new project and opened my previous opener project again, imported my video and it was still black. ;.-(

To make a long story longer I had to render my VideoHive Opener as a separate video clip, close out that opener project, go back to my new clean project, import my video, import my rendered opener clip, and continue on my way....(downside is that if I needed to make changes to the Opener I had to flop back and forth between projects)

So, my point and or question(s)

It's obviously not the videos as they worked fine inside of one project but not another (even thou sometimes converting the video solves the issue).

-Is there something within certain projects (and I know the variables are endless) that could be causing this.?

-Is it How Old version of AE saves file [vs] How Newer version of AE imports and converts file?

-Is it a bug in the video import process? (drag and drop or File>Import)

-Is this the $64,000 question?

-If it's a codec issue why would the clips work in the new clean project and not the established project?

-Is this some evil easter egg from Adobe?

-Anyone have a (it always works) solution?

-Does Adobe have a fix...if they do it's not working.

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Chris Wright
Re: Adobe AE Black Screen (Project Viewer)
on Dec 31, 2016 at 8:50:07 pm

purging memory ever fix this?

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Stephen Curry
Re: Adobe AE Black Screen (Project Viewer)
on Dec 31, 2016 at 9:04:10 pm

No, I mention that in my post....for the life of me I cant figure out why it does this periodically...but its a nusiance.

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Chris Wright
Re: Adobe AE Black Screen (Project Viewer)
on Dec 31, 2016 at 11:44:19 pm

oops, I meant to say purge disk cache
any LUT's applied?
it sounds like a combination of transitions or effects that causes the issue.
you could narrow it down by adding them back one by one until the error appears again.

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