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Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?

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Troy Poirier
Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 4:22:45 pm

I'm trying to figure out if I can use After Effects for live broadcast as a CG (character generator) for lower thirds and other such video overlays. In other words, is the video preview in After Effects sending (or capable of sending) RGB and Alpha channel simultaneously, without the need to render.

Currently I am sending the preview to a monitor via SDI using a blackmagic card, but it is only sending the RGB channel (meaning I see transparency as black). It has to be live, so no time to render before pushing to broadcast, and text changes quickly.

For example: the names of 6 competitors in a short race, and I only know who they will 20-30 seconds before the names have to appear on the screen (on top of live video feed).

I realize that hardware plays an important role in this too, but I need to rule out if the software is even capable of this function.

Thanks for any input you can offer.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 4:31:12 pm

[Troy Poirier] "I'm trying to figure out if I can use After Effects for live broadcast as a CG (character generator) for lower thirds and other such video overlays. "

Stop right now. You can't. No way, no how. Any further pursuit of this notion is futile. Sorry.

I work at a CBS/Fox affiliate, and if there was way to build a CG using cheap off-the-shelf software, you can bet we'd be using it.

The closest you can get is NewTek's Tricaster, the video switcher in a box.

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


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 5:13:56 pm

Dave -

You'll get a laugh out of this one: I was art director at an ABC affiliate in NH for many years. Our sister station in Massachusetts (WCVB) announced, and it was touted in a number of trade publications, that they had come up with a way to make their After Effects and Premiere output capable of just what was discussed above. They had partnered with a tech firm in the Boston area, who, surely enough, had found a way to do this. They spent God knows how much money to do it, and it ultimately proved to be much more expensive than the hardware and software they were using. They now use the Adobe Suite for what it was meant - a creative graphics production tool.

Here's a link to the company which developed the capability - they no longer seem to be offereing it, but they do have some cool products:

http://1beyond.com/

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 6:00:27 pm

That made me chuckle, Joe -- the cure turned out to be worse than the ailment!

An unrelated story with a similar moral:
Our big competitor in this market -- for whom I used to work -- has a three-story building. Studios, newsroom & conference rooms on 1, control room, MC & engineering on 2. In 2012, they did a HUGE renovation on 2 -- digital everything. On 1, a brand-new full-studio HD set from a big designer.
Then the station got bought out. They wanted station layouts to match across the group. So they tore out a perfectly-good control room on 2 and moved it next to the news studio on 1. They gutted a perfectly good small studio to put in... get ready... a lunch room!

The moral of both: top-level management can always find new and innovative ways to waste money.

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


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 9:34:00 pm

As they say, Dave, "Why buy it for a hundred dollars when you can build it for a thousand." Sometimes this TV business just doesn't make sense.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Troy Poirier
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on Feb 3, 2017 at 5:55:00 pm

Thanks, Dave. I had assumed the answer was no, but I couldn't find any info (yes or no) about this online so I appreciate your response.

Cheers!


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Daniel Fowler
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on May 26, 2017 at 3:00:51 am

Hi Troy,

Stumbled upon your post as I was hoping I could achieve this through Adobe products too. It seems it is actually easily possible (but unfortunately not using SDI key fill etc like you want), instead you will need to have a tricaster or newtek switcher in the mix.. Adobe AE or Premier will output simple baselines and premier timeline outputs over NewTeks IP (NDI) protocol - see recent video here . Having said that, if you don't have a spare Tricaster lying around, then it would be an expensive exercise to purchase a Tricaster switcher just so you could use Adobe products as a CG. We're in the position of already having an existing Tricaster in our system, so its a little easier for us to just add in a PC running an Adobe product

Dan


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Troy Poirier
Re: Can the After Effects preview output both RGB and Alpha channel?
on May 26, 2017 at 12:22:04 pm

Thanks for the response, Dan, I appreciate it. We don't have a Tricaster unfortunately, but the gig I was prepping for has come and gone anyway, so I no longer have a reason to delve into this topic. That being said, the video you shared is very interesting and I'll be sure to forward it along to my teammates who work with this kind of gear more often than I do.


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