Adobe Media Encoder Settings
We have made a cel animation and post produced it on After Effects. We scanned all the images and aligned them on Photoshop, created PNG sequences in 4096x2160 aspect ratio.
Now, we want to submit our film to festivals. I am confused and trying to figure out all these encoding settings, DCP process etc. As far as I understand, making the film DCP format is when our film will we projected in theater so its not our main concern now. But encoding is. I am trying to export the film as good as possible. I chose H.264, made the bitrate 30. The brush strokes look better when we compare to the previous export, which had a slight lower bitrate. But the lines of our drawings look a little bit blurry. Which codec and settings should we chose to make it look as good as possible? I know this is a very main question but we are trying to figure out this process.
Also, I'd appreciate if someone could recommend any tutorial on codecs and export settings.
H.264 is a good choice for easily playable files. Please be aware that PNG and JPG2000 are RGB while H.264 is Y'CbCr color space. The conversion will produce some artifacts especially within color gradients.
Are you maintaining the same resolution or down-scaling? If down-scaling to HD-equivalent dimensions (1920x1012, 1792x945, etc) then 30-35 Mbps should be sufficient (similar to Blu-ray). If resolution is maintained at 4096x2160 then bitrate should be increased for maximum quality.
Use Adobe Media Encoder rather than exporting from After Effects. For a 4096x2160-30p file the following settings should produce a high quality video:
Aspect Ratio: Square (1.0)
Target Bitrate: 100 Mb/s
Peak: 150-200 MB/s
Key Frame Distance: 10 to 15
I don't know if enabling Maximum Render Quality will make a difference for transcoding from PNG to H.264, but it won't hurt to use it.
Also, under the multiplexer tab check that Stream Compatibility is set to Standard.
If desired, you could maximize the bitrate settings to 300 Mb/s and let the encoder use as many bits as it needs.
Are you interested in reference material for encoding in general or H.264 specifically?
Thank you Ivan.
Some festivals require h.264 and some of them require DVDs for the selection process. One of them asks for PAL video.
So I have to export 3 different videos for the selection process.
If PNG sequences are not same color spcace with H.264 codec, what should I do?
Selection videos should be 1920 x 1080 so I select "Resize" and downscale from 4096x2160 to 1920x1080. I don't know if it is the right way or not. I have an export which is 30 Mbps and 1920x1080 its colors and texture look good but the black line drawings seems a little bit blurry and I feel like it could be better. But today I will make another export with the settings you recommended, resize it and make the bitrate 30-35.
By the way, could you recommend a setting so that I can make a DVD with it?
I am watching some tutorials to figure out DCP, and I guess our aspect ratio is problematic. But that is a question when the film is selected for screenings.
I want to have basic knowledge on encoding. So general encoding reference material would be great.
[Melis Balci] "If PNG sequences are not same color spcace with H.264 codec, what should I do?"
If you notice artifacts such as banding or blocking, apply about 2% noise to smooth the problem areas.
[Melis Balci] "By the way, could you recommend a setting so that I can make a DVD with it?"
Use the MPEG2 (H.262) codec with MPEG2-DVD preset. After encoding the file additional steps are required to create a physical DVD. Here is some more information:
Exporting to DVD or Blu-ray Disc
How to Make a DVD Screener
[Melis Balci] "I have an export which is 30 Mbps and 1920x1080 its colors and texture look good but the black line drawings seems a little bit blurry and I feel like it could be better."
If it continues to be an issue even at maximum bitrate settings the problem is likely related to 4:2:0 sub-sampling. Many codecs drop color information and apply average values across adjacent pixels. This tends to blur fine lines and edges. Not much can be done other than trying to over-sharpen the image and encoding with 2-Pass VBR.
[Melis Balci] "I want to have basic knowledge on encoding. So general encoding reference material would be great."
The best place to start is the Adobe help website. There are books on compression, too, if interested. Also, Apple and Microsoft provide good technical overviews for their respective compression products. From a practical perspective I strongly recommend performing a lot of trials at different settings using short test clips. It is the best way to get a feel for the relationship between export settings and final results.
My new H.264 render looks really nice, thank you.
Now, I am trying to figure out the DVD render. My first try looks really bad, with the DVD PAL codec. The lines have weird sharp edges. My project was 30 FPS but DVDs are 25 FPS, is that the problem? Should I export my whole animation as image sequences and render that sequence? If I have to do that, how should I make the audio synchronized?
Great to hear the H.264 encoding worked. The DVD might be more problematic. The good news is it will probably look better on a PAL CRT TV. Unfortunately, low resolution and rectangular pixels don't translate as well to modern flat panel displays. Please post a screen shot of your export settings and we can try to troubleshoot.
You have a few options with respect to video frame rate:
- Drop frames. The encoder skips one out of every six frames to encode 25fps from a 30fps composition. This option is easy to implement (disable Frame Blending in the Export Panel) but it could cause choppy motion depending on the nature of the footage.
- Blend the frames. Neighboring frames are overlaid and displayed at different opacities to provide smooth motion. Easy to implement (enable Frame Blending in the Export Panel) but could look like ghosting.
- Interpolate new frames. In After Effects use Frame Blending with pixel motion to create new frames from the existing 30fps composition. This option is fairly straightforward once you learn how to apply the effect.
- Generate a 25fps composition from the original animation. I read in one of your previous posts that the original drawings were created at 16fps and then used to generate 24fps and 30fps image sequences. You could potentially repeat this same process to create a 25fps sequence. This will give you the best quality but it is the most labor intensive option. Depending on the level of complexity this might not be particulary worthwhile.
There are two options for the audio:
- Leave it the same. This is the default option for the first two video options listed above. If you are creating a new composition (i.e. the third and fourth options listed above), export a wav file from the 30fps composition starting at Frame 0 and insert it into the new 25fps comp. This option is easy to implement, but the audio might be a fraction of a second out of synchronization in some places.
- Check each audio clip and move as required. Copy and paste the individual audio clips into the new 25fps comp. Review the timing of each clip and move as required to maintain synchronization. This option produces better results but takes more time to implement.
Some of the deadlines were today so I had to send the best one I've had. In one tutorial I heard that I should not exceed 7.4 in bitrate.
But next week there are new deadlines, I have to make new DVDs. I hope I can make a better one.
Here's the screenshot.
Do you need to create a physical disc or just submit a PAL MPEG2 file? If you are burning a DVD then use the default MPEG2-DVD settings without customization. If you are forwarding a file, try the MPEG2 codec with high profile, main level, min=3, target=12, max=20, GOP settings 3-12-48 with auto detect enabled. I ran some test files and noticed several peculiarities with the encoder. The quality was OK but there was a definite loss of detail caused by compression (blocking).