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AME fail export from AE in .H264

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Natasha Collette
AME fail export from AE in .H264
on Jul 12, 2017 at 2:07:46 am

I have a series of several short (~1 minute) flat 2D motion graphics projects. My workflow is usually an effortless compose in AE, then send off to AME for H264 render into .mp4 format. These videos are largely web-destined, so the mp4 quality + file size is ideal.

Just recently (as of about 2 days ago), I've started having unexplained fails in exports. AME begins the timeline, gets anywhere from :10 seconds to :40 seconds finished with that timeline, then aborts the export. No warning, no error code. It's not doing it all of the time, and I really can't see a distinguishable difference between the files it will and won't render. I don't see any pattern so far to when it will or won't fail (except that it seems to be more often on the projects with shortest deadlines!) It does seem that if it fails to render a timeline once, it will fail each successive time I try it after that.

I'm running the most current, up-to-date Adobe CC. My animations are all flat 2D, so there's no conflicts with ray tracing or other playback engines. There are no processor-heavy effects, motion blurs, or other intensive layering going on in AE. I have minimal nested layers, pre-comps are all neatly trimmed only to the places they're visible. In short, a simple mo-graph project that normally gives me no problems. I have plenty of RAM for this level of project, I've tried it on 2 different computers:

MacBook Pro, 16G RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2048 MB
Mac Pro, 32 G RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB

I've tried changing AME renderer between Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (Open CL) and Mercury Software Only. I've tried quitting and relaunching AE, AME, even a whole system restart between attempts and it hasn't stopped this export problem.

My workaround in the moment has been to use the AE render queue, where I've been using the H264 codec, but it exports as a large .mov file. (I remember seeing some article about how to restore H264 / mp4 exports from AE render queue, but haven't gotten that to work) Then I take that large .mov file and have AME switch it to .mp4 format. A huge waste of my time, waiting around for AE to render thru everything and stopping my workflow instead of having AME work in the background.

Really frustrating, and I'd like to return to my days of effortless exporting!
Any suggestions what's going on, how to get this to work right again?


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Ryan Holmes
Re: AME fail export from AE in .H264
on Jul 13, 2017 at 4:20:27 pm

Has you tried other formats - ProRes, DNxHD, etc? See if it's hanging up on the export type?

You can also use the AE Render Queue instead of AME to output your media.

Additionally, try clearing out the media cache in AME (under the media tab within preferences).

Ryan Holmes
http://www.ryanholmes.me
@CutColorPost


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Natasha Collette
Re: AME fail export from AE in .H264
on Jul 19, 2017 at 4:31:59 pm

I have been using the AE render queue for exports when AME fails. It takes a lot longer, and I haven't found a way in the current AE version to export as mp4 instead of .mov. So, not ideal, but it gets the job done. As I mentioned, that's been my workaround so far -- I export from AE render queue as mov file using H264 codec, then I take that rendered video and use AME to transfer it to mp4. A big waste of time, it's adding a lot of sit-around-and-wait hours to my projects.

I have cleaned out all the caches in both AE and AME, this seems to make no difference.

I did not try changing formats in AME yet, I will add that to my troubleshooting (after this set of deadlines -- one of those other formats won't really help me at the moment, I need the destination product to be a small file)

AME is still performing about 50% of these project files correctly, and failing the rest. I'm still stumped as to what's different between files, I can't see any difference in how they're created!


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Ryan Holmes
Re: AME fail export from AE in .H264
on Jul 19, 2017 at 4:57:54 pm

So the last ditch effort is the nuclear option - format the machine and rebuild. Or at least go the uninstall/reinstall route.

[Natasha Collette] "I export from AE render queue as mov file using H264 codec, then I take that rendered video and use AME to transfer it to mp4. "

So be careful with this because you're likely adding A LOT of extra time to your transcode. So coming out of AE you should use what's called a "mezzanine" or intermediate codec. The intermediate codec, like Apple ProRes or Avid's DNxHD (or DNxHR for high resolution projects) are better suited to for re-encoding and re-use. Anytime you export to h.264 consider that a deliverable file. h.264 is a processor intensive codec. It takes a lot of work for your computer to unpack and repack that format. So exporting out a h.264 mov to bring into AME to make a h.264 mp4 is adding a lot of extra processing to your time (not to mention the quality hit that may take place since h.264 is a Long-GOP codec that is algorithmically structured to jettison data in order to save space). And there are many derivate formats of h.264 on the market now that cameras natively shoot, for example AVCHD, AVC-Intra, and XAVC are all variants of the h.264 codec (I'd direct you towards some readings about Intra-frame compression versus Inter-frame compression, like this: http://wolfcrow.com/blog/intra-frame-vs-inter-frame-compression/ ). Suffice it to say that you're current approach is making an inter-frame compressed format, and then taking that into AME to produce another inter-frame compressed deliverable.

My recommendation...Do your work in AE. Export out of AE with an intermediate codec. Essentially this will be your "master" file from which you can archive or make derivates. Take that "master" file into AME and churn out your deliverables - mp3, mp4, wav, whatever.

Ryan Holmes
http://www.ryanholmes.me
@CutColorPost


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