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After Effects CS4 Crashing on certain frames

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Yaz Rabadi
After Effects CS4 Crashing on certain frames
on Jul 13, 2011 at 2:53:07 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm having some issues with After Effects CS4 - it tends to be crashing upon trying to output, and more recently doing so on a specific frame. I'm hoping someone here might be able to help. Here are the details of my situation from the beginning.

The problem first started while key framing for masks. Essentially, I was changing a mask shape/position frame by frame in an AE project. I had two video layers, and was creating a mask on the top one to expose the bottom video layer through it. The project suddenly crashed while key framing, giving no reason from what I recall, and would automatically create a back-up AE file. From there, if I tried opening the original file, I would immediately get that same message, AE would shut down, and it would create another back up. The original file was rendered useless, but the back-up worked.

I worked around this, as the back-up AE files created would open more often than not. I noted that this kind of crashing would happen a few times, but it wasn't always on a certain frame or anything like that - it varied. Anyway, I finished all my masking in that project, and then imported that project into another one that contained other work for the same project.

That new project contained more video layers with masks, text layers, and a few instances where the Twitch plug-in was utilized. It's important to note that while arranging everything here, I also experienced a few random crashes - again, no reason given.

From there, when trying to output, I ran into more of the same. Around the 4 minute mark, the program would crash - tried a few times and the final output files would always be around four minutes, but never on the dot - so it was crashing on different frames. Occasionally, I would get an OpenGL error, and at other times it would just crash without any indication of why. Finally, after many attempts to render in two halves and other work arounds... I did some troubleshooting last night.

I disabled OpenGL, moved the plug-in from out of the plug-ins folder, optimized the texture memory preface, purged image caches and video memory - everything the troubleshooting OpenGL document Adobe provided - I tried (short of changing color settings to Millions - as I couldn't seem to find a 'Millions' option on my mac). Still nothing, the project was still crashing while trying to render out a final output.

After doing all that I decided that OpenGL might not be the problem - so I started looking at the project. I noticed that at this point, it was consistently crashing on a certain frame, no matter what. Interestingly enough, that frame didn't consist of any key frames or anything of the sort - just video layers from a few compositions that were all nested into this one. I also noticed when I removed that imported project (the one where I experienced the initial crash), it would render past that frame just fine. Which makes me think the problem rests with that project - where I experienced the original crash.

With all that said, I'm wondering, does this sound to you guys like a corrupted AE project file? I only ask because I have no problems trying to recreate the file to get around it, but would hate to have to if it just resulted in the project still crashing during an output...

Do you guys suggest any other course of action prior to re-creating the file? Additionally, is it advisable to copy the masking key frames from the original project? I can re-render out the video tracks, but that tracking took forever.

I apologize for the length of the above, just wanted to make it all as clear as possible! Any advice or suggestions would be extremely appreciated! Please let me know if more info is needed!

Thanks again!
Yaz Rabadi

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Michael Szalapski
Re: After Effects CS4 Crashing on certain frames
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:12:49 pm

What codec does your footage use?
It sounds like this may be the old long-GOP codec issue popping up again.
Dave LaRonde explains:
Dave's Stock Answer #1:

If the footage you imported into AE is any kind of the following -- footage in an HDV acquisition codec, MPEG1, MPEG2, mp4, m2t, H.261 or H.264 -- you need to convert it to a different codec.

These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.

In order to maintain peak rendering efficiency, AE needs complete information for each and every frame. But because these kinds of footage contain only partial information, AE freaks out, resulting in a wide variety of problems.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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Yaz Rabadi
Re: After Effects CS4 Crashing on certain frames
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:17:36 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks for getting back to me. The footage was originally shot on Canon DSLR - so it WAS H264. From there it was logged and transferred into Pro Res 422 HQ, and after color correction was outputted as an Uncompressed 10-bit QT Movie file. So all the video in the composition, is uncompressed 10-bit QT.

I know that's overkill in many ways, especially since I started off with DSLR source footage (I'm still learning). But I have had no issues in the past rendering out projects 4 times the size in the same codec. So I don't know if that would be an issue.

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