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Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?

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Andrew Hoag
Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:24:52 pm

Hey all -

Long time lurker, first time post. I've been working on a project over the course of the last few months that revolves around 100 2-minute educational tips, all shot on greenscreen (aghhh!). I like to do my keying with keylight in AE CS5, export with alpha channel, and import into FCP for cutting and laying in backgrounds / text.

I find this workflow to be getting tedious - a lot of render time that I feel is unnecessary, but not sure how to avoid. I figured some of you seasoned veterans could give a new-to-the-game videographer some advice on a streamlined workflow for this type of project.

Much appreciated!


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:41:33 pm

[Andrew Hoag] "I like to do my keying with keylight in AE CS5, export with alpha channel, and import into FCP for cutting and laying in backgrounds / text. I find this workflow to be getting tedious - a lot of render time that I feel is unnecessary, but not sure how to avoid. "

Why do you feel it's necessary to render the talent with an alpha channel? You could key the foreground subject and include the background in AE, render in the quicktime codec of choice, and just play the completed shot in FCP. If you happen to have both FCP and AE on the same machine, you can even render in ProRes 422.

Or you could buy the Keylight plugin for FCP and avoid the AE round trip altogether.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrew Hoag
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 3:52:49 pm

I'm always concerned about limiting myself to the keyed footage / background being rendered into one file since there are, for lack of a better word, "fake" camera movements that I animate with scale / position for backgrounds and the keyed footage in FCP. The footage shot comes in lengthy 45 minute takes with several of these 2 minute clips throughout. The rationale was that a long take could be brought into AE, keyed, and rendered out overnight after office hours, so that no one was watching keys render out over and over. That way, when I'd come into to edit the next morning, all the footage was keyed for me and I could cut / animate in FCP.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 4:07:17 pm

[Andrew Hoag] "I'm always concerned about limiting myself to the keyed footage / background being rendered into one file since there are, for lack of a better word, "fake" camera movements that I animate with scale / position for backgrounds and the keyed footage in FCP."

If you did this all in AE, you could use "real fake" camera moves in 2.5D.


[Andrew Hoag] "That way, when I'd come into to edit the next morning, all the footage was keyed for me and I could cut / animate in FCP."

I'd approach this the other way -- I'd cut first in FCP, then composite and animate in AE. This uses each tool for its strengths.

A couple alternate workflows that might be worth pursuing: getting Keylight for FCP, or cutting in Premiere Pro and compositing in AE.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 4:08:57 pm

Hey, if you're comfy animating stuff in FCP, knock yourself out. If that's your style, you've got a good workflow going.

Personally, I wouldn't be caught dead doing it, because I LOATHE FCP's keyframing procedures. Can't stand it. Never liked it. Thus, I have a different style.
I'd note the times when I want fake camera moves to occur in my clips, make one comp per clip, do the complete foreground/background shots in AE, add the comps to the Render Queue, render overnight, and be ready to go the next morning.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrew Hoag
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 4:38:52 pm

I think this was what I was looking to hear, as I myself questioned whether or not doing it. I myself prefer animating in AE, but just couldnt seem to get the simple logistics of the workflow Dave just mentioned. It's always good to hear someone else doing the same thing. I'll cut raw footage in FCP, make a single comp for each shot and key/animate in AE, then port it back and replace in the original FCP timeline. I think my biggest disconnect was exporting the ENTIRE cut into one comp in AE, but Dave - the single comp per shot is an excellent workaround. Thanks so much - so simple yet so important.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 15, 2011 at 5:21:37 pm

[Andrew Hoag] "I'll cut raw footage in FCP, make a single comp for each shot and key/animate in AE, then port it back and replace in the original FCP timeline. I think my biggest disconnect was exporting the ENTIRE cut into one comp in AE"

Absolutely! Most compositors work shot-by-shot.

One thing I'd recommend to you -- use handles with your media into AE so you have a little extra flexibility in editorial after the compositing and animation is done.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Erin Magnet
Re: Best AE Keying FCP Cutting Workflow?
on Jul 5, 2012 at 1:55:17 pm

Hi I have a similar question, so just to be clear:

1) The best way to do your compositing/tracking/replacing of edited clips is to get the cut of the scene you need to compoz in separate clips, exported out of Final Cut or Premiere, probably with timecode? Track each shot separately, compoz, and render in ProRes or format of choice, then send back to the editor and replace, replace, replace?

2) My current workflow takes a cut sequence out of Final Cut, then the Red footage gets rendered out of Premiere to After Effects as one sequence, I do my compositing over an entire scene making new layers and trackers for each shot, then export as ProRes HQ for Final Cut. I find this to be doable when Mocha comes into the mix, but requires extra steps and it is easy to make a mistake. What is easier, then? Keeping track of different elements being compoz'd across multiple compositions, or moving my masks from shot to shot, changing my key/spill settings, and checking my tracks?


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