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Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects

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Hannah Benbow
Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 2:55:02 am

So I watched this tutorial on how to make a smoke effect, and I needed to export it for work. The catch was I couldn't get it to have a transparent backgroud, it was always a solid. I ended up doing a smoke animation in photoshop, but still want to see if I can export this animation with a transparent background so it can get overlayed onto something else.

What I did to make the smoke animation was...

Create a new solid layer (I'm thinking this is my problem..hence the word solid). Then I added particle playground and gave it a blur effect.

I've tried exporting it as an alpha png in render que, but it allways comes out as a solid.

Help? :)


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Brian Charles
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 5:47:11 am

Did you render RGB + Alpha? or only Alpha?



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Hannah Benbow
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:54:04 am

Yeah I've tried both, and both times its given me a solid background behind the smoke.

I've also in the composition mode I've changed it to alpha and turned on "Toggle Transparency Grid"

When I turn on "Toggle Transparency Grid" it shows the transparent background how I want...I just can't get it to render like that.


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Brian Charles
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 1:45:57 pm

If you see the transparency grid then the render should be fine.

You won't see transparency until you composite the rendered with other footage either in After Effects or your NLE.



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Dave LaRonde
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 8:56:54 pm

You also must render in a codec that supports alpha channels. H.264, for example, does not.

I like Quicktime movies in the PNG codec. Add your comp to AE's Render Queue. In the Output Module settings, select Quicktime movie, PNG, RGB+Alpha, Millions of Colors+, and then you have a choice to make: Straight or Premultiplied? Straight is usually the best choice.

If you want to cover all your bases, you can use the Add Output Module command and set it up to make a premultiplied alpha channel, too. Don't forget to modify file names so you know which is which.

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


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Kevin Camp
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Dec 9, 2011 at 9:47:25 pm

on other thing that often causes confusion with file with alphas... most (if not all) media players will not interpret alpha channels, so make sure you are viewing the rendered clip in after effects (or app that will read the alpha, like most nle's).

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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dallas kruse
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Jul 20, 2014 at 8:21:22 pm

Sorry to bring up an old topic but I'm having issues.

I rendered out according to Dave's settings and when i open the file up in Quicktime ... the light ray looks solid in color ... the FX definitely aren't correct.
But, when I added the .mov to After Effects, it looks fine.

The Comp is simply white text with a colored light ray moving behind it and then a photo montage ... I'm trying to add this to a website where the site has a cool Stone background so the transparency of the Comp is of utmost importance.

How do I get this to render out properly and/or use a program like COMPRESSOR to size it down to be able to use for webpages?

ANY help is appreciated.

Music Producer dabbling in Video.
FCP 7. CS3, 5. AE.
Canon T3i.


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Joshua Russell
Re: Rendering Transparent backgrounds in After Effects
on Jul 28, 2014 at 3:49:34 pm
Last Edited By Joshua Russell on Jul 28, 2014 at 3:54:01 pm

Refer to this article.
This is also do-able with flash, but as far as I know you're not going to find a completely responsive all-platform solution for this trick yet.


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