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Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.

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Andy Sapp
Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 4:01:39 pm

I'm having an issue where video footage rendered out of After Effects, using Animation codec, renders out choppy on one machine, and completely smooth on another.

I am not referring to dropped frames when trying to play back animation renders. They actually render differently between the two machines. I am opening and rendering from the same project file (exact same render settings/item in the queue) from our server.

Both machines are Mac Pros running 10.6.8. The good machine is 2x3.2 Quad-core Intel with 12GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM. The problematic machine is 2x2.66 6-core Intel Xeon with 24GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM. I reinstalled Quicktime 7.6.6 on the problematic machine. Both machines have a Quicktime Pro license.

There is a 22mb file size difference between the two original renders (555.1 for the good render and 533.1 for the problematic render). The data rate for the good render is 1054.17 mbits/s. The data rate on the problematic render is 1097.69 mbits/s.

I have been converting the renders to h.264 for playback, but even when I scrub through the animation renders I can see the difference.

Here is are links to the two (h.264) videos for reference:
http://andysapp.com/video/Beach-Bad.mov (25.2mb h.264)
http://andysapp.com/video/Beach-Good.mov (36.7mb h.264)

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I feel like this should not be happening, and I need to figure out a solution.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 5:32:01 pm

...and what is the difference that you see? Please describe.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 6:12:44 pm

One render plays smooth... and the other has the slight strobing effect to it, where it plays choppy. It isn't very extreme, but was enough the client was concerned.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 6:23:43 pm

The only thing I can think of is that QT Pro Preferences may be set up differently on the two machines. Wit QT Pro on a Mac, there are a couple of places to check, not just one. Since the last time I had to do it was a year ago, the memory she's-a not-a too good.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:20:39 pm

Do you mean that the preferences are causing QT to play them back differently? Or actually render them differently? When I play the 'bad' render on the good machine, it still has the same strobing stutter. I've even tried playing them in VLC with the same results.

I'm not having much luck so far finding a second location for QT preferences. The preference panel from within QT doesn't look to be much help as far as adjustability... and I guess Snow Leopard lost the QT button from within the System Preference panel.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:29:51 pm

Y'know, you might have inadvertently rendered the bad one in QTX, which can most charitably be called a work in progress. Or exported rather than using the AE Render Queue, which is bad news for Quicktimes.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 7:40:45 pm

Hahaha... 'QTX: A Work In Progress'... I like that hahaha.

I am definitely using the AE Render Queue for both. I have tried using it by itself, and with BG Renderer with the same results.

Is there a setting somewhere in the AE Render Queue that could switch it to use QTX? I only see one option for Quicktime in the main options for the output module settings.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:42:32 pm

The only reason I mention QTX is because you have Snow Leopard. If you know for a fact you also have QT 7.x, I'd just uninstall X.

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


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Walter Soyka
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:56:47 pm

The QuickTime 7 Player and QuickTime X Player are applications which are independent of the QuickTime APIs which AE calls to write QuickTime media. Like Dave, I avoid the QTX player, but I don't think that's necessarily to blame here.

It's possible that the problem isn't on output; it could be on input. What version of AE are you using? What is the codec of the footage? Do you have third-party codecs or capture cards installed on one system and not the other?

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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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:14:44 pm

The file was provided to us... the specs are as follows:
Apple ProRes 422 • 1920x1080 • 23.98 fps • 115.13 mbits/s.

I thought both machines were CS5, but I just checked, and the 'good' machine is running CS5.5. I think the good machine has an AJA card on it, but I am not totally sure (the guy who uses that computer is on a shoot today). He may very well have more codecs on his machine, since he primarily edits on it. Final Cut is definitely installed on it, but not on mine.

I guess I'm leaning towards an output problem since both machines are opening/rendering from the same AE file in the same place on the server. It definitely doesn't make sense to me.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:20:05 pm

[Andy Sapp] "I guess I'm leaning towards an output problem since both machines are opening/rendering from the same AE file in the same place on the server. It definitely doesn't make sense to me."

Interesting. What happens if you render from that same project on both machines with effects off? In other words, just take the footage, drop it in a comp, and render out the new comp?

What happens if you render a completely synthetic project from both machine with no video footage?

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: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 3:48:32 pm

[Andy Sapp] "Apple ProRes 422 • 1920x1080 • 23.98 fps • 115.13 mbits/s."

Here's my last shot. After this, I'm out of answers.

On the bad render, the comp's frame rate was actually 23.98 instead of the proper rate, 23.976. It could account for the shimmering you saw, and it wouldn't be the first time somebody got fooled by it.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:00:23 pm

Walter, I tried rendering the clips straight up, with no effects, and yielded the same results. I tried a test, just animating some text sliding across the screen from left to right, and it rendered out okay. So I guess the footage has to be the issue. I'm just not sure why.

Dave, I checked all three frame rates inside of AE, and the source footage is 23.98, and the two renders are 23.976.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:13:51 pm

[Andy Sapp] "Walter, I tried rendering the clips straight up, with no effects, and yielded the same results. I tried a test, just animating some text sliding across the screen from left to right, and it rendered out okay. So I guess the footage has to be the issue. I'm just not sure why."

Ok, just a few variables to go: FCP, AJA codecs, and AE version.

Is installing FCP on your machine (to make sure you have the same versions of the ProRes codecs as your compatriot does) an option? Are you running the latest version available of AE CS5?

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: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:17:16 pm

By that do you mean, "the source footage is 23.976 when I highlight it in the AE project window and look at the clip info at the very top"?

If yes, I am now officially out of answers.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:30:29 pm

Walter, I am running AE CS5 10.0.2.4... and I don't think installing FCP is an option for my machine, but I can ask.

Dave, no the source footage says 23.98 in the project window... the two renders both say 23.976. The only weird thing is that one of the 23.976 renders still plays smooth.

I can't thank you guys enough for your help with this, BTW!

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 5:41:53 pm

[Andy Sapp] "the source footage says 23.98 in the project window... the two renders both say 23.976"

TRhe frame rate error must be apparent to you as you read the quote above. No such frame rate as 23.98 even exists. The film frame rate in NTSC-Land is 23.976. It is NOT 23.98, as camera makers and editing applications might lead you to believe. 23.976.

You should go back and check the provenance of the footage. Somebody screwed up somewhere along the line. We're talking minute differences in frame rate, but those differences count and they can be the source of great aggravation.

One way to fix that source footage: conform it to 23.976 in AE's interpret footage settings.

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


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 15, 2011 at 7:30:17 pm

I didn't even think to reconform it by reinterpreting the footage. I just gave that a shot, and it still renders out bad.

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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Andy Sapp
Re: Animation Codec Rendering Differently Between Two Machines.
on Dec 16, 2011 at 5:04:38 pm

I'm going to throw the towel in on this one. The fact that my machine seems to be rendering animation for other renders without troubles leads me to think (or at least really hope) this might be an isolated incident. Hopefully the source footage is somehow to blame, and I won't run into this again.

Either way... I just wanted to thank you guys for trying to solve this with me!!!

Andy Sapp
http://www.andysapp.com


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