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Renders are choppy and lighter than preview

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Jeremy BornhaldRenders are choppy and lighter than preview
by on Feb 5, 2012 at 3:19:13 am


I have been learning AE and C4D over the last 6 months on the side treating it like a hobby. I am using After Effects and Media Encoder cs5.5.

The problem: Ever since my first test render from After Effects I have had two issues: the rendered file is choppy when played back in quicktime or vlc and the frames are blown out and bright compared to how they appeared in After Effects before they rendered - to be specific, for example, I don't get any pure black in my frames; every pixel that is pure black renders as a dark shade of grey.

Specifics: After doing some research I learnt that After Effects is essentially designed to spit out large lossless files which don't play back well in quicktime/vlc. Rather they are meant to be compressed in another application. Actually when I render out lossless files straight from After Effects the frame don't get blown out and lightened, but they can hardly playback in quicktime/vlc as they are extremely choppy.

When I render out a compressed file - whether I do it straight from After Effects or use Adobe Media Encoder - the frame rendered are blown out and lightened AND the choppiness is still there although drastically less than with the lossless files.

The project I am rendering: A scene from Cinema 4D in the form of an uncompressed image sequence (4GB file), 1080p, 30 fps, ~15 seconds long. I chucked on a couple of post effects and I'm rendering it out of After Effects at 1080p, 29.97 fps. When I render with quicktime animation I get a 1GB file which plays back choppy in regular media players but the frames do not get blown out and lightened. When I compress the file it reduces to ~20mb and the frame colour is blown out and lightened and some remnants of the choppiness and other distortions are still there. I guess the contents of the project I am rendering are irrelevant because I get the same results from any other project I render; even an empty pure black screen gets blown out to a lighter colour (a dark shade of grey) and has the same choppy results.

I am searching for the answers as to why my video is playing back choppy in standard media players even with compressed files and why my frames are lightened in compressed renders. Or it least the answer to how I can render out a simple 20 second animation - or any animation for that matter - with the lightness of the frames preserved and not blown out and with a normal - compressed - file size.

I would sincerely appreciate any help and support I can get. I am dying to be able to produce a stable render and am overwhelmed by the fact that I can't and can't work out why.


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ben g ungurenRe: Renders are choppy and lighter than preview
by on Feb 5, 2012 at 5:55:13 am

Can you give more specifics on how you are compressing? Render to lossless then compress w/Adobe Media Encoder is a good workflow... What codec are you using to make the file smaller? You also should consider reducing the frame size to 720P or even 480P or 360P -- whatever it takes to get acceptable results.

Ben Unguren
Motion Graphics & Editing

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Jeremy BornhaldRe: Renders are choppy and lighter than preview
by on Feb 6, 2012 at 3:57:14 am

I was using H.264 in adobe media encoder with the 1080p 29.97fps preset.

I also discovered something odd yesterday by chance... When I took the lossless quicktime animation file that After Effects rendered (1GB) and exported the same file out of Quicktime Pro as a quicktime file, I got the same file with the same file size however I can play this exported file fine in VLC without any choppiness.

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ben g ungurenRe: Renders are choppy and lighter than preview
by on Feb 6, 2012 at 4:08:41 pm

I'm sure there is something in your settings that could be tweaked in AME to get acceptable results, but if it's working for you in QT Pro, then go with that!

Ben Unguren
Motion Graphics & Editing

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