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Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID

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Karen Liu
Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID
on Feb 9, 2012 at 2:02:50 am


This is my first post! Please excuse the long babble! But from what I've read the more info the better!

I am hoping to get some advise on streamlining and working out a better workflow between my team of designers and the Producers on AVID to achieve the best colour and video quality result.

(We work for a large network and unfortunately a lot of infrastructure is unable to be changed but I would like to know what the ideal set up would be so that we can work back from there).

- We are on a system of 11 MAC After Effects designers facilitating 20 Producers on AVID.

- Producers work with CODECS (1) SD MPEG50 and (2) HD- 1080i/50 DNXHD 120 8Bit

Until now we primarily supply Animation graphics. But now Producers feel that they get better POST Effects / colour grading from our designers so would like to do this moving forward and roll out a plan for this to happen. I feel that there are some issues that need to be addressed for us to do this properly. The issues I see are...

a) We are not set up with broadcast monitors in a controlled lighting environment; impossible to gage accurate colours on a mix of LCD/MACS/AVIDs (don't even get me started....)

b) Producer's are exporting footage for us as 'same as source'- MPEG 50, I don't believe that this compressed codec is suitable for colour grading (we are dabbling in Final Cut Colour, but it is unstable working with the AVID codec so we end up back in AE)

c) When the producers export out MPEG50s for Post-work, we render back out as Animation CODEC. I feel that this is a waste of resources. ie file size. When we have previously experimented with rendering out as MPEG50 (which technically works in the same sources), we can visibly see a loss in quality on-air- perhaps the AVID re-compresses to MPEG 50 again?

d) Transferring the data back and forth seems unpractical. Implementing something like Automatic Duck seems unlikely as is working with EDLs and Final Cut, for example, as they are fundamentally AVID based. We have Transfer space issues too.

Working with HD does not seem like such an issue as DNX is a great lossless codec. And works across both AVID and AE beautifully (except for Alphas- we get around this with using Animation CODEC).
IS THERE AN SD Equivalent? As using Animation for SD with it's large file size seems

Hoping from this overview I can get some feedback / suggestions/ advice!


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Karen Liu
Re: Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID
on Feb 9, 2012 at 2:55:54 am

Just more detail for the MPEG50 Codec:

AVID MPEG2 50mbit Codec, 720 x 576, Millions
24-bit Integer (Big Endian)


Also.... With the footage coming in Anamorphic from AVID, After Effects CS5 has now changed the ratios and interprets it as 1050x576. Anyway around this?

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stig olsen
Re: Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID
on Feb 9, 2012 at 11:02:42 am


Normally most facilities work DNxHD36 in offline mode. When the edit is approved, relink to DNxHD185x. X = 10 bit.
Export AAF that generates a "link" that points back to the 10 bit files.
Then import the AAF through the Automatic duck module in After Effects.
Grade/VFX and export as DNxHD 185x. It gives you a mov-container so that they cant be dropped in the avidmediafolder - BUT they fast import in Avid.

You need to work with the same codec (DNxHD) to ensure that you are not facing chroma or luma issues along the path.
Also make sure you turn of color management in AE and do not use LUTs is AE as the mediacomposer cant work with LUTs.

Also, the mac screens are 709 and the output through Mojo DX (not Nitris) is 709 so you need to be consistent. Especially when you dont have proper set up monitors.

And for the Final Cut part... get rid of it! It mess up your workflow. You need to work with only one codec from start to finish.
Yes, animation is good for alphas but it will be a slight chroma issue for the video image so you should do all the "alpha effects" in AE except graphic and text.


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Karen Liu
Re: Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID
on Feb 9, 2012 at 10:28:16 pm

Thanks Stig.

Am I right that DNX is for HD only (ie Square pixels) so not suitable for Anamorphic SD?

I think our HD workflow is the best it's going to get here- and we use DNX. It's the SD that I think could be improved. Understand working with the same codec all the way through but, as mentioned, outputing VFX in MPEG50 looks rubbish... and out-putting Animation seems like an overkill considering it gets compressed down to MPEG50 for broadcast.

Is there a middle ground? A better codec either for the AVIDs or for VFX output?

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stig olsen
Re: Codecs and Workflow from After Effects to AVID
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:20:52 am

Yes, DNX is simply for HD.

If the editors is working SD, they simple export with the "same as source" settings for After Effects og do an AAF export as mentioned. This will keep the "quality" AS shot.
You need to ensure that there are no loss on the way to AE.

From AE back to Avid you can use Avid Meridien that is designed for SD instead of Animation.

But, SD looks like SD anyway - The only way to make SD look good is to shoot and have a HD workflow for then to downscale when output to final delivery.

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