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HD workflow???

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Tibor BernschererHD workflow???
by on Apr 2, 2012 at 5:06:36 pm

Hi Cows,

Here's the deal. My editor has. finished editing my movie that was shot with 7D and edited in Avid. Now it's my turn to composit the special effects on it. There's only one scene that requires compositing (few gunshots, smoke, muzzle flashes, etc.)
I'm really interested in its workflow. The export has to be Apple Prores422. Currently I have a HD version of the movie, but it was exported in H264 so I was able to download the 10 mins within a half an hour (my editor works abroad so she had to upload the file for me, but the fullres would have been 20 gigs or so).
Is it possible to work in AE on the H264 version and be able to put the whole thing on the fullres?
I'm not quite sure how to do this, but it seems silly to me to import the whole fullres movie into AE and let the computer die trying to render unnecessary files.
Any suggestions?
Thanks


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 2, 2012 at 7:03:29 pm

The best way for fx is to work with footage that is uncompressed.
You can try to get away with compressed footage, but you will not achieve the best possible results.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 2, 2012 at 7:51:58 pm

[Tudor "Ted" Jelescu] "The best way for fx is to work with footage that is uncompressed. You can try to get away with compressed footage, but you will not achieve the best possible results."

Agreed.

Also, if the footage is re-compressed twice (once by the editor, and then again once by you), it will likely be noticeably visually degraded, and may not intercut well with other original 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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Lionel KobiRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 2, 2012 at 11:05:10 pm

Depending on how complex your effects work is, you could do the compositing using the H264 video file and once you are finished, collect the files and send the After Effects project to your editor. They would then replace the H264 file with the ProRes file and render out the comp. I have done this successfully, however I was able to sit with my editor when replacing the footage.

Also, motion tracking with H264 can be quirky. Best to use an image sequence, however you might still get compression artifacts which interfere with your tracker.


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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 3, 2012 at 4:58:38 pm

Hi,
Thanks for all the replys, but I'm running into major computing time even at 1080*720 res, how would I be able to get the same result on uncompressed footage? I have been exporting a 10 mins movie for 10 hours now and still have 3 hours left. Sure could use a better PC:)
So I'm still not sure what should I do but my tutor suggested to finish this export and just replace the video footage with the uncompressed one. the only problem with that can be (as far as I see) that the resolution is not the same so the effects would appear in different places (scaling problems too). But once I have the final export, according to the timecode it shouldn't result any more complications. Except the computing time that would be 2 days at least.


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 3, 2012 at 6:33:34 pm

[Tibor Bernscherer] "I'm running into major computing time even at 1080*720 res, how would I be able to get the same result on uncompressed footage?"

Uncompressed, intraframe footage is significantly easier to process than heavily-compressed, interframe footage, because the computer doesn't have to work nearly as hard to decode the frames.

If you tell us more about your system (computer hardware, version of AE, multiprocessing settings, footage and effects, etc.), we may be able to offer better suggestions for improving your performance.

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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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 4, 2012 at 5:23:35 pm

Hey,
The main problem is this; I have the footage in 3 different versions (the uncompressed one is abroad, my editor has worked on it). prores422 export, and 2 different resolution H264 exports. Following this link
http://www.frameforest.com/post/tip-how-to-work-offline/
I should be able to reduce the rendering time, but if I change the frame size within a 1920*1080 project, it will mock up the whole thing ( I suppose) as the effects won't take place on the same spot on the video (masking, splatters, etc).
My editor suggested to work with offline files and then replace the video with the original one. I have tried it yesterday and after 13 hours exporting time (the movie is 10 minutes, I have never ever experienced such exporting time) the result was terrible. Although my computer isn't the strongest one (Intel Dual Core, 4 gigabyte ram DDR2 and an Nvidia Geforce GTS 450, Win7 64bit), I have rendered 3D with full lighting in less time, so I'm definitely doing something wrong in terms of workflow.


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 4, 2012 at 5:39:05 pm

[Tibor Bernscherer] "My editor suggested to work with offline files and then replace the video with the original one. I have tried it yesterday and after 13 hours exporting time (the movie is 10 minutes, I have never ever experienced such exporting time) the result was terrible. Although my computer isn't the strongest one (Intel Dual Core, 4 gigabyte ram DDR2 and an Nvidia Geforce GTS 450, Win7 64bit), I have rendered 3D with full lighting in less time, so I'm definitely doing something wrong in terms of workflow."

Offline/online workflow is suitable for editorial, not effects. You need to work online.

Compositing muzzle flashes shouldn't require a terribly lengthy render. If you want help smoothing out your workflow, you need to patiently describe what you are doing in detail to us. You listed several kinds of footage -- which ones are you working with? What version of AE? What are your multiprocessing settings? What other effects are you using? Can you pre-render any of the generative elements?

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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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 4, 2012 at 6:05:03 pm

What I'd like to achieve that after finished the compositing I'd have a small version of the movie that I can send to the sound editor to work with as that would be the final length of the movie. The effects are various, I'm using adjustment layers for coloring, muzzle flashes and smoke elements (not many), and time re-mapping (slow motion). I'm using the H264 version as it's only about 300MB. but I'm compositing only like 3 minutes of the movie, the rest is just effected by the coloring adjustment layer on AE CS3.
But I still don't have a clue how I'm going to apply the same effects to the prores422 version, which is like 15 gigabytes, and my desktop would probably die if I tried to import the footage and apply the effects on it.


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 4, 2012 at 6:09:54 pm

[Tibor Bernscherer] "The effects are various, I'm using adjustment layers for coloring, muzzle flashes and smoke elements (not many), and time re-mapping (slow motion). I'm using the H264 version as it's only about 300MB. but I'm compositing only like 3 minutes of the movie, the rest is just effected by the coloring adjustment layer on AE CS3. But I still don't have a clue how I'm going to apply the same effects to the prores422 version, which is like 15 gigabytes, and my desktop would probably die if I tried to import the footage and apply the effects on it."

Use the ProRes version.

This may seem counterintuitive, but H.264 is extremely complex to decode. If you use the ProRes 422 media instead, your computer will actually have vastly less computation to perform and your render times will drop sharply.

Also, prior to CS5, AE's support for H.264 (or any other interframe compression) was dodgy at best. Even if you can render, it's likely you'll have strange glitches in your final render.

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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Samuel EnblomRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 19, 2012 at 8:57:20 pm

Just to stich in with a comment. I'm pretty sure that if you export from avid with h.264 codec and then import into AE with current settings and then exporting again with the same settings the quality loss should be so slightly you wouldn't notice it since it wouldn't have to re-compress that much info...

On what platform are you going to publish it? (webb, TV, Cinema... ect?)


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 20, 2012 at 2:47:20 pm

[Samuel Enblom] "I'm pretty sure that if you export from avid with h.264 codec and then import into AE with current settings and then exporting again with the same settings the quality loss should be so slightly you wouldn't notice it since it wouldn't have to re-compress that much info..."

That's not entirely accurate.

When working with compressed video, AE (like all video processing applications) must first decompress the video into an uncompressed image buffer before it can render effects on it. When AE renders compressed video, it must start with an uncompressed image buffer because this is the only input a video codec can take.

Compressing an H.264 video from an H.264 source is somewhat like making an analog dub of tape -- you lose a generation and incur quality loss because any artifacts or loss from the first record are piped into the input of the second record, and compounded by artifacting and loss there as well.

With extremely high-quality lossy compression (as with extremely high quality tape), you can reduce -- but not eliminate -- this loss.

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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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 20, 2012 at 4:52:57 pm

Thanks for all your help guys, the project has turned out to be a disaster but I have learned a lot. However, having completed the piece I can conclude that exporting without quality loss requires lots and lots of practice.
As for the workflow itself I haven't got any more experienced, although I can say that working on small pieces is a lot easier than working on 10 mins full HD within one composition unless you have a monster computer.


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Samuel EnblomRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 7:09:13 am

I know the one who started this thread has finished his assingment but I just wanted to add a short comment/question.

I think what I was meaning was that if you in the first place, with your first editing software (lets say fcp or avid) export with current settings you won't have to compress the video as much, and then if you compress it in AE the quality loss shouldn't be as big.. Or am I wrong?


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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 8:51:41 pm

Hi,
My initial question would have been in regards to workflow to save computing time and the endless rounds of exporting small bits, effecting small bits and so on. Let's say you're working on a full feature and there are 10 places in the movie that you want to work on. Someone suggested me to work on full res, but my computer was not strong enough to do so, so I guess it was my own fault to take on such a job using my own computer although I'm still in the dark in terms of workflow.


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:51:10 pm

That's what I was trying to explain. Working with uncompressed files is actually easier on a lower-powered computer than working with highly compressed files. With uncompressed files, the file size itself is large, and the data rate is high, but very little CPU power is required to play it back or open it for effects. With highly compressed files like H264, the file size is small, but he computer has to work very hard just to decompress it for further processing.

The best workflow is to work with uncompressed files, or lightly-compressed, intraframe codecs light ProRes or DNxHD. Even though the files are larger, they require substantially less CPU power for playback. By working with heavily compressed files, you are wasting computer resources on decompression when you could be using them for effects.

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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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 10:18:21 pm

After Effects, since it is bult to do image manipulation, always uses uncompressed frames for its internal rendering. AE thinks in uncompressed. To use any kind of compressed media, AE must decompress it into RAM for processing, then recompress it for output.

This is not unique to AE. Any time a frame of video needs to be modified, it must be decompressed for processing first. NLEs can only avoid recompression of media in certain specific situations.

H.264 uses inter-frame compression. That means that in order to reduce file size or data rate, not every frame stores complete information. Videos are broken down into a series of groups of pictures (called GOPs). These groups are made up of complete frames (called keyframes or I-frames) and incomplete frames (B- and P-frames). The incomplete frames refer back to common pixels of similar blocks from nearby frames. In order to compute a single incomplete frame, the computer may need to consider several frames, both complete and incomplete. This raises the computational power necessary for decode, and complicates cuts. If the cut takes place within a GOP and breaks the references sn incomplete frame relies on, that frame and any other similarly dependent frame must be recalculated. This means that even cuts from an inter-frame compressed clip may actually require a generation of decompression and recompression.

Codecs like uncompressed, ProRes, and DNxHD all use intra-frame compression, which means that every single frame is completely self-contained. An NLE can copy compressed frames for a cuts-only sequence, and computational requirements for decode are vastly lower.

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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Tibor BernschererRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 24, 2012 at 6:15:17 am

Hi,
Thanks for your help, that information was unbelievably useful, just one more question for future reference. If I receive any highly compressed file to work with, would it make a difference in terms of computing time if I recode it with prores or DNxHD?


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Walter SoykaRe: HD workflow???
by on Apr 24, 2012 at 11:14:28 am

Yes. Transcoding should improve performance, especially on lower-powered computers. Using a high quality codec like ProRes or DNxHD will neither improve the quality of your compressed original nor degrade it noticeably. It is highly recommended to use intraframe compression for AE CS4 and earlier to avoid bizarre rendering glitches.

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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