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Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)

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Lewis CostinIs this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 24, 2013 at 4:16:35 am

Hi there.

I am currently on a project where we had preivously been relying on dynamic links between After Effects and Premiere, but found that once our comps began to get heavy, this method wasn't very intuitive anymore.

I know one way of getting lossless video is with TIFF sequences. I know you can export a TIFF sequence directly from AE, but I also found a way of creating a QuickTime .mov that wraps all my TIFFs for me, giving me a video clip instead of individual frames. I started using this method but was surprised when I found out that the clips were surpisingly small, yet I couldn't see a difference between my TIFF .mov and my dynamic link (which is lossless). I also experimented with Avid's DNxHD codec and found that although this codec was NOT lossless, the files it gave me were much larger than my TIFF .mov's.

So is a TIFF .mov really lossless or is something getting thrown out here?


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Thomas AlexanderRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 24, 2013 at 6:32:41 am

The encoding format of tiff is lossless but once it undergoes through any kid of compression it stops being lossless. Mind that the display you see on Premiere of your footage or on After Effects is NOT lossless. The more videos you load on premiere or after effects the less quality your display will have because the software downgrades its quality for the sake of performance. However the lossless remains lossless unless you compress it. If you do not use the right compression settings it is very likely you might end up with a lower quality of footage.

Thomas Alexander | Independent Cinematographer
Soulman Films | Nicosia Cyprus | +357-97697640


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Walter SoykaRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 25, 2013 at 12:43:43 pm

[Thomas Alexander] "Mind that the display you see on Premiere of your footage or on After Effects is NOT lossless. The more videos you load on premiere or after effects the less quality your display will have because the software downgrades its quality for the sake of performance."

After Effects processing and RAM preview is always lossless.

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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Alex GerulaitisRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 25, 2013 at 1:54:05 am

QT in itself is not a codec - but a "wrapper", a packaging / delivery format - like AVI. Can you check your QT encoding settings and figure out what actual codec your TIFFs are being encoded to, and the settings (bit-rate, bit depth, etc.)?

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Engineer
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Walter SoykaRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 25, 2013 at 12:50:45 pm

[Lewis Costin] "I know one way of getting lossless video is with TIFF sequences. I know you can export a TIFF sequence directly from AE, but I also found a way of creating a QuickTime .mov that wraps all my TIFFs for me, giving me a video clip instead of individual frames. I started using this method but was surprised when I found out that the clips were surpisingly small, yet I couldn't see a difference between my TIFF .mov and my dynamic link (which is lossless)."

It sounds like you're creating a QuickTime reference movie -- that is, a movie file that refers to other external assets. The movie file is small because some data is not stored inside the movie file, and is instead linked to by the video file. In this case, that's your original TIFF files. If you move or delete them, then the reference movie will no longer work.

This workflow should be lossless, as long as you are working with 8bpc video. If you were working 16bpc or higher, then Quicktime may be clobbering your additional precision.

Personally, since Premiere can work with image sequences [link] natively, I'd skip the reference movie.

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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Lewis CostinRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 26, 2013 at 3:02:30 am

Hi Walter,

What I'm creating is not a reference movie but a QT wrapped TIFF .mov. You can make one of these in AE by selecting format: QuickTime, codec: TIFF.

In the codec settings I have it set at default - which is compression: packed bits (which I'm guessing is one of TIFF's lossless compression methods).

The quality bar (which I have no idea if it makes a difference or not) is set at 100.

I assume it's the same as exporting a TIFF sequence, but rather than having each frame as an individual file, they're all packed into a QT file and can be played back (but obviously rather laggy) by a video player. I also find them easier to manage because I don't have to import them anywhere "as an image sequence". I just want to know if it's the same deal or not.


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Walter SoykaRe: Is this workflow 100% lossless? (codec question)
by on Mar 26, 2013 at 2:22:21 pm

Hi Lewis,

Sorry for jumping to conclusions.

While many TIFF implementations support lossy and lossless compression, QuickTime's TIFF seems to be always lossless. The quality slider does nothing.

Packbits is a method for lossless compression. It uses run-length encoding, but it works on the byte-level rather than the pixel level (like RLE in the Animation codec does).

Other QuickTime formats are also lossless for 8bpc matieral -- Animation at 100%, TGA at any level, PNG at any level.

PNG will usually give you the best compression ratios for real footage; Animation/TIFF(PackBits) may be superior for synthetic footage if they have larger of areas of flat color.

You could use any of these for moving between Ae/Pr (again, as long as you're working at 8bpc).

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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