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Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?

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Dave Andrade
Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 4:28:01 am

It just occurred to me that if I take some image shot in a raw movie format, but then export it as mov with h264 is that going to degrade the quality because it is being compressed?

In Adobe after effects 5.5, what it the best format to render the videos at to retain the quality of the raw video?

Also, am I thinking incorrectly. I know the Canon cameras record in the mov h264 format...but recording in RAW, you have more latitude in post to make adjustments. SO once those adjustments are made, does it matter how you export it?


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mathew fuller
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 7:04:43 am

Without getting into this too deeply. Apple pro res 4:2:2 HQ is really all you should strive to work with. The only exception being the animation codec if you need to include alpha channels.

I have worked in post production for 12 years now. I can assure you this is the standard we all use.

My Work:
http://www.morecompletefx.com


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Dave Andrade
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 12:42:42 pm

Mathew,
Thanks for the information!! It's nice to hear from someone who has been in the field for a while.

Unfortunately, I'm a Windows user, and I don't see the option to export in that format. And from a couple other things I have read, this is something "exclusive" to Apple machines.

I also read somewhere else, since I read your post that ffmpeg is the best way to go about doing that. I did see an option for an uncompressed YUV format and I am wondering if that is the best approach.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 1:10:18 pm

Animation or PNG, QuickTime - good options for a Master.
However, for delivery/playback formats you need to figure out what format is best.
In my workflow we use 50 mbs mpeg2. But that is now in a broadcast environment, 18 years ago I used to render Targa or TIFF sequences.
H264 comes in many flavors. A QT container (mp4) is the best in my opinion. It will then come down to bitrate, frame rate and frame size. For delivery on YouTube for example use CBR (constant bit rate) at 50 mps - once you upload it will get re-converted to a 6mps version any way. Vimeo (paid version) enables higher bitrates. There's no one universal solution- you will have to customize for each situation.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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mathew fuller
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 4:24:07 pm

Since you are on a PC, I guess you should use other options people have mentioned.

I tried to give you a simple answer, rather than some overcomplicated list of a thousand times and instances to use every codec under the sun.

But that looks like what is selling.

My Work:
http://www.morecompletefx.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 6:47:45 pm

[mathew fuller] "I tried to give you a simple answer, rather than some overcomplicated list of a thousand times and instances to use every codec under the sun. But that looks like what is selling."

Sorry, mate, I didn't mean to overcomplicate things -- but delivery itself does get complicated sometimes, and I think it's just as important to understand why you're doing something as it is to understand what to do.

I'm with you that a mezzanine codec like ProRes or similar is the right way to go for masters and intermediates.

The biggest takeaway here I think should be to not use a delivery codec like H.264 for production unless you have no alternative.

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 Soyka
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 1:46:28 pm

[mathew fuller] "Apple pro res 4:2:2 HQ is really all you should strive to work with. The only exception being the animation codec if you need to include alpha channels. I have worked in post production for 12 years now. I can assure you this is the standard we all use."

Except for when we're working with DNxHD, or image sequences, or other proprietary mezzanine codecs like CineForm. ProRes is very common, but it's not universal.

H.264 is fine (and often necessary) for delivery -- as the final step in your workflow. As Ted says, deliverable requirements can vary wildly.

In general, it's a good practice to master to a codec like ProRes as Mathew says or the others I listed above for posterity and for intermediate files.

But just to show how deep this can all get -- animation codec is only 8 bit, so you'll lose information from 10-bit sources, and you could master to H.264 if you went all-out and used an intraframe 4:2:2, 10-bit profile with a high bit rate.

As a practical solution, I'd encourage you to look into DNxHD. It's a free QuickTime codec available from Avid and quite similar to ProRes in quality and bitrate, and it will be well-supported natively starting in Ae/Pr CC.

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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mathew fuller
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 4:27:32 pm

BTW. H264 is sometimes a deliverable requirement. (Although never for broadcast) but you should never, ever ever ever ever ever render your master out of after FX to h264.

You may compress an h264 for delivery. But your master should always be in a loss-less format.

My Work:
http://www.morecompletefx.com


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Dave Andrade
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 6:34:07 pm

Thanks so much gentlemen! I really appreciate the input. They make tons of sense and have given me a lot of options.

Again, as mentioned (or eluded to), it all depends on the end result (depending on the client or for person reasons)

Thanks again!!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 28, 2013 at 6:57:26 pm

FYI, it's best not to render H.264 directly from Ae. Far better to render to an intermediate and compress with Adobe Media Encoder, or just use AME to render the Ae comp directly.

Ae's H.264 encoder does not do multi-pass (which improves compression efficiency, giving you cleaner encodes at smaller file sizes), and it's a bit buggy besides. Ae's H.264 encoder is deprecated in the next version of Ae CC.

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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Ivan Myles
Re: Importing RAW files into After Effects - exporting as h264...defeating the purpose?
on May 29, 2013 at 8:28:38 pm

Going back to the original post:
[Dave Andrade] "I know the Canon cameras record in the mov h264 format...but recording in RAW, you have more latitude in post to make adjustments."
DLSR's can save RAW photos, but video recording options are typically limited to H.264. Check your camera specs to verify the supported formats.

Intermediate encoding may not be required if the project can be processed within Creative Suite. Import the source files, edit and apply effects in AE/Premiere/etc with dynamic links between programs, and export a compressed file using Adobe Media Encoder as Walter described.

A high bitrate, all intra-frame, 422/444, 10-bit codec is preferred to transfer a file to another application or to create a master. DNxHD or AVC-Intra should meet your needs on a Windows system. Be sure to increase the bit depth of your After Effects project to 16 or 32 bpc and export with trillions of colors (if using AME, set Depth to 48 bit and enable the Render at Maximum Depth setting).


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