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Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?

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Kevin Cotterill
Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 29, 2013 at 7:30:39 am

Firstly I just want let you know that I am a newbie. Only started studying AE this last week.

After editing my footage for green screen, I'm having some issues rendering.

If I render lossless, the file is too big and doesn't play full speed.

If I render H.264, I lose too much quality.

(99% of my videos will be for youtube BTW)

What am I doing wrong?

Does Premiere Pro or Media Encoder come into play at some point here?

Thanks.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 29, 2013 at 11:29:48 am

Lossless will be hard to play realtime on most machines. This is used for a archival or intermediate (post production work) level. For delivery you can use H264- just do not use AE to render that. It is best to render a final master with a lossless codec and then use AME (Encoder) to compress. For YouTube you can use one of the presets or (better in my opinion)render a CBR 5mbs H264 in a QT (mp4) container that will be later re-converted by YouTube to a 6mbs.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Ivan Myles
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 29, 2013 at 6:18:38 pm

[Kevin Cotterill] "If I render lossless, the file is too big and doesn't play full speed. If I render H.264, I lose too much quality."

Uncompressed and H.264 are on opposite ends of the continuum between high quality and high compression. Uncompressed files require 32-48 bits per picture element (bpp), while H.264 can use fewer than 0.5 bpp.

Alternatives for high quality encoding with intermediate compression include ProRes, DNxHD, or maximum quality H.264 (maximum target bitrate, VBR 2-pass, key frame distance = 1 using the Adobe native H.264 codec, not QuickTime H.264). It's overkill but ensures optimal quality from your end. All three formats can be uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo.

[Tudor "Ted" Jelescu] "It is best to render a final master with a lossless codec and then use AME (Encoder) to compress."

Adobe Media Encoder can render After Effects projects directly without an intermediate file. Open AME and add the After Effects project to the queue. Click on either the Format or Preset shown in orange text for the project. AME will create a dynamic link and then open the export settings panel (same as Premiere Pro).


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Kevin Cotterill
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 29, 2013 at 11:12:41 pm

Thanks for the list of alternatives. Would AME be a viable alternative or do you recommend going with one of the others you listed?

I don't mind a little loss of quality, but for all the hard work and effort I will be putting in, I don't want to see a drastic loss. I'm a perfectionist also.

I tried what you said about importing a comp into AME and it worked a charm. I formatted to H.264. There is definitely a loss of quality but it's only small. And it was super simple to do.

So basically it means I don't have to render a lossless file and then compress. I can just compress direct from the project, right?

Thanks!


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Ivan Myles
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 30, 2013 at 1:55:22 am

[Kevin Cotterill] "Thanks for the list of alternatives. Would AME be a viable alternative or do you recommend going with one of the others you listed?"

Adobe Media Encoder can render files using different codecs, including the three mentioned. It is a better choice than After Effects to encode H.264 files because After Effects does not support 2-pass VBR.

Regarding the codecs, ProRes and DNxHD offer similar performance. ProRes is a common choice on Mac, but it is read-only on Windows. H.264 is best suited for delivery and offers good quality at compressed data rates. For professional applications AVC-Intra is a 4:2:2 10-bit version of H.264 similar to ProRes and DNxHD. I don't think AVC-I can be uploaded directly to online video sites.

Ultimately expect to encode multiple versions of the same project depending on playback requirements. Create a few H.264 copies directly from AME at different bitrates and resolutions, and keep a ProRes/DNxHD/AVC-I version on hand to generate new copies quickly without re-rendering the entire AE/Premiere project.

[Kevin Cotterill] "I tried what you said about importing a comp into AME and it worked a charm. I formatted to H.264. There is definitely a loss of quality but it's only small."

This is a big topic, but one simple thing: go to the multiplexer tab in the AME H.264 settings and change iPod to Standard.

[Kevin Cotterill] "So basically it means I don't have to render a lossless file and then compress. I can just compress direct from the project, right?"

Yes.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 30, 2013 at 6:15:43 am

"Adobe Media Encoder can render After Effects projects directly without an intermediate file."

That is true, however if you need more than one format for encoding or if your specs need adjustment, it is much faster to compress from a master file than from a AE comp. That is why it is best to have a master and use that for compression.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Kevin Cotterill
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 29, 2013 at 11:08:16 pm

Thanks for the tip. I didn't realise playing a lossless format would cause choppy playback. I thought I was doing something wrong with the rendering. So thanks!

I'm a complete noob - can you elaborate a little more on this:

"render a CBR 5mbs H264 in a QT (mp4) container"

Thanks!


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 30, 2013 at 9:33:55 am

YouTube will take the file you uploaded and compress it again to match their specs. A CBR (constant bit rate) file will provide more information than a VBR (variable bit rate), as will a higher bit rate - 50 MB per second vs 5 MB per second. Your file will end up as a 5 mps VBR, but it will look better if you provide a higher quality h264.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Kevin Cotterill
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 30, 2013 at 9:47:13 am

That makes sense. But practically, how do I do this? I'm currently using AME for compression.

Thanks.


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on May 30, 2013 at 11:18:02 am

You can either render an uncompressed format from AE and then compress this file to a H264 with the above mentioned setup. Or you can open the AE project in AME and compress directly.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Kevin Cotterill
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on Jun 2, 2013 at 11:28:17 pm

Using AME, I can only see presets. I don't see where I am able to 'render a CBR 5mbs H264 in a QT (mp4) container'.

Any pointers in the right direction will be much appreciated. I know I'm missing something and it's probably very simple :-(

Thanks.


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Kevin Cotterill
Re: Rendering: Either slow to play (lossless) or poor quality (H.264). What am I doing wrong?
on Jun 22, 2013 at 7:57:11 am

Ted, just to be certain, you are saying to render at 5MB CBR, not 50?


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