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Rendering a black and white animation

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John RussellRendering a black and white animation
by on Jul 4, 2013 at 10:50:04 pm

I would be very grateful of any advice as I have a very tight deadline. I made a series of black and whIte animations in Photoshop (mac) including animated background and foreground elements. I imported these into After Effects and layered them into a composite animation which plays well in After Effects. So far so good. The animation is 1080 x 1920 and will be played on a high res TV via a media player. The animation will be 20 - 30 mInutes long. What is the best workflow and format (mp4,.mov) to render this b&w animation? should I render using AE or Media Encoder? Sorry If thIs Is obvIous - I have sesrched the forums but couldnt fInd anythIng specIfIc. any feedback gratefully received.


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Ivan MylesRe: Rendering a black and white animation
by on Jul 5, 2013 at 8:53:46 pm

It is better to use Adobe Media Encoder (AME) with 2-Pass VBR if you would like to encode with H.264. Open AME, drag the After Effects project into the queue, and click on the orange text under Format or Preset to enter your encoder settings.

Under Format select H.264. For maximum compatibility set Profile to Baseline, and under the Multiplexer tab set Stream Compatibility to iPod.

Other typical settings would be as follows:

- Level 4.1 for 30fps or fewer at 1920x1080
- Level 4.2 for 60fps or fewer at 1920x1080
- Bitrate will depend on your delivery requirements; if you need to go higher than 50 mbps set Level to 5.0 (135,000 max) or 5.1 (240 mbps max)
- Default key frame distance is 3x frame rate

For better compression use Main or High Profile and set Stream Compatibility to Standard.

Alteratively, to create a MOV file set Format to QuickTime and select the H.264 codec.

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John RussellRe: Rendering a black and white animation
by on Jul 6, 2013 at 9:12:41 am

Hi Ivan. Thanks very much for that very helpful.

So just to clarify is it best to render straight to AME - as you suggest - drag the after effects project straight into the queue in AME - rather than rendering out from AE using the lossless Animation codec/format, then opening this up in AME and rendering it out as H64 from there? I was doing it this way and getting big file sizes which my media player was having trouble with nearlt 4 GB for a 20 minute b&w film at 1200 x 1980/ 25 frames.

Your method seems to have reduced the files size down to 700MB - I'm rendering now - hopefully the quality will be good. I'll let you know .

Thanks again for the help - much appreciated


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Ivan MylesRe: Rendering a black and white animation
by on Jul 7, 2013 at 8:19:41 pm

The best method will depend on your requirements. If file size is a constraint, or you only need to render one or two copies, or you are not archiving a master file, then just render the AE comp in AME as suggested. It takes longer to generate several files this way because the comp needs to be rendered each time before encoding. Therefore, if you plan to encode multiple files at different resolutions or bitrates, it will be faster to generate a master file first and then transcode distribution copies from the master.

Animation may not be the best codec if you plan to encode with H.264. Animation is 8-bpc RGB, which will result in color shifting when converting to 8-bpc 4:2:0 YCC. If the AE comp was created in 8-bpc RGB, then don't worry about it. But if the AE project is 16 or 32 bpc, then a 10-bit ProRes, DNxHD, AVC-Intra, Cineform, or uncompressed YUV, V210, or DPX would be a better format for an intermediate/master file.

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John RussellRe: Rendering a black and white animation
by on Jul 8, 2013 at 9:20:06 pm

Ivan tanks a lot. Very good advice. Had a few scares but hopefully sorted out. Mp4's were hanging on first image for 30 seconds plus before the media player started playing them - nerve-wracking! Is this to do with file size? If so which elements in the rendering process can i tweak or is it a bad media player?
Thanks again for all you help.


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