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Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC

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Lucas Rainey
Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 15, 2014 at 6:34:58 pm

Hi folks - longtime lurker here in need of your wisdom.

I am creating some motion graphics in After Effects, and my text is rendering out jagged, pixelated, and ugly. I have trawled the internet for solutions, and none of the usual fixes are working.

I initially thought that the problem was bringing the text in from Photoshop, but recreating it natively in After Effects looked the same. Continuously Rasterize is on, my text layers are scaled to 100%, vertical & horizontal scale are at or below 100%, I'm using square pixels, and Fast Previews is turned off. I even did 15-hour renders of these 200-frame sequences using ray-traced 3D, and there was no difference. I finally thought it could be an issue with this specific font (Knockout), but after playing with that, it appears to be a universal problem.

The only thing I haven't tried yet is bringing the text in from Illustrator, which I plan to try once the Creative Cloud goes back online (it's having some issues today).

I have been able to get close by adding a subtle fast blur, but I would prefer a solution that doesn't drop the quality.

For the record, I am using a freshly-updated After Effects CC on a Mac running OS 10.8.5, with updated drivers for my video card (an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M).

Thank you!


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Jeff Hinkle
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 15, 2014 at 10:16:59 pm

When you say "rendering out," do you mean in your final output render or just how it's displaying within After Effects? Or both?

---
It is easier to destroy than to create.
More fun, too.


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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 15, 2014 at 11:05:58 pm

Hi Jeff,
Both, unfortunately. I've output it with the Lossless preset (Animation codec) and in the Avid DNX codec.


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Darby Edelen
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 3:58:11 am

The first two things that come to mind are the layer quality setting (make sure it's best and not draft) and alpha settings if you're rendering with an alpha (try premultiplied instead of straight).

These are both not likely but they're the first things that come to mind without more information.

Darby Edelen


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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 3:00:02 pm

Thanks, Darby. The layers are set to best quality. I just did a test with straight alpha, and unfortunately it looks different but still jagged.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 1:02:27 pm

Can you post a screenshot of the affected text?

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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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 3:06:11 pm

Here you go, Walter: http://imgur.com/0Bk9pkQ

As you can see, the white text is pretty acceptable - it's the bigger red text that really looks wonky.


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 3:42:17 pm

What are your comp settings? I'm particularly interested in the pixel aspect ratio.

Also, red text is always a huge problem in motion graphics. It has been since the invention of color TV. If you get get away with a slightly less saturated red, try that too.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 3:48:25 pm

Comp settings are just the HDTV 1080 29.97 preset - 1920x1080, square pixels, 29.97 NDF.

Thank you for the color advice. I like it a bit less saturated, though of course the shape is the same.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 8:14:58 pm

The chroma subsampling inherent in many compression schemes can tear up text edges. Do you see a difference between your comp viewer and your final output?

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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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 16, 2014 at 8:57:06 pm

It looks like there is a bit of a difference - both are wonky, but here's a side-by-side: http://imgur.com/a/0TLax


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 19, 2014 at 12:50:03 pm

As I look more closely at your screenshots, I'm seeing the problem better. Back away from your screen and it looks fine. It only looks bad when you're up close and it's because of the shape of the font. That angle is just going to look jagged. You could help it look less so with a tiny bit of a blur. Basically, introduce your own anti-aliasing to it.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 19, 2014 at 2:37:58 pm

The "B" and "D" from the After Effects preview window look fine if you back away from the screen, but the "A" doesn't. Then in the output render, they all look pretty lousy, especially the "A." I can't ask people to back away from the screen, though - those snaps are actual-size. You seem to mean that it's simply impossible to use large text without this kind of distortion.

Adding a 1-3-px fast blur does work for me as a quick fix, but I find this whole situation bizarre. I've created whole worlds in this program, but a really big "A" is too much to ask?


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 19, 2014 at 4:14:01 pm

[Lucas Rainey] "I can't ask people to back away from the screen, though"

I wasn't suggesting that you do so, but if this is intended for broadcast television, nobody is going to be close enough to their screens to notice. Remember, professionals like us are going to nitpick stuff like this on a pixel-by-pixel basis up close while we are creating something. The end viewer is likely not going to be scrutinizing it up close.

[Lucas Rainey] "I've created whole worlds in this program, but a really big "A" is too much to ask?"

Funny how that works, right?

But think about it: a whole world isn't going to have aliasing problems in AE because of all the details, curves, etc.

The issue with this is precisely the lack of detail.

Zoom in a bit and have a look at the actual pixels of your A. The difficulty is that angle and how long it is vertically compared to how far it moves horizontally. If that A were a different size, you wouldn't have this problem. You only have so many pixels horizontally along which it can move from the base to the top.

Making it bigger or smaller will eventually remove the problem. However, you may need to change the scale so much that it would alter your design intent. If so, the only other solution that I can think of would be adding some anti-aliasing with a bit of blur.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Lucas Rainey
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 20, 2014 at 6:56:55 pm

Many thanks, Michael.


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 20, 2014 at 7:05:05 pm

No problem!

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Darby Edelen
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on May 22, 2014 at 3:57:57 am

You've tried this with some standard fonts like Helvetica or Arial, correct? And you have no effects applied to the text layer?

Darby Edelen


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Mathias Erichsen
Re: Pixelated / aliased text in After Effects CC
on Sep 3, 2014 at 7:00:32 am

Lately I've really been strugeling with after effects and aliasing too...
Text, shapes, vector files and most animated files look bad like the example in this thread. VC Element give me aliasing too in high contrast areas, even when I'm setting supersamling to max.
There is something fundamentaly wrong.

I'm doing commercial work and lately it's been A LOT of workarrounds and checking of preferences settings and it is really frustrating.
I'm setting everything to "best", in 8, 16 and 32 bit, toggeling color settings, interpeting footage and pre-comping but nothing ever gets better (exept maybe a little 0,5 fast blur hides the problem a bit, but I do not want to blur out my commercials) :/

I've been useing AFX for many years and I did not have this problem before, but I'm not sure at what point it started.. Maybe when Adobe CC came out.
It seems to me as if there is a general problem with After effects as the problem is the same on both Mac and PC.

Anyone know about a mystical new setting that i need to know about? Do I need a hack for the preferences txt file or something like that? Do I need to accept jagged lines and aliased flickering in my work?


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