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Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.

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Kris Rost
Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:01:14 pm

My first AE animation project is finished @ 58 sec, 21.6MB after Handbrake, embedded into an app created in Ionic frameworks not available in either app store.

This Ionic build would not (i was told} be able to rotate, so the animation was 1080 x 1920. I created all the simple art in Adobe illustrator imported and placed as .ai files; with proper layers, and imported suchly... etc. Some scenes were quite large as they had zooming parts to tell the story.

The purpose was as a "motivational" on-boarding intro to the app and afterwards my epic video would never be seen again in the app.

I don't really know if I bloated the animation's file size or not. I would really like to know what I could have done differently, can I still change and reduce things?

So I am asking for some reference material to consult for future projects which I will be called upon to create; to build animations as neat, small files.

I DID look for commonly asked questions, but all the ones I found were about optimizing.
I think I get that through using Handbrake.
The AE rendered QT file was 920.7MB. After Handbrake it was 21.6 MB

Thanks for any advice,
Kristina


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 12:14:54 am

I take it you're making the intro and not the app. I'd ask the people making the app what they need precisely: the dimensions, the kind of media container, the codec... all that good stuff. Hard to go wrong if they give you the specs!

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kris Rost
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 4:26:17 am

I supplied them according to their specs. The had nothing to say about codec. Their specs were handbrake specs...

my question was asking about building art and animations, about creative process guidelines for leaner arts before rendering... not compression or output of the finished rendering. I am looking for some tips and tricks for building animations for a lighter file size before render output?

Could I have created the illustrator art differently for an AE project to make a smaller file?

For instance...the first draft of the animation was 38 seconds...then the client made changes and the animation became 58 sec to slow the voice over down with longer pauses. The first 38sec had no problem embedding...@12Mb. The 58 sec version was 2x the size and the app choked...but we were eventually able to get it to embedd. Could/Can I do something to make the art works a leaner And smaller file to render?

Thanks for your response.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 3:11:04 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Dec 3, 2015 at 5:21:07 pm

There isn't much you can do in AE to make an animation file's size more compact... not in the comp, at least. Okay, you can reduce the comp's dimensions, but I wouldn't... more on that later.

But you CAN compress the video more effectively to make it more compact. More on that in a bit.

I have to tell you, 58 seconds seems way long for an intro to an app! The shorter it is, the smaller the file size. That's a no-brainer.

Back to compression now. It's not a problem to work in AE 1080x1920 (this must be a vertical animation), but the dimensions seem too large for final delivery or an animation for an app.
Delivery specs based on Handbrake seem kind of iffy, too. I don't think I've ever heard of delivery specs based on Handbrake before... that's just a transcoding application

So here's what I'd do:

I'd make the highest-quality, full-size animtion I could, rendering out ofthe AE Render Queue. For the task, I'd make Quicktime Movies in the PNG, Animation, ProRes 422 or Photo JPEG codecs. I would NOT render the whole animation - just a few seconds... this is a test for final delivery.
Once that was done, I'd use that high-quality file in Adobe Media Encoder. I'd make mp4 files in the h.264 codec. This is a VERY common media container/codec combination. It ought to work, and it's well-known as a good mix of file compactness & image quality.
But here's the key deal -- I'd make them in a variety of dimensions, all retaining the 9x16 aspect ratio. 1080x1920, 720x1280, 360x640... you can figure out others.
Then I'd give the test files to the app guys, asking, "Okay, which of these look best to you? If they all look good, I'll make the one in the smallest dimensions."
Then you'll know the dimensions you have to deliver... and as you might suspect, the smaller the dimensions, the smaller the file size.

So why make the big 1080 x 1920 animation in the first place if final delivery turns out to be... oh, 360x640? Here's why--repurposing of media. These guys may want to use the animation for other things. You'd be set by working in a big-a** AE comp.

I hope you find this helpful.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Kris Rost
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 6:23:51 pm

Perfect!

I am not sure the dev guys really knew all the options. We will look into this and have go!

Thank you very much.


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Ivan Myles
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 6:15:23 pm

[Kris Rost] "Could I have created the illustrator art differently for an AE project to make a smaller file? ... Could/Can I do something to make the art works a leaner And smaller file to render?"

Simplify as much as possible in the artwork and the animation. For example, minimize gradual changes in-frame (gradients) and frame-to-frame (fades, rotation, zoom) where the encoder can't reuse the image easily. Here are a few ideas:

- avoid gradients and subtle color variations; use solid colors or simple repetitive patterns; use fewer colors
- panning is OK but avoid rotating the camera (either pivoting or rotating axially in the plane)
- use clean cuts and avoid fades or cross-fades
- avoid slow zooms
- reduce the number of unique items; repeat the same objects in different places, and use fewer of them
- go retro: blocky, low-resolution graphics with simple motion

You mentioned that there are zooms in the animation. Try to simplify by holding frames at a small number of intermediate zoom levels and jump from one to the next ("stutter zoom"). Alternatively, use a pop-up bubble to show specific areas at higher magnification in front of the same unzoomed background.


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Kris Rost
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 6:27:45 pm

All my imagery was flat vector shapes...so I was good there.

Your suggestions about zooming was Great!

I had a text fade in and one graphic fade in... maybe

Anyway I am going to try all of these suggestions on sandbox versions.

Thanks a lot!


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Ivan Myles
Re: Best practices to build animations as neat, small files.
on Dec 3, 2015 at 7:31:28 pm
Last Edited By Ivan Myles on Dec 3, 2015 at 7:36:52 pm

You're welcome. Also, if there isn't a lot of motion/change then consider using a longer keyframe distance for the final encoding (60-75 frames). Try a few settings and check for differences in file size and image quality. Note that once keyframe distance is greater than one second of footage the reduction in file size will be relatively small.


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