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New to AE and struggling with settings!

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graeme paterson
New to AE and struggling with settings!
on Apr 30, 2016 at 6:48:12 pm

Hi folks,

I've used Pinnacle Studio for years (please don't groan!) but I've recently signed up to use Premier Pro and After Effects - simply because they're obviously far better. I've tried AE in the past but gave up after a few days of banging my head against a brick wall trying to navigate the extremely complicated settings. This time, despite the settings still being as daunting as ever, I'm determined to stick with it but would be grateful for some help with a problem I've got in getting things set up from the start...


First off, my PC spec:

System: Hewlett Packard
Processor: AMD Athlon II X2 B24 (3.00 GHz)
RAM: 15 GB*
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD7700 Series

*NB: Motherboard only allows max 16GB RAM so if it needs more then it's going to have to be a new PC...


OK, what I'm wanting to do is create an 'opener' for a TV show project. I've downloaded the AE template that I want (from MotionArray) then opened it in AE and followed their instructions to edit the placeholders. All went fine, no problems. Trying to 'preview' it in AE was a waste of time because it was so slow it wouldn't even play more than a second without sticking. However, dragging the scroller along bit by bit and clicking at random intervals on the timeline, the project looks fine. I saved the project and thought that was that. Time to render. Or should that be time to surrender?!

I need the finished video to be in a specific format (PAL, 25fps, either 1280x720 HD (approx 12000 bit rate) or 1920x1080 HD (approx 30000 bit rate). I'm not too fussed on what file type it is, as long as it'll import as a video into Premier Pro, where I'll be putting the rest of the video together. Perhaps stupidly on my part, I assumed the export/render settings would allow me to specify this, but there are that many settings I simply got lost and confused :/

I selected what I thought was about right and off it went rendering. "Estimated render time 29 minutes". Bearing in mind the video is only 1m 17s long, I thought that was a bit long to render, but nevertheless let it get started and I popped out to the shops. Came back an hour later and it was only about 7 seconds rendered, and the estimated time had shot up to over 7 hours.. for a 1m 17s video.

Presuming I had the settings wrong somewhere (for example one thing I spotted was the bitrate was set at something like 150000!) I stopped the render process and then spent a while looking through various sites to try and find a simple guide to setting it up to have (a) the workspace and (b) the settings correct to achieve what I want, as per the specs above. Unfortunately most of the sites (including Adobe's own) seem to just confuse things even more. There doesn't seem to be any simple way to 'set up' a (for example) 1280x720, 25fps, project. The websites just give links to here there and everywhere without actually telling me what I want to know!

With Pinnacle (and other video editing software I've used in the past) you simply specify the timeline settings at the beginning (1280x720, 25fps etc) and then your drag'n'dropped content fits into it. Come to export, tweak a couple of things, and off you go). The fact that AE doesn't do that is where I'm struggling.

Anyhoo, I went back to AE and tried various different settings - but everything I've tried up to now is taking forever to render. As I type, it's been rendering the latest attempt for 2 hours 8 minutes and it's rendered a grand total of 16 seconds of the video. The estimated time left? Over 8 hours!

There are so many different settings throughout the programme, from the project settings to composition settings to render settings, each with their own sub-set of settings, that I just can't seem to get my head around it.

Does anyone have the patience to please try and point me in the right direction of getting the settings right?! I'm going to leave the current one rendering overnight and hope it's finished by the morning, but I dread to think what the file size is going to be!

I'm happy to take screen shots of any settings dialog boxes etc, but again there are that many, I'll have to rely upon some kind soul telling me what settings boxes they want screenshots of.

Apologies for being thick folks, just hoping I can get a bit of help from the right people to get me going.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can assist.

Graeme (with grey hair courtesy of Adobe).

:)


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Dave LaRonde
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 1:27:40 am

Here's a big question: what version of AE are you using? It makrs a difference in which set of "getting started" tutorials I send you to. And you REALLY need to do them.

As you may have figured put on ypur own, AE is a lot different than a video editor. It does things way differently. That's because it's intended to do different things than a video editor. It works nothing like one. Throw away your preconceived notions of working in media. No fooling.

If you try to use AE intuitively, you will fail. You gotta get trained up on it.

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


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graeme paterson
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 9:54:10 am

Hi Dave,

First off - thank you for your reply, appreciate it.

Yes, I've realised there's a very big difference. I'm led to believe that AE is more for producing the graphical type content which can then be used in PP, though struggled to work out why I was therefore creating a video in AE which I'd end up importing into PP!

The version of AE I'm using is the latest one (I signed up online via Adobe CC). So it's AECC2015.

Incidentally, the video I mentioned in the original post is still rendering this morning! It's now completed 1m 13s of video in 17h 33m, with 1h 4m left to go!


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Walter Soyka
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:15:20 am

I would add that you're not just trying to figure out Ae, you're also trying to figure out how the template is set up. Some of those templates are quite advanced and it can be a significant effort to step through and figure out how it was designed and where it might be slowing down. There is no one place that we can point you to for instant results.

Also, Ae is a very CPU-intensive program, and the AMD Athlon II X2 B24 was a good value processor, not a good performance processor. You should always expect slower renders on this system.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Walter Soyka
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:19:01 am

But, since you're new to Ae, If you're new to After Effects, I'd recommend the following link, in which former After Effects product managaer Todd Kopriva pulled together some important introductory materials:
http://blogs.adobe.com/toddkopriva/2010/01/getting-started-with-after-eff.h...

I think the Andrew Devis After Effects Basics series and the Video Copilot Basic Training and are particularly good starts.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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graeme paterson
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:25:27 am

Hi Walter, and thank you also for your reply.

I will have a look at that link you provided shortly when I've finished the job I'm currently working on, thanks for that.

Incidentally, the processor comment is noted - I bought the PC second hand about a year ago (it was a gaming PC so I presumed would be decent spec) and to be fair it's handled every other video processing project I've ran on it really well and pretty quick, so I was surprised at just how different it was with AE. But thanks for that, it might certainly be a factor.

The template in question that I purchased was very easily put together and easy to understand - I followed their video instructions for drag and drop to replace images/videos and that was it - job done! Although yes I can imagine some of the more complex templates will be more difficult to grasp.


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Walter Soyka
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:40:43 am

[graeme paterson] "to be fair it's handled every other video processing project I've ran on it really well and pretty quick, so I was surprised at just how different it was with AE"

I totally understand -- but the way Ae works and renders internally is very different than the way a non-linear editor does. There are a number of things that are very fast to render in an NLE that are slower to render in Ae. In part, this is the price of flexibility.


[graeme paterson] "The template in question that I purchased was very easily put together and easy to understand - I followed their video instructions for drag and drop to replace images/videos and that was it - job done! Although yes I can imagine some of the more complex templates will be more difficult to grasp."

I just meant to suggest it can be hard to figure out where the slowdown is. Lots of these projects have many nested comps, which makes it easy to update sources, but sometimes a bit harder to see the entire scope of processing.

For example, things like motion blur, lights and shadows, and depth of field can really slow rendering down, but those individually settings may be tucked away in a precomp within a precomp within a precomp in the template.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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graeme paterson
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:46:44 am

Walter, both comments understood, thank you. Yes I can see what you mean, sorry if my replies sounded flippant, they weren't meant to! Indeed the templates do have a lot of light effects and so on, so that does confirm your suggestions.


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Walter Soyka
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 1, 2016 at 10:49:36 am

Not at all, Grame, I just wasn't sure I had been clear! Cheers.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Jon Doughtie
Re: New to AE and struggling with settings!
on May 3, 2016 at 3:31:17 pm

Graeme, it's OK to find yourself struggling at first. It does take a while to learn how to "think" like After Effects wants you to.

And indeed, some pre-made templates, while very cool, can choke some systems nearly to unconsciousness. AE wants fast hardware and lots of RAM.

System:
Dell Precision T7600 (x2)
Win 7 64-bit
32GB RAM
Adobe CC 2014 (as of 7/2015)
256GB SSD system drive
4 internal media drives RAID 5
Typically cutting short form from HD MP4 and P2 MXF.


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