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Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats

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Hilary WoodwardRendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 7, 2011 at 8:29:31 pm

Hello,

I apologize in advance for wasting anyone's time on answers that probably exist on the internet already. I've searched and keep up ending down rabbit holes of good information that don't exactly apply to me. If this should go in the compression folder instead, let me know.

My general info: This is my first big project. And things have gone well until now, the moment of reckoning: rendering.

Computer/OS: Windows 7 Professional, 64-Bit (8 GB RAM, three 500 GB external hard drives)
Software: After Effects CS5 - 10.0.0.458
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 - 5.0.0 (484)
Adobe Media Encoder CS5 - 5.0.0.402

Source: I originally got the files as (I think) .MOV Quicktime files that were digitized from tape (on HDCAM). They're at 1920 x 1080, 29.97.

Destination Codec: See below. Not sure what I should be using.

Destination Use: This is the tricky part and where I need help.

I need to have this video (all 6:46 of it) in three formats:

1. YouTube (uploaded by me)
2. DVD (produced externally)
3. Shown at a conference through a projector (I was told they need it 4:3 on DVCAM.)

My process:

- I imported the clips I needed into Premiere and cut them down into separate sequences. (Though I first had to buy Calibrated XD in order to get Premiere to recognize the source files.)

- I then took each sequence and made it its own comp in After Effects and added graphics and titles.

- Precomped all comps and then put those into one new comp, added music, voila.

I've rendered a few different versions, to varying success.

I did a giant .avi version from AE, 872 x 486 that's 19 GB. It won't, of course, play properly on my machine. Too big, I assume.

Most successful has been an F4v at 720 x 406 (using H264) in AE that's 15.9 MB, but I'm noticing some jagged movement as images slide around and fade in and out. Motion blur was turned on for rendering and is on for those layers that have it...

So my question is how do I take this giant comp and get it into all of the formats I need?

Do I need to build a new comp and resize it in there? What do I need to watch out for then on PAR?

Do I use the AME's settings for DVD (MPEG 2)?

What should I tell the conference people who want it in 4:3?

Thanks in advance for any answers.

Yours in newsness,
Hilary


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Michael SzalapskiRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 7, 2011 at 11:02:23 pm

You're correct about your file not playing back smoothly. Here's more info on why that is [link]

Render one file out of AE and then the Adobe Media encoder to do your final files.
From Dave LaRonde:
Dave's Stock Answer #3:

Don't use AE to compress files for final delivery. The various compressors are there only to make quick 'n dirty files showing a project's progress to producers, clients, the kids, etc. AE is incapable of doing multipass encoding, a crucial feature that greatly improves the image quality of H.264 and MPEG-type files in particular.

Render a high-quality file from AE, and use a different application to do the compression. Popular ones are Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze and Apple's Compressor, which comes bundled with Final Cut Suite. Even compressing in Quicktime Pro is better than compressing in AE.

Making good-looking compressed files is almost as much an art as it is a science. It is NOT straightforward at all.
Now, as to your actual specs:
For the conference, do they need it on DVCAM tape?
The DVD is being produced externally, so find out from them what specs they need.
For YouTube, check their help pages. They have a whole section on compressing for YouTube. Since you created your file at 1920x1080 YouTube is going to be the place that it looks best because YouTube can actually show it at 1920x1080 whereas DVCAM and DVD are limited to 720x480.

Did that help?

- 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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Dave LaRondeRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 7, 2011 at 11:27:44 pm

There are a lot of holes in what you've told us, but I'll get to them later.
First, work at 1920x1080, and make sure your essential graphics remain within 4x3 title safe... now you're covered.

But you don't have much information on the delivery specs, which is a BIG problem.



[Hilary Woodward] "2. DVD (produced externally)"

You need to find out what the DVD producer wants: delivery codec, screen aspect ratio and resolution. In NTSC-Land, DVD's can either be 16x9 or 4x3; you need to find out WHICH. You need to find out the delivery codec THEY want; they may intend to do the conversion to mpeg2, but you don't know yet. If they do the conversion, they may want to start with full 1920x1080 video, but what if you give them 720x480 widescreen? Trouble!




[Hilary Woodward] "3. Shown at a conference through a projector (I was told they need it 4:3 on DVCAM.)"

Ugh. DVCam's about the worst video codec possible. Could they have meant the resolution, which would be 720x480? You need to clarify precisely what they want. The only useful data is the 4x3 deal. You at least know you'll wind up nesting your HD comp in a 4x3 comp in the specified resolution, which is why your essential graphics are all in 4x3 title safe.


[Hilary Woodward] "1. YouTube (uploaded by me)"

That's pretty easy: youtube has a page describing the specs for uploading.

In all the cases you mention above, the best practice in AE is to render the highest-quality file you can, and use something ELSE (like AME) to compress it. AE isn't good at compression; don't use it.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Hilary WoodwardRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 8, 2011 at 12:50:48 am

Thanks so much for the quick and thorough replies!

I'll get more info from my DVD and conference contacts ASAP. I'd made initial inquiries to them, but early in the process, when I'm not sure I was asking questions the right way. (It's like learning a new language to some extent.)

While I have kept graphics in the title safe area, is there an argument to be made for showing a letterboxed video in 4:3 instead of my putting my lovely 16:9 comp into a 4:3 comp and letting it get cropped (that's what you meant by nesting, right, Dave)?

Thanks again...
Hilary


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Michael SzalapskiRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 8, 2011 at 2:17:01 pm

Letterboxed vs. cropped (either of which can be achieved by nesting your main comp in a 4:3 comp) is an aesthetic decision. Would your piece benefit from the cinematic connotations of the widescreen aspect ratio or is it more important that your audience be enveloped in a full-screen wash of color and light? I mean, it's a slight exaggeration of the differences between them, but that's what it comes down to. I've done it both ways, it just depends on your piece.

- 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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Hilary WoodwardRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 8, 2011 at 6:58:39 pm

Got an answer from the DVD intermediary, which isn't entirely helpful.

"There are other videos on the DVD in 720x480, 29bps. In terms of format, the DVD producer said that uncompressed QuickTime or AVI would be preferable."

I wrote back and asked for confirmation on the resolution, but I can render an uncompressed AVI 720 x 480 in AME, right? Though then I'll have black bars on top because of the difference in the PAR?

Sorry if none of these questions make sense...

Hilary


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Dave LaRondeRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 8, 2011 at 10:20:45 pm

You still don't have all the information you need.

A DVD can be either 16x9 OR 4x3. Since it's an NTSC DVD it will be 720x480... but that's the resolution for both 16x9 and 4x3! So you still have to nail that down.

Let's say they DO want 4x3; you can nest your HD comp in an NTSC DV-resolution comp... not the widescreen variety. Then you simply scale the HD comp to fit top-to-bottom -- there's a selection to do that under Layer>Transform>Scale. Since your graphics are already in 4x3 title safe, you DON'T HAVE TO LETTERBOX IF YOU DON'T WANT TO for 4x3.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Hilary WoodwardRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 14, 2011 at 4:49:01 pm

Hi Dave and Michael,

Got some new data for the conference/projection export.

They want a MOV file at 1024 x 768.

So that's Quicktime...

For the Codec, which should I use? Animation?

I can set the resolution manually to 1024 x 768 and square pixels and just have it letterboxed, right? Other settings I should watch out for?

Thanks,
Hilary


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Dave LaRondeRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 14, 2011 at 5:07:27 pm

[Hilary Woodward] "For the Codec, which should I use? Animation?"

Yes, that's a good choice. Every version of Quicktime on the planet can read it, whether it's for Win or Mac.

You'll have to tell the people who get this file that since they didn't specify a delivery codec (probably because they aren't aware of what a codec is), you're delivering a file in a lossless, intermediate codec which will need further conversion for smooth playback.

They may be taken aback by that, which means you'll have deliver the same file in various codecs until you hit on one that works for them. Since you're making a lossless original, it should be a snap to make others in various codecs using Adobe Media Encoder: that's what it's made for.




[Hilary Woodward] "I can set the resolution manually to 1024 x 768 and square pixels and just have it letterboxed, right?"

Yup. Just add the 1920x1080 comp, scale it to fit side to side and you're set. If you want to get fancy, you can add a black solid below the nested comp. It's not necessary, it's fancy.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Hilary WoodwardRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:36:01 pm

Hi Dave,

Another follow-up question. (Sorry, and thank you.) I've rendered the video in Quicktime with the Animation codec (and the audio in AAC), but the file is coming out huge, around 14GB, which is barely transferable, let alone playable.

I tried using H264 as a codec and it's still 600 MB. (The good news, I guess, is that it plays nicely on my machine at that size and looks great. The bad news is that it will still be hard to transfer.)

How do I decrease the file size enough while still maintaining quality enough to have it display at their specified resolution and through a projector? Is it just a matter of reducing the quality on the video settings in AME or do I need to change other settings too? Another codec?

Thanks for any advice you have.
Hilary


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Dave LaRondeRe: Rendering Advice for Multiple Formats
by on Mar 15, 2011 at 10:48:08 pm

[Hilary Woodward] "I tried using H264 as a codec and it's still 600 MB. (The good news, I guess, is that it plays nicely on my machine at that size and looks great. The bad news is that it will still be hard to transfer.)"

This must be the one for the meeting, I guess.

600 MB ain't nothin'. I could go buy a 10-dollar flash drive, put the file on it and Fed Ex it wherever it needs to go.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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