Best Video Formats to Import to and Export From AE
Okay, so my question pertains to the video formats to import to and export from After Effects. I am currently using the newest version of After Effects CC on a Mac running Yosetime.
As a novice user who is predominately making fan edits for television shows, almost all my source footage is from television shows bought directly from iTunes that I have stripped the DRM from for personal use (so that I can use it in programs such as After Effects). The files are all H.264.
Since I tend to deal with only short clips from each episode of footage, I use a program called Avidemux to trim the episodes without re-encoding them (it does this by cutting the footage at I-frames). This way, I can just import a thirty-second clip into After Effects instead of a 45-minute episode.
I have read on here that using H.264 footage in After Effects can actually slow some effects down, as AE has to reconstruct each frame from the I-frames, and that using uncompressed footage is better. So my question is thus: for my use case, is encoding my H.264 files to ProRes in AME before importing them into AE the way to go, or is there a better codec to use? Also, is the difference between 422 and 422 HQ here basically negligible, or could it actually make a slight difference in quality? I want to keep the file as lossless as possible, but I don’t want to take up extra storage space completely unnecessarily either.
And speaking of storage space, when I am completely done editing the project and am going to archive it, can I use the Replace Footage option in the project tab to replace the ProRes file with the original mp4 file and have it still work perfectly in After Effects with any effects I have added to the composition (including the rotobrush)? Since I won’t be tweaking the project that much at that point, being able to save space in the archived version would definitely be a plus, but I wouldn’t do it if it could mess with my project at all.
Secondly, I often make gifs, so sometimes I will be doing all the colorings and the subtitles and effects and such things in After Effects and then importing the video file into Photoshop to export as a gif. In this case, is ProRes also the best export option from After Effects, or is there a better codec to use? And if ProRes is best, I would use 422 or 422 HQ unless I needed alpha, in which case I would have to use 4444, correct? (I occasionally need to export footage with transparent bars, so this situation is not entirely unheard of.) I know gifs are only eight bit color anyway, but as a go-between format I’d like to keep as much quality as possible and only lose it on the final conversion to gif.
Sorry for all the questions, I just want to sort of perfect my workflow here before I start diving even further into After Effects.
Use ProRes 422 in AE. Import it that way and render it that wwy. HQ is unnecessary. It just makes file sizes bigger.
If you're just trimming up clips you ought to look into using Premiere Pro. It would be a LOT faster.
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA
[Mayka Mack] "perfect my workflow"
There is no such thing as a perfect workflow haha!
Just to be sure we are not mixing a terms, let's clear up some details first :) Video codecs are measured in five general ways:
1. Raster Size (also called Image Size)
4. bit depth
5. frame rate
We say "raster" and not image size because in graphics applications like AE, we can use vector objects also. Those raster images can be displayed in the image size determined by the display. I won't belabor that issue anymore, but it's worth looking into.
Codec is the compression/decompression of the image, but there are two basic kinds: intraframe and long Group of Pictures (GOP). H.264 is usually long gop, when you pop it into AE and it renders an effect, it will render to an I-MPEG format anyway, so transcoding doesn't necessarily save you time or space -- although you can set your preferences so AE and PP share those files and that saves time. Uncompressed footage is so friggin huge, there is no good way to deal with it unless you buy some beefy computers and drive space.
Aliasing is the ratio of luminance to chrominance in the analog video (YCbCr) signal that will be digitized into RGB.
Bit depth is how many bits are in each RGB color channel.
And now we sound ridiculous when we talk about video: 1920x1080 APR422 LT 4:2:0 8-bit 23.976. or 1920x1080 H.264 4:2:2 10-bit 29.97...and so on.
[Mayka Mack] "So my question is thus: for my use case, is encoding my H.264 files to ProRes in AME before importing them into AE the way to go, or is there a better codec to use? Also, is the difference between 422 and 422 HQ here basically negligible, or could it actually make a slight difference in quality? I want to keep the file as lossless as possible, but I don’t want to take up extra storage space completely unnecessarily either.
Since you are ripping h.264 (which is probably 4:2:0 at 8-bit), you gain nothing by using apr because you are asking the computer to interpolate any missing information, and moving from 1920x1080 h.264 4:2:0 long gop 8-bit to 1920x1080 apr 4:2:2 i-frame 8-bit means nothing.
Be sure your frame rates are all the same.
In other workflows, where the camera YCbCr (the analog video being digitized) is captured/digitized in 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 then using a different flavor of APR will add noticeable quality.