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AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish

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Taylor Harris
AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 4:39:55 am

Hello- I'm a novice at AE, as I use it for fun not professionally. I'll start by saying I've googled my problem and read a dozen threads about similar problems, and I do not believe my situation to be an issue of the speed of my computer vs the data rate required for live preview etc. I'm dealing with small video files, and the issues I'm having are regarding the rendered output not the preview within AE.

That said, here's the problem: I begin with source.mov video file, which plays perfectly when viewed in quicktime. I import this file into AE CS3 via the file menu. I drag-and-drop the video file form the project pane onto the new composition button, resulting in a comp called "source". Quicktime and AE both identify the FPS for this video to be 23.976, and the composition settings tell me that my comp is the same.

For diagnostic purposes, I'm not making any alterations to the video at this point- just rendering it as is. In the render settings dialogue, I tell it to "use this comp's framerate", quality= best, resolution= full. I set the video format to Quicktime, Animation format with quality set to 100. Every time I render this video file (or different, related files), the resulting file appears choppy. For example, instead of it playing frames in sequential order like 1,2,3,4,5,6, it seems to be playing 1,1,3,3,5,5. I have advanced through the video frame by frame to verify the video was rendered this way and not just slow playback. The video I have been trouble shooting with is only a few seconds long and 1 or 2 megs after all.

I have tried exporting with different formats, and tinkering with other options I don't even understand that well- but I haven't been able to see any changes for better or worse. I'm just looking to have a smooth video exported in the end. Any help would be GREATLY appriciated.


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Larry S. Evans II
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 2:20:33 pm

I suspect the problem here is the "Animation" codec you are using for QT output. Animation is one of the worst compressors out there, designed years ago to create small clips for use as part of interfaces or displays, on machines that ran 15fps at best.

Try setting the compression settings to none and see if you get the same result. If so, then you may have some setting regarding video pulldown that is off. The nearest standard comp setting to the frame rate your are specifying is NTSC D1/DV Widescreen (23.976), or NTSC 24p.

If for some reason you've got a setting to remove pulldown or render fields it could be resulting in getting the two frames for every odd frame. The defaults are off for this, but your source video may have set the comp up differently. You can check by looking at the Render Settings when going to render out the clip.

Hope this helps.

Larry S. Evans II

Executive Producer

Digital I Productions


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Dave LaRonde
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 2:44:14 pm

[Larry S. Evans II] "Animation is one of the worst compressors out there, designed years ago to create small clips for use as part of interfaces or displays, on machines that ran 15fps at best."

I don't know about that "worst" bit. I use Animation all the time -- you get great video quality, it supports alpha channels and by virtue of its having been around for such a long time, every Quicktime-equipped computer on the planet can read the files. You'll probably have to convert it to something else, but hey -- Animation is lossless, so it's no big deal.

I'll grant you there are other lossless codecs out there, but very few are universally accepted the way Animation is. My analogy is that the newer lossless codecs are universal in the way English is, but Animation is universal in the way Latin is.

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


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Larry S. Evans II
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 2:52:41 pm

David:

You know what, you're right. I was thinking of Cinepak. My bad.

That being the case, how would you account for the repeated frames being described here? If the compressor isn't doing it, then wouldn't you think it's some odd sort of pull-down error?

Frankly I always get a head-ache when I try to puzzle out pull-down schemes, but this would seem to fall into that category more than any other. -R

Larry S. Evans II

Executive Producer

Digital I Productions


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Taylor Harris
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 2:54:45 pm

Thanks for your responses guys. After about 5 hours of searching these forums and the web I finally found my answer.

The answer came from Dave LaRonde in a separate thread:

"Dave's Stock Answer #1:

If the footage you imported into AE is any kind of the following -- footage in an HDV acquisition codec, MPEG1, MPEG2, mp4, m2t, H.261 or H.264 -- you need to convert it to a different codec.

These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.

In order to maintain peak rendering efficiency, AE needs complete information for each and every frame. But because these kinds of footage contain only partial information, AE freaks out, resulting in a wide variety of problems. "

I assumed that my source.mov file was in perfect condition since it played perfectly, however it used to be a .mp4 file which AE could not read properly (not sure if thats standard behavior or not). So I ended up exporting source.mp4, and using h.264 for the codec. Once I reverted back to the original .mp4 file and exported with animation at 100% quality my problem seems to have gone away.

Though unfortunately now I am out of hard drive space, and I suppose that is something none of you can help me with. Haha. Thank you very much for your time.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 27, 2009 at 3:07:09 pm

[Taylor Harris] "After about 5 hours of searching these forums and the web I finally found my answer. "

Congratulations to you for your perseverance! Very few people would pursue an answer with such doggedness, and I'm glad for you that you found it.

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


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Todd Kopriva
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Aug 28, 2009 at 5:25:13 am

A side note on the topic of the Animation codec for intermediate files: I've recently been using the PNG codec within QuickTime containers instead of the Animation codec. The PNG codec is lossless at the highest quality settings---just like Animation---but the file sizes are about half for photorealistic subject matter. (Animation still wins for images with large expanses of flat color, since that's what the Animation codec's RLE scheme is optimized for.)

So, for an 8-bpc lossless intermediate codec, I recommend giving PNG in a QuickTime container a spin.

(I am not, of course, recommending either of these as a playback or final delivery format.)

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Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
putting the 'T' back in 'RTFM' : After Effects Help on the Web
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Edward Halitsky
Re: AE Renders appear choppy/sluggish
on Mar 13, 2011 at 9:40:40 pm

Hello,

I am a longer-time lurker, first-time poster on Creative Cow.

I also encountered the same issue as OP when constructing 50+ Special Effects for my film "The Brave Fighters." (View entire film for free: http://www.TheBraveFighters.com

My solution: Verify that that Pixel-Aspect Ratio and FPS are consistent throughout all Primary and Nested AE Compositions.

Thanks.

-Edward


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