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Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor

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Joe MoyaPuppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 3, 2010 at 3:07:48 am

The puppet tool produces poor quality video for HD when camera is zoomed into the video.

I have an character created in PS that is being animated in AE with the puppet tool. The animation is pretty complicated and includes many layers and pre-comps. The original size of the PS character is 1440x1080 to match the AE size comp. settings and layers. No proxy files are used to create the puppet tool animated video.

SPECIAL NOTE: The problem ONLY appears after render... the preview window/view does NOT show this degradation even when at full resolution (hmmm... will "Save RAM Preview" do a better job than rendering it normally in the render queue?).

Solutions I have tried (but, didn't work):

1) ...increased to max number of triangles.
2) ...tried to monkey around with the camera options (...making sure Depth of Field was off, messed with Focus Distance, Bur Lvel, etc.)
2) ...tried to precomp and then render...using NUMEROUS various video codecs... in fact I spent a whole day looking for a render solution using ever combination of codec I could using AE, Avid and Prem. Pro).
3) ...tried various combination of layers to see if that made a difference (incl. combination of opacity levels to see that helped - yea, I am getting desperate).
4) ...eliminated all other effects (to narrow it down to the puppet tool as being the problem).

There appears to be no blur option with the puppet tool.... unless, there is something I am missing.

As it stands, the puppet tool and rendered to HD doesn't work very well with camera zooms.

See attached pics to see comparitive loss of detail between using the puppet tool (i.e., w puppet) and no puppet tool used (i.e., no puppet). SORRY BUT UPLOADING OF PICS FROM THIS SITE DID NOT WORK.... BUT, BASICALLY USING THE PUPPET TOOL MAKES IT LOOK PIXALATED AND WITH JAGGED EDGED LINES...


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Dave LaRondeRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 4, 2010 at 8:05:51 pm

[Joe Moya] "The puppet tool produces poor quality video for HD when camera is zoomed into the video. "

I'm not surprised. Any time you scale up ANYTHING that's bitmapped -- and zooming in on an image isn't any different from scaling up in terms of pixels -- it's not going to look sharp, and it will get aliased.




[Joe Moya] "The original size of the PS character is 1440x1080 to match the AE size comp. settings and layers... The problem ONLY appears after render... "

1440x1080 is the resolution of the absolute WORST kind of video you can use in AE, HDV. Your video may be doing you no favors, particularly since you see it after a render. Read on:

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.


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


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Joe MoyaRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 1:07:55 am

Stock answer doesn't work this time...

Upscaling doesn't work if you go from a smaller pixel dimensioned sized original to a close camera shot (i.e., zoom)... however, it works fine if you have a detailed enough original source.... which is why the original source created in PSP is matched to the AE comps comp size settings.

I think the bottom line is that Adobe products in general don't work well with HD anything. And for that matter, there aren't many compositing packages that do very well with HD size work that gets complicated and lengthy. (...heaven forbid if you work with RED files). So... I guess it's really best to say that 1440x1080 size comps are bad for RAM intensive user like After Effects...but, works "OK"/better in Nuke (and, I hear Combustion as well).

At any rate...

The render solution is to eliminate the use of OpenGL when using certain combination of Render Composition Settings.

The combination that works is Quality Settings with Resolution Full (or current settins IF the settings in the comp are Full).... other combination with or without OpenGL doesn't work with the Puppet Tool (...see my guess as to why this happens below).

Bottom line:

This problem is pretty much another example of OpenGL not working with certain effects (such as Movie Looks... which comes first to mind). And, it doesn't really have anything to do with the camera zoom. In fact, what I think is happening is that the memory buffer is going from "best" compressor option to an "adaptive" filter to compensate for memory overload from compressing a large frame using Puppet Tool. This is why forcing the render settings to "full" keeps the compressor set to "best". This "full/best" to "adaptive" compression change caused by the Puppet Tool results in a degradation in the frame quality... it is not the zoom.

Now, my problem is working with 9 hr. long render times for a 1 min. 20 sec. video without OpenGL active... all because of one effect - Puppet Tool. I am still scratching my head on solving the long render time problem.

Any suggestions? ...looking at using cineform... but, don't have any experience with that application. In the past my very beefy render computer/mini render farm hasn't had any significant problems until this complex animation project showed up (and, it's a 2D ANIMATION - no less... ugh... I haven't had problems with my 3D animations like I have had with this 2D project). I guess I need to get more experience with AE and 2D animation stuff.... for the past 4 days, I've been getting waaay more experience that I ever wanted.

FWIW Joe


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Dave LaRondeRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 6:32:35 pm

[Joe Moya] "Stock answer doesn't work this time... the original source created in PSP..."

Okay, if you're 100% certain that this footage is NOT in a temporally-compressed codec, then fine. But if it's taken from a PSP disc, and it's 1440x1080, I have a hunch it's h.264 or mpeg2... and if it is, you'll continue to have problems.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Joe Moya] "This problem is pretty much another example of OpenGL not working with certain effects..."

Well, here's a Very Good Clue about the usefulness of Open GL: The guys at Adobe turn off Open GL when they render. 'Nuff said, eh?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Joe Moya] "I think the bottom line is that Adobe products in general don't work well with HD anything."

Let's put on our thinking caps for a moment, shall we? On average, a typical frame of HD video contains FIVE TIMES AS MANY PIXELS as a frame of SD video. What do you expect from off-the shelf software, miracles or something?

On this score I have absolutely no compassion for your predicament. If your definition of "too slow" is actually "not quite instantaneous", well, boo-hoo. I've been through the times of running AE 3.1 on a MAC Power PC with OS 8.6, 512 MB RAM and a single 266 mHz processor. I lived. I put up with 8-hour renders for 30 seconds of video. I used the many AE workarounds, and perhaps you ought to start using them:

http://help.adobe.com/en_US/AfterEffects/9.0/WSF13D6BED-C53B-408a-B2D6-C8B4...

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[Joe Moya] "...Now, my problem is working with 9 hr. long render times for a 1 min. 20 sec. video without OpenGL active... all because of one effect - Puppet Tool. I am still scratching my head on solving the long render time problem...."

This is another piece of evidence that you're actually using temporally-compressed footage. Overly-long renders are indicative of that... and that is indeed an overly-long render.

It's either that, or you're trying to use Multiprocessing in AE, but you don't have nearly enough RAM. If that's the case, you need to read the following -- the WHOLE thing:
http://blogs.adobe.com/toddkopriva/2009/12/performance-tip-dont-starve-yo.h...


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


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Joe MoyaRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:07:43 pm

Well... if I am using temporal footage... then, After Effects created it...

This is a 100% AE created footage. The source is a PSP file... that's it. ALL animation is created with the Puppet Tool and Camera movements... there is NO other source of animation in this project (temporal or othewise).

The slow render or failure to render is caused by these effect elements:

1) top on the list... and major cause... Puppet Tool.
2) followed by: Shadows, Color Correction, Lights, and Camera.

The slow render time and poor quality of results is caused by OpenGL in combination with the Puppet Tool.

This loss of quality could be caused by the video source... but, if it is it... then it was created by Adobe since there is no external animation used except what is done by AE. Somehow I doubt this, since I have a perfectly nice HD quality output when I eliminated the OpenGL in combination with Puppet Tool...OpenGL works nicely until it hit the frame where the Puppet Tool effect is applied. To me, this rules out temporal compressed footage (...much less the fact there is NO externally created footage used).

I am not looking for instantanious anything... but, I certainly am not expecting total render failures or loss of quality in video either... which is what happens when I try to do the project in a simple and typical AE work flow. A LOT of juggling around of this project has been done just to get it to render to a final format in HD quality.

The final result seems to be this... Puppet Tool dumb downs the video quality when rendering approaches max. memory useage during render (..in fact, the actual error message during render indicates the fault to be blur... but no blurs are used... nor DOF).

The way to over come this render failure and/or poor quality render results is to fix the compression settings as "Full" (or "Current Settings" if Full is chosen in the project)... "Best" settings does not work because... (I'm guessing) is that it defaults to an "Adaptive" resolution/compression to save memory. The "Adaptive/Dumb Downed" resolution reduces the videos quality (and, not a by product of the zooming of camera).

Of course, this "Full" resolution typically results in render failures because of low memory. The solution this problem is to go to the Secret Pref. and purge the video frames. The net results is a nice looking video that takes a very long time to render. I can handle long renders, but failure to render is a bit hard to deal with...

More RAM would be great, except for one big limitation. The max. amount of RAM that can be used with a 32bit XP is 3G's... I currently have 6G of low latency RAM in Dual Quad 7i 3.2Ghz chip in an ASUS mobo using Adaptec Raid Controllers with Dual RAID 0 setups with 15k rpm Fujitsu e-sata HD's. Just short of a full fledge Render Farm... you can't get a faster CPU, Raid Controller and HD combination than what I use. 64 bit will take care of the RAM issue in the future...but, until then... everyone is stuck with 32bit with 3G limit of RAM. AE biggest limitation is that it very RAM dependent. And, with HD size frames this poses big problems.

As for solving the long render time problem with the RAM-use intensive Puppet Tool is not truely solveable unless you want crappy looking results that is created when using OpenGL. I think Adobe has a lot of issues to work out with regard to HD stuff... and, quite honestly other compositing software can do a marginally better job dealing with HD assuming you have the hardware to work with HD source media. Hopefully, CS5 may have a better handle on HD size file (or, not... lot depends upon how the competitors deal with the same 64 bit change).





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Dave LaRondeRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 8:51:04 pm

[Joe Moya] "The source is a PSP file... that's it. "

Oh, yoo hoo! That is precisely my point!

If by the term "PSP" you mean video from Sony's Play Station Portable or similar gizmo and NOT a file from Corel's Paint Shop Pro, the chances of the file being temporally compressed are very good indeed. If this stuff actually is video from a game, just do yourself a favor and convert it to something else. Since I'm a Mac Guy, I instantly go for a Quicktime movie in either the PNG or Animation codecs to preserve image quality. If you're on a Windows box, I guess uncompressed AVI would do the trick.

If it is a Paint Shop Pro file on the other hand, then I'm at a loss to explain what's going on. Other than this: turn off multiprocessing. You don't have enough RAM to use it, and doing so only makes life more painful.

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


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Joe MoyaRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:24:51 pm

Crap!!!... I have GOT to get a new pair of glasses...

I just realized that I consitently made the mistake in my posts of reference PSP instead of what I meant... I meant PSD ... NOT PSP... ugh! Frustration is getting the best of me... for sure.

The animated character was created in Adobe's Photoshop... The animation was done on a Photoshop file in AE using the Puppet Tool.

I have been lost for the past 5 days trying to figure this thing out... but through LOTS of trial and error... it appears to be a combination "OpenGL and RAM Memory Limits" when dealing with HD qualilty with AE. It was an issue that had a ton of various potential solutions once the problem was identified (which is no simple task by itself).

IMHO, this sort of problem is caused by AE's inability to effectively use and handle Hard Drive cached memory in lieu of RAM memory. And, with large Hi. Def. video files and frame sizes this becomes a bigger issue once the project starts to grow in length.

The good news is that I fixed it and the cause was isolated to exactly what I have previously posted as a solution... or else, the problem would still exist.

Lesson learned... be very careful when building long projects that use HD size frames when using the Puppet Tool. If anything, these series of posts may be useful to some other poor soul who unwittingly delves into the dark world of HD 2D animation using Adobe's Puppet Tool in CS4.


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Dave LaRondeRe: Puppet Tool and HD format quality of video is poor
by on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:49:20 pm

[Joe Moya] "IMHO, this sort of problem is caused by AE's inability to effectively use and handle Hard Drive cached memory in lieu of RAM memory. "

That's pretty much it. AE has always been a RAM hog; disk caching is for those who can't put enough RAM into their machines... like my mostly-useless Win XP box at home.

With 64-bit OS's, AE gets even piggier.

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


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