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After Effects Render Issues

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Brett Putman
After Effects Render Issues
on Jan 22, 2010 at 8:54:12 pm

Okay, frustrating day at work...

I am trying to render out a comp via the render queue as h.264, 1280x720, AAC 44.1. Pretty standard for posting to the web. Every time I try to do this, I get and error message saying the my Transcode and my Output Module settings are conflicting with each other.

I then look at the comments under my H.264 export settings and it says "Set frame size to 720 x 480 pixels in the Stretch options in Output Module before encoding"

I am not sure why this is happening as all of my comps used in the final comps are all set to 1280x720. Why would I have to set it to stretch 720x480, which is a different aspect ratio all together?

If you have anything at all that could help, then PLEASE send it my way.


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Walter Soyka
Re: After Effects Render Issues
on Jan 22, 2010 at 10:15:30 pm

You don't want to use AE to output h264. AE is incapable of multi-pass rendering, which is essential for good-looking h264 compression.

Instead, you should use the "Best Quality" render setting and "Lossless" output module (don't forget to add in audio if necessary), and use a real compression application like Episode, Squeeze, Compressor, ProCoder, etc. to make your final h264 output.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Dave LaRonde
Re: After Effects Render Issues
on Jan 22, 2010 at 10:18:27 pm

I don't know the specific reasons for your AE weirdness, but here are a few fixes to common problems:
Don't use Open GL for rendering
Don't use multiprocessing if you have less than 6 GB RAM... and even with 6, it isn't great. I have 8 GB, and I don't use it.
Got video footage in your comps? Double-check it and 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.

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

[Brett Putman] "I am trying to render out a comp via the render queue as h.264, 1280x720, AAC 44.1."

Now that's what REALLY concerns me. I think your rendered files could look a LOT better. Read on:

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. I recommend asking a few questions at the COW's Compression Techniques forum.


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


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Brett Putman
Re: After Effects Render Issues
on Jan 22, 2010 at 11:12:43 pm

I changed my settings to everything that you have suggested in the posting above. The comp will now render out via the Render Queue. But when I try to take a look at the resulting .mov playback via Quicktime or QuickLook is inconstant and jumpy. The file I am playing back is 412mb, which does not seem too big at all for a MacPro to handle.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: After Effects Render Issues
on Jan 23, 2010 at 10:07:06 pm

[Brett Putman] "The file I am playing back is 412mb, which does not seem too big at all for a MacPro to handle."

That's not the limiting factor: it's your hard drive. It can't keep up with the high bitrate of a high-quality file. It simply can't push out the number of bits you need for smooth playback.

Ever hear of a RAID? You hook a bunch of hard drives together, use special formatting to make them record files across one another, then play them back, utilizing the individual hard drives' combined bit rate to create a much higher bit rate.

If you don't have a RAID -- which I deduce you don't -- you can reassure yourself that everything's okay by using something like Apple's Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder Sorenson Squeeze or even Quicktime Pro to encode that high-quality file as womething like an mp4 or h.264, which is highly-compressed, lower bitrate, and which a normal hard drive probably can play back smoothly.

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


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