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optimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)

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christian svanesoptimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 3:26:43 pm

i've been reading through many of the posts here at the forum, which have been very helpful, but i'm still unclear about what might be the best way to establish a work flow from graphic images that i create in photoshop, to after effects, where they are animated and then imported into final cut pro, where they are merged with video footage to create the final piece.

though i'm using three different applications to create an HD video piece, i believe that the main area of concern lies in after effects, which is why i'm posting this question here.

once in fcp, i've often experienced that the text is quite pixelated, which i have been able to resolve (thanks to help in these forums), but i still find that the text is never as crisp and clear as i would have liked. despite working out issues in regard to field dominance, there remains a bit of undesired fuzziness around the images. there's a link to the almost finished video work towards the bottom of this post.

at present, here is my workflow:

(1) i create a multilayered .psd file in photoshop (CS4), for which the settings are: rgb colors/ 300 dpi / 8 bits/channel / the image dimensions are: 2610 x 774 (resample image setting is at bicubic). there are 24 layers to the image.

(2) this image is imported to after effects (CS4). the settings for my composition are: preset HDV/HDTV 720 29.97 / 1280 x 720 / square pixels / 29.97 fp / full resolution.

(3) the images are resized (down) then animated - most of them are simple repositions, so that the text moves across the screen at various speeds.

(4) this composition is exported, using the Add to Render Queue command, which is then rendered as lossless with alpha channel, generating a .mov file

(5) the .mov file is imported to FCP (5.1.4), where the FCP sequence settings match the AE composition settings. the FCP sequence field dominance is set to none.

(6) from fcp, i export using compressor, again matching up the settings, same dimensions (aspect ratio) using these pre-sets for HD video: H.264 compressor / data rate restricted to 5000 kbits/sec. the frame control settings are on, with the following options: resize filter set to BETTER; output fields set to PROGRESSIVE; deinterlace set to BETTER (motion adaptive)...


the end result is not bad, but it's fairly fuzzy around the text.

here's a link to an example of such fuzziness - the film is non-HD, uploaded to vimeo, but the end results are the same - it's a work that i posted yesterday - and i'm presently working on the HD version of this piece: http://www.vimeo.com/10151957


is there something that i am not doing quite right? that seems evident, yes? any advice for a newbie like me would be greatly appreciated.

one thing that i have yet to gain a full understanding of, is how de-interlacing or interlacing affects the final result. i'm doing my research on this, but any clarifications are welcome.

thank you everyone.

sincerely,
christian


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Todd KoprivaRe: optimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 5:53:42 pm

There are some tips for working with text and other vector graphics in the context of compressed video here:
"Best practices for creating text and vector graphics for video".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
putting the 'T' back in 'RTFM' : After Effects Help on the Web
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If a page of After Effects Help answers your question, please consider rating it. If you have a tip, technique, or link to share---or if there is something that you'd like to see added or improved---please leave a comment.


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Dave LaRondeRe: optimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:31:34 pm

In addition to what Todd writes, you may also want to consider doing the WHOLE THING in AE: bring in all the footage and put it together. I don't see anything there that AE can't handle easily enough. And you simply have to render one file from AE; I'd consider a QT in either PNG or Animation codecs (lossless), or targa or png sequence.

Use FCP as a convenient way to add music and to get things into Compressor. And watch the codec you use in your FCP edit timeline!

And speaking of Compressor, I didn't see any mention of using multipass to make the H.264, which can help a lot. Then there's the matter of bitrate: you're going from something like a 30 MB/sec, high-quality HD file to a 5 MB/sec H.264 file.

As one of our engineers says, "When you compress anything, you're throwing information away. So you have to decide what to throw away." What you have doesn't look bad at all. It may not be what you remember it being in AE, but it still looks good.

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


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christian svanesRe: optimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 9:15:59 pm

thank you, to both of you.

regarding the idea of doing all of the work in AE, i'll see what i can do to improve my AE skills. i like doing my edits in FCP, but if i can edit just as easily in AE, then yeah, that makes a lot of sense.


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Dave LaRondeRe: optimal workflow settings from PS to AE to FCP (for HD video)
by on Mar 15, 2010 at 9:18:18 pm

Oh, if you've got a lot of editing to do in FCP, forget I even made the suggestion. You DO NOT want to edit in AE.

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


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