I built some lower thirds in After Effects over some ProRes 1080i upper first footage. Instead of rendering out a 16:9 720x480 8 bit 422 file of the footage+titles and converting that to an M2V in compressor like I normally would, I decided to go straight out of AE using the MPEG2-DVD setting. It's over 2 hours of material, so I decided that I would try to skip the Uncompressed intermediate. The final M2V file has some pixelation and vertical artifacting in it. I have my After Effects settings as: Quality 5, CBR 5mbps, 16x9 widescreen, progressive. I'm using AE CS3.
Is rendering out of AE as M2V just a bad idea, or has anyone else gotten good results from doing so?
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.
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