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James Hoback
After Effects Audio Problems
on May 27, 2010 at 2:18:07 pm

I'm rendering a 1 minute compositions with audio tracks mixed in my time line. When I preview my audio in the comp, everything sounds fine, including all my cross fades.

When I render it as an H264 for client review, the picture looks fine, but the audio is messed up. Any where there is a cross fade, instead of being clean, the audio dips in volume.

I've tried everything and it is driving me nuts. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: After Effects Audio Problems
on May 27, 2010 at 4:09:54 pm

Sorry, but you've just learned a hard AE lesson: when it comes to mixing audio, AE makes a wonderful pipe wrench. In other words, don't use AE to mix audio. It isn't built for the task.

Use anything BUT AE -- your video editing application would do just fine.

And sorry again, I don't know if there's any way to transfer the work you've already put into mixing into a different application.

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


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James Hoback
Re: After Effects Audio Problems
on May 28, 2010 at 12:38:58 pm

Thank you very much for your advice. I'm always confused by this, because what I'm animating is driven by a music mix. As I worked with the client, we would come up with different ideas for the music mix and voice over placement, so it all had to be done in After Effects. I'm not quite sure how other people manage to accomplish the final mix.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: After Effects Audio Problems
on May 28, 2010 at 3:15:31 pm

You won't often see me write this, but I'd try an export. Export an AIFF separate from the movie.

OR: export each audio layer from AE separately, and just do the remix in your NLE.

I don't know why AE's having such a problem with this. But there are common causes for AE Weirdness:

• If you run AE 9, you need the free upgrade to AE 9.0.2
• If you're using Open GL to accelerate renders, turn it off
• If you're using multiprocessing with less than 6GB RAM, turn it off
• And the #1 cause of Weirdness, the nature of any video footage in the comp! 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, AVCHD, mp4, mts, 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'm a Mac guy, so I like to convert to Quicktime movies in the Animation or PNG codecs; both are lossless. I'll use Apple's Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder or Quicktime Pro to do it.


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


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James Hoback
Re: After Effects Audio Problems
on May 28, 2010 at 3:20:27 pm

Dave, thank you so much. I took your advice and rendered each audio clip separately and wrote down the time code for the cross fades.

Thanks again. Take care.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: After Effects Audio Problems
on May 28, 2010 at 3:36:41 pm

I also see you're trying to make an H.264 straight out of AE. Bad idea. Here's why:

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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