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Smooth playback in AE preview?

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matt gosciminski
Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:36:36 pm

Recently got after effects cs5 and have a camera that outputs avchd which i am aware is a system hog of a format.

I have tried encoding avchd into a variety of different types, mpeg, .mov, .avi, and no matter what I do the video always seems to playback very slowly in after effects preview window. Ill let it run through and build a ram preview and it will go somewhat faster after that, but still not ideal. I have no problem playing avchd files smoothly in wmp however in after effects it seems every type of file lags like hell.

I have a windows 7 64 bit system
4 gigs ddr3 ram 1600
amd quad core 3.0ghz processor
radeon 4850

I would think my system specs would be good enough however i could be wrong.

Am i using a bad codec? is there some setting i should be aware of i havent tinkered with? or is it just normal for after effects to never play back smooth video?

any help is greatly appreciated


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:44:53 pm

First thing: you are WAY light on memory to take full advantage of AE 10. Think about getting 4GB per CORE. Then think about getting some more. I'm not joking.

And although AE 10 is reputed to play nice with HDV video -- unlike previous versions -- I don't know if I've heard any reports about AVCHD. So unless other information to the contrary surfaces, you just might want to convert it to some thing that isn't long-gop / temproally compressed / interframe compressed .... call it what you will. 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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Michael Szalapski
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:06:17 pm

I agree with Dave that encoding into a friendlier codec like Quicktime with PNG codec tends to help. (And I'm on a Windows machine.)

How are you doing the previews? Are you doing it by hitting 0 on the number pad and letting it build before trying to play something back?

In the info panel what is it telling you on playback?

Do you have Matrox, AJA, Kona or any other type of I/O card?

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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matt gosciminski
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:24:01 pm

Hm well being the newb that I am to this software I was not aware of the 0 on the keypad being a pre-build preview option which helps significantly with the workflow. Id like it to be a bit snappier but as dave said I suppose I'm going to need to upgrade my ram for improved performance.

A question on quicktime with png codec however. In media encoder the options only let me go to a 720x480 resolution, so are you saying that if i want to use that format it must stay in sd? I tried to vamp it up to 1080 (source clip is 1080) however media encoder just gives me a fail message.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:43:08 pm

That resolution in Adobe Media Encoder is just weird. I'd nose around to see if there are any weird Encoder settings you need to fool with to get to 1080. I just plain don't know -- never had any problems with it.

Failing that, purchasing the most recent version of Quicktime Pro 7 for Windows (avoid QT 10 like it's the Ebola virus) may just be the best 35 bucks you spend in many a month. When you get it, nose around in Quicktime Preferences to enable Legacy Codecs.

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


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matt gosciminski
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:31:17 pm

would you say that quicktime codecs work better with premiere pro as well? im having some trouble getting video to play back smoothly


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Walter Soyka
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:46:52 pm

[matt gosciminski] "would you say that quicktime codecs work better with premiere pro as well? im having some trouble getting video to play back smoothly"

The animation codec is an "intermediate codec." It's completely lossless, but the data rate is astronomical. Most computers can't play it back smoothly.

Other software developers have developed "visually lossless" codecs that preserve nearly all visual information at manageable data rates. Final Cut Pro has ProRes, and Avid has DNxHD.

Premiere Pro doesn't have a native accelerated codec. I think a lot of Premiere editors are using Cineform (a 3rd party, realtime HD codec), but you will almost assuredly get a better answer on this on the Premiere Pro forum.

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
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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matt gosciminski
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:50:57 pm

thanks for the speedy reply, very helpful


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 5:55:59 pm

[matt gosciminski] "im having some trouble getting video to play back smoothly"

If you only have one hard drive on your machine, you'll have problems. The reason: Premiere's trying to access programming code AND maintain a constant playback bitrate on the same hard drive. Something's got to give. At the very minimum, you need a second hard drive, separate from your system drive, for media files.

But I'm a Final Cut Pro guy -- what do I really know about Premiere? You owe it to yourself to go to the COW's Premiere forum and ask about a good hardware setup.

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


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matt gosciminski
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 6:03:46 pm

yea i have raid set up, two 1 terabyte drives with video on a separate drive from programs


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 9, 2010 at 6:18:52 pm

[matt gosciminski] "i have raid set up, two 1 terabyte drives"

Time to talk to the COW's Premiere folks. That shouldn't be happening. Okay, maybe with Animation-codec quicktime movies it might.

Don't be surprised if they tell you to drop everything you're doing and get more RAM like I did.

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


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Walter Soyka
Re: Smooth playback in AE preview?
on Jun 8, 2010 at 11:30:45 am

[matt gosciminski] "Am i using a bad codec? is there some setting i should be aware of i havent tinkered with? or is it just normal for after effects to never play back smooth video? "

Dave and Michael have pointed out AE-friendlier codecs, AE memory requirements, and RAM preview.

I'd like to add that After Effects will ONLY play media smoothly in RAM preview. AE is not designed as a realtime system, and while adding RAM and transcoding your media will greatly improve performance, AE will never behave like an NLE. RAM previewing to evaluate your work is a normal part of the workflow.

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
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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