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AE not seeing alpha on it's own exports

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Zak RayAE not seeing alpha on it's own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:38:13 pm

Hi all,

Probably something simple, but it seems that AE doesn't want to see an alpha channel on clips that I've exported. That is to say, I export a clip (which I can then drag into PS to verify that it does indeed have an alpha), then bring it back to AE, where it doesn't see the alpha. The alpha interpretation settings are also grayed out when I attempt to change them.

Any thoughts? Thanks!


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Dave LaRondeRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:49:12 pm

First, double-check your comp to confirm there actually is transparency present by changing the background to the familiar Photoshop gray checkerboard pattern. The switch is at the bottom of the comp window.

Then you need to render in a codec that supports alpha channels. I'm a Mac guy, so I'd go with Quicktime's Animation or PNG codecs. You're in Windows Land? Ask somebody else.

Finally, you need to change the settings to include the alpha channel. Add the comp to the AE Render Queue. Click on the Output Module settings. Change it to Quicktime Movie, Animation or PNG codecs, Millions of Colors +, RGB+Alpha, Straight or Premultiplied.

This last setting is a choice. You need to pick the right one for the application where your alpha channel movie will be used. It won't look right if you make the wrong choice.

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


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Zak RayRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:54:40 pm

Thanks Dave. As I indicated, there's definitely an alpha there when I export, because Photoshop sees it when I open it there. I've been using ProRes4444, but I don't think the problem is the export settings.


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:56:24 pm

Have you tried a different codec?
What version of AE are you running?

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior Compositor/VFX Artist
Bucharest, Romania


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Zak RayRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:00:55 pm

Hm, tried Animation and it seems to work. That said, I'd still like to be able to use ProRes if possible.

Running AE CS5.


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:05:05 pm

post this on the Adobe site - maybe it's a bug in CS5

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior Compositor/VFX Artist
Bucharest, Romania


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Zak RayRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:08:47 pm

You mean as a bug report?


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Dave LaRondeRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:11:40 pm

[Tudor "Ted" Jelescu] "maybe it's a bug in CS5"

It's certainly been known to happen! Here's a link to Adobe's bug report page:
https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform

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


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Dave JohnsonRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 7:35:21 pm

Just FYI, Dave, the Animation and PNG codecs aren't exclusive to Mac Land (nor are any other standard codecs I can think of besides ProRes).


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Dave LaRondeRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 7:50:48 pm

That's true. It's just that many Windows users I know never even consider fooling around with quicktime. They seem to think the world revolves around AVIs and Windows Media.

Maybe I just know the wrong people.

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


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Dave JohnsonRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:09:51 pm

You're definitely talking to the wrong people, my friend ... even though I probably spend more time overall in Windows Land, I wouldn't even think of doing pro video work with source files other than QuickTime, regardless of which platform I'm on at a particular moment.

Perhaps that's partially because I started on Macs and still work on both platforms daily, but I think it's more because several of the folks I learned from stressed the importance of WindowsLand/MacLand dual-citizenship and it's hard to accomplish that without good use of QuickTime ... plus QT just makes the most sense for pro video.


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Walter SoykaRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:31:39 pm

[Dave Johnson] "plus QT just makes the most sense for pro video"

So much production infrastructure relies on Quicktime -- it's just too bad that you have to cross your fingers and hope for the best that the next element in the chain will interpret the gamma correctly! I keep hoping Apple will appoint a Chief Gamma Officer to sort it all out, but I think I'll be waiting a long time.

Every now and then I wonder if my work wouldn't be easier with an all-RGB DPX sequence workflow like Smoke uses.

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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David JohnsonRe: AE not seeing alpha on its own exports
by on Aug 20, 2010 at 3:23:02 am

Yes, good point, Walter.

I was speaking in more simplistic terms of the only file format I can think of that's usable in any video software and many non-video programs, yet without as much headache as similar file formats like AVI, and with far more control ... particularly valuable attributes in the cross-platform world I've always preferred.

True, the QuickTime format isn't perfect, although it probably could be if [1] there were a Chief Codec Officer, along with the CGO, to get them all to play nicely together and [2] it's development team hadn't all but abandoned the pro video market that made QT dominant in the first place and redirected attention to the iTunes market.

Unfortunately, it's been years now since I've done anything other than watch others work with programs like Smoke ... and rarely even get that close anymore so I can't speak on the DPX workflow.


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Walter SoykaRe: AE not seeing alpha on it's own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:14:22 pm

See Todd Kopriva's blog on the alpha channel / ProRes 4444 bug and workaround:


ProRes 4444 and ProRes 422 in After Effects CS5

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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Zak RayRe: AE not seeing alpha on it's own exports
by on Aug 19, 2010 at 3:36:05 pm

Wonderful, thanks Walter!


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