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Getting flicker on h.264 rendering

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Shane Robinson
Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 23, 2010 at 5:45:34 pm

Hello All:

I am getting a jerky animation and a flicker when I render from AE to h.264 with the render que as well as if I render to an Animation MOV and then try to use the media encoder.

It renders fine as flv and animation mov... but when it renders to h.264 it is jerky and flickers opacity, almost as if the frame rate is off or something.

I have not had problems until today, it has rendered flawlessly in h.264 since start of the project.

It's a custom animation for software so here are the specs:

1024x768 @ 30fps

Running on After Effects CS5 on a MacPro with 8Gb of RAM and 2x2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon.

Any tips on how to correct this?


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Shane Robinson
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 23, 2010 at 8:38:58 pm

does it help to know that it's being rendered as H.264 to an mp4 container? rather than a mov w/ h.264 encoding.


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 24, 2010 at 4:08:05 am

[Shane Robinson] "oes it help to know that it's being rendered as H.264 to an mp4 container? rather than a mov w/ h.264 encoding."

No it doesn't help much at all.

What kind of moves are you doing to the parts or the entire footage? Is part of the image jerky or is it the entire image?
Which software and monitor are you using to view the rendered movie?
What did you have for breakfast?
What were your Render and Output Module settings?
What are your source footage? Formats? CODECs?

Details such as these are more helpful.

Cheers
RoRK

Sell your AEPs with broadcastGEMs' DVD series of templates. Click here for more


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Shane Robinson
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:49:15 pm

OK, so it temporarily corrected itself after several restarts (about 4 or 5) but has occurred again today.

Moves?
-Mostly just adjustments in opacity and very basic mask reveals. These are simple animation with no video. The entire image is not jerky, just the items that are moving or changing opacity. If it is an opacity transition fading one background out to another then the entire background image which is a 4 frame step from 0-100% opacity appears to flicker on each step in that range, so it looks like it is blinking rather than fading. This happens for type that fades in as well and any other graphics. The masking animations are jerky as well looking like the edge of the mask is wavering forward and backward on the wipe as it advances.

Software:
OSX 10.6.4
After Effects CS5(updated to current release) to build and render. Quicktime to view mp4 animation. Monitor is just an apple cinema display, final output is for computer screen viewing, not broadcast monitor.

Breakfast:
What breakfast? It used to be a monster energy drink and a smoke in Uni but that was a long time ago and now it's any kind of caffine around (but thanks for caring ;) ).

*Render Settings (from AE render que): Best
Quality-Best
Resolution-Full
Size-1024x768
Proxy-No
Effects-Current Settings
Disk Cache-Read Only
Color Depth-Current Settings
Frame Blending-For checked layers (no layers have frame blending enabled)
Field Render-Off
Pulldown-Off
Motion Blur-On for checked layers (being used on some layers)
Use OpenGL: Off
Duration-0:00:35:28
Frame Rate-30.00(comp)

*Output Module: H.264 standard preset
Format-H.264
Output Info-MainConcept H.264 Video
Bitrate: 3.00 Mbps
Output Audio: 48.000kHz/Stereo

No Source footage, being built from PSD files with square AR

Feedback appreciated.


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 25, 2010 at 5:44:49 pm

Hmmmm, it's hard to tell what's causing the issues.

Try rendering to another CODEC like Video or Animation (82% quality) and see if you have similar issues. I would also set my renders at 25fps as there's no need to push the extra 5 fps since the rendered movie going to be played back on a computer monitor and you're not dealing with sources originating from a video capture. I would also remove the opacity keyframes just to ascertain if that's what causing the issues.

HTH
RoRK

Sell your AEPs with broadcastGEMs' DVD series of templates. Click here for more


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 25, 2010 at 6:39:37 pm

[Shane Robinson] "Duration-0:00:35:28
Frame Rate-30.00(comp)

*Output Module: H.264 standard preset
Format-H.264
Output Info-MainConcept H.264 Video"


I'd double-check the frame rate of your comp. Unless you have ABSOLUTELY NO intentions of going to videotape or DVD, the frame rate in your comp -- not what it says in the Output Module settings -- should be 29.97... and it MUST be 29.97 if you have any video in it.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of rendering H.264 straight out of AE. AE can't do multipass encoding, which makes a big difference in image quality. I'd render using a lossless codec, then use a different application to encode to H.264.

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


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Shane Robinson
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 26, 2010 at 3:34:46 pm

Thank you for all your responses.

Unfortunately I was not given a choice on the specs of this animation. It is for software and the programmer seemed very adamant about the 30fps and that resolution. Not my cup of tea but I took his word at what he needed.

I seem to have corrected it by setting the codec profile from main to high, I watched the recent video in the featured content explaining the intricacies of H.264 for some reason changing this setting seems to have put everything back in order. I think I will re-watch that lecture to see exactly what the different specifications affect.

To answer your questions about rendering out to a higher format with the animation setting (I did this after researching the topic and finding that to be in many posts you have here which seem to solve the OP's problem, so thank you for your online presence Dave!):
I did that initially after this error, it worked perfectly fine... however, it was still giving the same error when rendering H.264 from Adobe Media Encoder using the Animation mov file as a source.

I am still unsure about what is causing it since it seems to be an issue across multiple programs when it occurs. It would appear to be something in the encoding software if it occurs in both AE and the Media Encoder.

Thanks for your responses.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:09:52 pm

[Shane Robinson] "Unfortunately I was not given a choice on the specs of this animation. It is for software and the programmer seemed very adamant about the 30fps and that resolution."

If there is indeed video in this problem comp, you'll have to conform it to 30 fps in the interpret footage settings.

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


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Greg Bores
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Sep 1, 2010 at 1:41:08 pm

Dave, what would YOU use to encode to H.264?

Greg Bores
Senior Product Rendering and Animation Specialist
Entegris, Inc

(Still have a lot to learn)


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Sep 1, 2010 at 2:31:04 pm

There are many software solutions for making H.264. 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.

Since I have both Compressor and Quicktime Pro at work, I use 'em both. I can't see any difference. At home I have Adobe Media Encoder and Quicktime Pro, and I use both of them, too.

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


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Shane Robinson
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Sep 1, 2010 at 3:23:13 pm

So my solution seems to be to render a AfterEffect h.264 mp4 with the above settings, for general proofing, QA etc. If the flicker is present, which is present throughout the animation if occurring, it does not matter if it is rendered to an animation quality mov and recompressed in Media Encoder, that issue still occurs.

The only technique that seems to work is to adjust the "Set Keyframe Distance" on the output module setting prior to rendering. The default when checked is a value of 33 frames and generally it is fine. But if the flicker occurs I can seem to correct it by adjusting the distance to something around 30 frames and it renders out perfectly fine aside from whatever file size increase occurs.

My question to you Dave, and anyone else with the answer, is how does the keyframe distance effect this rendering? It is some sort of interpolation in converting to h.264 based on number of total frames, or render complexity?

I could understand shorter keyframe distances resulting in higher quality renders with larger filesizes but does the default create some sort of conflict with FPS and total frames rendered? And is there a common rule of say keeping the keyframe distances within so many frames of your FPS or the like?

Thanks.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Sep 1, 2010 at 3:40:31 pm

Because H.264 is a long-gop codec, I NEVER fool with the keyframe settings. If somebody wants a smaller file size, I'll either tell them to live with what I gave 'em or fiddle with the bit rate prior to compression.

Y'know, there is a big, whole Compression Techniques forum here on the COW where the Science and Black Art of compression is discussed day in and day out.

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


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Peter Sarkisian
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Jul 22, 2011 at 2:20:05 pm

[Shane Robinson] "I am getting a jerky animation and a flicker when I render from AE to h.264 with the render que"

Hi, Im having the exact same problem and was hoping you figured things out since posting this thread.

The problem seems to be intermittent, as it doesn't happen immediately after launching After Effects and going straight to render. However, if I stop a successful render and then restart it, without having made changes, it always flickers.

Any progress?


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Mahmoud Ghali
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Sep 14, 2011 at 5:18:40 am

does your video contain flat areas or solid colors?
because this is a behavior of some compression algorithms when content is a lot of subsequent flat areas
a solution to this is to add a subtle noise layer on your sequence that would get washed away after compression but gets away from this caveat
that was my first post ever of creative cow
chears


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Thierry Lombry
Re: Getting flicker on MP4 h.264 rendering
on Mar 26, 2014 at 8:55:47 pm
Last Edited By Thierry Lombry on Mar 26, 2014 at 9:29:58 pm

Hi,

I just installed AE CS6 on a fast computer and GC.
My animation contains special effects (flares, extrusion and particles) added to a JPG image of Orion M42 nebula used as backround. These are some stars (dots) in that picture that are flickering.
I attached an extract of the MP4 video generated in AE.

The video generated in MP4 or MPEG2 is flickering in the first quart of the sequence then it's OK, while the video does not flicker when generated in AVI format.
The problem is that the avi is 1.2 GB in size where the MP4 is 10 MB only.

I tried to change the nbr of frame, the key frame rate and other parameters, unsuccessfully.

BUT I found a solution outside AE to avoid the flickering.

I imported the native AVI file in Magix Video Pro (you can import it in Adobe Premiere Pro too) and then export it in MP4 without problem.

PS. Magix Video Pro or Premiere Pro are interesting additional tools as they come with many text presets and animations that you can easily apply up to frame level.

It's a pity that a software like AE cannot generate correctly a MP4 file including flat images (jpg).

I consider this as a bug to fix.


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Maria Isordia
Re: Getting flicker on h.264 rendering
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:36:02 pm

Thanks Shane for sharing the keyframe distance tip, it worked perfectly for me.

Cheers.


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