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Converting AE project to a legacy filetype

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Spencer Tweed
Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 9:28:31 pm

Hello,

I recently did a video with a combination of CS4 and CS5 projects. I now am sending this video to another branch of my organization so that they can produce it in many foreign languages, but they just informed me that they don't have CS5 yet!

I need to find a way of back-converting these files so that they are compatible with CS4, which should be possible because all of the plug-ins and effects are the same as in CS4 in this case (in other words, I didn't do anything that was CS5-specific). I just need a way of 'tricking' AE into thinking that they were always CS4 or something.

And please don't post that it is impossible - I simply won't believe you and it will just be wasted time in trying to figure this out.

Thanks!
- Spencer


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Walter Soyka
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 9:37:21 pm

[Spencer Tweed] "And please don't post that it is impossible - I simply won't believe you and it will just be wasted time in trying to figure this out."

It's impossible!

In all seriousness, there's no official way to do it, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to do it. Search this forum for a couple suggestions: one is to open CS4 and CS5 on the same machine at the same time, and copy and paste layers, effects, settings, etc. from one to the other. Another is to export a Premiere Pro project from AE CS5, then importing the PPro project in AE CS4. Not everything translates, so you'll have to double-check effects, expressions, keyframes, etc.

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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Joey Foreman
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 9:55:50 pm

Wouldn't the 64 bit nature of CS5's plug-ins be an issue?

Joey Foreman
Editor/Compositor/VFX Artist


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:13:06 pm

Hopefully not, all of the parameters are the same (which is all I care about).


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:27:32 pm

Thanks Walter,

I'm thinking that I will do a combo of both - export the premier file and then copy over the keys and whatnot.

I was just mucking around with Notepad ++ to see if I could somehow edit the file to get it across. I KNOW that it is possible this way - it has to be. No dice yet, it looks as though Adobe hid it away because even if I search "10.0.1" and replace it out, it still somehow knows that it is a CS5 project file.

If I am saying anything incredibly stupid let me know, I am certainly no software developer.

- Spencer


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Walter Soyka
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:41:46 pm

[Spencer Tweed] "I was just mucking around with Notepad ++ to see if I could somehow edit the file to get it across. I KNOW that it is possible this way - it has to be. No dice yet, it looks as though Adobe hid it away because even if I search "10.0.1" and replace it out, it still somehow knows that it is a CS5 project file. If I am saying anything incredibly stupid let me know, I am certainly no software developer."

I have no idea what Adobe has changed under the hood in their internal file format between CS4 and CS5. Maybe it's not much -- maybe it's a lot. All I know is that they don't provide any way to save down for AE. You might file a feature request [link]. Adobe engineers do read and track them.

Personally, I've either started collaborative work in CS3, assumed responsibility for changes myself, or browbeaten my collaborators into upgrading.

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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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:00:58 pm

Thanks for the link Walter, I feel much better after ranting for a paragraph or two to Adobe.

- Spencer


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:04:52 pm

[Spencer Tweed] "I was just mucking around with Notepad ++ to see if I could somehow edit the file to get it across. I KNOW that it is possible this way - it has to be."

Oh, no it doesn't! AE 9 is 32-bit. AE 10 is 64-bit. Do you think there just might be a couple-three changes in how the two versions' project files are written, hmmmmm?

AE has never been backwards-compatible. You've never been able to save a project as an earlier version, and you've never been able to open a project file made in a later version. 'Twas ever thus.

If you don't have success with Walter's suggestion in copying and pasting between versions, or exporting a Premiere project in one AE version, then importing it into in another AE version, you may have no other choice but to rebuild your AE 10 project in AE 9.

Or you could do the easiest thing of all -- you could tell the folks in this other part of the company to get with it and upgrade.

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


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:27:09 pm

Okay, I admit defeat on text-editing the project file. I don't think that it would be too hard to make some sort of script or applicaiton though that could do this. For example you could just make a program that opens the CS5 (or whatever version) file and the rebuilds the same thing in CS4.

Try this: copy some keyframes on an effect and paste it into notepad (or text edit). You will see that there is nothing esoteric about it: it just says what the effect is called, what parameter you have selected and what the comp data is. Using just this data you could batch-rebuild the same project in another version of After Effects. The only thing you have to make sure of is that all of the plug-ins are the same for the two versions.

I don't have the time or the know-how to do this right now, but it is something for the future. Not to mention I bet someone could make a nice, shiny, pretty penny off of this one! (hint hint)

- Spencer


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Olin Padilla
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:33:35 pm

Here's the sneaky way to do it:

Tell them to just download the free 30 day trial of CS5. By the time the 30 days are up, the project should be done and they will have already started at least one new CS5 project. In a pinch they will have to buy the full version, BUT not for your project. This way it's not you that's making them spend money, plus you won't have to deal with the same problem next time you work with them.


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:42:28 pm

Yeah, I considered that option. I could suggest it, but I don't think they'll bite. They have already requested that the files get converted, and I am looking for a more long-term solution anyway.

- Spencer


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Brian DeViteri
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Feb 10, 2011 at 7:49:59 pm

Let me say this honestly - if your project is intensive and it's going to take a lot of time for you to "dumb down" to an old version of AE, it's going to cost someone (probably the client) money for your time. Have you tried explaining that to them? Unless you want to be paid to do this tedious work, it's an approach that most cost-savvy clients tend to at least understand... and these days, most (if not all) clients tend to be cost-savvy.



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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Feb 11, 2011 at 5:01:54 am

Yeah, it took me a lot of time. The other facility is actually a branch of my organization - so it isn't costing us anything for me to spend a few hours converting projects. In the long run it saves us a lot of trouble... So until AEScripts comes out with this thing to convert your project I'm just going to do it the hard way.

- Spencer


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 10:38:39 pm

Maybe this helps something:

If I look at the file in notepad ++ there are basically two sections. The top half looks like a bunch of Egyptian writing and the bottom half is just some .xmp metadata on the file. If I copy over the top half (the Taiwanese stuff) from the CS4 file and replace the top half of the CS5 file I can then open in in CS4 - the only problem is that this half seems to contain all of the data that I need (layer data, effect data, etc).

The good news is that I have at least eliminated half of the document from scrutiny, as this doesn't seem to effect whether or not the file opens in AE CS4. The bad news is that this stuff looks like Russian to me.


- Spencer


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 28, 2011 at 11:22:19 pm

[Spencer Tweed] "The good news is that I have at least eliminated half of the document from scrutiny, as this doesn't seem to effect whether or not the file opens in AE CS4. The bad news is that this stuff looks like Russian to me."

Ah, but there's more bad news, I'm afraid.

You have no idea if items in the first half of the document must refer to items in the second half, or whether it's irrelevant. And you could waste days trying to figure it out.

You could also just give it a try, but if you made the tiniest mistake the file would be seen as corrupted and you wouldn't know why.

The issue of non-compatibility between two different versions has been a part of AE life for two decades. You're certainly not the first person who has tried to wish it away. For two decades, it hasn't worked.

As someone who has worked with AE since version 3, I urge you accept what you can't change and move on with more productive pursuits, such as leveling the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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


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Jon Bagge
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 29, 2011 at 11:27:44 am

The bad news is that this stuff looks like Russian to me.


It's not Russian, it's binary. You'll need a hex editor to mess with that. And you'll have no way of knowing what anything means.

If I were you I'd forget about this. The cost of upgrading to CS5 is surely much smaller than the cost of paying someone (like you) to spend weeks messing around in adobe binary files.

--------------
http://www.jonbagge.net
Jon Bagge - Editor - London, UK
Avid - FCP - After Effects


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 29, 2011 at 9:50:46 pm

Touché.

- Spencer


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Erik Waluska
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 30, 2011 at 5:24:22 pm

This may not help you right now but Lloyd Alvarez from aescripts.com just announced that they are about to release a script called OpenSesame that will allow you to open a CS5 project in CS3 and so on. I don't know when they're officially releasing it but he had a working version in the presentation. Maybe if you contact them they'll help you out.

Here's the presentation. OpenSesame starts at about 19:20...
http://aescripts.com/bi-coastal-user-group-presentations/


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 30, 2011 at 9:23:22 pm

Freakin' awesome! I knew it was possible (take that Walter and Dave)!

This absolutely helps me out, thank you very much for the link. I'll check it out later today and see if I can contact these guys - Lloyd makes some really great stuff.

- Spencer


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Erik Waluska
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 30, 2011 at 10:08:56 pm

Glad to help. Let us know how it works out.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 31, 2011 at 1:53:32 pm

[Spencer Tweed] "I knew it was possible (take that Walter and Dave)!"

Hey, I was tongue-in-cheek when I said it was impossible -- I even suggested two different ways to do it!

When it is released, OpenSesame (a Paul Tuersley script which works a lot like what you were asking for a script author to develop) will do a lot more than just let you save down to previous versions. This is one to watch...

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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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 31, 2011 at 8:30:35 pm

Hah, yeah lets see if we can put the pressure on these guys to crank it out. I could use it!

Anyone know if this will also be a "name your own price" sort of thing? Due to our firewall I haven't been able to see the video yet.

- Spencer

- Spencer


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Erik Waluska
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 31, 2011 at 8:50:43 pm

I don't think he mentioned the price but I'm sure it will be very reasonable. Some of their scripts like BG Renderer no longer have the "name your own price" option but it's still only $20 for the pro version and $5 for the basic version. I guess there were too many people downloading for free and not paying anything to the authors. Sad.


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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 31, 2011 at 10:11:57 pm

People like me.... ;)

Yes you are right, they are very generous with their pricing I'm sure it will be reasonable. Whatever it is I am ready to pay for this one! It will literally save me hours and hours of time, and everyone knows
time = money (specially in this business).

- Spencer

- Spencer


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Paul Tuersley
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Feb 16, 2011 at 2:20:35 pm

Spencer, if you want to contact me through aescripts.com (click Feedback, then Contact) I'd be happy to help with converting your project using my OpenSesame script.



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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Feb 21, 2011 at 5:29:28 am

Hey Paul,

Sorry for not getting back sooner; I've been really busy the last few days on a video. I didn't see that Contact button on the site.

I was able to convert that project, but will potentially have to convert others in the near future. I would love to have your script for these.

I am actually in the middle of watching the video on AEScripts.com and haven't finished it yet - I was waiting to contact you until I did (I have a sec now though and thought I'd put in a response).

Let me know where that button is and I'll be sure to contact you.

- Spencer


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Paul Tuersley
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Feb 21, 2011 at 10:09:30 pm

There's a Feedback tab on the right side of the page. Click that, then click Contact Aescripts.

Paul



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Spencer Tweed
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Mar 1, 2011 at 12:30:07 am

Hey Paul,


Okay, guess I am just nuts. I just saw that button - plain as day.

- Spencer


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Paul Tuersley
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 5, 2012 at 5:37:00 pm

Just to let you guys know, OpenSesame has been released!
http://aescripts.com/pt_opensesame/

OpenSesame brings backwards compatibility to After Effects, exporting projects that can be opened in any version from CS3 or later. Projects are exported as human readable text files that can also be edited in a text editor or spreadsheet in various ways, such as changing text layers, colors, footage and file paths.

Paul



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Walter Soyka
Re: Converting AE project to a legacy filetype
on Jan 5, 2012 at 5:38:20 pm

[Paul Tuersley] "Just to let you guys know, OpenSesame has been released!"

Sweet! Thank you, Paul, and congrats on the release!

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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