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Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview

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Joe Thompson
Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:23:33 pm

Hi creative cows,

I've been working on a project for a client that requires me to have an After Effects sequence at the beginning of every video I produce for them. All the files they gave me were illustrator files so they are vectors. I even took the liberty of moving the vectors into new AI files that were based off of the video template so they would work seamlessly in my project.

The issue is that after I add the composition to the render queue and render it out of After Effects to then import it into Final Cut Pro, the edges of the vector files become jagged. I uploaded a copy of the title sequence to Vimeo so you can see my issue: http://www.vimeo.com/19571976
The Password is "cow". (Please make the video full screen and turn scaling off so you can see it in its native size)

If you look at the first "AR" logo you can see that it is not a smooth line, at all. Initially I had the AR logo grow from a smaller size to 100% but because I thought that was the cause of the jaggedness I changed it to a static 100% scale, which did nothing.

A few details to help you help me:
The vector files are set to "continuously rasterize" in After Effects. I read something that said this would be the solution but it wasn't.
All the vector files were pre-composed into a new composition and then had the twitch effect applied to the pre-compose, not the actual layer, I had also heard this would help solve my problem, but it didn't.

Render Settings:

Composition
Quality: Best
Resolution: Full
Size: 1280 x 720
Disc Cache: Read Only
OpenGL Renderer: Not selected
Proxie Use: Use no Proxies
Effects: Current Settings
Solo Switches: Current Settings
Guide Layers: All off
Color Depth: Current Settings


Time Sampling
Frame Blending: On for checked layers
Field Render: Off
Motion Blur: On for checked layers
Time Span: Work area only
Frame Rate: Use this Comps frame rate (29.97)


Output Mode:

Main Options
Format: Quicktime
Post-Render Action: None
Include Project link: Selected
Include source XMP Metadata: Not selected


Video Output
Channels:RGB
Depth: Millions of Colors
Color: Premultiplied (Matted)


Format Options:
Video Codec: Animation (I also tried Apple Pro Res 422 and Apple Pro Res 422 (HQ)
Quality: 100


Any help would be greatly appreciated! I know it has to be something in the export because when I Ram Preview with the video scaled to 100% in my viewer (so I can see it native size) it looks perfectly smooth, but not once it is a standalone file outside of After Effects.

Thanks again.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:37:44 pm

I can't get to the video (firewall at work, y'know), but it sounds like the problem may lie in FCP.

If you did NOT render interlaced video, which you probably didn't, then go to FCP, highlight the footage in the bin and change the field order -- erroneously called field dominance in FCP -- to None. I bet the problem goes away.

I also suspect that if you look at the video in Quicktime, it looks okay there, too.

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


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Joe Thompson
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:54:29 pm

Hey Dave,

Thank you for your help, you seem half right in your assumption because you are correct that the video does view fine in Quicktime. The only problem is that the field dominance for the clip is already selected as "None" in FCP. I tried changing it to both "lower" and "upper" but to no avail. It must be the settings that I have it exporting as do not fit well with my FCP settings? This does definitely seem like an FCP problem and not an AE one now.

Thanks again, do you have any other suggestions?


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Joe Thompson
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 7:18:12 pm

So I found an old thread that appered as if people were having the same problem. See here: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/8/1042346

The only reply that seemed helpful on it was a recent one by Jasper Russell. He said:

well it's now 2011, but I think the problem is After effects does something funny. Even though you export something progressive, when you bring it into FCP it thinks it's interlaced. So if you have NONE set for fields in your FCP timeline. you after effects export is going to looked stepped (like it's doubled a field to make it work in the non-interlaced timeline). Setting the timeline settings to either upper or lower will make you after effects export look nice again. Only problem is you now have an interlaced timeline - so any FCP transitions etc will be interlaced. (And I hate anything interlaced).

It doesn't matter what res or codec you export from after effects - it still happens (well I haven't tried them all)

To fix this issue - I export from After effects and then load it into something like Mpeg streamclip and export it again. (using pro res or animation set to high at both stages means exporting twice shouldn't matter) but this second export from a different program seems to clear up the interlacing bug.

load the second export into FCP and it should look perfect in your progressive timeline.


The issue is that 1) Even when I changed my sequence setting in AE to either Upper or Lower, it didn't fix the title and 2) When I did the MPEG Streamclip trick, it still didn't work. Has anyone else had this problem? There has to be some kind of fix...


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 7:18:47 pm

[Joe Thompson] "Thanks again, do you have any other suggestions?"

Yeah, change the field order of the FCP edit timeline to None as well.

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


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Joe Thompson
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 7:31:21 pm

Hey Dave,

I tried that but I am still getting the hideous stair-stepping. My FCP sequence settings are about as normal as you can get too:

Frame size: 960 x 720. Aspect Ratio: HD (960 x 720) (16:9)
Pixel Aspect Ratio (960 x 720)
Field Dominence:None
Editing Timebase: 29.97

Compresser: DVCPRO HD 720p60
Quality 100%


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 7:42:46 pm

[Joe Thompson] "Editing Timebase: 29.97

Compresser: DVCPRO HD 720p60"


I see a frame rate mismatch -- the timeline's at 29.97, but the footage is at 59.94.

What happens if you make a new FCP edit timeline, add the animation imported from AE to it, and when FCP asks, "Do you want this sequence to match your footage?" you say yes?

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


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Joe Thompson
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 9:09:18 pm

The reason it is at DVCPRO 720p60 is because I shoot on a Panasonic HPX 170. Most of the time I shoot 30fps though but that is just the codec for it.

When I change the sequence settings to match the animation it looks just fine. If I change the codec back to DVCPRO 720p60 it still looks fine. It doesn't start looking bad until I change the frame size (which is 1280 x 720 square pixels for the animation) to 960 x 720 HD(960 x 720) pixel aspect ratio to match the clips. That is what messes up the animation and makes it have the stair steps.

Heres the deal though. When I put the footage into the 1280 x 720 timeline it looks fine but it is not rendered. Because most of my videos are footage and only a few seconds are the After Effects animation, I would rather have the sequence settings match my footage. Is there anyway I can export the animation in different settings, or even create it in different settings, so it can match my footage and therefore look clean without me having to change my FCP sequence settings?

Thank you for all your help so far.


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Kevin Camp
Re: Vector files have jagged edges AFTER export but look fine in Ram Preview
on Feb 4, 2011 at 9:22:43 pm

[Joe Thompson] "Is there anyway I can export the animation in different settings, or even create it in different settings, so it can match my footage and therefore look clean without me having to change my FCP sequence settings?"

yep, use any of the dvcprohd 720 comp presets, but set the frame rate to 59.94 fps.

you may be able to just chsnge the current comp settings to that, but it may be safer to create a new comp with those settings and drop the current comp into that and render (actually, since it's already rendered, drop the rendered footage into the dvcprohd comp and render that to a quicktime with dvcprohd 720p60 for the codec).

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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