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Declan Smith
Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 19, 2011 at 2:03:32 pm

I am working on a project where the main edit is being done on Sony Vegas in Windows in 1920x1080 HD, and I am being given clips to work on in After Effects CS5 on the Mac. The problem I have run into is with file compatibility between the two platforms.

Sure I can render out PNG or TIFF sequences or even PNG/TIFF MOV files, but these are not only large, but unnecessary as the clips are finished in AE ready for the edit. I have experimented with rendering out many different types, such as HDV, DVCPRO etc, but only mpeg renders appear to work on the PC. Other streams are not recognised. The only other type is MPEG2 which is probably a bit too lossy ??

Ideally I am looking for a format to use that is almost lossless (such as you get with ProRes) but still keeping files relatively small whilst not blowing the CPU budget to play them back. Editing and grading will be done in Sony Vegas so I only want a single generation render (i.e. so that no additional rendering should have to be done in Sony Vegas of the after effects clips)

This seems to be causing alot of pain going back & forth between the two systems.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
FCS3 / After Effects CS5 / Combustion / Canon 7D / Canon XL2


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Chris Buttacoli
Re: Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 19, 2011 at 5:48:01 pm

It's not the PC, it's Vegas that is the issue. What codec are the other vegas clips using? You should probably render out to that format from AE.

How does QuickTime-photoJPG on high quality work? The files are much smaller than PNG or TIFF.


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Declan Smith
Re: Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 19, 2011 at 6:12:04 pm

I am no Vegas expert, but I know it is working with both EX1 files (MP4) and m2t files, native files from the Cameras used.

I have just come across the Avid DNxHD codec. Not sure if this will help us, had no experience with it.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
FCS3 / After Effects CS5 / Combustion / Canon 7D / Canon XL2


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 21, 2011 at 3:39:39 pm

Unless you're absolutely sure of the coded you should deliver, just about any codec you choose is going to either 1) have to be rendered or 2) suffer in quality. So I'd opt for the quality, and let the next user do the re-rendering to the desired codec.

Now, it you're certain it's a long-gop codec, I wouldn't render to the delivery codec in AE. I'd render lossless, and use Adobe Media Encoder or Apple's Compressor to do the conversion. AE isn't very good at all at rendering long-gop codecs.

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


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Declan Smith
Re: Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 21, 2011 at 5:06:17 pm

You're probably right. I have tried doing some comparisons and generational renders but am finding more problems than answers, it's a mine field. Things like gamma differences between FCP and After effects and between platforms.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
FCS3 / After Effects CS5 / Combustion / Canon 7D / Canon XL2


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Declan Smith
Re: Rendering from Mac to PC from After Effects
on Mar 22, 2011 at 1:30:14 am

I thought I would just post up some initial findings I have done with DNxHD codec. The goal was finding a codec that allows easy interoperation between Mac After Effects and PC Vegas, with more manageable files and faster workflow.

I am not sure exactly how scientific or correct my test is, but here goes.

A 4 second clip of timelapse movie placed on timeline (timelapsed because of high frequency content, fast movemment). On top of that, top left of screen had Color test chart (static) composited over.

1. Render from after effects to create Generation 1 copy.
2. Move file from mac to PC, import into Sony Vegas, then put a small color solid on the screen (bottom left) to ensure that the clip has to render. Rendered out 2nd generation copy
3. Import back into AE, add different sized and different coloured block on top of clip (to force render), creating 3rd Generation copy

etc etc up to 12 generations when I then got bored. In other words 6 generated from AE and 6 from vegas, noting that each was a true generation of the previous one.

Then at the end, put the 1st generation on the timeline, added the 12th generation on the timeline, then used difference as the compositing method. Results - amazing. Almost completely black screen with the exception of the bottom left square which was different anyway.

I say amazing because even with 12 generations (which is way way more than I would expect, in fact for the project we are working on, maximum will be 4, likely to be three, i.e. vegas->ae->vegas->color grade->final but if the grade is done in vegas it will be three), the file sizes are approx 10% of TGA Sequence, Animation and uncompressed. In addition, the DNxHD version of the movie plays back with little overhead on the host system.

Also as part of this, found a very frustrating Gamma issue between FCP and AE which I have also worked around by ensuring that the sequence settings in FCP are set to RGB. Not sure what the full implication of that is!

For Reference, all encoding above was done at DNxHD 120. DNxHD 36 lost too much quality, ok for proxy work. File Size references below:

Clip Length 4 seconds at 25fps

RAW Uncompressed: 830Mb
TGA Image Sequence: 578Mb
ProRes 422: 41 Mb
DNxHD 120: 61Mb

Seems very comparable to ProRes but cross platform.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
FCS3 / After Effects CS5 / Combustion / Canon 7D / Canon XL2


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