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PNG sequences VS. Quicktime

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Michael sen Guttsen
PNG sequences VS. Quicktime
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:03:54 am

We're working on a video wall 28800 X 1080. Yes it is big. We run high end Dell PCs. My question is: would I gain any render speed if I used PNG sequences for imported clips and pre-renders, over quicktime movies.

I'm a usually a Mac but my PC tech is telling me quicktime is too hard on the system to work well. PNGs are the only format that really works with AE. He even suggests that vectors must be converted to PNGs in order to work efficiently in CS5.

Wait, whaaaat? I've been using quicktime for over 20 years. Did I miss a memo?

BTW, the video wall is for "the largest software company in the world" perhaps my PC tech is biased(?).

Guttsen


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Walter Soyka
Re: PNG sequences VS. Quicktime
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:40:20 pm

[Michael sen Guttsen] "My question is: would I gain any render speed if I used PNG sequences for imported clips and pre-renders, over quicktime movies."

I always use image sequences when working on large-format projects like these, but not because of any performance difference. With an image sequence, if a small part of a pre-render needs to change, you only need to re-render the affected frame range. With movies, you'd have to re-render the entire thing.


[Michael sen Guttsen] "I'm a usually a Mac but my PC tech is telling me quicktime is too hard on the system to work well. PNGs are the only format that really works with AE."

This is categorically untrue.


[Michael sen Guttsen] "He even suggests that vectors must be converted to PNGs in order to work efficiently in CS5."

This is terrible advice. Premature rasterization is the root of all evil.


[Michael sen Guttsen] "BTW, the video wall is for "the largest software company in the world" perhaps my PC tech is biased(?)."

It doesn't sound like your tech is an experienced After Effects user. Hopefully, though, he can help you configure your workstation to improve performance.

Your comp is going to have some seriously huge memory requirements -- almost 120MB per frame. You mentioned you were running CS5, which is great. You should have as much RAM as possible (the workstation I use for large video walls has 32 GB), and depending on what you're doing, you may actually benefit from turning multiprocessing off.

Whether you work with movies or image sequences that large, the data rates are going to be high. Working from a single SATA drive is going to slow you down; I'd recommend using a nice, fast RAID.

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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Walter Soyka
Re: PNG sequences VS. Quicktime
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:41:08 pm

Michael, I thought I'd repost some performance tips I've written about before that you may find helpful.



If you're used to working with SD or even HD comps on modern computers, the render times for larger comps can be stunning. I frequently work with large comp sizes (4K and up), and I've found it's very helpful to adapt my workflow a bit to stay productive despite the lengthy render times.

There's an outstanding page on Improving performance in the After Effects help system, which includes all the features I'll mention below and many others.

Here are some After Effects features—some common, some often-overlooked—that I rely on when working with larger comps:

  • Multiprocessing: if you have a multi-core system and at least 2-4 GB of RAM per core, you can enable multiprocessing. After Effects will launch multiple copies of its renderer to processing multiple frames simultaneously.

  • Zoom and resolution: these go hand-in-hand. You can reduce your preview resolution to save processing time and RAM.

  • Caps Lock: when on, Caps Lock disables rendering for preview.

  • Draft 3D, frame blending, and motion blur: toggle these to speed up previews. For render, you'll will want probably want Draft 3D off, and you may want frame blending and motion blur on, but they are all render-intensive, so you can save time by toggling them for working and preview.

  • Proxies and pre-rendering: allow you to render out a complex pre-comp, save it to disk, and refer to the footage on disk instead of re-rendering. Once I get a pre-comp working well, I'll proxy it so I don't have to continually re-render it during previews while working on other elements. You can use proxies with a wide variety of settings: simple stills, draft-quality renders, or high-quality renders. If you use proxies instead of pre-renders, make sure you change your render settings in the render queue to use proxies.

  • Region of Interest: allows you to select a smaller section of the comp to preview; saves on processing time and RAM usage.

  • Shift-RAM preview: allows you to choose different setting for RAM preview (0 on the numeric keypad) and Shift-RAM preview (Shift-0 on the numeric keypad). I use regular RAM preview for high quality previews so I can see detail in my work, but I use Shift-RAM preview at quarter or eighth resolution, skipping at least every other frame, so I can quickly see the overall effect.



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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