4 Replies Latest reply on Apr 1, 2014 9:04 AM by mverta

    After Effects PC Quicktime Audio Sync

    mverta Level 1

      I'm putting this here for fellow PC-users who are experiencing this major frustration.


      When RAM previewing, your audio is in sync.  But after rendering, when you play back a rendered Quicktime movie in Quicktime player - no matter WHICH codec you render to - the audio is out of sync.  If you try playing it in a browser (Quicktime plugin), it is also out of sync.


      Fear not, PC users: your movie audio is not out of sync.  Quicktime playback via either standalone or browser plug-in is not playing the file properly.  You can test this a couple of ways: 1) Try playing it with VLC on your PC: magically, it's in sync.  2) Open your rendered movie on any Mac, or via a browser on any Mac: magically, it's in sync.


      The Quicktime platform and its various implementations continue to set the lowest standard, given the enormity of the resources at Apple, and its prevalence in production.  As a VFX and multimedia content creator for 20+ years, I wince every time a client asks for ProRes, lossy files, as "masters."  Between the inconsistent gamma-shift issues and local playback sync, I avoid using Quicktime wherever possible. 


      Hope this helps,



        • 1. Re: After Effects PC Quicktime Audio Sync
          Dave LaRonde Level 6

          If you don't recommend Quicktime's ProRes codecs, what DO you recommend?  This too would be good for people to know.

          • 2. Re: After Effects PC Quicktime Audio Sync
            mverta Level 1

            Well, first off, my personal preference whenever any media comes to me is to immediately split the audio and video, and convert to .wav and image sequences.  With any .mov or .avi or .mp4-type container, one small corruption and the entire file is lost.  For safety's sake, image sequences are infintiely safer.  They're also easier during the production phase, where changes from a client can mean simple patching of just the relevant frames.  On tight deadlines, knowing that the entire output comp is ready to go at a moment's notice is often a lifesaver, and this allows me to make changes and re-output approval masters very quickly.  Time is money.


            My preferred image sequence codec is OpenEXR, but I'll use TIFF, or even PNG, depending.  Ultimately, I deliver client masters as uncompressed TIFFs with .wav and/or .aiff audio. For as long as I've been in post-production, these formats have been around and withstood the test of time.  Usually, clients will want some sort of Quicktime with the master files, in which case it's Animation (lossless) codec with embedded audio.  But I can't sleep at night knowing how easily corruptible that is as a master, so I provide it in addition to the image sequences and audio files.


            During production, I'll render to whatever the client wants to see/whatever's easiest, and I have plenty of Macs and PCs around here, though my primary workstation is PC.  Locally, I render my disposable tests to After Effects' default: lossless .avi.  I posted the original information about working with Quicktime above because I see this error 1000x a week, as many of my clients like to see .h264 media, and about 1% of them ever seem to notice the [obvious!] gamma issues or sync problems.  These are the world's biggest media corporations spending millions, and they rarely seem to notice or care.  Miss a word in the legal disclaimer, though, and they can see that in 6-point type from across the room...  priorities.




            • 3. Re: After Effects PC Quicktime Audio Sync
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              I freelance for dozens of studios and I always just supply them with what they ask for for their production pipeline. Personally I've never had a single issue doing this. Gamma, color space, nothing... Give the client or the broadcaster what they ask for exactly to their specifications and you will not have any problems. Make up your own rules for delivery and you will have problems with some, if not all, of your deliverable product.


              In my own house I use only QT, but the codec varies on the project.

              • 4. Re: After Effects PC Quicktime Audio Sync
                mverta Level 1

                Obviously, client specifications have to be met. It also depends on how cool you are with them inevitiably adjusting or "fixing" any issues they encounter down the line. But I have seen clients shoot themselves in the foot tons of times because of their own ignorance about deliverables.  If and when that comes to pass (it has), I'm covered, and never have to spend any energy or money fixing it.  I've supplied them with what they should have asked for, as well.  This happened just recently with one major project, where some QC process far down the line was all up in arms about a ProRes delivery, despite it having been specified by the client.  I reminded them I'd put the uncompressed image sequences and Animation-codec-based QT on the drive, and the whole thing went away.  And most importantly: my client, calling me as though I'd done something wrong, discovered I hadn't.  You can TELL a client, "Hey, that's what you told me to deliver; don't look at me," but they'll blame you anyway. Nobody likes to take responsibility.  So I do what I do to make sure everyone's covered, and solutions are instant.  That saves me time, money, builds client confidence and gets everyone out from under instantly.  That's a win-win-win-win in my book.