2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 7, 2014 5:02 PM by Guy Burns

    Most suitable way for me to use After Effects with Premiere?

    Guy Burns Level 1

      It's unclear to me how to best use AE with Premiere, so I thought I should ask the experienced users in this forum.


      Background in Premiere

      I am reasonably proficient with Premiere. I use it to generate output (Blu-ray compliant) ready for use in Encore, then output to Blu-ray, without transcoding being necessary. The video is always in m4v format, the audio PCM, separate files, not multiplexed. The final product, assembled in Encore, is typically in "chunks", some as short as 5 seconds, some up to 15 minutes. I grab the "chunks" (chapters, if you like), import them into Encore and away I go. This way, burning to Blu-ray can be several times faster than real time.


      Export from Premiere is h.264, 1920 x 1080, VBR, 2-pass, typically 20 Mbps target, 35 Mbps Max. I'm quite happy with this workflow and the results. Each "chunk" ends up as two files: an m4v and a PCM.


      After Effects

      I'm a complete novice to AE, other than the very occasional Replace with AE Composition from within Premiere, to remove 2:3 pulldown. However, I now want to fix some time-lapse sequences, and that will require AE:


      • Motion Tracking to stabilize the sequence
      • Color Stabilizer Effect to remove variations in exposure, and
      • Time Remapping to alter playback speeds within a composition.


      Once I have fixed the time-lapse sequence in AE, I will either:

      • Generate my normal m4v and PCM files (see above specs) from within AE, so that they become a "chunk" for my Blu-ray, or
      • Send the composition to Premiere via Dynamic Link (or already be linked to the AE composition from within Premiere).


      I have several questions about things which are not clear to me.


      Ques 1

      I've read, or skimmed over, all 614 pages of the After Effects PDF. The very last page says:

      You can export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project without rendering.


      Sounds good. What I don't understand is: how can Premiere deal with all the stuff that might be in an AE composition – all the layers, effects, dissolves and so forth – the stuff that AE might have but which Premiere lacks? Is the composition flattened (like you can do in Photoshop), but somehow not rendered? Will an AE project exported to Premiere, look the same in both?


      Ques 2

      I originally thought that the best way to deal with my time-lapse sequence would be to import the images directly into AE, edit them, and render to m4v and WAV. However, I could not find a 2-pass option in AE's rendering setup, or an unmultiplexed option. Can I render from AE in h.264, 2-pass, and obtain separate m4v and WAV files? I want files that will work in Encore and not require transcoding.


      Ques 3

      To keep my workflow the same as previously, maybe my only option is to:

      1. Import the time-lapse sequence into Premiere as a stand alone Sequence
      2. Choose Replace with AE Composition
      3. Edit in AE
      4. Jump back to Premiere and export the sequence in my usual way.

      Or is there another way?


      Ques 4

      When I choose Replace with AE Composition from within Premiere, do a serious amount of editing in AE, and then Export from Premiere, how does Premiere know how to deal with all the AE-specific stuff? I just did a simple test along those lines with AE shut down, and didn't notice AE firing up during the Premiere export. I don't understand how an AE composition, which might have hundreds of layers and all sorts of fancy effects, can be dealt with by Premiere, without Premiere interacting with AE.

        • 1. Re: Most suitable way for me to use After Effects with Premiere?
          Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP
          1. When you load an After Effects project in Premiere Pro, AE will open a render engine in the background to process the AE file. For simple projects like creating animated lower 1/3's or other simple graphics this is an effective workflow. For complex compositions that have hundreds of layers and effects, though this will still work in most cases, the render times may increase to the point that the workflow becomes inefficient. It takes some experience to know when it is best to render a DI (digital intermediate) using a good lossless production codec. In my workflow most shots involving more than just a few layers are rendered. Any shots that involve warp stabilizing are or time remapping or speed changes are rendered rather than using dynamic link. Only on rare occasions will I do any speed changes in Premiere Pro, and though warp stabilizing is available in PPro I seldom use it unless the shot is only a few seconds long.
          2. Time-lapse is an entirely different animal. It depends on what you are doing and what problems you are having. If your time-lapse sequences are simple and straight forward and your images are much larger than your final delivery product then I would use Lightroom or Bridge or Photoshop to resize them. For example, I recently shot some time-lapse of a fabulous rain storm we had in my home town with my Sony A-6000. The resulting 900 24.3 megapixel raw images were color graded in lightroom using sync and exported as 4K (4096 x 3112) jpegs and brought into Premiere Pro as an image sequence. I dropped the image sequence in a HD (1920 X 1080, 29.97 fps) timeline where I animated the scale and position of the footage so I started at 100% (pushed in on the approaching storm) and ended at 50% scale to reveal as much of the sky as I could. I added a sound track in PPro and did a final mix in Audition. The entire project never saw AE because it didn't need to. It rendered very quickly.  ONE MORE THING! Rendering an MP4 in AE using Quicktime is a BAD idea and using a highly compressed mpeg codec like h.264 codec in the production pipeline is NOT a good idea. Any interim renders should be rendered with a good lossless or nearly lossless 10bit or better production codec if you want to maintain the highest quality. If my time-lapse required some work in AE I would have followed nearly the same workflow using the Image Sequence in a PPro sequence because it's so much easier and faster to get real time previous, then I would have imported the PPro Sequence into AE for things like flicker removal or other color grading. Without knowing what your "edit them" in AE involves I can't make a better recommendation. I can't think of a single time-lapse sequence that I have produced in AE in the last 20 years.
          3. Image sequence in Premiere Pro is the way to go in almost every case. Just match the frame rates of the imported sequence and your PPro sequence so you don't have any frame blending or duplicated frames. If you need to re-time (change the frame rates) do that in AE. Simple retiming can be done with dynamic link but I would just import the PPro sequence in AE for anything complex.
          4. See the first answer. When you use dynamic link AE is open in the background but it does not utilize all of the potential power of your machine because PPro is using up cores and if you happen to be trying to use Ray-traced rendering in AE it will revert to the CPU and your renders will take forever.

          MP4 h.264 should be used for delivery only, not for archiving or anywhere else in the production pipeline. Only H.264 files that are camera originals are suitable to be used in production. This is my not too humble opinion. You always loose quality when you re-compress an h.264 file and I cannot afford the time it takes to monkey with the settings and render again when motion or compression artifacts spoil a couple of days of work because I used the wrong codec for a DI. Also, concerning Encore. Encore will do a fine job of compressing any DI format. While it's true that Encore will build a disk image quicker if you supply it with an already prepared file the total time to render will probably be just the same. It's been about 2 years since anyone has asked me to deliver a BluRay and maybe 4 since anyone has asked for a DVD, but I never took the time to pre-render my compressed file for either. I let Encore do the compressing and saved a disk image. I have sent a few projects out for DVD and BluRay production but I always deliver a DI master file to the duplicator because they specialize in compression and will do a much better job of it in less time and I'll end up with a better product. Each duplicator that I have dealt with has a different set of 'optimum standards' that they will give you if you ask.

          • 2. Re: Most suitable way for me to use After Effects with Premiere?
            Guy Burns Level 1

            Thanks for the detailed response, Rick. To give you an idea of what I'm trying to do in AE, a sample from a time-lapse can be downloaded here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/flo8hcygcy59r52/Carnation.zip


            The Time Lapse

            The time-lapse is of a carnation opening, which can take from 2 days to 5 days. My GH3 is set to take a photo every 30 or 60 minutes. I want a very dark background. To achieve that I have to do it in a way that is the antithesis of normal timelapse. From my understanding, to minimize exposure changes in a normal timelapse, the aperture should be set to wide open, and a slow shutter speed used. I have to do just the opposite. I don't have access to a darkened room, and even if I did, wouldn't use it because the flower might not open. So I have chosen to put the flower in a room open to sunlight during the day. To get the dark background I use flash and do this:

            • choose the lowest ISO rating the GH3 offers (200)
            • close the aperture to the smallest value (f22)
            • set the shutter speed to the highest that flash will allow
            • set the zoom lens to a high value
            • put the flower as close to the lens as focusing will allow
            • cover the background with a dark cloth.


            The above setup means that I get my dark background, but there are three problems:

            1. Now and then the exposure changes. Nothing to do with day/night, it just changes. So I need AE's Color Stabilizer (p400 of the PDF says, "Use this effect to remove the flicker common to time-lapse photography and stop-frame animation.")
            2. As the flower takes up water, opens, and ages, the stem moves. So I need AE's Stabilize Motion (p217 of the PDF says: "use Stabilize Motion to track motion and apply the results to the tracked layer to compensate for that motion…")
            3. During the day the flower opens, during the night it tends to slow down, stay put, or even close a little sometimes. This looks strange when viewed as a sequence; the flower seems to stop, start, go slow and even reverse. The stopping and reversing I can get rid of by deleting those images before entering AE. To steady the opening speed I think I need Time-remapping (p235 of the PDF says, "You can expand, compress, play backward, or freeze a portion of the duration of a layer using a process known as time-remapping.")


            Given the problems, I have to use AE. This is also a bit of a technical exercise and a good way to learn about some aspects of AE.


            Ques 2 (unanswered from original post)

            Can I render from AE in h.264, 2-pass, and obtain separate m4v and WAV files? I want files that will work in Encore and not require transcoding.


            The answer is possibly no. On P585 of the PDF it states: The embedded version of the Adobe Media Encoder used to manage export settings within After Effects output modules does not provide all of the features of the full, stand-alone Adobe Media Encoder application.


            Ques 5 - Altering speed

            If I Time-remap certain parts of a layer, can I then use Time-stretch to alter the length of the entire layer?


            Ques 6 - Rendering when exported to Premiere

            Rick, I'm still a little confused about rendering. In your reply you said:

              When you load an After Effects project in Premiere Pro, AE will open a render engine in the background to process the AE file.


            But in several places in the PDF it states that rendering does not occur when an AE project is exported to Premiere. So what exactly does happen? If I export an AE project to Premiere, I assume rendering does not occur at that stage; that I simply have a small Premiere file on my hard drive. But when I open that file, AE runs in the background and generates a render which, I think, is stored in the Adobe After Effects Disk Cache folder (on a Mac). What quality of render? Lossless? i.e. for a HD file, 24fps, using 8-bit colour, about 12GB/minute?


            Ques 7 - Rendering when using Dynamic Link

            If I use Dynamic Link from within Premiere and edit in AE, when does the rendering of the AE composition occur? Automatically upon saving or closing the AE project? At what quality?


            A Possible Workflow

            There are three givens:

            1. That my time-lapse has serious problems that can only be corrected in AE. Neither Photoshop nor Premiere can deal with exposure changes, and neither can align a stem that has moved.
            2. I want to be able to control export options for final delivery. In particular, I require 2-pass, high bit-rate VBR, h.264, unmultiplexed video and audio files. AE does not have access to the full range of options inside Adobe Media Encoder, whereas Premiere does. So I have to encode from Premiere.
            3. Length of each clip will be 3-5 seconds. About a dozen variations (different time-lapses) are needed as motifs between segments of an audio-visual – a story about my partner. Back in 1983 I gave her the only flower she's ever received from a male, a pink carnation, and this evocation of that episode has to look superb.


            I welcome any comments on this workflow:

            1. Delete any images of the opening flower that reverse (flower closes) or show no change.
            2. Crop remaining images in Photoshop (if required).
            3. Open images in AE. Fast previewing is not important because the sequence, as shot, is problematic. So Premiere is not required at this stage.
            4. Use Stabilize Motion on a stem to keep the stem still while the flower opens.
            5. Use Color Stabilizer (three points, Curves mode) on the stem to correct for exposure changes. Would Brightness mode (one point) suffice?
            6. Use Time-remap to alter the speed of opening as it varies day and night.
            7. Use Time-stretch to adjust the overall opening time.
            8. Export to Premiere.
            9. Encode for final delivery.