5 Replies Latest reply on Jan 28, 2015 10:20 AM by Willie Frazier

    after effects export to photoshop layers

    Willie Frazier Level 1

      Right, so I've never really been much of a Photoshop guy.  As a Motion Designer / 3D Animator for 15 years, I have never encountered anything I could not make with After Effects and/or Cinema 4D (with Final Cut or more lately Premiere added for good measure). 


      I find myself however, in a unique and rather frustrating situation.  I need to export a single frame comp as a layered PSD image.  Easy, right?  Well sure, but there appear to be some fairly large caveats.  Each time I try, I get the message :

      Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 6.23.06 PM.png


      So, the first thing I did was get rid of my track mattes by either replacing them with masks, or rendering out a flattened version of just those couple of layers, so I could re-import it and replace the track matte pair with just a normal raster layer.  I did this until my comp was completely free of track mattes, yet still I get this message.  Now, my efforts have helped the look of the resulting file when opened in Photoshop, but I still have a color shift from light cyan to a decidedly more green hue, and I am getting some transparency I didn't expect in a couple of places.  The only blending modes I am using are Normal, Add, Screen, and Multiply.  I don't know much about PS, but I know it has those modes available to it.


      However the message only speaks to those 2 things... This means there must be yet ANOTHER incompatible element at play, but I do not know what it is, or even how to track it down.  At this point, I almost want to just render out every layer individually and try to manually assemble it in PS... but come on. Putting aside for a moment that two applications made by the same company for ostensibly the same purpose - image manipulation - not being able to communicate more effectively with one another is not unlike having 2 children and teaching one only Spanish and the other Italian. Sure, they'd be able to communicate in basic ways, but any meaningful exchange would be very difficult.


      Is there anyone here who can help me know what is verboten in this kind of workflow, or if it is something that just doesn't work as it should?  Are there workarounds, or known procedures for making the file when opened in Photoshop look the same as it did when it left After Effects, or is this a largely untenable proposition? Do I need to suck it up and start at level 0 in a new program?


      Any insights or assistance would be greatly appreciated.



      - Willie

        • 1. Re: after effects export to photoshop layers
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Without knowing the exact structure of the AE layer stack, blending modes used, effects and specific options like collapse transformations nobody can tell you much. That and of course you may need to employ color management to make the AE results look more like PS in teh first place.



          • 2. Re: after effects export to photoshop layers
            Dave LaRonde Level 6

            Any nested comps?  This goes to Mylenium's question about the exact nature of the layer stack.

            Any Layer Styles?  They may not be compatible with PS.

            • 3. Re: after effects export to photoshop layers
              Willie Frazier Level 1

              Ok, so here is a screenshot of the stack:


              Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.31.58 AM.png


              There's nothing really crazy going on here, it is a very simple setup.  As for the 3 layers that have effects (listed from left to right as they appear from top to bottom):

              •Layer 2 - Fractal Noise and Tint

              •Layer 4 - Brightness & Contrast

              •Layer 7 - Fast Blur, Brightness & Contrast, and Exposure


              As a correction to my original post, I am not in fact using a multiply mode anywhere, just Add, Normal, and Screen, as you can see.  There are no layer styles at play, and the only thing any of these layers have which you can not discern from the screenshot are masks.


              The color management thing seems like it could be at issue, since my biggest problem is in the blue to green shift I am seeing in the overall hue... though I can't imagine why or how that would have triggered the referenced error message.  How does one know when to apply color management, and how does one determine to what it needs to be set?  My settings in that regard are unchanged from default at 8/bit, None (working space):


              Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.43.02 AM.png

              • 4. Re: after effects export to photoshop layers
                Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Track mattes don't work in the export. Not supported yet. Ae Dave and Mylenium have stated, there may be other problems. The track matte will be there, it just won't be set up properly in Photoshop. You will have to move it below the layer you want to matte and then set it up as a clipping layer or copy the pixels and paste them to a new layer mask. The work around is not very efficient.

                • 5. Re: after effects export to photoshop layers
                  Willie Frazier Level 1

                  Right - I discovered the track mattes pretty quickly, and eliminated them.  As you can see from my screenshot above, I am not employing any mattes in my comp.


                  I decided to go about deleting layer by layer until I got an export without the error message.  Turns out, it is the Add mode that is causing the problem.  So, I made an export of all the layers that did not employ this mode, and then individual exports of the 2 layers that did use it.  I then opened the lot in PS, moved the 2 isolated layers over, and adjusted them until I had the right look.  Funnily enough, I did end us using Add (which PS calls Linear Dodge) but with better results than when AE did it 'automatically' in the export.  The only difference now in my PS layer stack is that I had to duplicate the flare layer (and ramp down its opacity to about half) to get the same 'brightness' I had in my AE comp.  I also no longer had the hue-shift previously reported.


                  So, in the interest of having a definitive list of workflow caveats, we now know there is an issue with the manner in which After Effects converts layers with the Linear mode into a PS layer.