7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 2, 2015 3:14 AM by Rick Gerard

    The best codec to choose for rendering animation



      I am having an Issue rendering animated videos in after effects. I cant get small enough file sizes that are decent size to send via drop box etc.

      I am using a plug in for after effects called "toon it" by red giant. It converts live action video to cartoon/animation.

      I have been having alot of issues rendering out the videos.. they seem to be way to big in the way of file size.

      I have tried searching the forums here and read alot of information but nothing specifies whats the most ideal options to export an animation from after effects.

      I have also done extensive testing to try to get the videos smaller with different codecs and options in the render que of ae etc..

      I just really need some advice from anyone who renders alot of animation


      My short film is 1 minute long and it around 700MB.. its made up of 10 shots all rendered/exported for a "final" comp 


      I'm trying to render the final with quicktime - with either animation or sorenson 3 codec.. I have tried adjusting the bit rate also but it only really jumps down 50mb or so

      I have read alot of info like i said above but nothing was very direct in regards to the help i need.. there is no apparent index of information and what is the best solution depending on circumstance(rendering) which is rather hard to believe considering how much info is out there from adobe but I'm not surprised at all to be honest


      I hope this is enough info for someone to guide me


      thank you

        • 1. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          If you want quality you can't go below a certain CoDec, datarate and what have you. That's the whole point. you can try PNG or even PNG image sequences, but ultimately there are limits to how data can be compressed - unless you care to use lossy formats like Sorenson, H.264, JPEG and so on.



          • 2. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
            imeilfx Adobe Community Professional

            Hello liquidcactus,

            There is a lot of info on codecs or codec configuration but the best way is to know couple of principles of rendering video/animation and test for best individual needs. Those are that principles:

            1. For rendering to intermediate format (f.eg. for further editing or changes in other software) you should use Add to Render Queue...

            2. Files for further editing should be rendered with codec that will give the best quality, and bitrate f.eg. image sequence (PNG,Tiff), Quick Time animation, Lagarith (only windows) or uncompressed

            3. For final rendering you should use Adobe Media Encoder (by using Add to Adobe Media Encoder render queue...)

            4. For that you can use any codec that will give you the best balance between quality and file size. For that you can use for example h264 codec (mp4 file) if you are on Mac or h264 or WMV if you are on Windows

            How to set those formats/codec depend on your needs and animation/footage tthat you have but anyway it should give you much smaller file size than any of intermediate formats.

            • 3. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
              liquidcactus Level 1

              Hey imeilfx, thanx alot for the indepth response.

              I have just realised of late that I should be rendering things via media encoder as the final render.

              I also noticed i recorded the footage at 50 frames a second, i forgot to turn the frame rate down on my camera so that probably doesn't help my file size issue...


              Anyway thanx again that information has given me a bit more insight. I think i was on the right track for the most part as I was using H264 for most of the time.

              What is so special about media encoder over just rendering straight from AE ? Just a more streamline process I imagine ?

              • 4. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation

                Regarding Media Encoder, if nothing else it allows you to continue working in After Effects while you render your project in the background. So there's that!


                As for rendering smaller files, my regular workflow requires a few extra steps but guarantees I always have the best quality renders available. First, I render my final "masters" from AE to ProRes, usually at 16 bit to reduce banding and provide higher image fidelity. Obviously this produces large files, but they usually end up archived and not delivered to clients. Most of my deliverables (for non-broadcast at least) are then created using the free application MPEG-Streamclip (Squared 5 - MPEG Streamclip video converter for Mac and Windows). It's not the prettiest interface, but it does a great job transcoding or recompressing my masters to h.264. Final results look great, and are often as much as 10X smaller than the ProRes original.

                • 5. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
                  imeilfx Adobe Community Professional

                  Why Adobe removed f.eg. h264 from AE? There is a lot of discution on that and a lot of disagreement but there was two main reasons to use AME - even before h264 export was removed from AE - first is - as Rob_Birnholz said - you can render iwith AME and in the same time work in AE if your computer specs let you do that, and second is that AME is a piece of software tailored specifically for optimized rendering and handling bunch of formats and codecs, as AE is A Motion Deign tool and there was always some issues with rendering to lossy codecs (as h264). I think it's better to let people responsible for developing AE and/or PPro spend time on developing new plugins, tools and other creative stuff for motion design, animation and editing - not for fixing issues with some new codecs and stuff, and let people responsible for development of AME spend time on setting up the best, the fastest and the mosc optimized tool for final renderings from PPro and AE.


                  As for using MPEG-Streamclip I'm not sure why are you using it Rob? I've used it for a long time - before AME and other converters - but now when we have AME with a lot of codecs, preets etc. I don't see why Streamclip is better than AME? But maby that just me

                  • 6. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
                    liquidcactus Level 1

                    I'm using CS5 and h264 is still an option.. thats pretty crazy it isnt available in the later version(s) of AE..


                    I'm using adobe encoder and I want to ask is there anyway to adjust resolution size beyond "cropping" sorry i feel like I'm going a little crazy here... it cuts everything right down in res and gives me a decent small file size but yeah.. did some research and couldnt find much again.. hope that isnt to silly of a question


                    thanx again guys for the responses I really appreciate it from fellow adobe users !

                    • 7. Re: The best codec to choose for rendering animation
                      Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      dEven in CS5 h.264 Quicktime is a real dodgy issue not because of Adobe but because the h.264 Quicktime container from Apple is really lousy. With CS5 you have access to the Adobe Media Encoder which includes a large collection of presets for everything from YouTube to Vimeo to smart phones. AME does a great job compressing video. The only reason that you're having problems is that you have not been using the right workflow or tools. It's completely possible in the AME to make adjustments to everything from frame size to length and even add some filters. Please read up or check the help files.