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Yeah, possibly the profiling being lazy and needing a few frames to level in. ;-) If it's an option, I'd add some time at the start of the clips which then in turn you could trim off in Scenarist. This should technically not make much of a difference once the stream is being multiplexed for final output, it may just offset the timecode.
That's a good idea, unfortunately my author tells me the Blu-ray version of Scenarist can't trim off the head and even if it did we'd most likely have problems because it would have to be on an I frame. So I guess I'll stick with uncompressed quicktimes and CinemaCraft, which I'm starting to think looks a lot better anyways because of the multi-passes.
Thanks for the help.
I do a fade up from black, which seems to work for me.
There are some parameters in the encoder for initial activity and similar stuff that you might try experimenting with. I've not had the time to try those yet, but it's on my to do list..
Ultimately, you're going to get a lesser quality encode directly from AE - it's just not the ideal tool for compressing anything using a temporal compression algorithm, by nature of how AE works.
It's rare for me to use AE as a compression tool. Standard operating procedure is to render a lossless/uncompressed file from AE and encode with a more appropriate tool. In your case, if you're using a Mac, Compressor is the obvious choice. On the PC, you've already mentioned you have Omni CinemaCraft. Either of these tools will be superior to AE as an encoder.
It's a problem with the h.264 encoder, as implemented in CS3 suite, not specific to AE. I have the same problem rendering from Premiere Pro.
That's interesting it does it in Premiere as well. Anyways, I think the lesson here is what Andrew said and I'll keep exporting out those uncompressed quicktimes and using other compression software.
Thanks for everyone's help-