6 Replies Latest reply on Dec 15, 2008 2:42 AM by Jonas Hummelstrand

    Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut

      My question is regarding importing PSDS or Illustrator files to AFter Effects without distortion.
      I will use CIRCLES as my graphic example to keep this simple.

      In the past to avoid distortion (keeping circles from becoming ovals) I was always to told

      1. created my scene or graphics in Photoshop and worked in a 720 540 sq pixel PSD file.
      2 I then would size down (resample clicked on) to 720 486.
      3. The import to a NTSC D1 720 486 After Effects project.
      4. Export to a non compressed 720 486 quicktime.

      I was told this years ago and it always worked. When viewing the animation on a TV the circles would stay circles and when I imported to Final Cut everything looked fine. I worked at a television station last year and that was their workflow so it made realize I was doing the right thing.

      Now with HD and people telling me otherwise I am back to confused.

      #1 People claim they view in DV NTSC view
 in Photoshop at 720 486 and then just import to a 720 486 DV1 After
Effects comp and everything is fine when they view on TV or import to FINAL CUT.

      Even Photoshop tells you that's for viewing purposes only so this confuses me. Sure you can sit there and spend time stretching your picture until it looks right in that mode but that doesn't make sense.  Going 540 to 486 is
quicker.


      #2 one weird thing I noticed is if you save your PSD with the NTSC
 view mode turned on it will automatically import to After Effects with
 DV NTSC comp settings. Otherwise it will import into a Square Pixels


      So here are my questions and thanks to those who can help. Please respond to each question if you can.

      #1) Is there a way to avoid creating a 720 540 PSD and then crunching
 down to 486? And somehow keep circles circles and photographs not
distorted.

      #2) Why does the DV viewing mode in Photoshop effect the importing into
 After Effects if it's just for preview purposes and still stays a square pixel file?
 That said I like that viewing mode in Photoshop because when I do my
 720 540 to 720 486 crunch I can see that everything will look fine. But I still want to know why?

      #3) Below I will list all Finalcut Sequence Scenarios and if someone could fill in the blanks for the workflow from Photoshop to AFter Effects, to Quicktime, to Final Cut that would be amazing.

      Here are my 7 scenarios

      A) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is 720 480 NTSC DV(3:2)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      B) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is 640 480 NTSC (4:3)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      C)FINALCUT SEQUENCE is HDTV 720 P (16:9)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      D) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is HDTV 1080i (16:9)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      E) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is HD 1920 1080
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      F) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is HD 1280 1080 (16:9)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      G) FINALCUT SEQUENCE is HD 1440 1080 (16:9)
      Photoshop file size?
      After Effects Comp setting?
      Quicktime Export size?

      The only thing I've been told is some people make their After Effects comps Square pixels to match the square pixels photoshop file which yes works fine in After Effects but once you import to Finalcut with NTSC Settings then you get pixalation and distortion. Even if you just export from After Effects the Quicktime looks fine but on TV it's distorted. It's because you're going to square to circles. Even pros I know admit they don't know and often just deal with distortion which is ridiculous to me because I know there has to be an answer and plus I have clients who don't like their logos distorted.

      Thanks very much to those who can help!!!!!


        • 1. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
          (Steve_Patterson) Level 1
          1) Work in the square pixel equivalent to a D1 frame (648x486).
          This way, the pixel shape will change, but there won't be any resampling.

          2) Viewing with Pixel Aspect Ratio correction in Photoshop should only occur when your PSD is not using Square Pixels. Then the warning will appear that it is for preview purposes only. Check under "Image>Pixel Aspect Ratio" to make sure that you're using either square, or non-square PARs as needed. If the PSD file has a non-square PAR, AE will recognize that, and try to interpret it accordingly.

          3) Presets, presets, presets!!! Use the Photoshop and AE presets for the standards that exist. Create a new project in AE, and then create a new composition. When the dialog box pops up, take a look at all of the presets in that window. All of your answers should be there!
          • 2. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
            Level 1
            Thanks for the quick response. I think I'm getting closer to understanding.

            1) SO work in Photoshop in 648 by 486 for 720 486 comp but what about for the HD scenarios I listed?

            Also when you say the pixel shape will change that means the actual picture won't. Just the pixels. Circles will stay Circles? I've been told by a broadcast guy that he works 720 486 PSD and then straight to 720 486 AE with no problem and he can't explain why.

            2) How can you have a PSD that isn't square pixels? I thought "IMAGE>PIXEL>ASPECT RATIO" was where you went just for viewing purposes only. It doesn't change the file just the view right? That's what I was trying to say in my previous post that I was aware of that menu but didn't think it changed the actual file. Sorry I'm not getting it and hopefully not confusing things.

            3) I set the preset for 1920 1080 in AE and if I work in Square Photoshop, Square After Effects, and Square Final cut then everything is fine. UNTIL I bring in video footage which obviously isn;t square. Sides are cut off or you have to stretch footage. I think if I was just doing an animation I'd be fine because when you export from After Effects the quicktime is converted to an animation file which I believe is ready for broadcast.

            I'm starting to think that working in square across the board is the answer but I haven't tested to see what it looks on TV yet. Most of my stuff is for web but some for TV so I have to check. If anyone has any other suggestions I am all ears! Thanks!
            • 3. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
              (Steve_Patterson) Level 1
              1) Regarding the HD scenarios, look at the comp presets in After Effects. They will guide you as to what PAR, and frame size you should be using in Photoshop. If your "broadcast guy" works in the D1 0.9 PAR preset (which is fine), he probably works with Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction enabled in Photoshop. His file actually has a 0.9 PAR, but he may likely be viewing it in Photoshop and in AE with PAR correction enabled.

              2) You can designate your file's PAR in Photoshop both when you create a new document (under the "Advanced" fly-out), or using the "Image > Pixel Aspect Ratio" feature mentioned earlier. "Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction" (a display feature found under the "View" menu) is what is for viewing purposes only (to make an circle in a D1 0.9 PAR file that looks like an ellipse actually look like a circle again). That view feature will give you a preview of how it will look when the image is output to a TV.

              3) As far as mixing types of footage (square PARs, non-square PARs, differing frame sizes, separating fields, removing pulldown, etc...), that's a whole other ball of wax. You must make sure that your footage is being interpreted correctly, first and foremost, when you bring it into AE. If you are scaling footage, make sure to not use the "fit to comp" command, but the "fit to comp width" command, which will preserve the aspect ratio of your footage (scaling both the X and Y equally). Depending on the nature of your source footage, and the nature of the composition in which you are placing your footage, you may see letterboxing, or black on the vertical sides of your frame.
              • 4. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
                Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                johnr,

                Please note that the presets in CS4 are just that; presets that you can easily change or ignore. If you're working with a system that dislikes the correct values; by all means use the old values when you're setting up and rendering your AE project.

                The CS4 PAR values are technically correct, it's just that the industry have been ignoring the "blanking" in video for all these years.

                I like to work in square-pixel comps. I avoid scaling issues and I can easily render to square client previews. When I'm doing final renders for broadcast work I either drop the final comp into a non-square comp or "stretch" in the Render Queue (avoid if you are using NTSC and fields.)

                - Jonas Hummelstrand
                http://generalspecialist.com/
                • 5. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
                  Level 1
                  HI Jonas. Thanks for the info. I didn't expect to get such quick help. This is awesome.

                  1) I'm only in CS3 but when you say the CS4 PAR values are technically correct, you mean they are technically correct for broadcast and avoiding scaling?

                  2)What do you mean the "blanking"

                  3) If I drop my final square comp into a non square I get the black space on either side. If I scale it within that comp it pixelates the edges of things. (subtle but noticeable)

                  I'll experiment with the Stretch in the Render queue. I've never done that.

                  4) So if I'm in a 1920 1080 square AE comp what would I stretch to? 1920 1080 HDTV? that's the only option I have in my pulldown.

                  5) And I know this isn't a finalcut forum but does anybody know what sequence settings I set if I want a non square 1920 1080 comp.

                  In my final cut (5) I set the frame size to 1920 1080 HDTV 1080 (16:9) and the Pixel Aspect Ratio pulldown menu only has the following options

                  1. Square
                  2. NTSC CCIR 801 DV
                  3. PAL CCIR 601 720 576
                  4. HD 960 by 720
                  5. HD 1280 1080
                  6. HD 1440 1080

                  I just learned I could edit in square (obviously if I don't incorporate NTSC video footage.
                  And it seems if I work square across the board (photoshop, AE, Final cut) which everyone seems to be suggesting everything seems to be fine. Except when I need to add my animated intro to a Final Cut project with video footage.

                  So does anybody know what I set the PAR to in Final cut to be able to mesh the two. (animated intro and video footage)

                  Thanks again to anyone who can help.
                  • 6. Re: Aspect Ratios / Distortion Workflow from Photoshop to After Effects to Finalcut
                    Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                    1) 2) Yes, since the outer horizontal edges of a camera frame and a broadcast frame is always black (it's called "blanking") you shouldn't stretch your image all the way out there. The "production aperture" is the part of the frame that should contain your content. You can't avoid scaling when we're talking about non-square content; it's scaled to save bandwidth.

                    3) Correct. If you didn't have the black bars, you'd stretch your image onto the non-visible part of the frame. Note that this has nothing to do with safe areas which are a totally different thing.
                    Stretching in Render Queue must be avoided for NTSC content that is contains fields-based footage or is rendered with fields! For PAL and NTSC progressive it works fine.

                    4) 5) 1920 by 1080 IS square.

                    - Jonas Hummelstrand
                    http://generalspecialist.com/