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How are you viewing your rendered DV footage?
On a computer monitor? Via Quicktime, or another application?
Oftentimes, the DV codec will display poorly on a computer monitor, but look fine when output to a broadcast monitor/TV.
In QT, you can enable the "high quality" setting, which may help, but DV is DV at the end of the day.
If your final destination is DVD (mpeg2), then you'll have to transcode your lossy DV footage to yet another lossy format in the future.
A better workflow may be to render uncompressed/losslessly compressed out of AE, and then compress to mpeg2 either using your authoring software, or a third party encoder (such as Quicktime Pro).
Widescreen DV PAL footage contains a PAR (Pixel Aspect Ratio) of 1.42.
When you look a file that is rendered with that PAR, (depending on how you're viewing it) it may appear that everying is tall and skinny, because the frame size is still 720x576, although in the long run, the proportions will end up looking more like the 1024x576 widescreen Sqaure Pixel PAL preset (16:9). The device playing the material will stretch the content back out for display (in the event of a widescreen monitor), or letterbox it in the event of display on a 4:3 screen.
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I recommend you do some reading up on Footage Interpretation and Render Settings. Your issues very much come down to mixing up fields. And of course Steve has a point - not much sense in reviewing interlaced output for DVD on a progressive device such as a computer monitor is and similarly, it does not make much sense to output to compressed formats, when another step of compression will be added on top of it. You could even directly render to MPEG-2(DVD) and safe yourself extra work. Regarding the Flash issue - again, Steve has provided the correct hint. You need to drop your anamorphic stuff into a square pixel equivalent comp and use that.
There are a couple of things ....
Video is usually a non-square pixel aspect ratio (NTSC/PAL). Many times graphics are created on computer as a square-pixel aspect ratio, because they weren't designed for video.
This will cause your images to appear 'stretched' or 'squished' depending on the format (NTSC or PAL).
As for the flicker, it may be an issue with interlaced vs. progressive video. If the graphics have thin lines, or the text has thin lines or serifs they will appear to 'flash' or flicker.
Let me know if this answers your questions.
Apologies for the massive delay in responding (i was off work for a bit with a family matter and the project was passed to someone else in my absence and i have only just realised that i did not respond to these posts at the time) . Thanks for the responses and direction - all helped in my understanding of the process. Thanks, Tom
Your vector artwork from Illustrator should be interpreted as Square Pixels. It's highly unusual for Vector artwork to be anything else.
Anything you brought in from Photoshop or other image editing program should also be interpreted as Square Pixels unless you specifically created the artwork in Photoshop as non-square using one of the Photoshop Presets.
The composition you set up for rendering should be created using one of the presets. It looks like you're either using NTSC DV Widescreen or NTSC D1 Widescreen. Maybe you're in PAL land and using PAL D1/DV Widescreen. Make sure that you don't resize anything in the Output module.
In the composition window, if you have Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction turned on your footage will appear as it will when you look at on a TV. Nothing will be distorted, but there will be some ugly aliasing artifacts in the comp window because of the onscreen interpolation of the pixels. These artifacts will not show up in your render. If you don't like looking at the aliasing problems then you can turn off PARC in the Composition Panel and put up with the distorted (squeezed) image.
The way you keep things undistorted is to interpret the PAR of each asset in the Project Panel as it actually is and let AE do the PAR management. AE will usually guess correctly with footage (video). It may miss widescreen tags so you'll have to watch for that.
AE will always guess incorrectly for Illustrator or Photoshop artwork that should be square pixels but is created at a standard non-square image size. IOW, if you create artwork that is 720 X 480 pixels it will always be interpreted as NTSC DV pixels. The only time this is correct is when you intentionally create your artwork using this preset. I personally think that this seldom a good idea and only do this on rare occasions.
I hope this helps.