You don't need to launch Premiere to use AME.
AME can also invoked from within AE, and (as of CS4) it can also be launched as a standalone application.
In AE, AME is used to set encoding option for distribution formats. The AME dialog appears when you pick FLV, H264, MPEG-2, etc as a format in the Render Queue's Output Module.
To launch it in standalone mode, you can find in the applications folder in your computer. If you hace Production Premium or Master Collection, AME can open AE Comps using Dynamic Link and encode them in the background. If you don't have one of the suites, you can render an intermediate file from AE and feed that to AME standalone as source.
I'm probably not getting this right. In the Render Queue when I select H.264 I don't get the same options I do from AME H.264. Running AME as a stand alone I can only "add" video files. It doesn't render directly from an AE project. I also tried exporting a Premier project, brought it up in Premiere but it wouldn't carry over the plugins.
I've never used AME. But have you first read the manual for this type of stuff?
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In the Render Queue when I select H.264 I don't get the same options I do from AME H.264.
It's a subset of those options, because AE doesn't support things like 2 pass encoding, for example.
Running AME as a stand alone I can only "add" video files. It doesn't render directly from an AE project.
In the File menu you'll see a menu item called "Add After Effects Composition", only if you have the CS4 Production Premium or Master Collection suites. This will bring the Dynamic Link browser, which lets you pick an AE comp from an AE project and encode that directly from AME standalone.
If you got AE or Premiere Pro as separate point products (ie, not as part of a suite), you won't get that option.
I got it right now. Thanks. I like the way it will render an AE project without AE even being open.