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Not really. You might be able to build a master template project and figure out a way to script the clipping but After Effecs is a motion graphics and special effects system, not a video processor. It has hooks into all of the rest of Adobe's Suite products including Flash and Media Encoder but AE, by itself, is a terrible interface for that kind of work.
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Forget AE, forget AME, forget Premiere. Buy Canopus/ Grass Valley ProCoder or Sorenson Squeeze. While AME has a watch folder mechanism of its own, it is being far too picky which source formats it ingests and your WMVs and MPEGs from no doubt colorful and varied sources will make it go belly up. Safe yourself the headache, use more suitable products from competitors.
I'm asking questions on the Sorenson forums right now to see that it can do exactly what we need it to do, although it looks like it should. The GrassValley site doesn't appear to have a forum and it's a bit harder to tell exactly how the software works just by browsing their site.
This is basically the ONLY thing we need to do (that is, chop up larger video files of a few different formats into 3min FLV files) and we're even buying a seperate workstation to set it up to do this and only this, all day long. For that purpose, which one of these programs do you think would fit the bill best?
Bare in mind that we're looking for as much automation as possible.
Your "chops" cannot be automated. That's known as editing. It can be done in an editor or in an encoder. It's more properly done in an editor.
Look, I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but you're going about this all wrong. Since you're obviously not video savvy, you need to start at the end and work backwards.
You need FLV. So you say, but what flavor? Can you use H.264? Interactive Flash sites or applications? Using Flash Streaming Server? Just handing off Flash content on the Web? All are slightly different and can require different pathways to creating the media files.
You must deliver edited clips to your encoder. That can be batched but the editing canot, that is strictly a manual operation.
Mixed video codecs result in mixed results and require a variety of settings. None of that can be automated, it can merely be averaged.
Buying a separate, dedicated workstation for software you don't know if you need is frivolous but, hey, it's your money.
Try to relax and investigate this thoroughly. If you try to make decisions based on posts like this you're going to waste money and time. You're going to be money ahead by hiring a consultant.
"Look, I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but you're going about this all wrong. Since you're obviously not video savvy, you need to start at the end and work backwards."
You are correct, I'm not a video guy. My forte is print, graphics and web layouts and I have very little profesional-level video experience. The reason for FLV files is very simple, consitancy. It was decided that we're going to use the FLV format a while back so that our flash guys could more easily incorporate them into "flash toys" later on (no, we don't know what that means yet). I don't know that the specifics within the FLV format are pertinant at this time, and I don't see what would stop us from re-encoding them later if needed.
"That can be batched but the editing canot, that is strictly a manual operation."
This is exaclty why I'm posting on lots of different forums trying to find a solution, because as of right now, we are manually splitting these videos up and it's a significant drain on our department resources. The new workstation is already a go (and no, it's not my money) so that's happening no matter what, now we're just trying to automate as much as posible so our guys are free to do "real" work instead of defining 3 minute clips, over, and over, and over, and over again.
I understand what you're saying about multiple source formats causing problems, but I think you may be misunderstanding what we actually need. We already have a simple freeware ecoding program (Any Video Converter 3.0.2) that has handled every format we've thrown at it so far and batch processes them into FLVs no problem. Unfortunately it doesn't "chop" them up as well, which we need. If a freeware program has no problem doing this, I find it hard to believe the big boy apps will choke, unless they're being used incorrectly.
"Try to relax and investigate this thoroughly." "You're going to be money ahead by hiring a consultant."
Again, that's why I'm posting messages on forums. And thanks for the help, but I'm pretty positive we don't need to hire a consultant.
If a freeware program has no problem doing this, I find it hard to believe the big boy apps will choke, unless they're being used incorrectly.
Actually it's usually the other way around - many freeware tools consciously avoid certain things so they don't need to pay licensing fees, which applies to proprietary technologies like MPEG or FLV. Commercial apps, on the other hand, live within these standards, pay the licensing fees and can stick on the logo for advertising. This, however, makes them be quite picky about what they use and what they spit out, but guarantees you a minimum of cross-platform and cross-application compatibility. The free tools often can't do that, that's why you sometimes need to run a file through different converters jsut to be able to use it at all. Anyway, as long as it works for you, nobody can argue success. With regards to splitting clips, that's a whole different matter. For that you should probably look into automated ingest solutions for broadcast. Many of them support basic content-based scene detection and can build a database with the clips, which then could be used to feed an automated playout/ conversion system...