10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 18, 2012 2:56 PM by Todd_Kopriva

    Format and Codec Question


      I have been creating movies by doing all of the effects heavy sections in After Effects CS5.5 and then I export those clips to H.264 MP4 files that I import into Premiere to complete my movie.  I then export the finished Premeire Pro CS5.5 project as a H.264 MP4 file.  The issue I have been having is that the clips exported from After effects do not look as good as the rest of the movie. The After effects sections look much lower in resolution, especially in fast moving effects.  I do a lot of my projects as 1920 x 1080 with 30fps, so I expect the whole movie to look high resolution. 


      Could someone tell me a better way to do this.  Should I be saving the AE projects in some other format or codec. I am open to any suggestions on better formats to use for the AE projects as well as the finished Premiere project.


      Or, should I be using dynamic link some how to use my AE projects in premiere without having to export them.  I would be open to doing this if it is a better way to go.

        • 1. Re: Format and Codec Question
          bogiesan Level 4

          Working in a highly compressed format is fundamentally flawed. You're compressing a compression of a compression so, yes, it's going to look pretty bad as all quantization artifacts are compounded at each and every processing step.


          You can shoot whatever format or codec you want to but you should transcode to a full frame codec from H.264. Those codecs that are highly compressed in both spatial and temporal resolution must be unpacked and that takes time at every frame since individual frames do not exist and After Effects wants frames. Work in a good frame0based format for all of your editing and effects ad only go to h.264, or any compression, during the output stage.


          These are simple best practices. The fact that you can use H.264, or worse, stright out of the camera in Premiere, or AE, for that matter, does not mean it is a good idea.


          Message was edited by: bogiesan

          • 2. Re: Format and Codec Question
            Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            Try rendering a Quicktime with the PNG codec out of After Effects instead. You also might consider using Avid's free DNxHD codec. It is technically lossless but has relatively small file sizes (compared to uncompressed AVI, for example).

            • 3. Re: Format and Codec Question
              Wisconsind Level 1

              Thank you for your response.  Could you please give me your suggestions for what "good frame-based format for all of your editing and effects" you would use.  I tried Quicktime with the animation codec, but the file was HUGE and impossible to work with.

              • 4. Re: Format and Codec Question
                Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                Szalam gave you good recommendations.

                • 5. Re: Format and Codec Question
                  Wisconsind Level 1

                  Thanks.  Could you tell me how I can get the Avid DNxHD codec.  I have never added other codecs before other than those just available within the Adobe products.

                  • 6. Re: Format and Codec Question
                    Dave LaRonde Level 6

                    You can download it from the Avid web site after a little bit of nosing around.  As always, follow download & installation instructions to the letter.


                    You already have Quicktime, or you couldn't work with the Animation codec.  If you didn't purchase the codes that enable you to access QT Pro, I for one highly recommend it.  I wouldn't be without it.  Best 35 bucks you can spend in many a month.


                    Stick with the latest version of QT 7.  Avoid QTX like the ebola virus.


                    I wonder if the "d" at the end of that handle stands for "dells".

                    • 7. Re: Format and Codec Question
                      Wisconsind Level 1

                      Thanks.  What do you use Quicktime Pro for.  I know you can use it to convert some files, but how does it help you in video production.


                      The "d" in my handle is from my name Dan.  I live about 75 miles north of the Dells.  Fun place to visit.

                      • 8. Re: Format and Codec Question
                        Dave LaRonde Level 6

                        What do you use Quicktime Pro for.


                        I'm almost exclusively a quicktime kinda guy, so I'll use it for a variety of codec conversion purposes; sadly, it can't do batch conversion, but for one-offs it's great.  I cut in FCP at work, and use AE on a Windows box at home, and it's a must-have.  Heck, I find it easier to drop an mp3 into QT Pro and export an aiff than to open some other application.


                        75 miles north of the Dells means Wausau - Stevens Point - Wisconsin Rapids... kinda-sorta. I have longtime friends in Chilton just east of Lake Winnebago, and recently moved a daughter from a years-long residence in Manitowoc.  I learned Wisconsin's a nice place.  I even have a red ball cap with a Motion W on the front so I can travel incognito.  Also a classic-design Leinie's cap.


                        I should also mention the green ball cap with the G on the front.  Now, THAT'S traveling incognito.

                        • 9. Re: Format and Codec Question
                          Wisconsind Level 1

                          Thanks again Dave.  I have tried both the Quicktime PNG file and I downloaded the Avid DNxHD.  Both work great.  The DNxHD does reduce the file to about half the size of the PNG.  I will have to do more experimenting to see what that means from the quality standpoint.  It has to be better than what I was doing with H.264.


                          I live in Wausau.  The baseball caps with the W and G on the front are both good ideas for traveling in Wisconsin.  Also do not where anything purple (MN vikings).

                          • 10. Re: Format and Codec Question
                            Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                            >  I will have to do more experimenting to see what that means from the quality standpoint.

                            Though DNxHD is lossy, it is very good at determining what data to throw away, so it's very often good enough. But, if you need perfectly lossless compression, PNG is the way to go. I find that I only need perfectly lossless compression when doing realistic compositing/VFX work (like greenscreen work), where the small differences in pixel values can be noticeable at the edges of a matte.


                            Now that you have these two tools in your toolset, you'll be able to choose what's right for each situation.