Tag Archives: After Effects

Layer management in After Effects

Lloyd Alvarez posted this incredibly useful script at AEScripts.com. My one beef with After Effects over the years has been how difficult it is to manage layers in the timeline. Using the simple concept of tags, this script makes layer management much easier.

Working around QT 7.4 After Effects error

As noted nearly everywhere motion graphics artists congregate on the web including here, QuickTime 7.4 and After Effects don’t play nicely together. Apparently Apple’s movie rental DRM scheme is the culprit. Any QuickTime render from After Effects that requires more than 10 minutes will generate a permissions error.

There are two obvious options to address the issue:

  1. Downgrade to QuickTime 7.3
  2. Render an image sequence and then piece that sequence together in either QuickTime Pro or After Effects.

I’m not a huge fan of downgrading because you just never know if you’re going to break something in the process. If 7.4 is working for you aside from this pesky After Effects error, you might want to try this work around. It adds an extra step in After Effects, but it works. Follow these steps:

  1. When it comes time to render your After Effects composition, take that composition and nest it in another composition with the same settings by dragging the composition to the New Composition icon in the Project window.
  2. Select the original composition in the project window.
  3. Go to the Composition menu and select Pre-Render. The original composition has now been added to your Render Queue.
  4. In the Render Queue, edit the Output Module settings so that you are creating an image sequence. (I like .psd files for this because the file sizes are reasonable and the files are written quickly.)
  5. Now add the new sequence with the original sequence nested in it to your Render Queue. Set its Output Module to the desired QuickTime settings. Since this sequence will render in much less than 10 minutes, you should have no problem getting a valid QT movie out of After Effects without reverting to an earlier version of QuickTime.

This adds just a couple of minutes to your total render time, and you can leave After Effects to do its thing with a long render without having to manually piece the image sequence together in QuickTime Pro.

After Effects CS3 8.0.2 update available

After Effects logoThe awaited 8.02 update for Adobe After Effects is now available for download for Mac OS X and Windows, and through the Adobe Update Manager. It’s been my experience that the process goes a lot faster with the manual download.Support for direct P2 import into After Effects has been added. Mac users get Leopard compatibility.Originally the update was going to address issues with QuickTime 7.4, but the update was released without the QT fix. Adobe continues to recommend CS 3 users do not update to QuickTime 7.4. Known issues include failure to render files that take longer than 10 minutes to render.Some work arounds include rendering still image sequences and then piecing them back together in QuickTime Pro, or downgrading (just like the PCs do in those ads) to QuickTime 7.3 using Pacifist.No word on when a QuickTime 7.4 fix will be released.

ADDED January 25:

Edit detection in After Effects

After Effects timeline after running scriptLloyd Alvarez posted Magnum – The Edit Detector to AE Scripts. The script will examine a layer in an After Effects composition and either break each shot into separate layers, or place markers at each shot change. I tested it on the old Apple “1984” ad I use in a motion graphics class, and it found all 26 edits at the default settings in less than two minutes on my MacBook Pro. I estimate, that it easily saved me about 30 minutes of work.

This is one of the most useful free scripts I’ve come across for After Effects.

ProRes 422 – After Effects gotcha

Previous testing of the ProRes codec comparing it the Avid DNxHD codec yielded some unexpected results when Adobe After Effects was used to generate test media. While the Avid codec made the round trip from Media Composer 2.7 to After Effects and back without issue, the ProRes codec showed what appears to be an YUV to RGB conversion issue.

Further testing reveals that the issue is not consistent between a recent beta release of Adobe After Effects 8/CS3 and After Effects 7.

ProRes 422 through After EffectsPictured (click to enlarge) are the waveform and vectorscope images when the original ProRes 422 HQ material is placed on V1 of a Final Cut Pro 6 timeline and the same image placed on V2 after being run through After Effects with no changes made to the image – the clip was placed in an AE timeline and simply re-rendered with ProRes 422 HQ.

For the time being I don’t recommend using Adobe After Effects to render ProRes 422 material. While we can be confident this issue will be addressed shortly, this is exactly the kind of gotcha that can be expected when a new codec is released in the latter phases of a beta cycle. I’ve been transcoding clips to the Animation codec with Final Cut’s Media Manager before going to After Effects. Allowing FCP to handle the YUV-RGB conversions seems to work well.

The bigger lesson is that whenever a new codec is introduced to your workflow it should be tested in the applications it will be used in.

Looking down the road, color space, codec, and file format, and frame rate conversions will be with us for a long time. Make hardware and software decisions with eye towards the future and compatibility.

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