On being “The Man” and After Effects with H.264

Recently, I was told that, with the launch of a big product like Crowd Control, I went from being just a guy to being “The Man.”

Sooooooooo not true. I only own a small island. (you know I’m kidding right – if you live outside NYC, there’s a 99% chance your home is a lot bigger than mine). But if it makes you feel better to think so, here’s a video of me being very serious and “the man” like:

Click the above image to watch the serious video.

But hey, OK – this is a website about video production, so…

Do you see how at the beginning of that video there’s some bad time jitter. A couple of Frames repeat themselves.  That’s due to the fact that my pocket video camera films with the H.264 codec. Footage with that codec is not meant for video editing.  To quote Creative Cow’s Dave LaRonde: “These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.”

This causes all sorts of problems in AE – video frames can get repeated, for example. You should never work in AE with H.264/MPEG-4 video.

Occasionally I’ve had to use H.264 video – And it sucks. But if you have to export it to another format in AE, make sure to have After Effects dump it’s cache often when rendering – watch this tutorial to learn how – it might just save you from a bad render. Might not though. I’m not even sure why, but it has helped me in the past.

Let me be clear – before using  your video in your AE project, convert the video to some other format. In other words, you could import your h.264 video into AE, and then render it to a different format – and THEN bring that new video into your real AE project. The reason I say this is because I’ve found that, with H.264 the more RAM intensive your project, the more likely it is to experience these problems. So better to convert it before adding effects… etc.  Better not to use it a all.

Thoughts? Suggestions for working with H.264?

7 thoughts on “On being “The Man” and After Effects with H.264”

  1. One comment, one question –
    Comment: that cat is one laid back cat!
    Question: was that recorded with AVCHD lite ? Also, along what you were talking about with h.264 in AE – could one just convert the file in their NLE before bringing it into AE…wouldnt that be easier or maybe same difference? Actually now I can think of another question – CS4 PremierePro can handle AVCHD in it’s native format…but you are saying if I move a file like that over to AE there could be issues? I’m debating new camera AVCHD or HDV…and I’m always concerned about the compression factor with AVCHD and editing / AE stuff. What do you think?

  2. working with native EOS5D files or avchd lite movies is painfully slow… those are delivery formats.

    i’d always batch convert to prores or cineform 1st to save from lots of headaches in the NLE.
    for rotoscoping, FX work on short clips and final AE polishing, uncompressed image sequences works best for me anyways.

  3. Thanks Aharon, I’ve stuggled with this before but never new why. Thank you, you are the man..

    How cool nad passive is that cat! Oh and kids that age are great, it’s when they grow up the real pain starts.. Trust me, i have 3!! Keep up the great work my friend..
    Dave Gregson

  4. I’m guessing we’re talking about the H.264 that comes out of things like the Flip Mino, yes? I have one of these, and they are great for spontaneous (or covert) recording, but you can’t get it to play well with a professional NLE or compositor.

    After hammering around for a couple of hours, downloading updates to their software, looking for convertors, etc. I ended up just converting my Quicktime 7 to QT Pro (I’m running Windows, it should be even easier for you Mac folks) and used that to convert to QT. I had no stuttering or issues with multiple frames, and took the footage right into AE for stabilization.

    I wouldn’t shoot a feature with the thing, mind you, but it seemed to resolve the issue for me. As far as size and such goes, well, I produce everything as uncompressed as I can, and then reprocess the final cut back out using the Adobe Media Encoder into whatever final format I need.

    Total price for the solution was less than $40.00. In my case it’s a double bonus because we have surveillance cameras that also feed H.264 so I can edit together various outputs from that.

    No guarantees this will work for every one or every system, but it may be worth a try considering the cost and the additional features and benefits of having QT Pro anyway.

    Oh, and Aharon. . . you da man!. -R

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