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A simple After Effects work flow

Discussion in 'Zenmuse X5R' started by InterMurph, May 19, 2016.

  1. InterMurph

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    I am an Adobe guy, and I love Premiere Pro.

    But I don't love raw video in Premiere Pro. Playback is slow and choppy, even with a GTX 980 Ti video card. And the Lumetri color panel doesn't hold a candle to Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw.

    So I have taken to editing my 4K raw clips with Adobe Camera Raw in After Effects. Here is a description of the simple workflow I have come up with. This assumes that you have exported the raw DNG files from The Most Expensive SSD Card Evar, and that they are Premiere Pro compatible. For now,t hat means a trip through SlimRaw; in the future, everything should work fine.

    The steps:
    1. Start Adobe After Effects.
    2. Create a new project.
    3. Select the File/Project Settings menu item.
    4. In the Color Settings section, click on the Depth list, and select 16 bits per channel. We don't want to toss away the 12-bit raw data just yet. Then click OK.
    5. Select the File/Import/File... menu item.
    6. Navigate to a folder with a DNG sequence from the X5R. Again, these DNGs need to be Premiere Pro compatible.
    7. Select only the first image file.
    8. In the import dialog, check the Sequence Options: Camera Raw Sequence checkbox.
    9. Click Import.
    10. The first image in the sequence is displayed in Adobe Camera Raw. You can now edit it like the raw photo that it is; increase contrast and saturation, adjust curves, recover highlights, boost shadows, etc.
    11. When you are done, click OK.
    12. You will then have a Camera Raw Sequence in your Project panel. Right-click on it, and select New Comp from Select from the pop-up menu.
    13. You will now have a Composition in your Project panel. Click on it to select it.
    14. Select the File/Export/Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue menu item.
    15. The Media Encoder CC app will start, and the composition will appear in the Queue panel.
    16. Underneath the name, you will find the name of the codec it will use. Click on that to bring up the Export Settings dialog.
    17. In the top-right corner of the dialog, you will find the Format list. Click on the list and select DNxHR/DNxHD MXF OP1a. If you find yourself clicking on a low-bit-rate codec like H.264 or MP4, then you have wasted your money on the X5R. Now is not the time to discard 95% of the bits you have collected; now is the time to discard only 50% of the bits.
    18. Find the Video tab towards the middle of the panel on the right, and click on the Resolution list.
    19. To export the highest-possible quality 4K footage, which is what you want, select DNxHR RGB 444 10-bit from the list. (I am a Windows guy, so ProRes is not available to me; hopefully somebody can tell me the equivalent ProRes selections for Mac users).
    20. To make a small compromise in quality, but still retain most of the data, I will allow you to select DNxHR HQX 10-bit. But again, if you are thinking, "I don't need the highest possible quality here; I'm willing to compromose to save disk space", then you have wasted your money on the X5R. So don't even think about DNxHR HQ 8-bit. (ditto on ProRes here).
    21. Select the appropriate Frame Rate from the list. This must match what you shot at, so it will be either 23.976, 25, or 29.97. It will not be 24 frames/second.
    22. Check the Render at Maximum Depth checkbox.
    23. Check the Use Maximum Render Quality checkbox.
    24. Consider saving these export settings as a preset.
    25. Click the OK button.
    26. Click the green arrow/play button at the top right of the Queue panel to start encoding.
    27. Go to sleep; it will take a while.
    This process will produce an incredibly high-quality MXF file that can then be imported into Premiere Pro. You will be able to scrub through it quickly, and it will play back at full speed with a decent video card. And you will still have around 90% of the original quality of the footage. And you get automatic lens correction, which you can disable if you want.

    And if you save the After Effects project, you can later go back and tweak the Adobe Camera Raw settings, and re-export it. This turns out to be quite difficult:
    1. In the Project panel, right-click on the Camera Raw Sequence (and not on the composition).
    2. Select the Interpret Footage/Main... menu item.
    3. Click on the More Options... button in the lower left.
    Adobe Camera Raw will again start, and you can make more adjustments.

    And what if you want to edit a frame other than the first? There is an incredibly difficult way to do that as well, according to this page. I don't have Bridge installed now, so I'm not going to verify this, but it does seem possible.
     
  2. DesertWindAero

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    Great stuff, thanks!
     
  3. Richard Hurst

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    Brilliant. Can I ask once in Premiere and at the export stage what format do you export out as, still the same DNxHR/DNxHD MXF OP1a or something different?
     
  4. PortCanaveralFlorida

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    Lagarith Lossless Video Codec I know it's a older codec but Lagarith is a lossless video codec I've always used, files are up there just like ProRes.
     
    #4 PortCanaveralFlorida, May 20, 2016
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  5. Richard Hurst

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    Types of Apple ProRes Codecs
    The Apple ProRes format comes in five versions: Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 (LT), and Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy). The following list describes the features of each version. For a complete comparison of the relative data rates of the Apple ProRes codecs, see Apple ProRes Format Specifications.

    Apple ProRes 4444
    The Apple ProRes 4444 codec offers the utmost possible quality for 4:4:4 sources and for workflows involving alpha channels. It includes the following features:

    • Full-resolution, mastering-quality 4:4:4:4 RGBA color (an online-quality codec for editing and finishing 4:4:4 material, such as that originating from Sony HDCAM SR or digital cinema cameras such as RED ONE, Thomson Viper FilmStream, and Panavision Genesis cameras). The R, G, and B channels are lightly compressed, with an emphasis on being perceptually indistinguishable from the original material.

    • Lossless alpha channel with real-time playback

    • High-quality solution for storing and exchanging motion graphics and composites

    • For 4:4:4 sources, a data rate that is roughly 50 percent higher than the data rate of Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)

    • Direct encoding of, and decoding to, RGB pixel formats

    • Support for any resolution, including SD, HD, 2K, 4K, and other resolutions

    • A Gamma Correction setting in the codec’s advanced compression settings pane, which allows you to disable the 1.8 to 2.2 gamma adjustment that can occur if RGB material at 2.2 gamma is misinterpreted as 1.8. This setting is also available with the Apple ProRes 422 codec.
    Apple ProRes 422 (HQ)
    The Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) codec offers the utmost possible quality for 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 sources (without an alpha channel) and provides the following:

    • Target data rate of approximately 220 Mbps (1920 x 1080 at 60i)

    • Higher quality than Apple ProRes 422
    Apple ProRes 422
    The Apple ProRes 422 codec provides the following:

    • Target data rate of approximately 145 Mbps (1920 x 1080 at 60i)

    • Higher quality than Apple ProRes 422 (LT)
    Apple ProRes 422 (LT)
    The Apple ProRes 422 (LT) codec provides the following:

    • Roughly 70 percent of the data rate of Apple ProRes 422 (thus, smaller file sizes than Apple ProRes 422)

    • Higher quality than Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy)
    Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy)
    The Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) codec is intended for use in offline workflows and provides the following:

    • Roughly 30 percent of the data rate of Apple ProRes 422

    • High-quality offline editing at the original frame size, frame rate, and aspect ratio

    • High-quality edit proxy for Final Cut Server
     
  6. PortCanaveralFlorida

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    murpf was talking about a codec for the pc "(I am a Windows guy, so ProRes is not available to me; hopefully somebody can tell me the equivalent ProRes selections for Mac users)."
     
  7. Richard Hurst

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    What I put above are the best ProRes codecs to use for Mac users
     
  8. InterMurph

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    I would surmise that:
    • Apple ProRes 4444 is the equivalent of DNxHR RGB 444 10-bit
    • Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) is the equivalent of DNxHR HQX 10-bit
     
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  9. Richard Hurst

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    Yes I'd agree with that.
     
  10. erikgraham

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    Prores 444 and Prores 444xq are 12 bit, so probably not equivalent.
     
  11. InterMurph

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    Not equal, but close enough, so I think "equivalent" works here.
     
  12. InterMurph

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    Sorry, I missed this question when you posted it.

    My final exports from Premiere are always in H.264 format, for uploading to YouTube, Vimeo and such.

    I insist on DNxHR here because I am not yet at the final export stage, and I don't yet want to discard 95% of the data in the original raw video files. I save that until the end.
     
  13. Fixupilot

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    Hi,

    I tried to import Cinema DNG sequence into After Effects with latest Mac version without success. Then I exported a sequence again from Cinelight, this time I chose compatible with Adobe Premiere option. Tried to import this sequence into After Effects with no success again. Both time with the same Photoshop file format error. Is this normal behavior at the moment? Premiere imports these sequences without problems and I thought AE will do it too. Am I doing something wrong here?
     
  14. InterMurph

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    You are likely doing something wrong, but since I don't have a Mac, I can't help much.

    I will say that I don't actually use this work flow, as it is too time-consuming. Instead, I use the new Premiere Pro proxy feature.
     
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  15. wingnutaerial.com

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    The new Premiere Pro proxy feature seems the way to go. Hopefully though in the near future Premiere Pro will have a "Camera Raw" adjustment panel that mirrors Lr and Ae and Br and Ps and all those other products that seem to be made by the same company.
     
  16. DeanH

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    Yes agree!
    I followed your AE work flow and appreciate your effort. Could you elaborate a bit more on key settings you find that work in PP to get the best results relative to LUT/Looks?
     
  17. apsussex

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    Yes I hope so too, working with Camera Raw is much better than anything I can get from Resolve or the Lumetri panel in Premier.
     
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  18. Øystein Iversen

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    Can you please elaborate some on the proxy workflow. Why don`t you use this AE flow anymore? Do you find the options in Pr to be good enough?

    Is it just me, or do the footage look better in AE then in Pr. Do the two programs "read" the dng files somewhat different?
    I find my footage to look better in AE then in Pr.
     
  19. SKE

    SKE

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    @InterMurph when you export the H.246 for YouTube, Vimeo, etc... what bitrate do you use? Do you use VBR 2 Pass, etc..?


    Thanks for the writeup BTW. Extremely helpful.
     
    bujaman likes this.