After years of working with Adobe products (since CS3) I am completely at a loss with the CC Adobe Media Encoder. It is having an extremely negative effect on my ability to provide clients with an accurate delivery date for their product.
Recently, I worked on a relatively simple project in After Effects; some green screen compositing of people in a stationary car with a moving background.
Due to poor lighting during filming, I had to chroma key two copies of the same video separately to adjust for color variances. I then nested those compositions into another comp and did a little masking for edge cleanup, where necessary.
Finally, I added the moving background in another layer.
To recap; I was working with two 1080p 59.94 fps video clips with no sound. One of the clips was nested twice inside a composition and the other clip was used as-is as a background layer. The only effect used was Keylight and the only modification to the clip was masking.
The length of the final composition was four minutes and thirty-one seconds.
I sent the composition to Adobe Media Encoder to render a working preview to review before going final, and set the output to a custom 720p render, VBR 6 to 8, 59.94 fps, no audio.
AME told me the initial render estimate was sixteen hours. Sixteen HOURS to render a four and a half minute clip with the simplest of edits.
Thirteen hours later, the render finished.
I was already behind schedule on the product due to being forced to do much more post-production clean up than I had anticipated. Having no idea that such a simple edit would take so long to render, I had communicated to the client that I would have a render for review roughly two to three hours after completing the edits.
That estimate proved to be short by ten hours. As you can imagine, the client wasn't exactly thrilled.
This is just one example of the up-and-down performance of AME. One project, it is pumping out video like gangbusters, and the next project it suddenly decides that I have hours and hours of time to wait for it to do whatever it is doing instead of rendering.
I have implemented every fix suggested in the vast number of posts concerning this issue, but none of them have really made any impact. Some suggestions have actually made the situation worse, i..e., switching the Mercury Engine to software only, which has added four hours to render estimates.
Typically before any render, I Purge the memory and caches completely, so that should not be an issue.
After Effects is my primary workhorse... literally my bread and butter. I have invested considerable time developing my skills using it, not to mention money invested upgrading each and every version. Now I can't even give my clients a reasonable estimation of how long a project will actually take because I no longer have a frame of reference for something as simple as render time. "I don't know" doesn't seem to be a good solution.
Is there a real solution on the horizon? Or am I going to have to continue to build in large blocks of time into my schedule estimates for rendering just in case AME decides to be less hare and more tortoise?
Why are your videos set to near 60 FPS, there is no need for that. What settings are you using for AME, if it's a HD video then H.264 and YouTube 1080p are perfect.
The source video was 60 fps because the client wanted the option of slow motion. I was editing the footage to remove the background and I still needed the final output to be 60 fps so that I would have the option to adjust the timing in Premiere Pro for the final product.
I did use H.264 for the output... that is the only reason I sent the comp from AE to AME since native H.264 from AE is deprecated now (will have to change that setting in AE).
If you refer back to my post, you will see that I was using a lower bit rate setting than the YouTube 1080p setting. So that really has nothing to do with the render time.
Once I made the corrections and rendered the final through AME (roughly 18 hour render time because I bumped up the output quality) I imported it into my Premiere Pro project, added music, sound effects, slow motion, and text / titling.
Render settings were H.264 1080p VBR 2 pass bit rate 10 to 12 with 44100 320 bit rate audio at 29.97 fps.
That final render took about 27 minutes.
I would have to do a 59.97 fps render to make a direct comparison between AME and PP, but I can't honestly see a 60 fps render from PP taking anywhere near as long.
I guess my final solution will be to take AME out of the equation and render H.264 natively from AE to see if that makes a difference.
Still; this project had very little modification. It was 80% straight video. I have had massive render times with previous projects but those typically included 3d, particle effects, etc. This one was pretty straightforward and I did not expect such a ridiculous render time.
I don't even work in AE, but from years of working in Premiere Pro and sometimes needing to layer up effects, here's my suggestion that could make a huge difference for you - create a layer with effects, then export using a good intermediate codec (with alpha if appropriate). Should be quick. Then use that new clip and add more effects/layers to it, or combine with another intermediate, and so on. Export the "final" composition again using an intermediate, then from that you can create the .mp4 deliverable.
Seems that perhaps you created some "perfect storm" with the variety of the comp and nesting and sending to AME. From reading forums every day, I'd often seen it recommended to NOT export H.264 from AE.
We have no idea what your computer hardware is like, what format the video being worked on was, etc. and those could all be factors.
Were you editing camera-native files that were highly compressed and take a lot of processor to decode? Long-GOP perhaps? Perhaps better off to convert sources to intermediate codec first before compositing. Just lots of things one can do. One might say "I don't want to take extra steps to export intermediate clips at any stage", when in reality that might really just take minutes and the alternative is waiting "all day" for results. Break it down into stages and I bet you are a happier editor.
Skip the nesting - export two separate clips as intermediates then comp them together. Has to render MUCH faster.
"I don't even work in AE, but from years of working in Premiere Pro and sometimes needing to layer up effects, here's my suggestion that could make a huge difference for you - create a layer with effects, then export using a good intermediate codec (with alpha if appropriate)."
With this particular project, the only effect I used was Keylight (chromakey to remove green screen) and masking to correct some hard edge bleed. Not much to ask from AE, really.
However, you are correct; I could have rendered the two comps I used Keylight on separately as AVIs with alpha, and then composited the final together with the masking. I just didn't think that it would be necessary, since there was so little done to the original files.
I should try that to see what the cumulative render time would be rendering each comp separately. It would definitely be interesting to see if rendering two keyed comps and then dropping them back into the masked comp and rendering the final would have been faster overall.
I have to say though, it sounds counter-intuitive time-wise to render essentially the same footage twice and then render it again.
"Were you editing camera-native files that were highly compressed and take a lot of processor to decode? Long-GOP perhaps? Perhaps better off to convert sources to intermediate codec first before compositing."
Actually, the source files were from a GoPro Hero 5 and a Canon C100. The GoPro shot was for "chase" footage... they attached the GoPro to the back of a vehicle and drove around. The C100 footage was a slider shot of the exterior of a car with passengers.
Before I even started the chroma key / masking process, I took both files into PP and edited them for time and synchronization to match the music and narration the client wanted to use. Then I exported both from PP to begin the keying / masking process in AE.
That initial render from PP only took about 12 minutes per file.
It IS a great point, but in this case, I had already converted the files from their native format.
"From reading forums every day, I'd often seen it recommended to NOT export H.264 from AE"
Same here... but so far, my experience with AE to AME has not been very good, between the render times and Dynamic Link failures, etc.
Thanks for the suggestions, Jeff.
"I have to say though, it sounds counter-intuitive time-wise to render essentially the same footage twice and then render it again."
No argument there! However, you and I both know that a chroma key shouldn't take all day on the 4-minute clip, so when it says "16 hours" that's a red flag and we try stop and try something different then 😉
Not saying it's okay that AE wanted to take that long to begin with, but since it did in this case for whatever reason, then we put on our thinking caps and figure out how to "beat the system".
Curious, when you exported initially from Premiere, what codec was used then? GoPro footage has a reputation for being processor-intensive to decode, so glad you got away from that right away.
"It would definitely be interesting to see if rendering two keyed comps and then dropping them back into the masked comp and rendering the final would have been faster overall."
It absolutely would have to be exponentially faster...no way 13 hours is at all reasonable. But I would ask again, what are the computer specs and codec being used?
SAFEHARBOR11 wroteCurious, when you exported initially from Premiere, what codec was used then? GoPro footage has a reputation for being processor-intensive to decode, so glad you got away from that right away.
When I did the initial timing and re-rendered the footage, I used H.264 and matched the bit rate on the GoPro footage (essentially VBR over 7 mb/s will match out) to reduce overall compression.
The Canon footage I used H.264 but bumped the VBR up to 10 to 12 so that the next time I compressed, I could keep the loss down.
Typically, I like to render out source footage as uncompressed AVI before I go final, but the Canon footage was pretty huge already and the GoPro footage was already compressed, so combined with the timeline, in that situation it seemed like it would be a bit of a waste.
AE does not contain a H.264 codec any more.
"AE does not contain a H.264 codec any more."
Well, that honestly sucks. I didn't realize they completely took it out.
Before CC, the only thing I ever used AME for in the past was queueing or conversion. Since CC pretty much forced me to use it for H.264 export, I have had some pretty serious ups and downs with it and overall, I think I fall on the "I loathe it" side of things. It really just feels like a non-essential kludge that doesn't add anything to my workflow.