I have been working on some beauty retouching in after effects, using dynamic link from Premiere Pro
Resolution 720p, frame-rate 29.97fps
Two clips, in my sequence, when rendered from premiere pro or media encoder in h.264 codec with Vimeo 720p HD preset come out looking horrible and I can't figure out why. One clip has had significant grain added in after effects, so it kind of makes sense to me that h.264 codec is struggling to contain all that detail. However, the second clip with problems is almost identical to other clips in the sequence which render fine - all I have done to these clips is motion tracking via a null for a masked clean-plate retouching workflow, and some other tracked masks for dodging and burning details.
The clips look gorgeous previewed in after effects and premiere pro, but on export it looks like someone has dialled in incredibly high compression - the kind of quality you'd see on youtube many years ago.
I tried different rendering engines (cuda, openCL, CPU) - no change
I tried increasing the bit rate to 20 on h.264 export - no change
I tried exporting uncompressed files from After Effects and putting them on the Premiere Pro Timeline, thinking it may be a dynamic link problem - no change
I tried stupid things like modify>interpret>(different interlacing options, manually ensuring that square pixels were chosen) - no change
I checked that the composition resolution in After Effects was set to the same as in Premiere Pro - no change
I tried drop-frame and non-drop in After Effects, just in case - no change
Strangely I imported one sequence into another sequence so I could rotate it 90º for an instagram story at 1080x1920 and that had less apparent distortion at the same h.264 export settings, although when I reduced the bit rate to less than 5 it completely broke down in the same two clips I was having trouble with.
I found a strange work-around to produce a slightly, and I stress - only slightly, better quality h.264 file for distribution - I exported the sequence as ProRes 422, uploaded to vimeo and downloaded vimeo's full resolution compressed version. That is to say, that in this scenario, Vimeo's server based compression trumped premiere pro/media encoder. I think this is unacceptable - especially given that Adobe is about to price hike all of us.