Best Export Settings in After Effects CC

Most of the works we do nowadays require a minimum of compositing or visual effects. No doubt the most common software for this kind of job is After Effects.

Graphics, animations, it’s a tool good for many tasks, and although the integration between elements of the Adobe Suite is getting more and more seamless with each version allowing to go round trip from one software to another, there are still some scenarios where you need to export your comps to get them in the editor. But how to get the best settings for your file? Let’s get a look at the suggestions from Motion Array Tutorials.

First of all, we need to go to the Render Queue, but that’s an easy one. Once you finished working the comp you can send it to the queue through the dropdown menu under Composition, and then Add to Render Queue. You can achieve the same result by pressing Ctrl+M on windows or Cmd+M on macOS. Once in the render page, you’ve got quite a few options.

You can choose your render settings, although it’s better to leave it as is unless you have a specific need to render at half size. You can instead tweak the file settings. By default you get a Lossless option, that is a .mov container with an animation codec.

On the dropdown menu, you get various filetypes, not only video but also audio, like mp3. Let’s go on with the .mov container, though. Going to format options instead you can change the codec of your file. In the secondary window, you get another dropdown menu. Usual choices are ProRes 4444, ProRes 422 or Animation.

If your comp needs to have an alpha channel, let’s say like a lower third, where the image has a transparent background,  you need to change from the normal RGB to an RGB+Alpha setting. To do this you must go the output module in the output video section.

Take note that not all files can display an alpha channel, so if you see it missing you should change the file type to something that allows an alpha channel, like MOV and ProRes, or .PNG in case of an image sequence. Finally, the audio. You have three options, On, Off, and Auto.

Auto means AE will render audio only if there is audio in the comp. Once done, you can choose the part to export to and hit render. Pro tip: keep your caps lock on, so that AE will not refresh the preview and give instead all it’s CPU cycles to the rendering process. It may seem futile, but on longer renders, it will help reduce time.

AE is not capable to export to all formats, so if you need to create an H.264 or a GIF (why though?), you can send the comp to render in Media Encoder. It’s quite simple, from the first dropdown menu previously mentioned, under composition, you should click on Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue, or you can use Ctrl+Alt+M (or Cmd+Alt+M).

The interface you get is quite simple, leaving alone the presets or the batch folders you’ll find a queue where you can change settings opening a dialog box identical to the one you get in Premiere Pro CC. You’ll see there are more formats than the ones found in After Effects, and you can choose the best one and tweak the settings as needed.

So finally, you are ready to export and you’d like to have a file that can go straight to Vimeo or YouTube. What could be the settings? We’d suggest going in the options panel of Media Encoder, opening the dialog box. Match the source in the first dropdown, and by enabling both audio and video, go for a Variable Bit Rate in 2 passes (VBR, 2 Pass), with a bitrate of 25.

Remember to always use the maximum render depth. In Media Encoder, you have also the ability to log in your social media, like Youtube and Vimeo, and get it to render and publish in one click. And all the settings are there, privacy, channel info, creating a playlist or whatever you may need.

[source: Motion Array Tutorials]

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