Poor quality mp4 rendering

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Tsongo
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Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:10 pm

Hello,

When I export an animation and turn it into an mp4 the quality drops badly. Some "noisy" shapes go really jerky and skip frames, blurred edges are not smooth and you can see the lines in gradients.

If I look at individual images in the render window they're crystal clear but as soon as I turn the whole thing into an mp4 it all goes wrong.

I've got Anime Studio Pro 10, export as an MP4 ( H.264.AAC) as there is no other options for MP4s and the project settings are 720p(HDV/HDTV) 1280x620. My computer can definitely handle this sort of thing so isn't an issue.

Is there any way to turn up the quality of MP4 rendering in Anime Studio, because I can't find any settings. I'm not bothered if it takes a very long time and would willingly wait so long as it comes out crystal clear just like in the individual render windows.

Also is mp4 the best way to go with rendering or should I be using something else ?

Thank you.
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slowtiger
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by slowtiger » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:21 am

In a professional workflow you never render to MP4 from an animation program, instead you use a lossless codec (like Apple ProRes) to import the animaion into a video editor where you add sound.
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Tsongo
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:20 pm

Thanks for the reply but how would I go about getting or using something like that ( my pc is a windows 7 one ) ?

This could cause me a massive headache as I've got a 35 minute film made up of exported mp4s which are all cut and edited together with separate sound tracks that are perfectly timed ! Any suggestions on how to do that sort of repair job to get the best quality ?

I've never noticed things coming out this bad before but the scene that does it has rather a lot going on. I thought Anime Studio came with all the tools required to make animations, so why make it possible to do all sorts of things and export in certain formats when the exporter can't handle it and copy what you can see ?
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slowtiger
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by slowtiger » Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:40 pm

An MP4-encoded video always looses quality. Importing this into some program for editing and exporting again further decreases quality, that's why professionals don't use it as exchange format between applications. Exporting to MP4 is only the final step to deliver video for broadcast or upload.

The artefacty you describe are inherent to a lossy codec like h.264, only the amount of them changes with the quality setting you choose. Try to compare a rendering with 0% quality with one of 100% quality.

The "lines" in gradients are called "banding" and happen every time when a short colour distance is spread over a longer screen distance and saved in an unsufficient bit depth. Chroma (colour) information in h.264 is stored with a lower resolution than luma (brightness) information.

Blurred edges get distorted because of the codec's way of dividing the mage into block of 4x4 and 8x8 pixels. Frame skipping occurs because only every 16th frame is stored in (more or less) full quality, everthing inbetween is just interpolated.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 3:30 pm

Thanks again, that explains exactly what's happened to my scene.

I've done some experimenting and exported the scene as an uncompressed avi which came in at 1.6gb for 20 seconds of movie which is a lot more than the 1.4mb of mp4. But it looked like it should and was a massive improvement.

I then put the avi in a movie editing programme and converted it to mp4 which came out at 8mb but kept the same quality.

So do you have any suggestions about what I should use to export scenes from Anime Studio ? There must be something better than the massive avi files.
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slowtiger
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by slowtiger » Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:24 pm

I'm afraid AVI's the way to go on PC. On Mac I can choose ProRes, and with older Quicktime installed even PNG codec.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:33 pm

Wow, I'm looking at a few hundred gigabytes for my cartoon !

I was looking on the internet and there are loads of different lossless codec programmes are there any good ones for windows that can do it more efficiently and are compatible with Anime studio ?

Seeing as they don't cost vast amounts and some are even free it's a bit bad that Anime studio didn't include a really decent exporting option with the programme. It's not as if the makers wouldn't know it was necessary.
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Maestral
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Maestral » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:38 pm

Tsongo wrote: It's not as if the makers wouldn't know it was necessary.
Pardon my intrusion, but you must be aware that there is no such program which could handle the whole production. From what I know, only TVPaint could be considered as an exception from that rule but that`s a whole another ballgame. Also from my experience, it is not unusual to have the same scene exported in layers or just simply divided in portions due to the further editing.

In a common (professional) production, colour correction is considered as a separate process (team position) and providing materials in an appropriate format is not seen as some irregularity. Quite the opposite.

You have already devoted some time to produce 35 minutes of animation. How much have you figured out about the additional steps prior to presentation and publication? Animation production and editing are even different classes and curses so having a separate sw`s which could provide the means of proper deployment of what one has learned is not that much of a surprise now, isn`t it?

In short, one may only choose between the number of team members or the number of necessary programs. One man band is still a one man with a couple of instruments, right?

Although I have not seen your work, putting together 35 minutes of animation is a respectable endeavour but I have the same respect for all other team positions, common in animation production.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:45 pm

Intrude all you want, the more the merrier.

I fully realise it takes different types of programmes to make a film and I've used four ( Animation, sound recording, music making and editing ) but when Anime Studio says "Complete Animation for professionals and digital artists" on the box you would presume that meant you could export your work in a professional style and finish for editing etc. I know options are provided but I presumed that a complete service for professionals would mean you could create complete professional quality animations and then move on to the next process, not have to deal with another one in between.

It's not very good to make an animation and then have it stuck in the programme waiting for another programme to export it properly. All the other programmes I've used have given lots of export options for format and quality and they deliver the finished product which needs nothing else and is complete, but from what I've just discovered Anime Studio fails at the final hurdle if you want it at high quality.

Turning my movie into what I've calculated will be around 400gb ( that's the size after editing, I don't know how much I cut off ) to get good quality is ridiculous and not something I'm particularly happy about doing. Two hours of animation will pretty much fill up my computer !

Whatever happens I'm stuck with over 100 scenes in need of decent exporting so my question is.. What is a good programme to use for windows that will give quality rendering of animations, and not save them in huge files, that I can use direct from Anime Studio ? I can't see any options in the export section for select a programme etc. so how does this even happen ?

Also If there are no direct export from Anime Studio options then what should I use and how would I go about doing it ? I've read some old posts on these forums but can't seem to find a definitive answer.

Thank you.
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Maestral
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Maestral » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:09 pm

Tsongo wrote:1 ... but when Anime Studio says "Complete Animation for professionals and digital artists" on the box you would presume that meant you could export your work in a professional style and finish for editing etc. I know options are provided but I presumed that a complete service for professionals would mean you could create complete professional quality animations and then move on to the next process, not have to deal with another one in between.

2 ... to get good quality is ridiculous and not something I'm particularly happy about doing. Two hours of animation will pretty much fill up my computer !

3 ... If there are no direct export from Anime Studio options then what should I use and how would I go about doing it ? I've read some old posts on these forums but can't seem to find a definitive answer.
1 - As I previously mentioned - serious professional animator would know what to expect from that quotation and here, on this forum, you`ll find several really serious professional animators. I have also mentioned and explained a One-Man-Band option.
2 - Materials required for two hours of animation, nowadays, could easily fill a few TB`s. "My computer" is not actually a universal unit of measurement.
3 - Have you tried png sequence?
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slowtiger
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by slowtiger » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:28 pm

The problem for all animation software is that standard video codecs and the whole video framework are provided by the operating system. Windows only has AVI. Mac had Quicktime, which was fine and comfortable - unfortunately it's not continued any more, and they never announced a successor. Professional video editing software usually comes with their own set of codecs, mostly to fit camera input, but also for broadcast purposes. (Mind you that the video file rendered by the video editor might not be the last iteration: there's still conversion to broadcast formats and DCP.)

So Moho stating to provide "Complete Animation" is not wrong - the animation is complete. It's just not the final video output.

As for large video files - all lossless codecs produce those, so any serious filmmaker needs to have tons of terabyte ready. In your case you should use at least 2 external drives - one for production (this is where you render the big video files to), and the second for backup. Rotating rust is really cheap nowaydays.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Tsongo » Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:51 pm

Maestral... I am not a serious professional animator or any other type of animator. I'm just somebody that bought this programme and knows absolutely nothing at all about how animation studios operate, made a film and now ran into a whole pile of trouble. This will now mean me having to retro fit over 100 scenes into a set of completed sounds which isn't very easy because it's all been cut and edited together with fades.

So seriously how was I supposed to know what professional animators expect from software when it says complete on the box and I'm used to programmes that leave you with a finished product in a manageable form ? Can't you see that all this is a total surprise to me ?

Slowtiger.. Guess it's external hard drive and uncompressed avi files from now on. Thank you. I just wish I'd done a complicated night scene a lot earlier so I would've seen how badly an mp4 came out and what was lacking with them.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by synthsin75 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:39 am

Just install Quicktime Essentials, without the QT player and browser plugin (as these have security vulnerabilities on Windows), and use its PNG or Animation codec. These will still be large files, but probably not as big as uncompressed AVI. Video quality always comes as a trade off with file size.

But you do need to keep the final delivery in mind. If you plan to upload to YouTube, unless you use the codec they want, your video will be re-encoded, with a probable deterioration of quality.
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Greenlaw » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:40 am

I almost never render a movie file directly from an animation program. In fact, in all the 20+ years I've been working in the industry, the studios where I've worked always render to image sequence from whichever animation package we're working in. The frames are then compiled in either a compositing program or a video editing program. Some video players also have the ability to compile an image sequence to a movie file, and this includes Quicktime player if you're using the Pro version. But there are many free players, programs and utilities that can do this too.

Efficiency is the reason for rendering in passes and image sequences. It's not unusual to go through many revisions of an animation or composite, and by breaking scenes out into passes and image sequences, you only need to re-render the bits and pieces that change, which can be much faster than rendering an entire movie file from the animation program. The point where I need movie files is at the video editing stage near the end of the workflow.

Briefly, here's a walk though of my workflow: render elements and passes for compositing from the animations package (this is what Moho's Layer Comps is for,) assemble the elements and add effects (lighting, particles, 3D, etc.,) or image processing using a composting program and render movie files from there, assemble the movies editorially and mix the audio in a video editor and export the final movie from there. With some variations, this a standard workflow for animation production.

For compositing, I like to use Fusion and/or After Effects, and for video editing I use Vegas 16 Pro. If you're on a tight budget, there's a free version of Fusion you can download from Black Magic Design's website. The free versions has the same features as the full Studio version minus network rendering, the optical flow plugins, and the ability to use third-party plugins. I use the Studio version but for most 2D animation production, I don't think you'll miss these extra features. I'm not sure what the best free editorial program is but there are a couple of them out there.

Hope this helps.
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Maestral
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Re: Poor quality mp4 rendering

Post by Maestral » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:16 am

Tsongo wrote:Maestral... I am not a serious professional animator or any other type of animator.
To be completely honest with you - I really don`t understand this sentence while having in mind that you`ve already produced 35 minutes of animation. One of these two claims is questionable and let alone a lack of hesitation before you accused SM on false advertising in "Complete Animation for professionals and digital artists". If you`re not an animator and even less of a professional animator - how comes you have not had a second of thought before those accusations?
Tsongo wrote:So, seriously... Can't you see that all this is a total surprise to me?
It was obvious from the beginning but apparently, you can`t get rid of that grasp of surprise :wink: and it seems like you have not noticed how many people replied on your thread. And you`d still prefer to talk about that initial surprise?

Your ambition to put together 2 hours of animation is respectable by all means, whether you see yourself as an animator or not. So, now that you entered the Realms of animation :wink: feel free to ask and try to implement whatever you find useful. Personally, my first huge discovery about animation was how important it is to plan things ahead. I`ve heard from experienced people about the 70:30 ratio in favour of time needed for preparation over the time needed for mere production. Even more, for those who find this irrational, those same people claimed that they would experience 30:70 ratio once and most likely try to have it reversed back on the next project. Sounds ridiculous but that enabled me in reducing the surprises (like the one you`re having these days). However, Murphy is still and always there - eager to lay a proof test on my or anybody else`s plans :wink:


I`ll try once again, in short - If you buy a professional video camera, would you really expect the finished and polished movie to come out of it?
Perhaps, a stand or tripod would be handy? Some additional lights? A few extra batteries? Filters? Polarizators? Then, there`s some gadget for measuring light and another one for previewing and ... etc.
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