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How to Export Video and Graphics From After Effects

Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this lesson you will learn how to export your projects from After Effects. 

How to Decide What Codec to Use?

Is it going to be a final delivery type video? That means, is your project going to go to the place where it's going to be displayed, something like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, or maybe a client? In that case, it's probably going to be H.264 or H.265 video codec.

Or, are you going to render an element from After Effects and use it in a video editor like Premiere, Resolve, Avid, or Final Cut? That's going to use a different type of codec. Let's head into Adobe After Effects and look at doing that.

after effects project exampleafter effects project exampleafter effects project example

How to Export With a Transparent Background Using Media Encoder

Now, in this comp the background layer is a guide layer, so we can hide it so that it doesn't render. Essentially, this project is going to render out and look like this with a transparent background with the title in the same position located on the bottom left of the screen.

hide background layerhide background layerhide background layer

To get this out of After Effects, go to Composition > Add to Media Encoder. That's going to send it over to Adobe Media Encoder and, by default, your comp is going to show up with the settings or the preset that you have last used in Adobe Media Encoder.

add to media encoderadd to media encoderadd to media encoder

For this example, we need to change that because H.264 is not going to work as it doesn't have an alpha channel and it's not great quality.

industry standardindustry standardindustry standard

To change this, select the Quick Time format. Pick a preset that has an alpha channel. For example, Apple Pro Res4444 with alpha, or GoPro Cinaform RGB 12-bit with alpha. Either one of these will work as long as it has an Alpha channel. For this example let's select GoPro Cineform RGB 12-bit.

media encodermedia encodermedia encoder

Choose the destination to save the file and then press start where Media Encoder will get to work and render the lower third.


How to Use The Rendered File in Adobe After Effects

Once the file has been rendered, you van import it back into Adobe After Effects or other video editing programs by clicking and dragging it back into the project.

Make a new composition with it, by clicking and dragging it to the New Composition Button and you can see it renders exactly like we expected.

new comp from footagenew comp from footagenew comp from footage

It's got an alpha channel and the background is transparent. If we laid this over footage in another video editing application, it would work just fine.

using lower thirdusing lower thirdusing lower third

How to Export Your Project for Viewing Online or For a Client

All right! Let's look at another example. Let's say you've made something really cool in After Effects and you want to export it so you can upload it to your YouTube, your Vimeo, your Facebook.

Or maybe you've created a whole project for a client, and it's time to export it for your client. How are you going do that?

new projectnew projectnew project

Well, it's going to be the same procedure, but you're going to be thinking about using a different codec because we don't need something that is super high bit rate. We want the standard delivery codec which is usually H.264, or increasingly, H.265, the successor.

Make sure that the project is selected and in the top menu go to Composition > Add to Adobe Media Encoder (Control - Alt - M).

media encodermedia encodermedia encoder

And just like before, it will be added to Adobe Media Encorder. However the settings need to be changed again as it is using the same settings from the previous project. So change the format to H.264.

choose H.264choose H.264choose H.264

This will then give you a huge drop-down with all kinds of presets which include things for Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.

choose presetchoose presetchoose preset

For example, if this was going to YouTube and the project was 1080p, you would then pick the preset 'YouTube 1080 Full HD'.

choose youtube presetchoose youtube presetchoose youtube preset

Choose a location for the file to be saved and the hit the start queue button to render your project. 

Now, if you are rendering for a client, and they have very, very specific requirements for your delivery, you're going to want to jump in to the Export Settings dialog box. You can do this by clicking on the preset that will open up the export settings.

click to go to export settingsclick to go to export settingsclick to go to export settings

Focus on the left side which is where all the options for changing your video will be located. With the format of H.264 selected, you can get in here and really customize a ton of options.

Underneath the Video tab you will have options to change the resolution, frame rate, field order amongst other things.

Scroll further down and you will find options to change the bitrate settings.

video optionsvideo optionsvideo options

You can also explore the options from the other tabs such as the Audio. Where you can choose the audio codec, whether it's mono or stereo and also the bitrate of the audio.

audio optionsaudio optionsaudio options

There are also more settings to explore such as the Captions tab where you can publish captions.

captions optionscaptions optionscaptions options

In the Effects tab you will find a variety of effects that may be useful to some clients. For example you can create a name overlay when enabled. 

effects tabeffects tabeffects tab

You can also change the position of the name overlay.

name overlayname overlayname overlay

It may be helpful to throw a timecode overlay in as well so that when your client is reviewing the footage they have the actual time code so they can get very specific about any changes or feedback.

time codetime codetime code

If you want, you can create a preset and save all these settings for future use.

save presetsave presetsave preset


Congratulations! And that's how you can export your projects and videos using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Media Encoder. Now that you've learned the basics, check out some of the other tutorials we have on Adobe After Effects below.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful and I'll see you next time on Envato Tuts+!

More Adobe After Effects Tutorials

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