For Editors and AEs
A Note on Time
Even the most basic GFX request may take considerable time. There are numerous factors involved that dictate the time it takes to deliver a graphic asset, including:
- render times
- timely delivered assets from EDIT or ARCHIVAL
- clarity of the request
- other ongoing requests that need to be prioritized
- complexity of the request (tracking/roto/compositing take significant time)
- creative - coming up with new designs or creating assets from scratch takes significant time
Since we are strictly limited by time and budget, those factors are to keep in mind when compiling a list of requests for an episode. If the deadline for a cut is the next day, it is unlikely that many requests will make it in. Furthermore, the quality will be relatively poor. The more time we have for a request, the more time we have to work on it - the more rounds of feedback it may get and (hopefully) the better it will look. If a particular request is salient, let's prioritize that and get it to GFX asap.
All GFX requests are tracked in the GFX Tracker - available here.
The Tracker has been built to streamline the often complex interaction across post production, in regards to GFX.
Life Without A Tracker
The following narrative highlights the potential issues that the tracker attempts to mitigate. (It is fictitious and to be taken humorously).
Someone comes up with a GFX request for the episode they are working on. This request is added to the script as it's been written. GFX goes through the script and makes a list of anything found that has some sort of "GFX" label. The script changes... GFX does not get the new version of the script. Meantime the Editor slots time for the request in the cut and exports. GFX misses the Slack message that the latest cut has gone out as they were trying to figure out who put in the request so they could get clarification on it (nevermind... that request has been cut!). GFX is still referring to the old version of the edit. GFX gets some assets from the AE as specified by the Editor. Those assets are a bundle of multiple requests - total file size: 50GB!!! Few hours later download is complete... GFX does not know which files are for which request; and can't piece it together since they are still referring to the old cut and script. The AE does not know what they are for since they are just handling the files... GFX reaches out to the Editors and finds out about the latest cut, that meantime has had a few more revisions. GFX gets a hold of the latest script but the timecodes of the requests are outdated. GFX rebuilds the GFX list by going through the script line by line and the now 20 minute long cut. Yay GFX list updated now can start work - shitsies it's already 4pm, deadline is in 2 hours! GFX exports the request and sends over to AE. AE sends over to Edit. Edit reaches back saying render is not timed to reference - the cut was revised just after the assets were prepped by the AE and sent over to GFX. The AE sends the new reference, GFX retimes and exports. Producer sees render and asks for revision. GFX exports new render and sends over to AE. AE send over to Editor but they're already rendering cut for the afternoon - Editor's last day, they'll be movin on to another show. Revised render gets lost in translation. New Editor jumps in and is stuck with old render. Meantime GFX working frantically on other 12 requests by EOD and hands in (very) rough versions while postponing the other half... wait! deadline has been moved...... when did that happen?! A week later... someone reaches out to GFX noticing the revision has not been made. GFX reaches out to Editor inquiring about it. Editor has no idea. Meantime AEs have swapped and new AE asks for a filename. Can't seem to find the file on the system. GFX has deleted the render locally to make space... Re-exports and sends over to AE. AE sends to Editor. Editor updates in cut. AE preps for online. Online editor jumps in, goes through the cut - deadline is EOD. Notices archival still has watermarks on a GFX request! Informs GFX, GFX goes over all exports and spots countless other archivals with watermarks. Sends list to Archivist. Meantime a few requests had been cut from latest edit. Archivist purchases unneeded assets. GFX hastily swaps all archival with hires and re-exports. Sends to AE that sends to Online Editor. Editor enquires about requests that are not in cut?! GFX, Supervisors, Producers, Editors, AE, Archivist, Nemo, all trying to figure out why/when/how some requests are missing...! Ok, that is that and this is this, coolio! Editor then notices a request that has been delivered by GFX as a proxy due to the file size. GFX scratches head, then face palms... forgot about that one! Attempts massive export in 4K, ETA: 50min - shitsies, 1hr left to deadline!! Made it!! Phew!!! Oh! Last minute client notes are in.... ahem they don't really like the GFX, maybe just make them a little more... you know... like SPARKLY! erhm... and Textless? Oh, GFX has already moved on to another show, but where are the project files?!?!?
NUFF SAID - Tracker to the rescue! The aim of the Tracker is to centralize all GFX requests. It is crucial that anyone interacting with the Tracker familiarizes with it. The functionality of the workflow is strictly dependent on the accuracy of the data in the Tracker. Even though it has been built with clarity and simplicity in mind, it still will feel unfamiliar at the start due to some of its complexity - so do reach out for anything that doesn't make sense to you.
The Example page aims at familiarizing you with how the Tracker works. The rest is explained below.
Color codes are used to set the status of a request. Statuses can be one of:
- New (White/Colorless)
- Done (Green)
- Doing (Orange)
- Revision (Blue)
- Rejected (Red)
The Color Code schema is depicted in Row 1 of each sheet.
The Permissions system is in place to establish who can edit what, based on their role. An example is the GFX Code column (Column 1). This is a unique code for each request and is assigned by GFX only. We use this code in our Naming Convention and it is used to track files on our end. If someone other than GFX were to change that, we would lose reference to the project file for that request. So only edit fields that match your role, as defined in the Permissions row (Row 2 in each page of the Tracker).
Permissions are defined by role (with the exception of Requesters that can be anyone) and may be one of the following:
- Anyone making a request, regardless of role.
- Responsible for getting assets to and from GFX and EDIT.
- Post Supe
- Post Supervisor, responsible for deadlines.
- Responsible for building and delivering the requests.
A Requester starts a new request by filling in the description, initials, and date for that request in the appropriate columns, in an empty row at the bottom of the tracker. If available, the Requester can add a Frameio link to the relevant cut and the approximate Timecode of where the GFX request should be displayed. This helps GFX understand the context of the request. The description can be of any length and should include SOURCE attributes if necessary, and any links to external sources that may help contextualize the request.
Next, GFX will process the request, set an appropriate GFX Code, define the GFX Type, and compile a list of Assets for the AE and Editor that are required to build the GFX.
The AE will prep the required assets, upload them to Media Shuttle, and send a download link to GFX. They will then add the folder name where the assets have been uploaded to in the Tracker, for reference (note that just the name of the folder and not the entire path is required, since the path will remain the same across all episode directories). Depending on the assets sent, the AE will fill out the various asset columns whether those are Reference clips, footage files (if there are a large number of footage files, please place them in a folder and specify that folder name instead), or stock footage / archival clips. This helps GFX know exactly which file belongs to which request, and becomes practical if a request is later assigned to someone else. Having the stock footage / archival clips tracked separately allows to quickly spot what needs to be purchased, and a list can be sent out promptly to the Archivist.
Once GFX receives the assets they will begin work on a request. The request will be assigned internally and that row will be highlighted
ORANGE to identify it as
DOING. When a row is highlighted, no more changes can be made to it (except for fixing mistakes). Any further changes to a request will take the form of Revisions.
Meantime GFX and the Post Supervisor will liaise to set a deadline for the request.
Once a request is complete and rendered out, GFX will upload it to Media Shuttle, and send it to the Editors and AE (See: GFX to EDIT Workflow). The file and folder names will be added to the Tracker in their respective columns. GFX will ensure that the Latest Render column features the most up to date render for each request. If there are doubts about a file, please double check this column first.
After picture lock, the AE will start conforming for online. GFX will go through each render that has made it in the latest cut and export the 4K versions, if there are any outstanding. Once a 4K version is ready for online, it will be checked in the 4K Delivery column.
GFX will keep track of any requests that require a Textless version by marking those in the Textless Delivery column. If any are missed, please add an empty checkbox and notify GFX so they can provide a version asap.
Finally, GFX will archive the project files and add the zipped folder path in the AE Collected Project Folder column.
Once a request is formalized and work begins on it, GFX locks that request; no more changes to that row are allowed by a Requester. A row is locked when it is highlighted with any color other than white. This prevents issues if work starts on a request that is changed midway. We need to be able to track changes made to a request so we can create a new Revisions instead. To make a revision the Requester:
- Duplicates the desired request.
- Removes the current highlight.
- Edits whatever fields they choose, based on Permissions.
- Makes sure to add the
- Highlights the cell of the first column with Blue - to state that a revision has been created.
- GFX takes it from there...
EDIT TO GFX WORKFLOW
Please reach out or make a request if there are any GFX related requirements, except for any typographic elements that can be otherwise found in the Typography MOGRT template. GFX related requirements include:
Do feel free to experiment if you have a GFX idea in mind, and you can send over a reference clip along with the original footage. If you choose to handle a GFX entirely on your end, please still let GFX know so we are on the same page - in essence if it's a GFX request, it must go in the Tracker.
Assets to GFX
When a request is formalized in the Tracker, GFX will go through it and make a list of assets required. Except for specific cases, the required assets usually consist of:
- reference clip (proxy, trimmed)
- a clip with the timing of where the gfx will fit in the latest cut
- this should be trimmed (no handles)
- low resolution is fine (e.g. 720p)
- footage clips (highest res, trimmed)
- if the request is to composit over footage, GFX will need those backplates
- those should be trimmed as in the edit timeline
- highest resolution available
- archival clips (highest res, trimmed)
- stock footage items should be added in the Stock Footage / Archival column in the Tracker. This helps to keep track of items that need to be purchased.
- watermarked proxy until purchased, then highest res available
- trimmed as in the edit timeline
By obtaining trimmed clips, transfer time and storage space is saved. This also allows for hot swapping (e.g. color corrected version of a backplate, un-watermarked version of an archival clip). But most importantly, GFX will have the exact timing to work with for processor intensive tasks, such as tracking or rotoscoping.
In the case of Transitions, please send over both clips trimmed to the full length of the transition - this way we have handles for flexibility.
In regards to resolution, GFX will handle creating proxies when needed. Since most of the requests require some level of tracking or rotoscoping, especially due to the handheld shots, GFX will require assets at their highest resolution.
Asset Naming Convention
As long as each file exchanged with GFX is logged in the tracker, there is no need for descriptive file names or to enforce a naming convention. So please use the naming convention that is more ideal for you. GFX has their own naming convention and is described here.
GFX TO EDIT WORKFLOW
GFX will be delivering exports to Editors at their highest resolution, except for preview purposes. This way the loss of quality, when converted to proxies for the Editors, is bearable. It also avoids any re-renders unless revisions are requested.
Renders will be placed in the relevant episode's folder on Media Shuttle, and organized by [
DATE], using the
YYMMDD structure. The folder location is the same for each episode:
VMP024_E201/02_ASSETS/GFX EXPORTS/01 FROM GFX/[YYMMDD]
Once a GFX render is uploaded, the file will be sent directly to EDIT using the sharing feature in Media Shuttle. The recipients should include:
- CC: Post Supervisor
The folder name and filename of that render will then be added to the Tracker in the appropriate row. The folder will be specified in the
Render Folder (From GFX) column. The filename will be written in the
GFX Latest Render column. See: GFX Tracker > Request Workflow.
GFX requests that require compositing, such as overlays, will be exported and delivered in layers when possible. This gives flexibility to the online editors to toggle off text for Textless versions, but more importantly will allow the colorist to color the backplate and gfx separately - since the footage is shot in LOG color space whereas the GFX exports are not.
GFX PROJECT STRUCTURE AND NAMING CONVENTIONS
Project Folder Structure
The following is the essential project folder structure:
- Collected project files (zipped)
- Stock Footage
- Reference clips
- Template Projects
- After Effects Autosaves
- Final renders for delivery.
- After Effects or Media Encoder Render Logs
- Work In Progress renders
If you are familiar with
Python you may use the following script to automate the above folder structure creation on your system (if you are interested in a step by step tutorial of how to build and run this script, read: Project Folder Templates in Finder Using Python).
#cd to folder in Terminal, then run script. import os import datetime currentDT = datetime.datetime.now() nowTime = currentDT.strftime('%y%m%d') def createFolder(directory): try: if not os.path.exists(directory): os.makedirs(directory) except OSError: print ('Error: Creating directory. ' + directory) createFolder('ARCHIVE/') createFolder('ASSETS/') createFolder('ASSETS/3D') createFolder('ASSETS/FOOTAGE') createFolder('ASSETS/REFERENCES') createFolder('ASSETS/TEXTURES') createFolder('ASSETS/VECTORS') createFolder('AUTOSAVES/') createFolder('RENDERS/') createFolder('RENDERS/DELIVERY') createFolder('RENDERS/LOGS') createFolder('RENDERS/PROXIES') createFolder('RENDERS/SCREENSHOTS') createFolder('RENDERS/WIP') createFolder('SCRIPTS') createFolder('TRANSFERS') createFolder('TRANSFERS/INCOMING') createFolder('TRANSFERS/OUTGOING')
GFX Naming Convention
After Effects Project Files
The following naming convention is enforced for After Effects project files only, but may be used as a guideline for naming any other project files or assets.
Each AE project file name should include:
- GFX CODE
GYA_101_001] - [
- This has to strictly match the GFX code of the request as defined in the Tracker. If a project is misplaced, a search can be performed by this unique code.
- TYPE (Optional)
- Type represents the GFX category as specified in the Tracker. Not essential but comes in handy when used as a search term, while locating project files.
ShortDescription] - Use
- Short description that helps identify the project contents without having to reference the GFX Code in the Tracker.
YYMMDD] - Year first ensures that the files are properly sorted as oldest > newest, or vice-versa.
- This date should reflect the date the project file is created and worked on. If changes are made to a project on a new day, that project should be duplicated and renamed to include that new day's date. See: AFTER EFFECTS > Project Versioning.
- Initials help identify who's worked on the project file - helps the team reach out to that person if there are any questions.
- If a project file needs to be versioned on the same day, this version number should increment.
AE Project Filename Structure
AE Project Filename Example:
Render files coming out of After Effects should be named consistently since they are considered deliverables, and should include:
- AE PROJECT FILENAME
- The full name of the AE project file that the render is coming out of.
- COMP NAME
- The full comp name, including the version number.
- An incremental lowercase letter: [
- This provides additional versioning between comp versions - if multiple renders of the same comp version are needed (useful for minor tweaks or error fixes...).
- An incremental lowercase letter: [
- DESCRIPTION (Optional)
- Optional descriptors can be inserted before [
Music, etc. - and separated by a dash [
-] on each side.
- Optional descriptors can be inserted before [
- FRAME RANGE (If rendering only part of a comp)
- If only a specific frame range of the comp is rendered, we can include that. No need for zero padding (01, 001, etc.).
- RESOLUTION (If applicable)
- This is useful since we add the latest render filename for each request in the Tracker - at a glance we can tell if the render is a proxy, and needs to be redelivered at a higher resolution.
- ALPHA (If alpha channel exists)
- if the render has an alpha channel, we add a lowercase
alphaat the end.
- if the render has an alpha channel, we add a lowercase
Render Filename Structure:
Render Filename Examples:
Render Filename Templates in AE
Render file names may be automatically assigned when queueing a comp, if using a preset Output name from the File Name and Location Template panel (Render Queue > Output To: dropdown > Custom).
Here are two useful presets (just copy/paste the structure in the dialog box):
- Project and Comp Name:
- Project Comp and Frame Range:
A collected project filename should match the respective AE project filename, excluding date and version. Instead, it should include
ARCH to specify that it is an Archive, and the [
DATE] of when the archive was created. Make sure to include your [
INITIALS] as a signature for creating the archive. (See: GFX Naming Convention > After Effects Project Files for a description of the other metadata.)
Archive Filename Structure:
Archive Filename Example:
AFTER EFFECTS PROJECTS
Versioning is strongly recommended when working on any request. The proposed workflow is to version the AE project file by DAY. So each new day that a project is worked on, that project should be duplicated and the day's date included in the filename. This allows us to keep track of which days a project has been worked on, and find a project version with more ease - by cross referencing the date of that request or render file. Furthermore, a version number should be included at the tail of each project filename in case a project needs to be versioned on the same day. See: GFX Naming Convention > After Effects Project Files for details.
Within each After Effects project, it is also recommended that each RENDER comp is versioned. When a render is sent out and feedback is received, any comp that requires change should first be duplicated, with the version number incremented. This ensures previous versions of a comp are kept as a backup. To assist with automatic comp versioning consider using the free True Comp Duplicator AE plugin (name your own price). For render file naming see: GFX Naming Convention > Render Filename Templates in AE.
AE Project Folder Structure
The following is the basic After Effects project folder structure. You may choose to set this up as a project template while working on the show.
- 01 - RENDER COMPS
- Only comps that will be rendered
- Those need to be versioned: [
- 02 - SUPPORT COMPS
- All precomps or other comps
- 03 - ASSETS
- Hires Backplates
- 04 - REFERENCES
- References from edit
- 05 - SOLIDS
When starting a new AE project, those should be the default settings:
- Bits: 16bit
- Can work and render previews in 8bit for faster workflow, and set to 16bit for final render only. 16bit provides greater color precision and is a must for high quality renders. The codec used for final renders is Apple ProRes 422, that supports 10bit. Any additional color data is dithered down to 10bit, but it's important to have a higher bit depth to start with - this gives the Colorist more flexibility.
- Audio: 48k
- UHD (4K): 3840x2160
- Frame Rate: 23.976
- Render Engine: Classic 3D (unless specific case)
Two codecs are used for final renders. If a clip has transparency, render using Apple ProRes 4444 to include the alpha channel. Otherwise ProRes 422 is fine. The depth should be set to Trillions of Colors for final renders, to give flexibility to the Colorist. Container is QuickTime .mov.
- Codec: Apple ProRes 422
- Depth: Trillions of colors
- Color: Premultiplied (Matte)
- ProRes 422 does not include an alpha channel so premultiplied is best or AE will warn of a mismatch error - to use the Straight setting you are in fact required to have an alpha channel available. Although if rendering with transparency, use ProRes 4444 instead.
- Codec: Apple ProRes 4444
- Depth: Trillions of colors
- Color: Straight (Unmatted)
- If the render needs to be composited in Premiere Pro this settings makes no difference. But the Colorists are working in Da Vinci Resolve so, to avoid issues, this setting prevents the RGB channels from being matted with black where there is transparency, and having the transparency data solely in the alpha channel.
Naming Convention for Render Files
Rendering tip: Reduce render times with AErender
Sharing and Archiving
When a request is complete or it needs to be shared, the After Effects project needs to be Reduced and Collected first. This prevents missing assets and saves on transfer time. It is also a quick way to gather all relevant assets in an organized manner - automatically.
The collected project folder can be saved in the
ARCHIVE folder (if you are following the proposed GFX folder structure).
It's up to your discretion how to optimize a project file e.g. if there is a heavy footage file that can be trimmed, or a reference file that could be compressed further.
For archives, make sure only the final RENDER comps are included. You may discard any older versions - once a request passes picture lock there won't be anymore changes required. If you feel a specific version of a comp needs to be saved, reduce and collect only that comp, into a separate archive and label it properly.
For naming convention see: GFX Naming Convention > Collected Projects
Collected project archives should all be zipped (
.zip format) and uploaded to Media Shuttle at this location (in the appropriate episode folder):
VMP024_COMMON/GFX PROJECTS ARCHIVE/
Once upload is complete make sure to add the archive filename, for the relevant GFX request, in the Tracker's dedicated Archive column.