AE to DVD

If you work with After Effects, sooner or later you’re going to have to get your beautiful AE composition onto a DVD (and if you don’t then what the heck are you waiting for???). I had to do this myself the other day and used an incredibly simple workflow in Production Studio that involved AE and Encore DVD to create an auto-playing DVD without any menus (a DVD that, when inserted into a set-top player or computer, starts playing automatically).

First, create a new project in Encore DVD. The first thing you’ll be asked is your Television standard. If you’re in North or South America (except Argentina & Brasil), Japan, the Philippines, South Korea or Taiwan it’s NTSC. For everyone else it’s PAL.

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Next, bring your After Effects comp into Encore DVD using the Dynamic Link feature. You can either drag the comp from the AE Project Panel into the Encore DVD Project Panel, or select File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition.

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If you use this menu selection, you’ll need to drive to the location of your AE project, then select the comp that you want to open in Encore DVD.

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Next, you’ll tell Encore DVD what MPEG-2 encoding settings to use. All video gets encoded to MPEG-2 for DVD and you want to use encoding settings that will make your video look its best. Start by selecting your Dynamically-Linked AE comp in the Encore DVD project panel. Then go to the File menu and select Transcode > Transcode Settings > NTSC DV High quality 7Mb VBR 2 Pass. This is a great preset for most AE work (and if you’re working in PAL you’ll see the PAL presets in that menu instead).

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If you know about encoding you can also select Edit Project Transcode Presets and create your own custom encoding settings. What the preset above means is that it will encode your video to MPEG-2 at a bitrate of 7 megabits per second, doing a 2-pass Variable Bit Rate encode. This is always a great place to start with MPEG-2 encoding settings.

Okay, now you’ll need to put your AE comp into an Encore timeline. With the Dynamically-Linked comp still selected in your Encore project panel, click on the New Item button (looks like a little page at the bottom of the project panel) and select Timeline.

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Your video (and audio if there is any in the AE comp) will now be in a timeline. Now it’s time to tell your DVD what to do after it finishes playing your AE comp. In most cases you’ll want it to stop, or maybe you’ll want the playback to loop instead. Either way, go to the Properties panel (in the upper-right hand corner of Encore’s UI) and in the End Action pulldown select either “Stop” to stop playback or “Link Back to Here” to loop playback.

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Now, click on the Disc panel, which should be nested behind the Project panel.

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You need to tell the DVD what to do if the viewer clicks the “Title” button on the DVD. Go back to the Properties panel (which now shows the properties for the disc) and in the Title Button pulldown select the first chapter of your timeline.

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Last but not least, it’s time to burn the disc. In the Disc panel click the Build DVD button and the Build DVD panel opens.

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In this panel you can give your disc a name, specify how many copies you want, then click the Build button to burn your DVD. Encore will take care of all the AE rendering and MPEG-2 transcoding behind the scenes.

Of course there is always more than one way to skin a cat. You can also Dynamically-Link your AE comp into Premiere Pro, put it in a timeline, select Window >DVD Layout, and output your DVD from there. One good reason to do it in Encore DVD, though, is if you’re thinking about adding menus or custom navigation somewhere down the line. You can use the project I just walked you through as a foundation to build on, quite easily I might add.