Delivering a video

You are on the verge of creating a personalised video with our StoryTEQ technology. Great!

In order to successfully personalise the animation or video you are working on, it will have to meet some requirements. On this page, you will learn the in-depth requirements for working seamlessly with our technology.

To get started quickly and to get a basic understanding of what we do and what our software requires, we advise you to dive into our After Effects Demo project first, which can be downloaded here
The actual content of this file will also be shown below in video chapters, but it will demonstrate exactly how we like to build AE projects.

Currently, our render farm supports After Effects up to version 2018. As 2019 didn't introduce any incompatible effects you can still work in AE19, but it needs to be converted to AE18 at one

In the end, don’t forget that the number one priority is to create a kickass video! Even though your file will have to be compatible with our software, the end result is the most important. Let's get started! If you have any questions, or just want to talk about the possibilities, please don't hesitate to call or mail.

IN THIS ARTICLE

What is video personalisation?
Tracking
The basics
Modular scenes
Keeping it light (for rendering)
Summary

1. What is Personalisation/Dynamic Video?

In order to create the best possible personal video, it is first a good idea to get a basic understanding of what personal video actually is, and how we can create personal video. The video above should give you some basic insight into what personal video exactly is. Simple as that!

2. The Basics

As a final delivery file, we will require an After Effects file with all the used assets and fonts, including a separate composition for the still or gif. This file must be compatible with our render farm, which is currently running AE CC18. Please use AE's built-in function to "Collect files" to create a neatly bundled package.

Please keep in mind our systems are not compatible with plugins. Even plugins like ease and wizz should be avoided.

Keep compositions in the same size as the deliverable. This also goes for inserted compositions in tracking data, for example. Our standard size is 1080p25.

Use placeholders for personalised elements, like text or images. This also means that a piece of personalised text within a bigger field of text should preferably be a separate text layer, so we can directly target the placeholder text instead of the entire text field.     

Keep your project organised.

See the video above for some extra information.

3. Keep it Light (for Rendering)

With personal video, we may end up with thousands or hundreds of thousands of individual videos for individual viewers. This means that we will have to render your project pretty much as many times as that. Even a slight increase in render speed can go a long way in the total rendering time when taking this into consideration, or the time a viewer needs to wait to finally see his or her video.

This means that we will have to find a middle way in between providing the highest quality and the fastest render and possibly adjust your workflow slightly. 
( This only applies to the personalised parts)

For example, avoid using camera's and lights in your personalised AE scenes, as they have a massive impact on render speed, and can often be avoided.

Try to avoid using alpha footage if it is not absolutely required. Using alpha footage as a matte/mask, for example, can easily be avoided, by using an actual mask.

Always consider if the effect you are applying can be achieved with a lighter effect - like using a simple brightness adjustment instead of lumetri color.

Use common sense. Don't put the same effect on the same subject multiple times. If you are applying a blur or any other effect, don't add the same effect to a pre-comp of the already blurred object. Just increase the blur on one of the layers instead of making AE calculate blurs twice.

4. Tracking

Tracking can be achieved in many different ways, but keep in mind several things before you start tracking.

Your method must be compatible with the version of AE our render farm is currently running.

Our render farm does not support the use of 3rd party plugins, so please refrain from using them.

We prefer using Mocha and it's exported corner pin data. This method also enabled you to easily extract shape data for masks, and apply feathers on those masks. This is the lightest method of tracking and masking and is relatively easy to achieve. Please consider using this method.

5. Modular Scenes

Modular scenes are different variants of the same scene, which can be either shown or hidden based on parameters. For example, if we know someone's hobby is fishing, we can show him a scene about fishing instead of monster trucks.

We achieve this simply by creating a pre-composition for each alternative scene. Make sure the pre-comp is exactly as long as the final desired length of that scene.

Place the interchangeable pre-comps above each other in the AE master timeline, so we can easily enable or disable one of the layers while the video still appears somewhat normal.

Continue with the next scene after the longest modular scene. Naturally, this introduced gaps if the modules are not the same length, but our logic will make sure no gaps are present in the final renders.

6. Summary

  1. Visualise your project
    Which parts are personalised, modular or static?
  2. Check compatibility
    Check out whether your workflow is compatible with the version of AE our render farm is running. (AE18)
  3. Make sure all comps are in the same size/framerate - even the ones in tracking.
  4. Create your chronological master comp where all scenes are shown chronologically.
  5. Keep things organised. Use bins and a logical composition structure so that we can see what's going on.
  6. Use placeholders for personalised texts and images. Style them exactly the way you want the final product to look, but in the case of images apply all effects and animations on a pre-comp of the image in the resolution the inserted material will be.
  7. Keep effects light. Make sure rendering times are optimized by using the lightest possible effects for the goal you are trying to achieve.
  8. Track using compatible methods, preferably Mocha.
  9. Keep masking simple. Try to avoid using alpha footage to serve as a matte when a simple mask could be applied.
  10. Stack modular scenes in the master timeline at the desired place in time and with their final length.
  11. Reduce and collect your project.
  12. Add the used fonts to your collection as an installable file for universal/Windows platforms. TTF, OTF, etc. are all good. We cannot use DFONTS (mac only) for example, nor can we sync Typekit fonts from the adobe cloud. We need their separate installable files.
  13. Did you think about your still or gif? In case of a gif, please make a separate comp for the gif. For a still, either make a new comp or just let us know which frame to use as a still.
  14. You are done!
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