Something every animator should know, yet never gets taught. If you post videos online I recommend this tutorial. Codecs! Alpha Channels! Bitrate!
This is a lot of technical information that might turn your brain to soup, but I kept it as simple as I could. Animations are no different than PNGs and JPGs. Quality (and all your hard work) gets lost if you aren’t saving your video files a certain way. Please share this with your fellow animators – it’s something I wish I had known 10 years ago and only learned due to being around people who edit videos for a living.
The tutorial teaches the principles of exporting animations from any program. The apps I use as examples include Toon Boom Advanced, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder, Magix Vegas Pro, and Flipaclip. If you use something else – and you probably do – this tutorial is still useful.
People will argue about ProRes vs Cineform vs DNxHR as an intermediate mezzanine codec. Any of them are good. As an animator I always choose intermediate over lossless – partly because I’m too lazy to install Lagarith Lossless again, and partly because there is no quality difference visible to the human eye between lossless and intermediate. You’re only protecting data you can’t see. Plus, animators usually don’t work with live action footage and have less to worry about as far as transcoding camera recordings.
Though I do use the lossless MOV Animation codec when exporting from Toon Boom Advanced because I always have to do further edits elsewhere, and MOV Animation is the only Toon Boom codec that survives my workflow without ugly interlacing.
Cheap animation programs (like Flipaclip) will only let you export lossy formats. There’s nothing you can do about it – but at least now you know why your art may not look as sharp if you edit that clip in another program, or if you send it to someone else for a collab.
The examples of complex animation worth the huge amount of extra time a 2-pass VBR export are Castlevania, Metal Gear Rising, and Zone of the Enders. I personally do not find 2-pass VBR worth the encode time since my animations are simple and destined for YouTube, not Netflix streaming.
I always suggest VBR over CBR for animators, unless the destination platform for your video demands CBR.