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Personalized Video: Delivering AE-project files

You are on the verge of creating a personalized video with Storyteq technology. Great! 

In order to successfully make the animation or video you are working on dynamic, it will have to meet some requirements. On this page, you will learn about the in-depth requirements for delivering your project files.

1. What is video personalization?

In order to create the best possible personalized video, it is first a good idea to get a basic understanding of what dynamic video actually is, and how we can create a dynamic video. The information below should give you some basic insight into what personal video exactly is and what possibilities you can utilize.

What is a dynamic video?

Dynamic video content changes according to who is watching the video. 

In-video ads, the targeting data provided by advertising platforms (e.g. Facebook and YouTube) is used to create a more relevant experience. Think of location, age, or interests. The length, language, or aspect ratio of a video (e.g. landscape (16:9), square (1:1), or vertical (9:16) can be a dynamic aspect as well. 

When personal elements, such as the viewer’s name, email, birthdate, or other client data, are inserted in a dynamic video, people often speak of personalized video or personal video. These videos aren’t seen in advertising but are used in customer journeys to create more engaging touchpoints. 

In contrast to creating separate original videos for each recipient, dynamic video leverages technology – the Storyteq dynamic video platform – to allow you to use the same base video over and over again. The video has points within it that have been designated as fields where dynamic elements can be inserted. So, a dynamic video is one base video containing fields for dynamic elements, that are then replicated for each new viewer.

Get the most out of Personalization

Creating Great Gifs

2. Project Settings and Structure

When making your video in After Effects keep compositions in the same size and frame rate as the deliverable. This also goes for inserted compositions in tracking data. Our standard format is 1080p25.

Organize your project by creating separate pre-compositions for each scene of your video.

Create a separate composition for the gif

Create a master composition, in which all the individual scenes are put in a chronological order and all the interchangeable (modular) scenes are put above each other. This way it's immediately clear how the project is structured.

Make sure that the pre-comps are exactly as long as the final desired length of that scene. Naturally, this introduces gaps if the modules are not the same length, but our logic will make sure no gaps are present in the final renders.

For keeping the project clean we strongly advise you to organize your project in bins. Create separate bins for your footage, graphics, images, audio files, precomps etc. This will make it easy to search for elements and save time. 

Use placeholders for personalized elements, like text or images. This also means that a piece of dynamic 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.

Style the dynamic elements exactly the way you want the final image to look, but in the case of images apply all effects and animations on a pre-comp.

Note: Keep in mind our systems are not compatible with 3rd party plugins. Please only use native After Effects functions and effects.

3. Keep it Light (for Rendering)

In order to optimize rendering speed try to keep personalized video parts as light as possible, this means:

  • Avoid using cameras and lights, as they have a massive impact on render speed, and can often be avoided.

  • 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.

  • Make sure you are using the lightest possible effects for the goal you are trying to achieve. E.g. using Fast Box Blur instead of Gaussian Blur, or 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.

Note: These suggestions only apply to the personalized video parts.

4. Audio

If you want to have an audio track playing in the background of your video, keep it separate from all the scenes. We can add your soundtrack when rendering the videos, so that it can play seamlessly despite varying video durations. 

We don’t have any specific audio specifications for After Effects projects. We can work with all common audio files, .wav files would be best. 

More high-end audio post-processing specific file types are not compatible with our systems.

5. Tracking

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

For tracking  we prefer using Mocha and its exported corner pin data. This is the lightest method of tracking and masking and is relatively easy to achieve. Please consider using this method.

Don't forget to try and keep the composition on which you apply the tracking data roughly the same size as your final output. We want to eliminate unnecessary scaling.

6. Exporting Your Project

As a final delivery file, we require an After Effects project file with all the used assets and fonts, including a separate composition for the still or gif. Please use AE's built-in function "Collect files" to create a neatly bundled package.

Note: "Collect Files" function does not include the custom fonts that are used in the project. Please don't forget to include the font files when delivering a final package. (Preferably OTF files).

7. Summary

  1. Visualize your project
    Which parts are dynamic, personalized, modular, or static?

  2. Make sure all comps are in the same size/frame rate - even the ones with tracking applied.

  3. Structure your project in a chronological master comp where all scenes are shown chronologically.

  4. Create a separate comp for your gif.

  5. Keep things organized. Use bins and a logical composition structure so that we can see what's going on.

  6. Use placeholders for personalized texts and images.

  7. Keep effects light in the dynamic/personalized video parts.

  8. Track using compatible methods, preferably Mocha.

  9. Keep masking simple. Avoid using alpha footage as a matte.

  10. Reduce and collect your project.

  11. Add the font files to your collection.

  12. You are done!

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