I'm new to AfterEffects but a long time adobe user. I'm trying to do a simple animation using hi-res, lossless PNG's which I have tried exporting at their actual size and @2x up to @4x which I then scale down. I have reason to believe it's not the quality of the PNG's that are the issue as a vector square drawn directly in AE has the same blurred effect.

I have tried the many different codecs- Animation, PNG, H.426 etc but they all have the same results.

Extra info:

  • I use a retina screened mac
  • Everytime I open in quicktime it converts the video
  • I haven't changed any settings, I use the default ones and leave the export options at the highest quality.

Please help! I had such high hopes for AE!

side by side comparison

  • I'm strongly leaning towards this being a retina-screen issue. When I scale down the video to half the size, the render looks exactly as it should be. However I don't know how to deal with this in video. Anyone else have the same issue?
    – Mopo123
    Oct 2, 2016 at 9:34
  • I think I have a dodgy solution which is to double the size of the composition which goes against a lot of the advice I've seen online. People say that newbies should not fiddle with the default settings. I wonder though why not many other people have brought up this issue? AE is meant to be industry standard right so surely there's others who have the same problem.
    – Mopo123
    Oct 2, 2016 at 9:54
  • Render to an image sequence and see how a frame of that looks. And maybe use something else except Quicktime player to view the video, (e.g. VLC or MPCHC) and see if it still happens. Who knows what Quicktime Player is doing when it "converts" the video.
    – stib
    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:37
  • Also, when you say you save the pngs to their actual size do you mean you're exporting them to the same size as the comp? What is the comp frame size and what is the png image size? Could just be that your comp is lower res than your png.
    – stib
    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:42
  • I tested with VLC and rendered an image sequence with the same results. My composition is 1280x720 and the largest of the assets is 956 × 956 which is the twice the size I want i tot be so I scale it down 50%.
    – Mopo123
    Oct 3, 2016 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


If you're designing source artwork in Illustrator, take advantage of the fact you can bring your .ai files straight in AE.

On the layer in AE that you put the AI vector, click the 'continuously rasterize' button and you'll get your crisp vector edges back.

After Effects Timeline option


OK, so the asset is sharp when it's 956×956, but you then put it in your comp and scale it down to 50% meaning that it is now 478×478. It looks softer than it did at full resolution. Yes, what did you expect to happen? It has lost 75% of the pixels it originally had, it's going to look softer, end of story. Export from AI at the same pixel size that it's going to be in the comp and that's the resolution you have to work to. If it looks too soft, then change your design.

Video is a raster format. If you put something in a comp it is going to be rasterised, and if you make it teeny tiny you may run out of pixels. That's what designing for the screen is all about. You've only got a grid as large as your final resolution to play with.

Let's put it into perspective that will help you visualise it from a print designer's view. If you were designing for print with a dpi of 300, your 720p video frame would measure around 11cm × 6cm (4.3" × 2.5"). Not very big eh? For something this size you wouldn't put in elements with tiny details and expect those details to look super crisp on the final result. Same for video.

Tiny details will get antialiased and look soft - when they're compressed you will lose even more detail. Your job as a designer is to design stuff that looks good at the final resolution. (And if you think that's a drag, try designing for standard definition interlaced content delivered on VHS tapes. You kids don't know how good you gots it).

  • I'm not sure if you read everything thoroughly. I have tried leaving it at full-res and I've tried scaling it down. Besides, I've established that it's not the assets causing the softness because when I draw a rectangle using the native AE rectangle tool into the composition, the edges are also soft. Also if I import the assets as vector the issue exists. I'm still convinced it's an issue with there not being a @2x export option. Also, you're a bit mean and I'm not a kid. I'm sure you're lovely irl.
    – Mopo123
    Oct 3, 2016 at 20:48
  • when you put the element into your after effects comp what is the size of it on screen? Since your comp is 720px high, unless it's cropped then it must be scaled down, even if it goes from the top to the bottom. And since video is raster, when you scale things down you have fewer pixels to display them. The reason things don't look as sharp as they do in illustrator is that you've got a small number of pixels to display them with, while in Illustrator you can zoom in indefinitely. Do you understand the difference between vector and raster? BTW I'm a grumpy old cuss irl.
    – stib
    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:56
  • What's the difference between vector and raster? 10 years in the graphics industry and I have no idea! Sarcasm. As I said, when I draw a rectangle, the same thing happens. My concern is that all of the advice on the net says to not fiddle with the settings if you're a newb. I'm a newb, I fiddled with the settings and I achieved what I wanted. Now I want to know why there is nothing written about this.
    – Mopo123
    Oct 4, 2016 at 4:00
  • I don't think your settings are the problem. I think you're trying to do something which the medium doesn't enable you to do. But I am speculating, maybe something is skewiff. Render out the comp to a still image Composition>Save Frame As>file and post it, maybe as well as the original png.
    – stib
    Oct 4, 2016 at 6:10

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