Video Editing

Importing Transparent Videos into Vegas 13

This was the the exception message that appeared when trying to import a Premiere project into Vegas 13.
Couldn’t Import Adobe Premiere into Vegas 13.

[This article is dedicated to Jeanne Wilber, who was generous with her sharing of knowledge]

Recently, Roger Bindl and I had a fairly simple sounding challenge; import an Adobe Effects project into Vegas 13 (formerly owned by Sony and now owned by the German company, MAGIX)..

Despite What the Menu Says, It’s Not Possible to Import After Effects into Vegas 13         

There is an option in Vegas 13 to an import Adobe After Effects or Premiere project. What it doesn’t say is that the After Effects project must first be exported into a Premiere (prproj) format. That’s great, until you try to import the Premier file and an error message pops up indicating an “invalid project. A post somewhere on the Internet suggested that this sort of error message has to do with Vegas not keeping up with the latest version of Adobe. This may be resolved in version 14 that has just been released, but the aforementioned post also suggested that there could be issues with special effects importing properly from one program to another.

So, we started on a quest to figure out another way to import the rendered After Effects graphics into Vegas.

The Holy Grail – Export as a Transparent Video File #

A couple of years ago, I had applied masking to create a cool motion-graphic for overlaying on a video. To simplify workflow, the plan was to embed the veg file that contained the motion-graphic file into the veg file that had the main video. It worked great in theory, but the computer bogged down and rendering took forever. The alternative was to output a motion graphic file with a transparent background. Unfortunately, how to create such a file was beyond me then, but last week, thanks mostly to Roger’s persistence, the holy grail of creating and importing transparent video files has been unlocked for us.

What follows is a three-step process explaining how to export from After Effects (or Vegas), import into Vegas and set the properties on the files for an Alpha channel.

Step 1 – Exporting Files #

There are at least three file formats that support transparent backgrounds as summarized in the following table:

Memory¼ of AVI or Mov4x PNG4x PNG
Supports Audio*Not directlyYesYes
Files30 per second of video11

*Audio could be exported as a separate file and imported into Vegas – that would be an extra step, so it is probably not practical if audio is associated with the graphic.

It is important to note that a 10 second AVI or Mov format file can be a sizable (e.g. 800 MBytes), while the equivalent PNG file will be a quarter that size (based on a small sample sized of files). On the other hand, the PNG export creates hundreds of images organized in a single folder. The file size and number of files are something to consider, especially if you will be sharing these exports with colleagues over slow broadband connections.

Screenshots below show how to export from After Effects. Key elements that must be checked in After Effects (or any other program) are:

  • RGB+Alpha
  • Straight (unmatted)

It is also possible to export from a Vegas file as a transparent AVI or PNG. A screenshot of the Vegas settings for exporting a transparent AVI is shown below.

How to render a transparent AVI from Vegas 13
How to render a transparent AVI from Vegas 13

Step 2 – Importing Files #

The other trick is importing the media file and ensuring that the settings are correct.

For the PNG files, one must import via the menu bar (no drag and drop). To do this:

  • Go to File | Import | Media and open the folder that contains the PNG images.
  • Select the first image, as well as the “Open Sequence” box.
  • It will appear in the Project Media window in Vegas as one file, instead of a sequence of hundreds of images. From there, it is possible to drag it to the timeline, like any normal asset.
Select the first-image and the -select open sequence then click open.
Select the first image and then select Open Sequence then click Open.

AVI or Mov files may be brought into the timeline through any of the typical ways (menu bar, via the Explorer window or drag and drop from a Windows folder).

Step 3 – Enable the Alpha Channel on the Imported Media #

The trick is to ensure that the Alpha channel is enabled on the imported media. This is done by:

  • Right-clicking on the previously imported media and select Properties
  • Select the Media tab that appears at the top of the pop-up Properties menu
  • Select Straight (unmatted) option in the Alpha Channel box and select OK

As Easy as 1-2-3 #

Importing or exporting transparent videos into and out of Vegas 13 is really as easy as 1-2-3, once you know the recipe. Please leave a comment below if you have questions or need clarifications on any point.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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