This document lists the file formats which Adobe After Effects CS4 can import and export. Third-party plug-ins are available to extend these capabilities—see Obtain support for additional formats and codecs for more information.

Note: In order for After Effects to import a QuickTime or AVI file, the codec that a particular file uses must be installed on the computer. (Common codecs are installed by both QuickTime and Video For Windows.) If you receive an error message or the video does not display correctly, you may need to install the codec used by the file. For more information about the codec in use, contact the manufacturer of the software or hardware used to create the file. You can read more about codecs and digital video file formats in the Adobe video and audio primers.

Important: QuickTime is required to import and export some file formats on Windows. You can download the latest version of QuickTime from the Apple website.

Most file formats are rendered from After Effects by adding the composition to the render queue; see Render and export a movie using the render queue. Some formats are only available through the File > Export menu; see Render and export a movie using QuickTime components.

Audio file formats

Format Import/Export support Format Details
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, M4A) Import and Export  
Adobe Sound Document (ASND) Import only  
AU audio file (AU) Export only Requires QuickTime on Windows
Audio Interchange File Format (AIF, AIFF) Import and Export  
MP3 (MP3, MPEG, MPG, MPA, MPE) Import and Export  
Waveform (WAV) Import and Export  

Still image file formats

Note: You can import files of any still image format as a sequence. See Preparing and importing still images in After Effects help.

Format Import/Export support Format Details
Adobe Illustrator (AI, EPS, PS) Import only Continuously rasterized
Adobe PDF (PDF) Import only First page only, continuously rasterized.
Adobe Photoshop (PSD) Import and Export 8-, 16-, and 32-bpc
Bitmap (BMP, RLE, DIB) Import only  
Camera raw (TIF, CRW, NEF, RAF, ORF, MRW, DCR, MOS, RAW, PEF, SRF, DNG, X3F, CR2, ERF) Import only  
Cineon (CIN, DPX) Import and Export Converts to project's color bit depth: 8-, 16-, or 32-bpc
CompuServe GIF (GIF) Import and Export  
Discreet RLA/RPF (RLA, RPF) Import only 16-bpc, imports camera data
ElectricImage IMAGE (IMG, EI) Import and Export  
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) Import only  
IFF (IFF, TDI) Import and Export  
JPEG (JPG, JPE) Import and Export  
Maya IFF (IFF, TDI) Import and Export 16-bpc
Maya camera data (MA) Import only  
OpenEXR (EXR) Import and Export 32-bpc 3D Channel effect plug-ins from fnord software are included with After Effects to provide access to multiple layers and channels of OpenEXR files. (See Using channels in OpenEXR files in After Effects help.
PCX (PCX) Import only Windows only
PICT (PCT) Import and Export  
Pixar (PXR) Import only  
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) Import and Export 16-bpc
Radiance (HDR, RGBE, XYZE) Import and Export 32-bpc
SGI (SGI, BW, RGB) Import and Export 16-bpc
Softimage (PIC) Import only  
Targa (TGA, VDA, ICB, VST) Import and Export  
TIFF (TIF) Import and Export 8- and 16-bpc

Video and animation file formats

Format Import/Export support Format Details
3GPP (3GP, 3G2, AMC) Import and Export Requires QuickTime on Windows
Adobe Flash Player (SWF) Import and Export Note: SWF files are imported with an alpha channel. Interactive content is not retained.
Adobe Flash Professional (XFL) Import and Export  
Adobe Flash Video (FLV, F4V) Import and Export  
Adobe Photoshop with video layers (PSD) Import and Export Requires QuickTime on Windows
Animated GIF (GIF) Import and Export  
AVCHD (M2TS) Import only  
DV Import and Export In MOV or AVI container, or as container-less DV stream; requires QuickTime on Windows
ElectricImage (IMG, EI) Import and Export  
Filmstrip (FLM) Import and Export  
Flic Animation (FLC) Export only  
H.264 (M4V) Import and Export  
Media eXchange Format (MXF) Import only MXF is a container format. After Effects can only import some kinds of data contained within MXF files. After Effects can import the Op-Atom variety used by Panasonic DV, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50, and DVCPRO HD video cameras to record to Panasonic P2 media. After Effects can also import XDCAM HD files in MXF format.
MPEG-1 (MPG, MPE, MPA, MPV, MOD) Import only  
MPEG-2 (MPG, M2P, M2V, M2P, M2A, M2T) Import and Export Windows and Mac OS on Intel-based Mac only.
Some MPEG data formats are stored in container formats with filename extensions that are not recognized by After Effects; examples include .vob and .mod. In some cases, you can import these files into After Effects after changing the filename extension to one of the recognized filename extensions. Because of variations in implementation in these container formats, compatibility is not guaranteed.
MPEG-4 (MP4, M4V) Import and Export  
Open Media Framework (OMF) Import and Export Raw media [or essence] only; Windows only
QuickTime (MOV) Import and Export QuickTime required on Windows
Video for Windows (AVI) Import and Export Implemented via QuickTime on Mac OS
Windows Media (WMV, WMA) Import and Export Windows only
XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX (MXF, MP4) Import only After Effects can import Sony XDCAM HD assets if they were recorded to MXF files. After Effects cannot import XDCAM HD assets in IMX format. After Effects can import Sony XDCAM EX assets stored as essence files with the .mp4 filename extension in a BPAV directory. For information about the XDCAM format, see the XDCAM White paper pdf on the Sony website.

Project file formats

Format Import/Export support Format Details
Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) Import only Windows only
Adobe After Effects 5 and later binary projects (AEP, AET) Import and Export  
Adobe After Effects CS4 XML Project (AEPX) Import and Export  
Adobe Premiere 6.0 and 6.5 (PPJ) Import only  
Adobe Premiere Pro 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, CS3, CS4 (PRPROJ) Import and Export 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 Windows only

Other file formats

Format Import/Export support Format Details
Adobe Clip Notes (PDF) Export only  
XML Forms Data Format (XFDF) Import only For importing Adobe Clip Notes comments.
Maya Scene camera data (MA) Import only  

CMYK file formats

After Effects CS4 can import Adobe Photoshop (.PSD), Adobe Illustrator (.AI), and Encapsulated PostScript (.EPS) files that use the CMYK color space. After Effects will convert the CMYK color values to RGB.

Note: After Effects cannot assign an input color profile to files that use non-RGB color spaces, such as CMYK. Color management on CMYK files is therefore limited. To effectively color manage CMYK files you should convert them to RGB before you import them into After Effects. For more information, see Interpret a footage item by assigning an input color profile.

16-bpc and 32-bpc file formats

While After Effects can operate in 16 and 32 bits per channel, most video and animation file formats and codecs support only 8-bpc. Typical cross-application workflows for higher bit-depth color involve rendering to a still image sequence rather than a video or animation file. Still image formats that support 16-bpc that After Effects can render to include PSD, PNG, TIFF, IFF, and SGI. Formats that support 32-bpc include PSD, EXR, HDR, and TIFF.

Video codecs that support 10-bpc are provided with hardware such as a capture card or software such as Adobe Premiere Pro. You can import 10-bpc uncompressed YUV AVI files created in Adobe Premiere Pro into 16-bpc RGB After Effects projects. You can also render from After Effects with 10-bpc YUV compression. (See Video for Windows compression options.)

Obtain support for additional formats and codecs

You can add support for additional file formats to After Effects by installing a third-party plug-in. For example, the Pro Import AE plug-in from Automatic Duck, Inc. allows you to import project files from popular non-linear editing applications into After Effects. You can find a list of software developers that make plug-ins for After Effects on the Adobe website.

Similarly, you can add support to After Effects for additional video codecs by installing the codec on your system. Most codecs must be installed into the operating system (Windows or Mac OS) and work as a component inside the QuickTime or Video For Windows formats. Codecs are available for a variety of hardware (capture card, camera, etc.) and software workflows. Contact the manufacturer of your hardware or software for more information about codecs that work with the files that your specific device or application creates.

Note: After Effects may not be compatible with all codecs. Test codecs that you intend to use before implementing them in your workflow.

If you intend to render your composition using multiple computers over a network, then any third-party plug-ins or codecs used by your project must be installed on each computer in the render farm. See Network rendering with watch folders and render engines for more information about network rendering.

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