To begin, highlight your Composition Timeline. Next select “Composition” from the menu bar. The dropdown will have two options:
“Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue” or “Add to Render Queue”
So, what is the difference between these two options?
Choosing this option will transfer your project to Media Encoder where you can then choose your output format (seen as Quicktime below). You can read more about these options here.
The benefit of exporting using Media Encoder is that you can continue to use After Effects while your project is exporting. This lets you make changes or work on other projects, and doesn’t hinder your workflow in a fast paced environment.
Media Encoder also allows you to export multiple versions of your project under different names or different formats (H.264, ProRes, etc).
However, there is a caveat to this method. When exporting using Media Encoder, you cannot export an alpha channel. This means no transparency, so projects meant to be placed over other footage (lower thirds for example) will export with a black background. To get around this, you have to use the Render Queue option.
Choosing this option adds your project to After Effects built in Render Queue. First, choose where to output to by selecting “Not yet specified” next to “Output To”. Next, select “Lossless” next to “Output Module” to change your render settings.
To change your settings, first select your “Format” (such as Quicktime or PNG Sequence). Then adjust the settings for that specific format under “Format Options…”
Generally, a Quicktime ProRes 422 or PNG Sequence is ideal. Exporting H.264 directly from After Effects is not recommended, as it can be very slow to process. You are better off exporting as a ProRes then converting that to a H.264 file.
Exporting With Alpha Channel
To export with Alpha from After Effects, use the Render Queue. You need to select a format that supports alpha such as a PNG Sequence or Quicktime ProRes 4444. Next, select RGB+Alpha next to channels. You will see the depth change from “Millions of Colors” to “Millions of Colors+”.