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After Effects CS6 error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback

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John Welsh
After Effects CS6 error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback
on Aug 20, 2014 at 9:02:13 am

Hi everyone,

I'm running After Effects CS6 ( on a MacBook Pro 2.8Ghz (quad core mid 2014) with 16GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M running Mac OS 10.9.4

As a test, I created a 3 and a half minute Sequence in Adobe Premiere CS6, and then imported this into After Effects CS6, and placed it on the AE timeline.
This footage involves a couple of 1920x1080p footage movies running at 25fps, some psds and a large number of JPGs exported from two videos arranged as a sequence in two layers in Premiere, one on top of the other. So all in all for a Premiere / After Effects file I'd say it's reasonably heavy.

I then did a RAM Preview with Multiprocessing switched off - the 3 and a half minute sequence loaded into RAM, taking about 1min 30seconds, and played back in realtime at 25fps. This worked fine with 3,4,5 and 6 GB RAM available to other applications in the Memory Preferences. All things considered I think this is quite good. I can make changes, reclick the RAM Preview icon and my changes load into RAM and it previews ok.

My only 'complaint' is how long the RAM Preview takes to load up the whole thing.
(Not really a complaint as such, just a realisation that the time can potentially be improved.)

I've been reading up on Multiprocessing and decided to try this to see if I can speed up the time it takes my RAM Preview to load up.

So I looked at some recommendations from Adobe and read information on various forums including this one.

My settings in the Memory Preferences are currently
• 6GB reserved for other applications
• Reduce cache size when system is low on memory - unticked
• After Effects Multiprocessing - ticked
• Installed CPUs (processor cores) - 8
• CPUs reserved for other applications - 6
• RAM allocation per background CPU - 3GB
• Actual CPUs that will be used - 2

This combination takes about 25 seconds to load up my 3 and a half minute sequence which I thought was pretty amazing.

I then pressed the stop button and then the play button - so now just playing the sequence briefly.
And also added a new layer - into the timeline - just a simple shape.

Then I tried a RAM Preview again.
I found I could load up part of the sequence but not load the whole thing into RAM.

I kept trying to get a RAM Preview and got this message
"After Effects error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback" which seems to prevent RAM Preview from working.

Eventually I quit and restarted After Effects and the problem went away temporarily and then came back when I tried again.

I tried various changes to the Memory Preferences - trying 3GB available for other applications. This gave 13GB of my 16GB RAM to After Effects.
This made it take slightly longer for the After Effects error to appear but it still appeared.

I tried ticking Reduce Cache size in the Memory Prefs - the After Effects error still appeared, so having read this is supposed to make the issue better I now leave it unticked, but as far as I can see ticked or unticked, it makes no difference, the problem remains.

I've since tried -
Making 3GB, 4GB, 5GB and 6GB of RAM available for other applications.
Changing the Background RAM allocation per background CPU to 0.75GB, 1GB, 1.5GB, 2GB and 3GB
Lots of combinations.
But in the end, I always get the "After Effects error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback" error.
It might take less or more time for the message to show up, depending on the combination of settings, but in the end I always got the same message appearing.
And I notice that I can RAM Preview less and less of the timeline. i.e. it becomes more blue than it does green and will load in only a small section of the timeline as opposed to the whole thing.

Reading further, I tried Edit > Purge > Image Cache and Edit > Purge > All Memory but still get the error message.

I also tried ensuring there were no other applications running e.g. Safari or Chrome or Firefox. And certainly not Photoshop or Premiere etc.

Reading even further, I tried two Memory management applications - 'Memory Clean' and 'Purge.'
Neither has had any effect - the After Effects error still appears.

Then I went back into the Memory and Multiprocessing Preferences.
I unticked Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously. And now the RAM Preview loads the whole 3 and half minute sequence in entirety, taking about 1 and half minutes to do so. It's working as perfectly as if I'd just quit and re-opened the application.

Then I went back into the Memory and Multiprocessing Preferences.
I reticked Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously.
Then chose Edit > Purge > All
And tried a RAM Preview again. It loaded up in 25 seconds, but then, as previously, the error message eventually came after working with the software for a while.
I tried Edit > Purge All - no effect.

And I tried going into the Media and Disk Cache Preferences and clicked Empty Disk Cache - still the problem remains.

I understand from my reading that After Effects CS6 11.0.2 was intended to fix this issue but I'm on 11.0.4 and as far as I can tell, I still have it - assuming it's the same thing.

As far as I can see, not using Multiprocessing allows me to work without these errors but take a bit longer to load the RAM Preview.

However I'd like to be able to use Multiprocessing as it seems it can potentially speeds things up quite a lot. I realise I could just not use it and AE would work, but I'd rather be able to make use of a feature of the software if possible, especially if it will speed things up and make optimum use of the my computer's hardware.

I've downloaded a trial copy of After Effects CC 2014. I'm still testing it but as far as I can see the RAM Preview error appears in this version of AE as well, but can take bit longer to show up in my experience.

[ Edit - since experimenting further, After Effects CC 2014 seems more stable when working with the same file I was testing with, when 4GB RAM is allocated to each of 2 CPUs. Finding this, I went into the After Effects CS6 Preferences text file and altered it so that AE CS6 on my computer can now give me 4GB RAM per CPU. However the same problem described above recurs in AE CS6, but not CC2014 for the moment. ]

I have wondered if although 16GB of RAM is quite a lot, it's just not quite enough to load up the entire 3 and a half minute sequence in After Effects with Multiprocessing enabled. So I have wondered if I'm simply out of memory. But then I don't think this would explain why the Edit > Purge functions have no effect.

I'm relatively new to After Effects, but having used Macs / Adobe software / Macromedia software previously since 1995 as a graphic designer, in my experience, this feels like it may be a potential bug as it can be reproduced so consistently.

Thanks everyone - if anyone has any thoughts or advice I'd appreciate hearing your opinions. I posted this on the Adobe After Effects discussion forum but no reply as yet so I wanted to ask here as well.

Kind regards,


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Stephen Smith
Re: After Effects CS6 error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback
on Aug 27, 2014 at 8:16:26 pm

Your post is way to long. Typically when you see the After Effects error: RAM Preview needs 2 or more frames to playback that means your In and Out points is just one frame and you need to adjust them. Hope this helps and best of luck.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page

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