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What is normal? (regarding rendering)

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Jay CarrWhat is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 10:00:59 am

I know this question is somewhat general, but I'm really new at this. I basically picked up several books on how to use Motion, and while I'm starting to feel reasonably comfortable with the program, there are some things a book never tells you.

For example, what to expect from rendering.

I just bought a brand new iMac (27", 3.1 ghz QuadCore i5, 8gb RAM, ATI 6970 w/ 2GB VRAM). When I got it, I was reasonably confident that it would run Motion just fine. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be reaching my expectations. I am, right now, rendering a 3.5 minute video that claims it will take 7.5 HOURS to render. Whats more, it has crashed a few times trying to do this project.

See, this is where my expectations and reality may be in conflict. I don't know what to expect. So let me describe the project. If someone could tell me if my experience is normal, that would be great. Because if it's not, I'm going to need to start trouble shooting...


The project is fundamentally a group of 5 slides done in 3D space. Basically you watch a slide build (with a voice over) and when it is finished, you zoom to the next one (through 3D space.)

Possible complications
-- 3D: I'm using a huge backdrop in this project (I think it's probably 20,000 pixels long on the horizontal, and 20,000 wide with a similarly sized vertical backdrop). It's basically just two giant sheets of white with the "floor" set to be reflective. I'm using it so that when any lights shine off into the distance, they are caught by something.
-- Lighting: I have 4 light sources in this project that are almost always causing shadows. There is an ambient light and then 3 spots. 2 of the spots are lighting up the distance so that we can see the backdrop with a bit of a gradient, the last spot is used to make the foreground pop a bit. They are all linked to the camera, so they follow it all over the place.
-- HD: Most of the stuff I render is in 720p. Which I suppose could be a bit difficult.

As I look back over my brief description, I'm seeing some things that might explain the performance problems pretty readily, come to think of it. But if I could get y'alls opinion, that would be great. I'm just trying to get my expectations to conform with reality...

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Andrew WilsonRe: What is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 2:10:17 pm

That huge backdrop is probably causing the most render drag. Would you be able to put the backdrop in a 2D layer group and only have it be the size of your canvas? or does the backdrop have to move around as well?

Andrew Wilson
WestView Digital Video & Design

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Jay CarrRe: What is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 2:52:53 pm

No, I don't. And I think you're right that the backdrop is the problem. I actually went in and cut down the backdrop (and the floor) so they were just barely big enough for the camera to not see the edges. I think I reduced the size to 25% of the original size. It cut my render time in half...

That being said, I think I've just over 3Ded it. For example, I realized that really all I was using the spots for was to create a gradient effect on the distant backdrop. As you, and the other poster, mentioned, I probably could just use a 2D backdrop and get the exact same effect. So... I think I'm going to.

I think I was just trying to take Motion to a place that I should be going with Cinema 4D or After Effects (if I even go at all, the more I think about it, the more I think I'm overdoing it in general...).

Oh well, this is all part of being new, right? ;-)

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Mark SpencerRe: What is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 2:07:19 pm

It's your backdrop. Trying using a large color solid generator instead.

Mark Spencer
Freelance Producer/Editor/Motion Graphics Artist
Apple-certified Master Trainer
Author, Motion 4 from Peachpit Press

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Jay CarrRe: What is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 4:56:19 pm

I'm not quite sure what you mean by a solid color generator. I was going to go with a giant rectangle...though that is giving me problems...I can't seem to get the rectangle to do anything but just sit at 0,0,0, it won't slip into the background or anything.

Would a solid color generator skip this problem? Or could you possibly tell me what I'm doing wrong with my supposedly 2D rectangle.

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Jay CarrRe: What is normal? (regarding rendering)
by on May 24, 2011 at 8:10:38 pm

Well waddya know, just going out and trying it taught me what I needed to know... Well, that and I found a video where you explained that generators use less overhead. Thanks :-).

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