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whats with the speed of after effects?

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Mark Samuelswhats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 3, 2012 at 8:03:42 am

Hi, Im relatively new to after effects however I have read through and watched quite a few tutorials just so that I have a basic understanding. The problem is as many people complain about - the speed. I have been working with two layers, one video and one still image. My composition is 15 seconds. I have one effect on the still image. Thats it, nothing complex in any way, yet when I play it back, its all jumpy and really slow and starts and stops etc. I have changed the skip and resolution settings to try and make it a bit better but its still painfully slow.
Is this normal? If so I don't understand how does anyone actually get anything done at all. If I have to wait this long for one pissy little clip how the hell do I ever do an entire music video , ad, or film??? It doesn't make sense. Surely people need to be able to see what they are doing as they work on it?? What am I doing wrong because Im close to giving up as its getting really boring. Thanks.


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Tero AhlforsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 3, 2012 at 8:34:47 am

This little quote has been in a bunch of threads in here and it'll explain how compositing softwares work.

"Sony Vegas, Premiere Pro, Final Cut, Avid are all NLE's (Non Linear Editors) and they are specifically designed to playback a video stream. With any of them, if you stack enough layers or effects on the video they will have to render a new video stream based on pixel based calculations for every pixel in the stack. This rendering, especially for HD sources or for complex plug-ins, will take quite a bit of time.

After Effects, Flame, Fusion, Shake -- are all pixel based image processing applications that act very much like Photoshop. They calculate the values of every pixel in every frame, come up with a new pixel, and then play those pixels back as a video stream. More importantly, AE and all the other pixel based compositing apps, always work internally with completely uncompressed pixel data. NLE's rely on codecs and in some cases, hardware, to playback the video. It's an entirely different way of working with moving images.

In After Effects you enable the preview by loading a bunch of frames into RAM then the video stream is played back. You start the process with the 0 key on the numeric keypad and not with the Space Bar as you do in nearly every NLE ever created. The length of the preview depends entirely on how much free ram you have available and it takes some time to generate these new pixels. The more layers, the more effects, the more calculations that need to be performed the longer it will take to process the RAM preview. There's currently no way around this rendering time. A modern NLE will handle an amazing number of video streams simultaneously, but as soon as you exceed the capability of the system you're stuck with a render. Most NLE's, given the same number of calculations, actually take a little longer than After Effects to do the same kind of effects. Open GL, and other GPU acceleration helps many NLE's achieve higher performance but it has yet to be implemented into a pixel based compositing app. The sad truth of the matter is that if you want to do compositing in any of the available compositing apps, you have to wait for renders. They are getting better. Memory management and efficiency is improving. GPU accelerated effects are being added, but for now, that's about as good as it gets.

I hope this helps. As long as you use After Effects to create shots and don't try to make it do the work of a NLE you should be fine. Movies come from NLE's, amazing shots come from AE.

- Rick Gerard"


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 3, 2012 at 10:14:06 pm

comp settings -
HDTV 1080 29.97
1920 x 1080
res - quarter

system config -
Mac book pro
OSX 10.7.2
2.2 GHz i7
8GB
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1024 MB

I understand what you're saying about the difference between programmes such as premiere pro and motion graphics programmes such as after effects but I just don't see how this can be industry standard. Nobody would ever get anything done at this rate. As I said I have one video clip with one effect. This is not like overloading the system or anything. If I have to render every time I want to preview my work I will never finish anything because not only will it take too long but I will lose patience and give up on this programme. I must be doing something wrong surely??


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Dave LaRondeRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 3, 2012 at 11:04:30 pm

[Mark Samuels] "I just don't see how this can be industry standard."

Well, it IS an industry standard.

Let's assume for a moment that you cut in FCP; you're on a Mac, after all. FCP assumes that your primary chore is to adjust in & out points on clips, and put clips in a logical order. Nothing very fancy, and you can look at your cuts in real time. But what happens in FCP the moment you start applying effects and moving video on the screen? You have to render.

AE makes a different assumption: your primary task is to build motion graphics, create complicated effects and do compositing work with many pieces of video and still images at once. Hundreds if you want. That's nothing at all like an NLE, so it doesn't WORK like an NLE.




[Mark Samuels] "If I have to render every time I want to preview my work I will never finish anything because not only will it take too long but I will lose patience and give up on this programme. "

Well, you do have to render: AE renders EVERYTHING. Since you're new at this, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit here:
http://blogs.adobe.com/toddkopriva/2010/01/getting-started-with-after-eff.h...

...and pay close attention. AE rewards the individual who's willing to put in the time to learn the basics of the application -- and there are many basics -- and punishes the individual who blows the basics off... much as you're now feeling when you lost patience, while trying to use the application intuitively.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 12:43:42 am

Thanks for the links. I have actually read those blogs already. It doesn't include much at all about preview/render settings etc though. Its all just basic intro stuff that Ive already learnt about.
Im still not clear on how anyone can actually get any work done this way.
Im thinking motion graphics is for masochists!


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Adam DuplayRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 3, 2012 at 11:15:26 pm

People are often surprised that making flashy motion graphics is actually a painstakingly slow process.

Adam Duplay


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Walter SoykaRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 2:15:42 am

[Mark Samuels] "I understand what you're saying about the difference between programmes such as premiere pro and motion graphics programmes such as after effects but I just don't see how this can be industry standard. Nobody would ever get anything done at this rate."

If you think this is slow, you should try traditional cel animation, stop-motion animation, or hand painting holdout mattes for optical compositing.

See the Improve performance [link] page for some tips on how to adjust your computer, your software, and your workflow to improve performance.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 7:30:56 am

Everyone just keeps sending me the same links that Ive already seen. I appreciate the help but I read it all umpteen times and none of it makes much difference at all particularly as a lot of it is focused on pcs and not macs.

The adobe general workflow page says this -
"Preview
Previewing compositions on your computer monitor or an external video monitor is FAST and convenient, even for complex projects, especially if you use OpenGL technology to accelerate previews. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate, and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview."

So what kind of computer is it they are talking about because from what Im hearing it aint fast on any computer.


I also noticed the following "keep the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive"
Macs don't even have the option of different disks to choose from. So how does that work on a mac?

Ive got all the settings how Im supposed to and still the preview is way slow. Perhaps this is just how it is. Im really not sure how one is supposed to sync footage to sound though when its all so jumpy and slow.


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Tero AhlforsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 7:53:12 am

Mark,

I work with some insanely expensive, high-end hardware/software (iQ, Smoke, Flame) they are as slow and sometimes even slower than AE. Compositing footage or animating ot making VFX for movies takes a lot of time. It all depends on the footage, effects, lights, 3D, your RAM, CPU etc. If you can't load the entire preview in RAM you should lower the preview quality or make the work area shorter (B in, N out), or maybe render out a file preview.

Realtime compositing isn't here yet.


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 5, 2012 at 8:14:07 am

Definitely using AE CS 5.5


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Walter SoykaRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 8:06:45 pm

[Mark Samuels] "Everyone just keeps sending me the same links that Ive already seen. I appreciate the help but I read it all umpteen times and none of it makes much difference at all particularly as a lot of it is focused on pcs and not macs."

Nothing on the Improve performance [link] page is PC-specific. Most of it deals with advice on managing the preview quality vs. render time tradeoff.


[Mark Samuels] "So what kind of computer is it they are talking about because from what Im hearing it aint fast on any computer."

AE is not real-time at full quality on any computer. Depending on your work and your system, you can get quite a bit of speed by adjusting the quality down for preview, by pre-rendering CPU-intensive effects, and by using proxies.



[Mark Samuels] "I also noticed the following "keep the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive" Macs don't even have the option of different disks to choose from."

Sure they do. I've got a Mac Pro with 4 internal disks and 2 external RAIDs. If disk speed is a problem (which is not likely the case in your two-layer scenario), you could attach some very fast external storage to your MBP via the ExpressCard or Thunderbolt connection.


[Mark Samuels] "Ive got all the settings how Im supposed to and still the preview is way slow. Perhaps this is just how it is. Im really not sure how one is supposed to sync footage to sound though when its all so jumpy and slow."

You're not supposed to sync footage to sound in AE. That's an NLE's job. Premiere Pro or FCP would be a better fit here. AE just isn't real-time. Knowing that, you must design your workflow accordingly. Do real-time work in an NLE, do graphics/effects/compositing work in AE.

You could try Apple Motion instead of AE. Motion is built for real-time. Personally, I find Motion a bit limiting, so it's not worth the tradeoff of flexibility for speed for me.

If you do want to work with audio in AE, you must break the editorial habit of playing something, then slapping the spacebar for all stop at the point in time where you want to make a change.

Here are my standard tips for working with audio elements in AE. Perhaps this will help speed up your workflow a bit:
  • Select your audio layer, and tap LL -- the 'L' key twice -- to reveal its waveform.
  • Preview audio in AE by hitting the period key on the numeric keypad. While AE is previewing audio, hit the asterisk key on the numeric keypad to add markers in real time.
  • To scrub audio in AE, hold down Cmd and Opt on a Mac (Ctrl and Alt on Windows) while dragging the CTI around the timeline. To scrub audio and video together, hold Cmd on a Mac (or Ctrl on Windows) while dragging the CTI.


Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:46:45 am

Do mac book pros have more than one disk?? If so where are they and how do I store stuff on them. Ive only ever known that I have Mac HD.

I am also using a firewire Lacie rugged.


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Walter SoykaRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:12:22 pm

[Mark Samuels] "Do mac book pros have more than one disk?? If so where are they and how do I store stuff on them. Ive only ever known that I have Mac HD. "

Not unless you connect one.


[Mark Samuels] "I am also using a firewire Lacie rugged."

You could use that, but again, I doubt that disk speed is really a factor for a comp with a single track of video and a picture.


[Mark Samuels] "Yes I have been using the spacebar but also ram preview button. What is the shortcut for ram preview if I have macbook pro?"

Ctrl-0.

Apple laptops used to have the numpad keys available on the keyboard when using the function modifier, but later models have removed this useful feature. In AE CS5, Adobe added some new key bindings [link] specifically to compensate for Apple removing the keys from the keyboard.

And here's the full list of keyboard shortcuts [link].

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Michael SzalapskiRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 2:41:50 pm

Real quick question. How are you playing it back? It sounds like you're pressing spacebar to do it. (Which is not the right way.)

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Jeff BrownRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 4, 2012 at 3:02:59 pm

Another question is-- what's the source footage?
AE, like any compositing program, is best served by using file sequences, not MOV, for source and output. I use TIFF sequences, because they have tested as the fastest (on my system) for load and output.

-jeff


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Mark SamuelsRe: whats with the speed of after effects?
by on Jan 5, 2012 at 7:49:42 am

Yes I have been using the spacebar but also ram preview button. What is the shortcut for ram preview if I have macbook pro?


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