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Incorrect Layer Numbers in AE?

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Larry AdlonIncorrect Layer Numbers in AE?
by on Sep 13, 2013 at 3:06:04 pm

Hi. Just wondering something...

In some projects, I will be trying to troubleshoot what is causing a slowdown in a render. I'll expand the render panel to reveal the Composition:Stage display, and watch the processes being performed (ex. Blur, Compressing&Writing, etc), and observe which, if any, take the longest.

Often, I'll find either an effect that is taking longer (relatively speaking, as most of the items fire along very fast), or a particular layer.

When I do find a layer 'lagging a bit' in the display, I then look at the project, and go down to that layer.

Strange thing is, though, that the number it is indicating as the 'slow' layer is often seemingly incorrect. Is the displayed layer number (during the Composition:Stage display in the render panel) indicating the layer of the main comp (that you have set to render in the que), or is there some sort of conversion needed or something?

I actually discovered an offset that I ended up calculating, which (when applied) seemed to point to the proper layer (that WAS in fact slowing things down). Is this a bug in AE, or what?


One other thing I considered... The layer that is being indicated as slow often changes with each render (leaving me to believe that it's not so much that the particular layer itself is a strain, but that instead the project overall is a drain on the resources, and these (seemingly random/different) layers that are displayed are simply present/being processed at the point where the drain finally bottlenecks. So, that layer isn't technically to blame.


I wish there was more detailed ways to monitor the inner workings during a render, so you could better determine what is holding up the renders. I've had some renders (again, the ones that previously rendered quickly) seemingly holding forever on a Compressing&Writing stage.

This current project is a bit of a mystery... Normally, it's about 2 hours, but every once in a while, it'll take much longer (last night's render was over 30 hours), for seemingly no reason... and then will render quickly on subsequent attempts.

Any thoughts on this?


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Walter SoykaRe: Incorrect Layer Numbers in AE?
by on Sep 13, 2013 at 4:16:16 pm

[Larry Adlon] "This current project is a bit of a mystery... Normally, it's about 2 hours, but every once in a while, it'll take much longer (last night's render was over 30 hours), for seemingly no reason... and then will render quickly on subsequent attempts."

See my previous response in your other thread for more, but this may be related to your cache. Cached layer-frames don't need to be calculated.


[Larry Adlon] "I've had some renders (again, the ones that previously rendered quickly) seemingly holding forever on a Compressing&Writing stage."

What output module are you using? What kind of disk are you writing to?

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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Larry AdlonRe: Incorrect Layer Numbers in AE?
by on Sep 13, 2013 at 6:23:26 pm

Ya, as I mentioned, purging the memory often helps. I find AE sometimes seems to get hung up on 'something'. A RAM preview will sometimes take a long time (or not ever start) on rare occassions, and will often be fixed by clearing the memory. Same sometimes happens with RAM previews done with multi-frame rendering set on. I guess you just have to sweep the memory sometimes, and give it a clean slate to start on.

In this particular project, I'm rendering sequential uncompressed TIFFs, using a custom output module I created, writing to a fast SATA drive.

I worry that sometimes the render writes are being held back by something like a disk cache read/write (even though I have 32 gigs of RAM)... or maybe all the CPUs finish their frames at the same time, and are all waiting in line to write their file. I wish I knew more about how my particular setup is performing (...how much dead time there is while things are waiting, etc).

It's often a question of whether it's better to have a few/powerful 'workers' or a lot/less powerful 'workers'... which has the less bottlenecks.

I just wish I could get the rest of the RAM used. Seems a real waste to only have 8% of the 32 gigs used. Does AE store finished rendered frames to RAM while it waits to get its turn to write to disk (and in the meantime, start work on the next frame)... or does it just use the RAM while calculating the frame, and then sit there waiting to write before continuing to the next frame. Would be cool if it stored it in the unused RAM (to be written to disk), and moved on to the next frame.


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Walter SoykaRe: Incorrect Layer Numbers in AE?
by on Sep 13, 2013 at 6:58:59 pm

[Larry Adlon] "Ya, as I mentioned, purging the memory often helps. I find AE sometimes seems to get hung up on 'something'. A RAM preview will sometimes take a long time (or not ever start) on rare occassions, and will often be fixed by clearing the memory. Same sometimes happens with RAM previews done with multi-frame rendering set on. I guess you just have to sweep the memory sometimes, and give it a clean slate to start on."

What version of Ae are you running? Have you applied all updates?


[Larry Adlon] "In this particular project, I'm rendering sequential uncompressed TIFFs, using a custom output module I created, writing to a fast SATA drive."

TIFFs can be pretty heavy. Storage might be a problem after all.



[Larry Adlon] "I worry that sometimes the render writes are being held back by something like a disk cache read/write (even though I have 32 gigs of RAM)"

I don't think they'd be held up by cache writes (I don't think these happen during render), but they may be held up by cache reads if other processes are rendering.


[Larry Adlon] "or maybe all the CPUs finish their frames at the same time, and are all waiting in line to write their file."

That's possible. Open Resource Monitor and observe the length of the disk queue for the drive you're using while rendering (Resource Monitor > Disk Tab > Storage section).

You could try rendering to your SSD and see if it speeds up.


[Larry Adlon] "I just wish I could get the rest of the RAM used. Seems a real waste to only have 8% of the 32 gigs used."

Render something in HD or 4K. It'll get used.


[Larry Adlon] "Does AE store finished rendered frames to RAM while it waits to get its turn to write to disk (and in the meantime, start work on the next frame)... or does it just use the RAM while calculating the frame, and then sit there waiting to write before continuing to the next frame."

I believe that the Ae renderer uses synchronous I/O -- that is, it must write before moving on the next frame.

However, since you have multiple frames rendering in multiple processes at the same time, it's kind of asynchronous in that writing one frame in one process should not hold up rendering another frame in another process.


[Larry Adlon] "Would be cool if it stored it in the unused RAM (to be written to disk), and moved on to the next frame."

If storage is the bottleneck, this wouldn't solve your problem. You'd still end up waiting for the writes to finish, even the render to RAM finished an hour ago.

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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Larry AdlonRe: Incorrect Layer Numbers in AE?
by on Sep 13, 2013 at 7:59:42 pm

Again, more great info. Thanks!

Storage isn't an issue in this case. I got terabytes of space. Everything's probably running smoothly. I'm just wanting to make sure it's at optimum. The occassional render that goes longer than it usually does is probably a combo of cache 'issues', and maybe even plugins gettings a bit wonked out, and maybe even things like drive fragmentation, room heat, and a good dash of Murphy's Law...

Running AE CS6, newest update.


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