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Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation

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J. Nick Porreca
Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 9, 2014 at 8:09:23 am

I'm running After Effects 5.5 with 3D Element and getting freezes and spinning wheels of between 1 and 5 minutes. I've tried every suggested change or combination of changes to the After Effects software settings that I am aware of including:
-Increasing RAM available to Adobe software
-Checking and unchecking multiprocessing option
-Making sure Open GL rendering is on
-Reducing resolution to a Third

Additionally all of my NVIDIA drivers are updated to the latest version and my After Effects software is running off a different drive than my source footage.

I'm running Windows 7 on an HPZ820 Workstation:
-4TB internal Seagate 7200RPM hard drives
-192GB RAM
-12 Cores
-NVIDIA Quadro 4000

Based on the research I've done there are 3 possible solutions to improve my performance:

1. Replace all of my Seagate hard drives with SSDs
2. Use a separate hard drive for my cache files
3. Buy a higher end NVIDIA card

Can anyone tell me which of these, if any, is best or most likely to prevent the freezes I've been experiencing? Any other advice is welcome.

Thanks for your help.


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Paul Roper
Re: Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 9, 2014 at 10:58:12 am

That's interesting. I came to this forum today for some information because I need to buy a reasonably high-end AE system, and the HP Z820 is an obvious (if pricey) option.

Assuming your processor(s) is/are something decent, then your system (as it currently is) should fly through AE. It's hard to pinpoint what might be causing the delays, but giving some more info would help you get a better response from other users on this forum with similar specced machines:

Do the delays happen when you're doing anything specific (eg. zooming, scrubbing through footage, rendering, RAM preview, etc)?
Are your comps huge - like 4K or larger?
Do you have comps with hundreds of layers?
Are your models in Element very complex (high poly count/large texture maps)?
Do you have lots of layers using the Element plugin in one comp?
Do the delays happen when you're using a comp WITHOUT the Element plugin? If they don't, then you can isolate the problem to Element, and maybe post some questions on the videocopilot site too.

Hope that helps...a bit, maybe.

- Paul


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J. Nick Porreca
Re: Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 9, 2014 at 8:39:06 pm

Thanks for your response Paul.


[Paul Roper] "Do the delays happen when you're doing anything specific (eg. zooming, scrubbing through footage, rendering, RAM preview, etc)?"

The delays happen when I seek through the composition whether by scrubbing or selecting different points on the timeline AND when I change any values within the comp.


[Paul Roper] "Are your comps huge - like 4K or larger?
Do you have comps with hundreds of layers?
Are your models in Element very complex (high poly count/large texture maps)?
Do you have lots of layers using the Element plugin in one comp?"


My comps are 1080.
Not hundreds of layers but sometimes hundreds of particles within Element.
Some 4K Texture Maps but even with comps that don't have 4K textures I have the same problem.
I have 4 or 5 layers using the Element plugin in a single comp. 1 or 2 of those layers are often using more than 200 particles.


[Paul Roper] "Do the delays happen when you're using a comp WITHOUT the Element plugin? If they don't, then you can isolate the problem to Element, and maybe post some questions on the videocopilot site too."

It's primarily an issue when using Element. I will definitely post on videocopilot.

I'm frustrated because I thought a system this beefy would be able to handle hundreds if not thousands of 3D particles without issue. I'm hoping I only need to make a few adjustments/upgrades to get things running smoothly so thanks for your help. Any additional advice or suggestions you have are welcome.


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Paul Roper
Re: Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 10, 2014 at 8:52:45 am

I'd have expected someone with more Element experience to have chimed in by now - maybe everyone's living it up at NAB!

I noticed you said you're using After Effects 5.5 (that was launched in from 2002!) - I assume you mean CS5.5. Maybe updating it to CS6 (if you can find it) or making the leap to the Creative Cloud version might help.

- Paul


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Walter Soyka
Re: Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 10, 2014 at 1:24:10 pm

[J. Nick Porreca] "I have 4 or 5 layers using the Element plugin in a single comp. 1 or 2 of those layers are often using more than 200 particles."

I would guess that all of the instances of Element may be competing for GPU resources at the same time.

How much GPU memory do you have free? Does the problem temporarily ease if you only enable one or two Element layers at a time?

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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J. Nick Porreca
Re: Tips for speeding up z820 Workstation
on Apr 11, 2014 at 10:35:28 pm

Thanks for your help guys. Based on what Walter is suggesting, and based on email conversations I've now had with Matt Kramer at Video CoPilot, it seems if I want faster performance in Element I simply need a beefier, better video card. He suggested the GeForce GTX 700 series cards, 800 series cards, and the GeForce GTX TITAN.


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