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Render Headaches!!

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Rick SymondsRender Headaches!!
by on Feb 11, 2010 at 6:57:22 pm

Hi there,

Hopefully someone can give some help/tips on this matter. I'm currently working with a project in after effects that consists of lots (and by lots I mean thousands) of layers. I'm usually only trying to render with no more than 1000 layers at a time, separating chunks into pre-comps then soloing them for each pass.

I'm creating a patchwork type effect with a main background image popping up in lots of different sized pieces all overlapping to create a "mosaic" effect. I'm applying drop shadow wo each piece, which is totally essential to sell the effect and some curves on certain layers to tweak the colour.

I'm able to render out at 640x380 although it's a bit slow however when I try a 1280x720 render it's taking about 24 hrs to render a 20 second chunk....and that's just my BG...I've got other elements to place on top. The video is 4:30 total. I've tried Gridiron Nucleo Pro with CS3 but that didn't make much difference at all and crashed frequently. When I check OpenGL the render is really poor quality even although the settings say it should be otherwise (as soon as I uncheck OpenGL and try again, the quality is great but it's taking 24hrs to render).

It's extremely frustrating and I'm not 100% sure how to work around it. RAM preview is non existent at this point so I need to be able to render out chunks to see how it's all looking.

I'm running AE CS4 on a Mac Pro Quad Core 3.0 with 6Gb of RAM.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Kevin CampRe: Render Headaches!!
by on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:22:32 pm

one thing that may help since you mentioned many layers popping in and out, is to trim the layers to be only as long as they are on screen... so if the opacity is 0 or a layer is off screen, trim that layer at those points so it's only as long as it has to be.

also, you didn't mention this, but if many of those layers are footage layers, you may have trouble with the disk not being able to read fast enough to efficiently process the data. or, if the footage is compressed, the cpus are struggling to decode the footage prior to processing the composition.

the other thing is to pre-render as much as possible... once you have your background worked out, pre-comp it and pre-render it, so you're not continually processing it as you make changes to other layers of the project. and as you get other layers solidified, pre-comp them and pre-render those too.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Walter SoykaRe: Render Headaches!!
by on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:24:22 pm

This render sounds to me like it will be really RAM-intensive, and with 6 GB, you don't have enough RAM to feed 4 cores. If you have multi-processing enabled, turn it off.

It's great that you're pre-comping; you can also create best-quality, lossless proxies for your pre-comps, and use those proxies in subsequent renders. This won't speed up your total render time, but it does re-distributed it throughout your workflow.

You might also consider rendering to image sequences, as you can resume a failed render where it left off.

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
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Rick SymondsRe: Render Headaches!!
by on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:47:51 pm

Hey thanks for the response!

I'm only using jpegs for this project, there's no video content at all (the reason why I'm working with so many layers).

The multi-processing makes sense now. When I had it switched on the whole render would either just crash or not even begin so It's been switched off. I think I'm a little confused as far as the RAM situation with after effects. Am I correct in thinking AE only recognized 3Gb of RAM anyway? Is it worth my while buying, say, another 4Gb to total 10? Would I be able to enable multi processing and speed up my render times that way?

If all else fails I'll just have to power through but I wanted to make sure I wasn't making some ort of schoolboy error with my settings.


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Kevin CampRe: Render Headaches!!
by on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:19:53 pm

this link can help you sort out your ram questions:

the general rule for ae's mp settings is to leave about 1-2gb of ram for other apps (like the os). then set the number of cpus to leave for other apps to a value that will give you 2-4gb of ram per cpu for ae...

so if you had 10gb of ram, subtract 2gb for os (and other apps) and you could leave between 2-4 cpus for ae to use. that would give each cpu between 2-4gb of ram to works with.

ae cs5 will be 64-bit so it will be able to see as much ram as you can fit in your machine, so that may make things easier as far as some of these ram settings go.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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