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render queue keeps freezing

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Ed Purverrender queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 5:19:12 am

I'm having an issue where when I have multiple items queued in the render queue, AE will stop and hang at the end of rendering one comp and never move on to the next one. Sometimes it will make it through tow or three items in the queue but will then freeze again and I have to force quit. This is much, much longer than the usual pause AE takes to begin a render with the multiprocessing option selected in preferences.

I am running AE CS4 9.0.3 on a dual quad core i7 imac with 16gb of RAM. I have multiprocessing turned on, with 2gb reserved for other applications (no other apps running), leaving 14gb of ram for AE, with 5 processors getting 2.55gb of ram each, and 1.25gb for foreground memory.

Open GL is turned off, as is Disk Cache.

The comps themselves are not very heavy - 1920 x 1080 - one layer of footage (animation codec) and a second layer using Trapcode Form.

Anyone know what the problem is? It's not the specific comps themselves, because once I restart my system, AE happily renders the same comp that it froze on trying to start.

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Hamid Rohi-BilverdyRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:51:27 am

Your settings seems ok, I am not sure with the Open GL.

Have you tried render without displaying render preview?

Caps-lock on before hit the render button.

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Steve ModicaRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:56:54 pm

Perhaps a better analogy:
You want to haul your 28' boat with your VW. So you hook it up and discover that you can't move it unless you put the car in first gear. So you start driving that way. You would clearly realize that you were over-revving the engine and stop. You might imagine the transmission was having trouble.
Computers don't limit themselves. So they'll use up all the memory, pile up the IO queue, max out the CPU etc. All these things are fine for those moments when some intense thing is running. However if you are a production guy (for example, running weather simulations), you don't want to run like that. It's not efficient and it tends to have problems during your 3 week simulation run.

Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications

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Steve ModicaRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 12:32:27 pm

You should look at what's happening on the system during the run. iopending, activity monitor, and things like that. Memory, cpu and storage throughput are all interesting.

What usually happens is that things work great under "normal" loads, but when you really stress something (like using up all the memory), the system has to start paging, it slows way way down, and then all these interesting timing windows open up for bugs to appear. So you don't want to run "production" runs on a system that's not running in the sweet spot. Apple (and most vendors I'm sure) don't go around regression testing in resource constrained circumstances. (they may do this to test specific elements like the paging code, but they aren't running rendering tests like this)


Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications

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Ed PurverRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:24:07 pm

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated!

Hamid, yeah, I have render preview disabled.

Steve, I've been looking at the Activity Monitor, and I can see the aeselflink processes running that AE starts up for each cpu. The percentage of cpu that they consume spikes every time that the render process moves on to the next item in the queue, and does that thing where it sits and thinks before rendering the frames. Sometimes it manages to move on to the next comp in the queue just fine. But when it doesn't, this is exactly where it crashes. It creates the next file but fails to render any frames, leaving an incomplete .mov file of 0kb.

It just did it again, and I looked at the activity monitor while AE span uselessly in the background. Nothing seemed to look really strange, except that After Effects was now in red. But I don't claim to really understand the activity monitor fully. I put some screenshots online, in case anyone has time to take a look and give me any feedback.

I really need to get this fixed, because overnight renders just stop and hang after a few comps and I'm losing hours of precious rendering time.

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Steve ModicaRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 13, 2011 at 7:54:33 pm

That's some really interesting output.
I'm not 100% sure how apple decides to turn something red. I think it means it's not responding to interrupts.
The CPU time is all system time, which indicates it's the kernel or system calls doing stuff.
What's really interesting is all that "active" memory. That's very unusual. Again, I can't be sure what things apple chooses to put in that bucket, but I'm guessing it's dirty cache data that has not flushed to disk. I would be interested to see what happened if you killed AE and let it sit. Does all that eventually turn blue (inactive?)
It's almost like the IO is stopped and so it's all just going into cache and sitting there

Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications

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Ed PurverRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 14, 2011 at 3:44:51 pm

Well, I wondered if my project had simply got too big, so I cut it down to what I only need now. However, last night it made it through several comps in the queue and then crashed completely - ie disappeared and made a crash report. I don't have the knowledge to understand what this crash report is telling me, but I've posted it up online in case you or anyone else has a moment to take a look and tell me what it means.

It's here:

thanks again for your help.

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Dave LaRondeRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 14, 2011 at 4:07:23 pm

Boy, that's a ton of info to wade through. Since you run AE 9, I'm offering up an easier hypothesis: it could be the video footage if any in your comp. It may be an oldie, but in your case it could still be a goodie, so read on:

Dave's Stock Answer #1:

If the footage you imported into AE is any kind of the following -- footage in an HDV acquisition codec, MPEG1, MPEG2, AVCHD, mp4, mts, m2t, H.261 or H.264 -- you need to convert it to a different codec.

These kinds of footage use temporal, or interframe compression. They have keyframes at regular intervals, containing complete frame information. However, the frames in between do NOT have complete information. Interframe codecs toss out duplicated information.

In order to maintain peak rendering efficiency, AE needs complete information for each and every frame. But because these kinds of footage contain only partial information, AE freaks out, resulting in a wide variety of problems.

I'm a Mac guy, so I like to convert to Quicktime movies in the Animation or PNG codecs; both are lossless. I'll use Apple's Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder or Quicktime Pro to do it.

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

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Ed PurverRe: render queue keeps freezing
by on Jan 14, 2011 at 4:15:34 pm

Yeah, right, that is a lot of information! Thanks for your reply, Dave. Yes, all of the footage I am using is Animation codec - there is nothing else in terms of footage. However, yesterday I imported a new folder of approx 30 movies (all animation codec, ranging in size from 500mb to 2gb each. Now AE is having real trouble just scrolling through them in the project window. I get the mac OSX spinning beachball of death most of the time when I am trying to scroll down just to select an item with my mouse, and now it just totally crashed and disappeared when I was trying to do just that.

I don't think that this is related to my initial render queue problem, but I'm also now wondering if there is a limit to the amount of footage that AE CS4 can handle referring to in one project?

Just in case anyone's hungry for another ton of crash info, I posted the latest crash log, too:

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