I would just like to know if this is possible, because I couldn't find any information on my initial search. Basically I want to use my laptop to work on the actual AE project, but render it on my desktop. Instead of copying all the files, etc, is there a way the desktop could be used as a farm to render it out?
If you're using a laptop for AE work, you aren't exactly going to do any true heavy lifting with it.
The solution could be as inexpensive as about $100 -- an external hard drive, upon which you have your AE project file and footage, all in a nice, convenient folder. When it's time to render, copy the folder to the desktop machine, and have at it. Or just hook the external hard drive up to desktop machine; a firewire 800 connection would be best.
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