Set Up After Effects To Render Fast


Hello and welcome to this tutorial.

My name is Remus Hosu for bluefx.net and in this tutorial we will take an in depht overview of different setups for maximising AE performance.
We will cover common setups as well as specific setups for AE CS4, CS5 and CS6. We will also configure AE to handle large amounts of RAM and take full advantage of many processors and in a multiprocessor system.


When using AE there are things you need to take into consideration to achieve optimum performance:

Make sure that your system has enough RAM. Optimum performance is achieved with computer systems with at least 2 GB of installed RAM per processor core.

Try to keep the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive. Ideally, use separate fast local disk drives for source footage files and rendered output. A separate fast disk to assign the disk cache folder to, is ideal. SSD drives work best with this function.

Enable caching frames to disk for standard previews by selecting the Enable Disk Cache preference. We’ll discuss this feature later in this
tutorial. Before rendering, put all of your source footage files on a fast, local disk—not the one that you’re rendering to. A good way to to this is with the Collect Files command.

Set the Zoom quality and color management quality to faster. Go to Edit- Preferences – Previews and in viewer quality section set both values to faster.Enable hardware acceleration of previews. This uses the GPU to assist in drawing previews to the screen. Choose Edit > Preferences > Display, and select Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, And Footage Panels.

Disable pixel aspect ratio correction by clicking the Toggle Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction button at the bottom of a Composition, Layer, or Footage panel.

Apply memory-intensive and processor-intensive effects later.
Rather than applying the same effect with the same settings to multiple layers, apply the effect to an adjustment layer. When an effect is applied to an adjustment layer, it is processed once, on the composite of all of the layers beneath it.

Before rendering you can press Caps Lock to prevent the screen from autorefreshing. This way your composition will render much faster.

Also, before rendering clear data stored in your RAM by choosing Edit – Purge – All.


Region of interest (ROI)
The region of interest (ROI) is the area of the composition, layer, or footage item that is rendered for previews. Create a smaller region of interest to use less processing power and memory when previewing, thereby improving interaction speed and increasing RAM preview duration.

To draw a region of interest, click the Region Of Interest button at the bottom of the Composition, Layer, or Footage panel, and then drag to select a viewable area of the panel.
To start over with the marquee tool, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and click the Region Of Interest button.

By default, changing the region of interest does not affect file output. You can change the size of your composition and select what portion is rendered by cropping to the region of interest.

To crop the output to the region of interest, choose Use Region Of Interest in the Crop section of the Output Module Settings dialog box.. Go to Composition- Add to render Queue , select Ouput Module, check “crop” and “use region of interest”


The work area is the part of the duration of a composition that is rendered for previews or final output. In the Timeline panel, the work area appears in a lighter shade of gray.

To set the work area start time or end time to the current time, press B (begin) or N (end), respectively. You can also set the work area by moving the start and end work area markers in the time ruler. To expand the work area to the size of the composition, double-click the center of the work area bar.


When you want to compare one view to another in a Composition, Layer, or Footage panel, take a snapshot. For example, you may want to compare two frames at different times in a movie.

Snapshots taken in one kind of panel can be displayed in another kind. For example, you can take a snapshot of a Layer panel and display the snapshot in a Composition or Footage panel. Displaying a snapshot does not replace the content of the panel. If the snapshot has a different size or aspect ratio than the panel in which you display it, the snapshot is resized to fit the current view.

Snapshots are for reference only and do not become part of the layer, composition, or rendered movie.To take a snapshot, click the Take Snapshot button at the bottom of the panel or press Shift+F5, Shift+F6, Shift+F7, or Shift+F8.

To view the most recent snapshot taken with the Take Snapshot button or Shift+F5, click and hold the Show Snapshot button at the bottom of the panel.To view a specific snapshot, press and hold F5, F6, F7, or F8. To free all memory used to store snapshots, choose Edit > Purge > Snapshot.


You can take full advantage of a multiprocessor system and render multiple frames simultaneously.

Select Edit- Preferences – Memory and multiprocessing and check “Render multiple frames simultaneously”

By default AE has multiprocessing turned off.

In order for our system to run smoothly we need to reserve RAM for applications.
Increase this value to leave more RAM available for the operating system and for applications other than After Effects and the application with which it shares a memory pool. After Effects CS4 and CS5 share a memory pool with Premiere Pro, Encore and Adobe media Encoder. AE CS6 shares a memory pools with Premiere Pro, Encore, Adobe Media Encoder and also Photostop and Prelude. In this case 2 gb is a fair setup for a total of 8 gb of RAM.

We reserved RAM for other applications but we also need to reserve CPUs for these applications. Again, from a total of 8 CPUs, I reserved 2 CPUs for other applications. It’s very important to set these values correctly, otherwise background applications will end up fighting over the processors and RAM, greatly decreasing performance. OK, next , Ram Allocation for Background CPU.

If you’re working with Digital Cinema Size frames set this value to 3gb.For high definition frames set the value to 1,5 or 2 gb and for standard definition set it to 1.

Actual CPUs that will be used doesn’t refer to the total number of CPUs used for After Effects. Just for the number of CPUs that will house their own background processes each.

In After Effects CS4 you also need to check “Prevent DLL Address Space Fragmentation” for best results.

So keep in mind that if you run applications other than those with which After Effects shares a memory pool, and you don’t allocate adequate memory to other applications, performance can be greatly reduced when the operating system swaps RAM to the hard disk.


Another great way to improve your performance is by activating Media and Disk Cache in AE. Select Edit- Preferences- Media and disk cache.

The minimum amount of cache should be 2 GB but it’s recommended to set this value up to 12 GB of hard disk space. If possible, use a fast disk to assign the disk cache folder to, such as a SSD drive. However, in AE CS6, it’s best to set the cache size to a bigger value. In fact, the bigger , the better, but make sure you don’t specify a value that is bigger than the size you have available on your disk.


So, why such a large value?
Well, in After Effects CS6 there is a new feature called persistent disk cache.
Persistent disk cache improves performance by retaining frames stored in the disk cache between sessions, saving rendering time as you work on a project or other projects that might use the same cached frames.

Use Cache Work Area In Background to fill the disk cache for a composition’s work area while continuing to work. This technique is useful when you do not expect to make changes to a downstream composition, or precomposition. This feature works with multiple compositions, as well.

Press Ctrl + Enter to render a background composition intro the disk cache. In the info panel we will get updates on the background caching status. The blue line indicates that the composition has been rendered to the hard disk cache. Hit space bar to fetch the render from the disk and put it into RAM . You can load as many compositions or work areas into the background renderer as you want. If you want to cancel go to Composition – Cancel work area in the background. Caching of multiple compositions will be done in serial, one after the other.

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