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Will using CPU rather than GPU be a problem when rendering ray-traced 3D animations in Ae CS6?

Jul 20, 2012 11:38 AM

Hello, I am brand spankin' new to After Effects CS6. As a first step, I am optimizing my system, following the recommendations in the article "After Effects Help/Improve performance".


There I see that an Adobe-certified GPU card for GPU-accelerated ray-traced 3D renderer is listed as optional and that only NVIDIA GPUs are supported. In Ae Preferences, under "GPU Information", I see "GPU not available - Incompatible device or CUDA driver".  My video card is an ATI Radeon HD 5750 1024 MB.


I understand that  "Ray-traced 3D rendering will take place on the CPU using all physical cores if your GPU is not supported", which, evidently my Radeon 5750 is not.


So, my question is: Will having to use the CPU rather than GPU going to be a problem when rendering ray-traced  3D animations in After Effects? I don't care if it is slow (I can set the render to run overnight). I just don't want it to be impossible! I'll run some experiments, but, meanwhile, if anyone has any info on this question, please let me know.


I am on a 27" iMac (quad core) with 16 GB of RAM, OSX.7.4. I do have the latest version of the app. A screen shot of my After Effects Preferences is attached.



--Carol Gunn

Gunn Graphics

Screen Shot 2012-07-20 at 1.08.25 PM.png

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 20, 2012 8:45 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    This whole Ray Tracing thing has been completely overmarketed by Adobe (sorry guys!). Even *with* a screamin' CUDA card (or two or three!), it's still excruciatingly slow. Mind numblingly, teeth grindingly, eye rollingly slow.  CPU only? Go take a vacation to Fiji and it might be done when you return.


    I'm calling it "experimental" at this point. It's only for hobbyists who have more free time than common sense.


    So back to your question... just pretend that feature doesn't exist.

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    Jul 20, 2012 10:51 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    What Navarro said. Raytracing is positively useless in CPU only mode. It's already slow with a supported card and I'd never even dream of using it in production but you should forget about it without any hardware support. Your time is better spent learning a 3D program like the free Blender, buying Video CoPilot's Element and toying with it, joining the AtomKraft Beta or buying Zaxwerks 3D plug-ins, if you really must have such stuff to satisfy your pleasure.



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    Jul 21, 2012 8:06 AM   in reply to Mylenium

    Slow and frustrating with CPU only. Way too slow. It's usable with a compatible GPU for simple projects, but as Mylenium said, by the time you render 10 seconds of moving glass text with an environment map and reflections on a shiny floor using the CPU you could download Blender (open source = free) watch a couple of tutorials, set up an animation complete with camera tracking, camera mapping, and multiple passes for compositing, render the project in blender, export the Blender project to AE, and complete your shot.


    I've only done a few frames CPU as a test. It works, but a complex shot could easily take days to render. I'm sure that this will improve over time, but so will GPU rendering. There will always be a gap between the two.

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    Jul 21, 2012 11:55 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    It's the other way around. You won't be able to get any work done without GPU support as even the simplest change in your scene will render minutes for the current frame. As for the rest - I've said it many times and I'm gonna say it again - Adobe just doesn't understand 3D workflows. All of their attempts to bring 3D to any of their programs over the years have either been half-assed or ill-fated. You just need to look at Director (Schockwave), Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop and finally After Effects as well. They're always too busy polishing the chrome (fancy GPU rendering and whatnot) without getting the basics right (consistent 3D unit handling and navigation, robust rendering under any conditions, integration with existing features) and similarly they are clinging to the illusion (and marketing it this way) that 3D would be simple and could be learned in half an hour. In turn that leads to people like you hitting a wall every time, making what 3D they have ultimately useless because it becomes creatively limiting rather than a tool you can actually use. And from a technical POV they're somehow always betting on the wrong horse. Nobody out there even uses OptiX because frankly, most 3D developers I know think it's crap, so why does Adobe? They could have just done it with OpenGL/ CUDA and crafted something like Video CoPilot's Element, complemented by better scene navigation and people would have been a lot happier. That would really have made a difference. As it stands, with CS6 they have achieved nothing. They're not an inch closer to competing with Nuke, Smoke, Fusion or even 3D programs nor providing better workflows for the legacy 3D layers, cameras and lights just like the raytracing stuff still doesn't give third-party developers a consistent 3D space to work with in their plug-ins. So as Rick said - simply pretend those features don't exist and move on. Maybe CS7 will set things right, maybe we'll have to wait for CS8, maybe we'll sit here waiting for miracles to happen until we rot and our teeth fall out. Who knows?



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