17 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2008 4:59 AM by Andrew Yoole

    After Effects HD Effects

    Level 1

      I need to purchase a workstation that allow me to make Visual effects in After Effects with footage from HD SR 4:4:4. I will recieve dpx sequences, I will make the effects and I will deliver DPX or Tif sequence with the effect done.
      If I am not wrong each DPX frame will be between 12 and 15 MB/s.

      I need to know if this workstation I am thinking is OK for that.

      8gb or 16gb of RAM memory
      Nvidia Quadro FX 1500.
      1 PC standart monitor 21'
      Windows XP 64Bits
      1 PC monitor that allow me to reach 1920x1080 preview.

      Since AFter effects is not a real time software, do I really need to have a RAID storage that deliver 450MB/s of effective transfer rate to have real time playback?

      Wouldn't it be more important to have lots of RAM memory like 16gb to load large video previews in real time ?

      Thanks to all
        • 1. Re: After Effects HD Effects
          Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
          Get as much RAM as you can afford. Remember AE is a 32 bit application - you will only ever be able to playback 4GB worth of RAM preview at one time, but will use additional RAM for multi-processing renders/previews and for running other applications simultaneously. You should have a minimum of 2GB of RAM for each processor core in the system, more if you can afford it.

          I would also recommend a decent video I/O card, like a Blackmagic Decklink HD or Intensity card, for outputting your previews. (AJA and Kona also offer similar products). An Intensity HDMI card and an HDMI-capable quality LCD monitor is a cheap way to preview full res 1920x1080.

          This also frees up the second channel of your display card for computer real estate - you can have 2 x 21" computer monitors to work with, plus your preview monitor.

          After Effects doesn't play footage in real time unless its loaded into RAM, so disk speed is not crucial, but if you need to play uncompressed full res HD footage off disk for any reason then, yes, a fast RAID storage device is necessary. Any video editing/playback of renders etc, will require a fast RAID. I run 3 x 750Gb drives using standard internal RAID0 in a MacPro and have no problem playing 1920x1080 uncompressed. Faster disk speed will improve your overall workflow speed, if only slightly.
          • 2. Re: After Effects HD Effects
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
            Andrew is right - more RAM = more goodness on previews, which you will in particular notice if you work in 16bpc and 32bpc (surely your preferred bit-depths when working with DPX) where the files consume even more memory (about 70MB per frame at 32bpc).

            There is also some wisdom in getting a video preview card, but this depends on what you are actually doing. For color-sensitive work it would be my preferred solution, but if you merely do roto and keying, it would not be necessary. in that case I'd opt for a more powerful graphics card.

            A RAID is not really necessary, but nice if you need it. Especially for multiprocessing, insufficient drive speeds can become a bottleneck, slowing down things that otherwise would be flying. I wouldn't go super-expensive on it, though. I'd simply get a motherboard that has an onboard SATA RAID controller, then plug two dedicated fat disks to it and use a third one as the system drive.

            • 3. Re: After Effects HD Effects
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
              I don't quite follow. I think you are over-simplifying and misinterpreting things. First off, the length of a RAM preview is not only determined by the resolution, but also by the processing bit-depth. Previews can be quite a bit longer than 5 sec if run at 8bpc instead of 16bpc or 32bpc.

              Secondly: Everyone uses proxies! They all do. Even realtime systems such as flame* merely live by using lower-res placeholders in many situations or lowering the actual on-screen render resolution. In addition, they simply pre-render a lot, which is only logical, considering that the required processing would otherwise prevent realtime playback anyways, regardless of available other resources. It really boils down to those systems rendering the frame and storing it to disk rather than doing RAM previews.

              The only thing that really makes a difference is that these systems can do this to some degreee in an automated fashion and as a background process while still doing work in the foreground. That's probably the part where AE is lame, but then again you can always buy NucleoPro to get this functionality to some extent.

              As an last item, it also comes down how you understand to use your program. Obviously AE has a disk cache, but of course it won't be of any use if you are constantly invalidating it by doing all your work in one big 500 layer comp. Therefore be smart: pre-compose! If the key lives in its own comp, it will only be rendered once and then cached to disk.

              As for the rest - at some point correctly rendering everything is inevitable for screening purposes. You simply cannot expect to preview your work and get final approval on your workstation, regardless how perfectly it may be calibrated to match the final output.

              So to conclude: You pretty much only need to establish a workflow that allows you to take advantage of your hardware resources. Get a hellishly fast RAID, use pre-composing in a sensible manner, have a decent graphics card andm ake use of pre-composing and, if you wanan afford it, NucleoPro's features. With that, you can much more rely on playback from scratch disks rather than spending endless hours for RAM previews and worrying about that they always seem to not last long enough.

              • 4. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                Level 1
                OK I understand your point but please help me to understand something more.
                will it be a difference if I have 16 GB of Ram instaed 4 GB in a QuadCore on WINXP64 ?
                Is it true that having for example a QuadCore, the Ram of your system will supply 2GB per Core speeding up previews and renders ?

                I am aware that Nucleo Pro is a great software for previews but as far as I know is a 32 bit software. Will it work on WINXP64 ?

                • 5. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                  Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
                  TO break it down:

                  AE is a 32 bit application, and can itself use a maximum of 4GB RAM. That means a RAM preview within AE can never be bigger than that 4GB, which in practical terms will give you less than 10 secs of preview at full HD resolutions.

                  AE can basically run copies of itself in the background for rendering, however. Each processor core can have a copy of AE using it to render. When RAM previewing, the rendered frames from each copy are accumulated in the main operational version of AE - the one you work from. So you still only get 4GB of total RAM preview storage space.

                  But each copy of AE in the background requires its own RAM to function. So you need at least 2GB of RAM for each copy running. If you have an 8 core system, you'll want 16GB of RAM to get the most efficient use of all processors.

                  If you have 8 cores and only 8GB of RAM, you can tell AE to only use 4 of the cores for rendering.

                  Nucleo Pro does exactly the same thing as mentioned above, but a little more efficiently, and personally I find it to be faster as well. The same rules apply - at least 2GB of RAM for each processor core. Nucleo Pro, like AE, runs fine on WinXP64.

                  Also, as mentioned above, it's not necessary to work at full resolution all the time. I'm currently working on a music clip at 1920x1080 HD, and spend 90 percent of my workflow at 1/3 or 1/4 resolution. At 1/3 resolution I can preview over one minute of the timeline. When I need full resolution previews of more than a few seconds, I just render a Quicktime file rather than a RAM preview.
                  • 6. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                    Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                    NucleoPro works perfectly on XP64, but being 32bit itself it is obviously bound by the same limitations as AE. As Andrew explained - more RAM will not necessarily give longer previews, but by using multiprocessing it will at least accelerate generating those. Beyond that you should also differentiate - for tasks, where timing is critical, there is no shame in previewing them on reduced resolutions. Even for rotoscoping and keying tasks this applies to some degree - you will create the masks and mattes at full res and if you then preview at lower resolutions, you will still see any errors 'cos they appear as flashes or subtle shifts in color. This will in turn then simply make you go back to full res and track down the culprit. It's simply a matter of developing a "feel" for such things which comes with experience.

                    • 7. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                      Level 1
                      OK Guys, you are being so helpful to me.

                      After all this I am thinking this:

                      I am gonna work with dpx sequence of 12/15 MB per frame. So I will have 450MB/s. If I am not misunderstanding, since AE just can read 2GB per core I will have no more than 4 sec of preview at full Res. Am I wrong ?

                      what I can not really believe is how you judge jaqqy edges and those kind of artifacs on key work if you are not working at full res.

                      As a first conclusion I must understand that there´s no another way of working in AE with HD or 2K footage.
                      This is the way that industry on major film works when he want to use the AE for some effect.
                      Am I right ?

                      It´s completely advasible to adquire Nucleo Pro, right ?

                      If I get used to judge the effect rendering it, how will I watch it at real time playback ? I raid storage for this framerate 450MB/s it´s not on my budget and it´s not make sense if I will work just with AE. Is it a good plan to render on H264 to see it in realtime ?
                      Another plan ?

                      Thanks guys
                      • 8. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                        Level 1

                        When you tell me that I should buy a powerfull graphic card, are you talking about something like Nvidia Quadro FX 1500 ? or higher than that ?

                        If I am not working on color correction, just roto and key, is it neccesary to work on 16 or 32 bpc when I preview the effects or I just can make RAM preview on 8 bpc?
                        woudn it be right if just turn to 16 bpc when I do the render ?

                        Don´t you think that the RAID you are advising is rather slow ? Which transfer rate would be advisible as a minimum request to avoid bottle neck ?

                        • 9. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                          >Don´t you think that the RAID you are advising is rather slow ? Which >transfer rate would be advisible as a minimum request to avoid bottle >neck ?

                          No not really. Full uncompressed HD at 12bit is 320 MBit/sec or something like that, but depending on your work, you will never need that on a compositing workstation. You should not forget that AE will still pre-read frames and buffer them plus the disks themselves do some trickery. Of course you can get a stylish high quality RAID that will last longer than the computer, but my point was merely to not overdo.

                          >When you tell me that I should buy a powerfull graphic card, are you >talking about something like Nvidia Quadro FX 1500 ? or higher than >that ?

                          Well, I'm spoiled with my Quadro 5500 and wouldn't go below, but get whatever you are comfortable with. It's not that AE would be the most demanding app on the planet, especially if you are mostly doing rot and don't need OpenGLfeatures that much.

                          >If I am not working on color correction, just roto and key, is it >neccesary to work on 16 or 32 bpc when I preview the effects or I >just can make RAM preview on 8 bpc?
                          >woudn it be right if just turn to 16 bpc when I do the render ?

                          That's not advisable. Bit-depth affects Alpha blending/ transparencies as well and modern keyers work natively in the project bit-depth, giving different results at each of them. If your stuff looks okay at 8bpc, it can still be technically unusabel at 16 bpc or 32 bpc.

                          • 10. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
                            >what I can not really believe is how you judge jaqqy edges and those >kind of artifacs on key work if you are not working at full res.

                            Well, you must get away from the notion that every key and roto needs to be pixel-perfect. Very few of them are as you will notice even on big movies if you watch a DVD frame by frame. It needs to >>>look<<< correct, it doesn't >>>need<<< to be ultimately correct in the technaical sense. Just as much as a combination of different tools and techniques is part of the game, so is the human eye's incapability to detect minor flaws. Thank god there's motion blur, if you get my meaning. And against your believe you see if your key isn't right - at any resolution. If it flickers - it's wrong. If it shows shifts im brightness - it's wrong. You don't ned to see every pixel. Reallly!

                            • 11. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                              Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                              I'd say you can safely work in 8 bpc and switch to 16 bpc just before rendering, as long as you don't use any 8 bpc-only effects.

                              32 bpc is a totally different beast, you need to work in 32 bpc to avoid potentially radically different results.

                              - Jonas Hummelstrand
                              • 12. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                                Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                                AE on OS X can access 3 GB for previews. AE on Windows XPx64 and Vista64 can access 4 GB for previews, and AE on Windows XP can access 2 GB for previews (or 3 GB if you enable the /3GB switch detailed here:
                                i http://generalspecialist.com/2006/05/using-more-than-2gb-of-ram-in-after.asp )

                                An 8 bit frame of 2K resolution is 9.12 MB (it doesn't matter how big the file is on disc) and at 16 bpc it's 18.2 MB/frame. I'd suggest using 16bpc since you are using Cineon files, so for 24fps that would be around 440 MB/second.

                                However, you can use several techniques to work in film resolution; John Knoll used ancient versions of After Effects to composite several film-resolution shots for the Star Wars prequels. There's several IMAX movies composited in AE.

                                Use tools such as the Region of Interest or drop the resolution to half (good for overviews as very few people will be seeing every pixel when projected/shown in HDTV.) You can also preview every-other frame to double the length of a shot, or render out previews and import them back in.

                                Render to QuickTime PhotoJPEG at 95% for a easy-to-play file (you can actually select an Output module in the Render Queue and hit Ctrl-D to duplicate it and render both a lossless and a preview clip at the same time.)

                                - Jonas Hummelstrand
                                • 13. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                                  Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2

                                  You've asked the same thing in two other threads.

                                  ...where you should post additional questions that haven't yet been answered.

                                  - Jonas Hummelstrand
                                  • 14. workstation for HD project on AE CS3
                                    Level 1
                                    [THIS POST MERGED FROM ANOTHER THREAD BY FORUM HOST]

                                    OK You guys are helping me as you will never imagine. Just one more to conclude.
                                    After all your knowledges and advices that you share with me I have set this configuration.
                                    Will this machine let me work properly with DPX seq from HD SR 4:4:4 ???? As far as I know 12/15 MB/frame.

                                    # Quad Core ( How much Mhz ? ) If you think 8core just tell me.
                                    # 8 GB of RAM If you think 16 GB RAM just tell me.
                                    # Proper MotherBoard
                                    # 1TB of storage of SATA RAID. May be RAID 5
                                    # Nucleo Pro
                                    # Nvidia Quadro FX 1500. ( it may be higher if you tell me it is not enough )

                                    Monitor ( 2 options )

                                    # 1 Standard PC Monitor 21'
                                    # 1 HD PC Monitor 24'


                                    # 2 Standard PC Monitors 19'
                                    # 1 HD PC monitor 24' with HDMI imput
                                    # Blackmagic intensity Pro

                                    Thanks for All. You will have my help when you need it.
                                    If you know some others professionals from the industry that may help with my tons of doubts, don't hesitate of sending this email.

                                    Visual Effects Supervisor
                                    • 15. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                                      Level 1

                                      Sorry for this.
                                      What I am trying to solve just like the last doubt is about the workstation in detail.
                                      I had much info of you all. Now if you can just read the workstation I have described in detail above and give me your opinion it would be great. Just that.
                                      Sorry again for insist in the same topic.

                                      • 16. Re: After Effects HD Effects
                                        Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
                                        Hi Andrew07,

                                        As Jonas mentions above, there are so many threads running for your topic that it's getting impossible to follow. I've merged the two older threads and the new thread into this one. Everything is in its original chronological order (I think).
                                        • 17. HD Effect previews on Winxp64
                                          Level 1

                                          What I am not understanding very well about (getting more Ram for HD work ) is: how will I get longer Ram previews since this is the only way to judge the effect like Roto, Keyer or whatever effect is right.

                                          I have read that in HD footage I will have just 5 sec of RAM preview although I have 8 or 16GB of RAM.
                                          Topics I have read here say that working with Quad Core in WIN XP64 with 8GB of RAM will speed up previews and render time but not the length of these.

                                          So how do Film effects work in AE CS3 ? I have read that some film effects were done on AE for example Van Helsing, etc but it has no sense thinking that they just could see 5 sec of previews a time.

                                          Can anyone help me about this ?
                                          I know that I may set lower resolutions and that kind of things but if you are making a Chroma key you need to see at full resolution to judge the effect, don't you think ?

                                          So the holy Question is : what do I really need to have a RAM Preview of a dpx sequence (12/15MB per frame) to be 10 or 15 seconds ?

                                          Andres Bocan
                                          Visual Effects Supervisor.