I have been trying to render a simple downloaded audio visualizer/react template for the last 4 days and every time I get some kind of crash. The template has a few layers and particle effects which react to an audio layer.
It's just insane how finicky and unstable this software is. The machine is practically brand new. Very clean installation, latest graphics card drivers, etc. NO problems with any other software including video software so it's not a general hardware issue.
There's nothing simple about the project you've described. The problem is likely the file that you have downloaded. It may be for an older version of AE that does not properly parse into the newer versions. You might be trying to use particle filters you do not have. The settings for the filters may be improperly ranged for the current version of AE. The download may have been damaged. My experience is most such issues are on the user's end, not with After Effects. Try to talk to the people who designed your template.
My first reaction to similar issues is to throw away what appears to be a broken file and try to recreate it myself.
My approach to debugging a problem like this is to perform along series of binary tests: turn off half the layers and see what happens. You keep doing that until you have a vague idea of what might be causing your issues.
Thank you for the response. As far as I can tell, and based on the description of the template, it uses ONLY default plugins. Furthermore, if I didn't have a particular filter or plugin, wouldn't I have gotten an error during project load or playback? Not at random points within the render? Regardless it's disheartening to hear that After Effects lacks backward compatibility... I load Vegas 9 projects into Vegas 13 all the time with no issues.
Likewise if the download were damaged I would expect consistent errors immediately on load or playback. What I'm experiencing are random crashes, with random plugins, at random points in the render. That sounds like unstable software to me. If it were consistently crashing at a specific point then I would agree it would seem to be a specific setting, filter, etc. Also, a damaged project file (or incompatible one) causing blue screens seems a bit far-fetched....
Now that you've provided some additional information you can disregard all of my suggestions. Except the need to do the binary test.
Your experience and longevity with After Effects has not been revealed yet.
Unstable software also has observable symptoms and your random crashes do not, in my experience, indicate After Effects is the cause. Using your same logic, if AE were indeed at fault, AE would be crashing randomly for everyone, all the time, everywhere, with every project, regardless of who created the composition or project or what filters were in use. And this is clearly not the case. I'm not an apologist for Adobe; I have my own issues with AE but I do not experience your crashes or errors.
You can copy the text form your error boxes and paste them into a google search. That turns up interesting results. But I'd still work whoever created the template. Or I'd download it again., Or I'd throw it away and try to recreate the effects, one filter at a time. Eventually you will find where your system is breaking. Debugging After Effects is not a simple or quick task so the usual methods are scorched earth, delete the app.
Thank you; I do plan on trying your suggestion, but first - just as a precaution to rule out other potential issues - I'm reinstalling Windows & AE CC today, on a fresh new hard drive. This will hopefully eliminate more variables.