Convert your movie clips to image sequences. It's most likely the frame lookup and decoding that consumes the most time.
I have 5 precomps. Each has a simple object built with 3D layers consisting of anywhere from 10 to 50 layers each. Each layer is a solid, with stroke applied using the built in aftereffects plug in. It gives a really simple wireframe look to my animation.
The items are revolving in 3D space. It's that simple. The five pre-comps are imported into a master composition in which the 3D angle of each object is handled by the main composition's camera.
Rendering these out is painfully slow. I was under the impression that this would be a fairly simple render because it's using just a few 3-D layers, and not too much animation. I'm not even using transfer modes, just a bit of transparency.
I have my render settings set up to give three GB of RAM to each processor, so it's using a total of four processors. I can't tell if this is helping or not. When I had 1GB RAM to each proc, it was using 12 procs, but it was rendering even slower.
Are there any ways I can improve the render times on this? Some frames are taking up to five minutes each at 1080 P.
3D is about 9 times as render intensive as 2D and going to full 1080 is about 10 times the computational power of good ol' DV. That's just the math that considers the numbers of pixels you are crunching and does not include the procedural effects you are using. Are your rnedering or are you exporting? We find many users don't know the difference.
There's nothing simple about your project, it's immense, 50 to 250 layers. And strokes are complicated by the fact that they require procedural rendering, like partcles, sort of but different.
You can easily debug this by turning off everything except one precomp. How long does that render take? Turn on another. It might just double in time, it may go up by four times. At some point you will top out your patience. The easiest way around is to prerender most of your layers as movies since they are not 3D stroking layers.