12 Replies Latest reply on Oct 13, 2014 12:44 PM by MGMartino

    RAM Preview Optimization

    MGMartino Level 1

      I know there are a bunch of threads about Ram preview and how to make it render faster on the forum already.  However, I have read through a lot of them and tried most everything suggested that I could do or understand how to do and nothing has changed my current dilemma.

       

      I am using a 15" MacBook Pro (2012)  750GB HD, 16GB RAM

      OS X 10.9.5

      2.4GHz Intel Core i7

      After Effects CC 13.0.2.3

       

      I am working on a Lyric Video right now in After Effects with no outside footage, everything in the video has been created inside of AE or drawn in Illustrator or Photoshop and then brought into AE.

       

      I did everything suggested at this link for optimization in AE

      optimizing for performance: Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects | After Effects region of interest

      The only thing I didn't do yet is get an external drive.  I used to have one that I put all my projects on for After Effect, Photoshop, Illustrator and even Logic Pro

      (My main use for My MacBook is Logic Pro/Recording Audio/Music Production.  But I have been using After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator to make visual media to go along with the music I make)

       

      But I recently found out my 1TB "WD My Passport Studio" external drive was only 5200rpms,  So for this video I am making and the couple before it I have been only using the internal 750GB HD on my MacBook Pro (which has 5400rpm) to save my AE projects to.

      I know it's not the best case scenario but I had just upgraded my MacBook to 16GB RAM and I still have 440GB of available space on my 750GB HD so I'd figured I would see how much the RAM upgrade alone really did. Until it became necessary to get an external drive (and make sure I purchased the RIGHT one for me.

       

      ...With the 16GB RAM upgrade everything was much better, I can now have multiple applications such as After Effects, Illustrator and FireFox all running at the same time (I didn't have a chance of pulling that off before 16GB RAM).  Also what improved is while I'm playing videos using RAM Preview they usually do not lag anymore.  But the problem is now when I want to RAM preview it is taking forever to render, about 4-5seconds per frame, so trying to edit even a 15 second portion of my video can become seriously dull and really kill workflow.

      Like I said before I tried most optimization settings within After Effects that, that link I posted will suggest to do. But nothing has changed.  I'm basically posting this to see if anyone thinks I might have overlooked something within my After Effects or MacBookPro settings that will help my dilemma or if they think I just need an external drive to save all my After Effects projects onto. And if that is the problem, which external drive do they suggest?

        • 1. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
          Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          By Lyric video I'm assuming you mean Dynamic Text. Animation is always a tedious process but there are efficient ways to work and inefficient ways to work. I'm guessing that you are adding a layer, adding effects, turning on motion blur, adding lights and then trying to ram preview big sections of your animation. There's an easier way to get to where you want to go and successful professional animators have worked this way for more than 100 years. The classic animators workflow:

          Step 1 - pencil tests or simple pencil sketches of each frame to establish the movement of the scene and the timing. Pencil tests are used to get everything but the final look just right because they are quid to do and quick to change.

          Step 2 - ink and color tests - This is where the detail is added to the project. A few frames of the animated elements are created and a a color and look scheme is decided upon for the characters.

          Step 3 - background ink and color tests for the same reasons but this time completed frames are checked for each scene and the final master color or look is established.

          Step 4 - Ink and color every frame of every shot or scene with enough extra frames on the head and tail to allow editing for final timing and dramatic effect.

          Step 5 - photography of final components on the animation stand with an animation camera

          Step 6 - on an editing bench or machine the processed work print is edited, then checked, then the original negative is conformed to the edited work print and release prints are pulled of the final film.

           

          This is by far the most efficient way to animate and it translates directly into AE. Here is my standard After Effects Animation workflow:

          Step 1 - initial animation tests with the comp windows zoom factor set to 25% or 50% and resolution set to Auto to get the timing down in the least amount of time and with the fastest and longest RAM previews (see pencil test).

          Step 2 - lighting color and effects tests on just a few key frames to establish the final look and style of the shot. Very little or no RAM Previews are done here. Several copies of the main comp are often made with different looks so I can quickly look at 3 or 4 different versions of the final shot, make my own judgement call or send the frames to the client for approval (the equivalent of ink and color tests and background ink and color tests).

          Step 3 - After a few ram previews to check only parts of my animation where I'm concerned about the final look of the project where color and lighting may need to be adjusted I Render a Full Resolution Proof of the scene or shot using my favorite DI format (digital intermediate) format and simultaneously render a Proof using my favorite Distribution Format using the Adobe Media Encoder. While the AME is crunching away I start working on the next shot or scene in the project never wasting my time waiting for a full rez full length RAM preview or a Render of the scene. (see step 3, 4 and 5 above)

          Step 4 - My rendered scenes are loaded into my NLE of choice for final editing and a distribution copy and DI for archiving are rendered using the AME if using Premiere Pro. If the project is approved, I'm done.

           

          That is how you work quickly and efficiently in AE and will continue to work efficiently even when render times and effects can be processed in real time because it is much easier to and more efficient to get the movement right before you do anything else. Try modifying your workflow a bit and you'll be much more productive. Just in case you're curious, for most projects my favorite universal DI format is DPX with alpha, if audio is required ProREZ444 64bit (to keep things at least 10 bit) and my favorite delivery codec is the AME YouTube HD 1080p preset.

          • 2. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
            MGMartino Level 1

            By "Lyric Video" I mean a bunch of animated Text(words) that are synced up to the lyrics of a song that plays throughout the video.  It is also referred to more generally as Kinetic Typography.

             

            The only additional difference in this video is that I dragged in some Illustrator and Photoshop files (layers I drew in Illustrator or Photoshop) and then animated each layer in AE by clicking the 3D and Motion Blur boxes and then using lots of rotation and positioning key frames...But that's all I'm really doing...It's not nearly as complicated as how you were making it sound.

             

            A lot of what you said seemed very confusing to me, and that might just be my ignorance but what I'm doing doesn't seem nearly as complex, as what you were describing.

             

            I simply want to have shorter RAM preview render times (which when I say "RAM Preview render times") I mean from the time I click "RAM Preview play button" to the time the movie actually starts to play.

             

            The only other thing I noticed that is kind of still "laggy" in AE since I upgraded to 16GB of RAM, is that sometimes when I am rotating or moving the position of a layer and I want it to line up exactly with another layer, I will move it with the up,down,left,right arrow keys one click at a time or click and drag it on a rotation ever so slightly. but when I let go of the arrow key or release my finger from the clicker, AE will take about 5 seconds to load the new position or rotation angle...

             

            I only share this in the chance that it might help you determine whether I just need to upgrade my MacBook Hardware or whether it is a settings problem within AE.

            Like I said in my first post, as far as hardware goes I am working everything off of only ONE drive right now (my internal HD).  I can get an External Drive to work all my AE projects off of or I can even upgrade my internal disk to a SSD but I only want to spend the money to do that If you genuinely think that will solve my problem.

            • 3. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Dynamic Text, Kenetic typography... same thing. That's what I thought. If it were my project I would animate all of the text and added vector graphics at 50% or 25% zoom factor and resolution set to auto and then when the animation works at that zoom factor and resolution, I'd add the rest of the effects, the motion blur, and anything else I wanted in the project.

               

              What I was trying to explain is simply if you want faster ram previews then do all you animation with all effects and lights turned off and the comp at 1/2 or 1/4 resolution. Then add your effects, lighting, and color, check critical frames and render a test. Generally if you follow the optimize performance suggestions on the Adobe site you are going to be very close to optimum performance. All it takes is one slow to render effect or an oversized layer, or something like motion blur or temporal effects like frame blending and time remapping to slow down AE by factors of 10. That's why I do all my animating like a traditional animator would do pencil tests. I use the minimum that is required to see how the motion is working, then I fill in the details and render.

               

              It looks like you read this: Optimizing After Effects Performance. There is no magic formula that will make your machine 10 or 20% faster than it is with the default settings for all operations.

              • 4. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                MGMartino Level 1

                SO I add my vector graphics to my composition but what do you mean add them at zoom factor 50% or 25%?  do you mean add them to the movie and then just zoom in 50% or 25%?

                 

                And what do you mean by lights turned off?

                • 5. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                  Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  Here are my "pencil test" comp and timeline settings:

                  pencilTest.png

                  The tendency of most folks new to AE is to have everything turned on, all the effects applied, Layer Styles on, and the comp set to Full resolution and then try to animate and do ram previews at full resolution. Animation is motion and all you need to see is the motion is the motion. With everything turned off and the comp zoom factor set to 50%, RAM Preview is much faster and you can tell if your scene is working. Some effects, like animating a blur or using a particle system require you to turn on the effects, but step one, if my scene involves any animation of the Transform properties or animating a camera everything is off and the motion is set before starting to add anything else to the project.

                   

                  Once you like the motion turn on everything and check a few critical frames at full resolution (equivalent of the Ink and Paint stage of traditional animation). For most projects you really don't need to do RAM Previews for more than a few critical frames to know exactly what your render will look like so you're ready to render and move on to the next scene while the AME is churning out your scene.

                   

                  With your system and a comp that is mainly text and illustrator layers, this setup should run very smoothly, even with dozens of overlapping layers.

                   

                  I hope this helps.

                  • 6. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                    MGMartino Level 1

                    Okay thank you, I understand a lot more of what you are saying now.  But I still have a few more question about it, if you don't mind...So here are my current settings...

                    -Zoom Factor is set to 50%

                    -Resolution I put on Auto

                     

                    -I also found out about the "fast previews" button while doing some recent online research and currently I am set to "adaptive Resolution"  I wanted to try and switch it to "Draft" but when I opened the drop down menu "Draft" way greyed out my only options besides Adaptive Resolution were "Fast Draft, Wire Fram or Full Quality)...???


                    ... And as far as turning off my effects go; if i turn off the "fx" button for a lot of my layers the animation is the effect, so if i turn off the "fx" button I won't be able to see what it looks like

                     

                    Some effects, like animating a blur or using a particle system require you to turn on the effects, but step one, if my scene involves any animation of the Transform properties or animating a camera everything is off and the motion is set before starting to add anything else to the project.

                     

                    Once you like the motion turn on everything and check a few critical frames at full resolution (equivalent of the Ink and Paint stage of traditional animation). For most projects you really don't need to do RAM Previews for more than a few critical frames to know exactly what your render will look like so you're ready to render and move on to the next scene while the AME is churning out your scene.

                     

                    With your system and a comp that is mainly text and illustrator layers, this setup should run very smoothly, even with dozens of overlapping layers.

                     

                    I hope this helps.

                    Could you explain what you mean here in a step by step scenario.  because what you are describing sounds a little counter productive. but I am probably just reading it wrong...

                     

                    ...Also if you think me sending you my movie would help you explain I would gladly do so....

                    • 7. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                      Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      It's really simple, animate motion first, then animate effects, then check final color and effect at full resolution. The FX switch just turns off Effects applied to your layers. If you press the E key on with a layer selected or look in the Effects Control Panel and there is nothing there you will not have an effect to turn off. Layer styles are also an effect but they don't have a switch, then have an eyeball. I don't add layer effects, or for the most part add any effects until my motion is where I want it to be.

                       

                      If you motion involves particle systems or other effects then you have to have FX turned on to see that and you have to live with long RAM Preview times. The whole idea here is to get the motion working and the composition (composition in classic terms here - rule of thirds and so on) set before I add any effects or styles to the video. Once transform (Position, Scale, Rotation, Opacity) keyframes are set I seldom if ever touch them again in the process of building a scene. I already know they work so the only thing left is ink and color or Lights, Effects, Styling and final color grading. After the motion is good, and motion is the biggest part of Kinetic Typography projects is the motion, I seldom do a ram preview that is longer than 30 frames because I'm confident of the action in the scene. All I worry about is the lighting (most of my KT projects are 3D with lights and a lot of moving cameras) and the final color grade.

                       

                      I ought to do a tutorial on KT or info graphic animations because they are very popular and most folks work way too hard at putting them together. I actually usually spend more time in Illustrator creating the starting graphics and editing the sound track than I spend animating. I create a huge Illustrator comp that has all of the elements in their final positions, import that as a comp, then resize the comp from the bottom left to HD, add a camera and camera dolly null and begin.

                       

                      For a typical project I spend about 3 hours setting up the Illustrator file and about an hour animating the comp using animation presets from my collection of more than 200 that I have created and purchased to move the layers. Usually the only thing I do to the layers is set an in and out point. Expressions from animation presets took care of everything else. If I am animating a lot of text and want to use text animators I'll layout the text in it's final position in a Photoshop file, import that as a comp, then convert the text layers to animatable text in AE and add one of my text animator presets.

                       

                      Here's a free animation preset for 3D layers that moves the layer into it's final position from a defined starting point and fades it in and out if the Setup check box is unchecked. Enjoy: 3DSlideshow.ffx

                       

                      While I'm thinking about sound tracks, if you load a narration track into Premiere Pro and analyze the audio you can create markers that will show up on the audio track in AE that have the words as marker labels. This speeds up animating about 500% because you don't have to do any audio scrubbing to figure out the timing. Here's how to do that from Adobe TV:

                      Accelerated Editing with Enhanced Speech Analysis in Premiere Pro CS5 | Adobe Story CS5 Feature Tour | Adobe TV

                       

                      Import the audio track into AE and yo'll be amazed.

                      • 8. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                        MGMartino Level 1

                        Once transform (Position, Scale, Rotation, Opacity) keyframes are set I seldom if ever touch them again in the process of building a scene. I already know they work so the only thing left is ink and color or Lights, Effects, Styling and final color grading. After the motion is good, and motion is the biggest part of Kinetic Typography projects is the motion, I seldom do a ram preview that is longer than 30 frames because I'm confident of the action in the scene.

                        But that's the thing. Most of my animations are simply using motion such as Position, Scale, Rotation and Opacity. And that's all I have done to them so far...Yes some Text I use animation presets on, but most of my layers (whether they be Text, Shape, or Vector Image layers) only have motion key frames done to them and nothing else. I have not even messed with the lighting, color grading or shadows of the composition yet.  So that's why I am a bit frustrated that these previews are taking so long especially when my composition is not even at that complex of a point yet.

                         

                        What are your thoughts on the "fast previews" button? With "Adaptive Resolution" vs. "Draft" mode.  And why do you think my "Draft" mode is greyed out?  But all my other options (Adaptive Resolution, Fast Draft, Wire Frame, and Full Quality) are not?

                         

                         

                        I ought to do a tutorial on KT or info graphic animations because they are very popular and most folks work way too hard at putting them together. I actually usually spend more time in Illustrator creating the starting graphics and editing the sound track than I spend animating. I create a huge Illustrator comp that has all of the elements in their final positions, import that as a comp, then resize the comp from the bottom left to HD, add a camera and camera dolly null and begin.

                         

                         

                        If you did a tutorial from start to finish on how to make a kinetic typography video and optimize workflow as much as possible that would be AMAZING! and if you do definitely let me know! haha

                         

                         

                        Here's a free animation preset for 3D layers that moves the layer into it's final position from a defined starting point and fades it in and out if the Setup check box is unchecked. Enjoy: 3DSlideshow.ffx

                         

                         

                        I appreciate you giving me a free 3D animation preset but when I downloaded it from safari and clicked on it it just came up as code.  I tried to drag and drop it into my "effects & presets" panel in AE but that didn't work either.  I'm sure there is a specific folder I am supposed to save the the 3D animation file to, I just don't know what folder that is or where i can find it on my HD

                         

                         

                         

                        While I'm thinking about sound tracks, if you load a narration track into Premiere Pro and analyze the audio you can create markers that will show up on the audio track in AE that have the words as marker labels. This speeds up animating about 500% because you don't have to do any audio scrubbing to figure out the timing. Here's how to do that from Adobe TV:

                        Accelerated Editing with Enhanced Speech Analysis in Premiere Pro CS5 | Adobe Story CS5 Feature Tour | Adobe TV

                         

                        Import the audio track into AE and yo'll be amazed.

                        That sounds like an awesome way to save time! But I simply do not have Premiere Pro .  I have After Effects, Adobe Bridge and Media Encoder CC... and then Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign CS6 and Adobe Acrobat XPro

                        • 9. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                          > And why do you think my "Draft" mode is greyed out?

                           

                          from After Effects Help:

                           

                          "Draft:Available in Ray-traced 3D compositions only."

                          After Effects Help | Previewing

                          • 10. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                            Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Have your layer selected. Put the preset anywhere then click on Animation>Apply Animation Preset and browse to it.  That's it.

                            From the help files:

                            After Effects Help | Effects and animation presets overview

                            • 11. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                              MGMartino Level 1

                              thanks!

                              • 12. Re: RAM Preview Optimization
                                MGMartino Level 1

                                Ok Rick I did that and it worked, kinda..when I clicked on it in After Effects Adobe Bridge recognized it but this window popped up.Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 12.39.07 PM.png

                                I was testing the preset on the word "HELLO"...The result I got was just the word "HELLO" doing a downward Z rotation from its anchor point on the bottom left corner.

                                But anyway do you have answers for any of my other questions from my previous post?