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Look up the terms, "prerender" and "prerendering". Prerendering does precisely what you want to do.
Take all of the scenes' compositions and export them separately. Then, replace those compositions with the exported video files. This way, after effects is not having to animate each composition, but it is simply playing a video file. Is this an effective approach?
instead of pre-rendering, which is simply rendering and importing the rendered file as a post action, I recommend you use lossless proxies. this way you get to keep your compositions (and not replace them with rendered files, causing confusion or losing a setup later on) and use the proxies just for preview and render. I find this workflow the most elegant and versatile.
- right click on the compositions you want to create a lossless version of, and pick "create proxy -> movie".
- set the render settings to "best settings"
- choose an output module that's suitable for your rendering (lossless - QT Animation for example, Alpha if you need it)
when it's done you will see a square checkbox near your composition which means the proxies are now active.
you will also see an indication your composition is using its proxy when you play it if you wish to play it..
your preview will be amazing of course, and if you want the render to be too - set the render setting proxy use to "use all proxies"
if you need to lose the proxy, you can right click on the comp->set proxy->none. you can create another if you need revisions.
I use this technique all the time and have created render template for my proxies and proxy render making this workflow fast and effective.
Thank you so much! I'll give this a try.