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What dynamic links exist in the project? Are you sure you waited long enough for dynamic link to load the headless version of the linked app? After Effects can take a long time to load when there's a linked composition in a Premiere project.
I would try moving all of the stills into another folder so that Premiere sees the media in the project as offline. Next I would open the images in PhotoShop and simplify all files by getting rid of all unnecessary layers, channels, paths etc. Often a "merge visible" save-as will do the trick. Keep the original PSD's with all of the layers etc. in a separate folder. To avoid confusion, I would keep the same file name of the "simplified" file as the original one in your project. We often bring PhotoShop images into Premiere CS4 projects at their maximum pixel dimension so we can create pans, moves, scaling etc. If you are not doing this on some of the images, scale them down in PhotoShop to the minimum pixel dimension that will work work in your project.
RAM is cheap, so if your system is running lean, you might consider buying some more RAM.
I would delete all of the preview files for this project. See if the project or any of the reasonably current Auto-Saves will open with the media offline. If so I would select "link media" in the bin for the media one at a time. saving as you go.
We have created projects that seem to take forever to open (10 minutes or more). Try giving the project more time to open. In these cases, for us, deleting preview files and eliminating unused media dramatically speeds the time it takes to open a project.
One particular project I was working on had a lot of stills that was giving Premiere a fit. I just said $crew it and opened a new project, did the scans and pans and exported the stills as AVI's. I then brought the AVI's into the project and the problem was solved.
Hope this helps.
Adobe suggests a 64 bit OS with at least 2gig memory per core if you use dynamic link or have big projects Swear to god. There a link to an article where an interviewed Adobe rep on the board from a days ago.
If your computer isnt up to those specs it might be one your problems.
A quick fix is to save to an image sequence then when it stop rendering. Continue to render the frames from where it left off. Use PNG or TIFF for good quality, jpeg's are smaller and look good. You shouldn't have any problem loading the image file as movie then render from there to whatever format you want. There render will be really quick. Even photoshop will make a movie from your still sequence without using Adobe Media Encoder, so will After Effects to of course.
At least there's a way to get it done even if it doesn't fix the core problem.
Thanks for the advice.
My machine is a dual core 2.8Ghz with 3GB RAM.
For my next machine I will install 64bit Vista.
I happen to have had automatic backups running on Tuesdays, so I was able to restore a version of the project file that was only missing my last sequence. That sequence had about 50 stills, but I had only animated the first few, so only about 1 hour lost.
I am saving my project more often now and hope this does not recur.
Thank all for you help.
>I am saving my project more often now and hope this does not recur.
I also recommend doing a "Save As" and adding a version number to the project name. That way if one version gets corrupted, you have the others readily available.