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It's not always possible to understand the logic of Disk Cacheing - it seems to have a mind of its own at times to me.
But it's important to realize that in order to RAM preview, AE has to load cached material back off disk and into RAM. So you will only ever see green-bar previews when viewing RAM previews. The blue-bar stuff is loaded back into RAM whenever a preview of it is requested. Your system is running in the correct manner.
Thanks for the quick reply Andrew. I guess I still have an NLE type of mindset; i.e. in Premiere Pro for instance I just hit enter to render and after that's done it plays back in realtime (no matter if I scrub forward, backward, play the section etc)...until I would make a change of course. I'm guessing then, there's no equivalent workflow in AE? I know that I can put it in the render queue etc, but that just wouldn't be as seamless.
Yep, unlike a NLE, AE won't play directly off disk. It will always pull stuff into RAM, meaning preview times are obviously limited.
The obvious workarounds are lower preview resolution, lower preview frame rate, or just render a preview from the Render Queue as you mentioned.
Thanks for the confirmation Andrew. At least it's another excuse to upgrade my machine!
You are misunderstanding the AE disk cache, it's as simple as that. AE's cache works layer oriented, not as a means of buffering the active timeline. It is mostly meant to buffer pre-compositions or heavy effects. Therefore it has little or no value in an unstructured, open timeline as you would in an editing app because it gets constantly invalidated and needs to be rebuilt. A single parameter change or slip/ slide of a layer would do that. Based on that knowledge, the smart thing to do would be to pre-compose whenever you have finalized a section of the timeline. When you never touch that segment again, the pre-comp will be buffered to disk and be available more quickly for any successive previews. The more nested stuff you use, the greater the benefits are in the long run.