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In-Depth

4 Things You May Not Know About the After Effects Render Queue

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Today we're going to look at a few options found in the Render Queue that many people don't realize are even there. Hopefully you can pick up something that will save you some time for your next project!

Before I even start listing these, I have to show you this section from a project I did a few years ago when I had a much slower computer. I created this video for our local Fire Dept. and had a very limited time frame to put it together. It was the worst rendering experience I've ever had!

From what I remember, this comp had over 50 HD precomps of green screen firefighters, all of which I was keying on the fly with added motion blur and falloff. There was also light smoke that I was generating with a 3d layer of Trapcode Particular in the background. It was a rendering nightmare.


Post Render Action

This first option I'll mention really goes along with the idea of baking render-heavy animations. By this I mean if you have an effect like keying out a green screen where you know that you're never going to need to go back to alter the original footage, you can render that video out instead of having to use processing power to keep keying frame by frame as you continue to work. This is a bridge you won't need to cross again.

For Example: In the case of the firefighter shot, I could have rendered out each individual keyed clip of the people and then scattered those in 3d space instead of scattering slow processing, effect-heavy pre-comps.

So let's say I have a Lower Third Pre-comp in my Main Comp and this Pre-comp is locked, meaning I don't plan to go back to it for more alterations.

I could add this Pre-comp to the Render Queue and down under the Output Module there is a "Post Render Action" option which we can change to "Import and Replace Usage".

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If we pick whip up to our Pre-comp Composition and then hit Render...

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AE will import the rendered video and swap it in for anywhere the Pre-comp Composition was.

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You'll still have your original composition if you do need to make alterations, but from this point forward, you're not being slowed down by the Pre-comp continuing to steal render power.


Drag Comps to Adobe Media Encoder

One way you can save time is to allow Adobe Media Encoder to do your rendering for one comp while you continue to work on another back inside AE. With a recent version of AE (CS5.5+) you can simply grab a composition from the Project panel and drag it over into the AME window.

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Choose your render settings and render away while you continue to work.

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Render Region of Interest

Let's say you just need to render out a small section of an animation like a Lower Third for a client's approval. You can enable the Region of Interest and only select the are you'd like to be rendered.

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After adding to the Render Queue, under Output Module you can choose Crop and select Use Region of Interest.

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This will give you a rendered video of just that section of the comp.

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Image Sequence Rendering

This last one is more of a workflow tip than simply a function of the Render Queue. When you do have hefty rendering to do, I recommend exporting an image sequence.

There's nothing worse than sitting for an hour waiting for something to render out only to find it frozen at frame 314!

You don't dare cancel in case it's still processing, but it's been on the same frame for 20 minutes! If you were exporting to an *.mov file, then you've just wasted an hour. However, if you were exporting an image sequence, you can just pick up on frame 314 and continue rendering the remaining frames. This also allows you to see the full render quality by previewing one of the still frames that have already exported.

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For Example: Going back to the Firefighter animation, each frame was taking an average of nearly 10 minutes to render. At 24 frames per second, you can see that any sort of a fast turnaround wasn't looking good. I finally ended up using 4 different computers loaded with the project to render cluster ranges of 10 frames each. I was able to take a massive render job and break it up knowing that I'd be able to put all the frames back together again once the hard rendering was completed


What About You?

Do you have any rendering tips or Render Queue features that you liked to use? Please share in the comments below.

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