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I'd like to render a 1080i comp at half resolution or third resolution in AME to speed up render times for low-res previews. I just had a low-res H264 preview take 5 minutes to encode in AE, and 28 minutes in AME.
This is easily accomplished in the After Effects render settings. However, the "video" option in AME seems to imply the project is encoded at that resolution, not rendered at it.
I went into AE and changed the setting in the composition viewport to "half", but when I queue it up in AME, the "Match Source" button still indicates 1080.
What is the correct method to get the results I want?
I'm currently using AE CC and AME CC on Windows.
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Does anyone know how to do this?
Short answer: the functionality you're looking for does not currently exist in the After Effects-to-AME workflow.
When AME is encoding an After Effects comp, it does not have the capability to affect how the After Effects comp is rendered. The comp will always be rendered at it's inherent properties. Even when you scale the encoding settings in AME, the full comp is rendered and scaled only during encoding.
Caveat: in AME CS6, we started some work to allow this functionality to exist. When you right-click on a comp in the AME queue and click Source Settings, you can control one of the render settings from After Effects: whether or not Guide Layers are visible. Our intention is to expand upon this functionality, though adding settings that affect the properties of the comp (as opposed to visibility of layers) is much more difficult and remains on our to-do list.
Also, the composition viewer settings do not affect the inherent properties of the comp itself, it only affects how the comp is viewed.
Since you've correctly deduced the differences between rendering and encoding, I expect you've also already thought of the workarounds to get what you want (a faster-rendered comp that is encoded in AME), but let's summarize these ideas anyway:
1) Render a lossless intermediate file from After Effects, and encode that to your delivery format with AME, possibly using Watch Folders to automate the AME side of the process which is what I'd recommend.
2) Nest and scale your comp into a smaller comp that matches your desired settings, and encode that comp in AME.
As always, please send us your thoughts about how you'd like to see the After Effects-to-AME workflow improved: http://adobe.ly/feature_request
Thanks for taking the time to answer this question. Knowing this isn't possible at least narrows my options down. It would be helpful to provide some kind of list of what comp settings carry over into AME from After Effects. Is it essentially everything that is enabled in the Timeline? (I know that motion blur settings do.)
I'll put this in a feature request, but yes, we need the other half of After Effects Render Queue in AME in order for AME to be a good replacement for rendering from AE. I'll give you my thoughts on why Render Settings are essential before you would actually want to render with AME instead of doing so because you have to (either because you want to render in the background, or need a codec that has been removed from AE.)
1. Speed: Simply applying a Render Settings preset is much faster than manually setting motion blur, frame blending, work area, etc.
2. Reliability: Not being able to apply a Render Settings preset at the time of render is a recipe for missing a crucial setting buried in a comp, then having to redo a render and wasting time.
3. Features: As noted above, there is no way to approximate Render Queue's ability to change resolutions at render, which results in a lot of wasted time when that feature is needed.
Render Settings I think are crucial to making AME rendering worthwhile for AE users:
1. Rendering resolution
2. Work Area/Entire Composition toggle
3. Field Rendering (wait, does this mean AME can't currently render to fields?)
4. And PRESET ability these settings, so I'm not doing them manually every time.
I realize that your team clearly doesn't spend the same amount of time I do making low res H264 previews and sending final files out in H264 format, so you don't appreciate the impact of the changes you made. Moving to AME for that stuff is a real inconvenience, but implementing the settings above could help soften the blow.
Thanks for the feedback. Please do file feature requests, and feel free to file the same request against both AME and After Effects, since this particular work needs to be scheduled for both applications.
We do understand your frustration with the gap in functionality, and appreciate that the workarounds (ex., rendering low-res lossless from After Effects to an AME watch folder) don't provide the same level of sophistication as native encoding from After Effects.
We do plan to implement better integration between After Effects and AME, and the two teams have been talking about about how it would work. Ideally, you would queue and configure the comp rendering in After Effects but AME would do the active encoding. In all likelihood we will probably will step through some iterations towards that ideal functionality over a series of releases, and the first step is still a ways off. Such work competes with other priorities the two development teams need to juggle.