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M1 Ultra and After Effects 23

Participant ,
Oct 26, 2022 Oct 26, 2022

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You would think the Mac Studio with a 20 core M1 Ultra and 128GB of RAM would be a great fit with After Effects, especially with the introduction of performance boosting features like MFR and hardware acceleration for video files.

Except... MFR is basically useless on this machine as it is a lot of the times actually slower, but even more problematic, not able to finish a render. Just hangs. No crash, just... nothing. And i'm not talking about complex compositions with lots of plug-ins, this also happens on comps where the only thing happening is an image moving with position keyframes, no effects at all. Can't trust a render queue to be done if i walk away when MFR is on, totally unreliable, so has to be off by default.

Then there is the promise of hardware acceleration for video files, with the M1 Ultra having multiple accelerators for Prores files. Except... Prores files turn out to be rendered greenish. Not all frames, but most of the frames. So there goes that option, can't use it, flickering greenish frames are unacceptable.

And now with the AE23 update, there is the promise of rendering straight to h264 from the render queue, which sounds great (as rendering with AME is buggy and slooow most of the times)! Except... it doesn't sound great... random renders turn out to have a terrible audio quality, totally unpredictable which renders will turn out to have the bad audio and which will turn out to be good. 

And then there still is the lingering weird bug that After Effects seems to run out of memory somehow. So much so it can't even keep one frame in it's image buffer, so even just selecting a layer will prompt after effects to re-render the current frame. I expect this is some memory leak issue, restarting after effects will give me another couple of minutes before this issue reappears.

So basically, when using a Mac Studio with M1 Ultra, you have to turn off MFR (which makes the 20 cores less useful) and turn of hardware acceleration for video import (which makes the Prores accelerators useless).

I can't tell if this is a Mac OS, or a M1, or specifically M1 Ultra, or an After Effects issue, or probably, some combination, but as it stands right now, there seems to be no benefit for using an expensive M1 Ultra Mac for After Effects; more cores without being able to use MFR is useless, Prores hardware acceleration has to be turned off and 128GB of memory doesn't mean you will not run out of memory to a silly degree.

Fortunately it is a beast when using DaVinci Resolve Studio! 

Mac Studio, M1 Ultra, 128GB Ram, macOS 12.6, After Effects 23.0.0 (build59)

Bug Unresolved
Crash , Performance






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