This is an odd one and not my first rodeo. RAM preview, and MOV renders are rendering faster than frame rendering. Shouldn't they be the same speed / shouldn't the frame renderer be faster?
Frame rendering 21403 Frames
- 1 Instance of AE Render: 3 hours
- 3 Instances of AE Render: 2 hours
Apple Pro Res rendering 21403 Frames: 27 minutes!
I have a 1920x1080 comp that's approx 6 minutes long, 60 FPS. It is super simple. Essentially the old Ken Burns effect. All assets are vectors or JPGs. There is no motion blur or frame blending. Should be a very fast render.
When doing a PNG frame render, I render about 180 frames every minute at full quality if I use something like Render Garden or BG Render Max (running 3x simultaneous render instances).
Here's the weird part, if I RAM preview or MOV render at full quality, full frame rate, I render 720+ frames every minute inside of After Effects.
What is slowing down the render when I do a frame render?
I've been frame rendering for years because it has always been speedier than rendering straight to a MOV in AE. Has something fundamentally changed in the rendering behavior of After Effects?
(Not using AME for any of these tests).
Pulling my hair out trying to figure this out.
As I know the multi-frame render is now available in AE Beta so I'm not sure if you use the beta version, and personally, the new option speed up the render up to 2x, other then this I don't think there are any changes in rendering behavior
Personally, I usually render GoPro Cineform 10 bit and I find that it renders faster, has better file sizes, and works without any problems on any operating system. When a comp is complicated and the render time per frame starts growing to more than a minute a frame I switch to rendering image sequences for two reasons. The first reason is that if the render has problems or fails, I can pick up where I left off. The second is that those very complex comps often have only a few frames in the middle of the shot that the client wants to be changed, and again, I only have to render a few frames to change the sequence. If a client requests image sequences, I always follow their specifications. More than 90% of my comps for clients are rendered using Render Garden because I can't afford to sit around and wait for rendering.
PNG sequences had problems with a few builds of AE. So did JPEG images. You did not mention the version of AE you are using or your system specs or OS. If the slowdown is progressive you could be having resource problems. If it is constant and you are rendering to an external drive you could be having connection problems. I would run a few tests with a fairly simple comp. Some animated text and animated shape layers, motion blur, and maybe an adjustment layer with color correction. Make the comp about a minute long, add it to the Render Queue, then try a few of the different image sequence options and see what is the fastest. Here is a test I just ran and the results:
Open EXR and Custom Quicktime - GoPro Cineform tied for first at 7 seconds. Second place goes to the default JPEG sequence at 10 seconds. The clear losers were Custom TIFF and DPX at 47 and 56 seconds with the rest of the tests coming in between 13 and 14 seconds. These results were about what I expected. Open EXR and GoPro Cineform are my first choice because I almost always create my DI (digital intermediates) with at least 10-bit color. I don't remember the last time I rendered a JPEG sequence because they don't support Alpha or high bit depth (JPEG 2000 is the exception). If you are trying to figure out the most efficient workflow, run similar tests on your system. Using nothing more than shape layers and text will eliminate the variables to render times caused by the source footage. I've had a lot of footage over the years that were so slow to process into pixels that I transcoded it to a different format before even trying to use it in a project.
I don't edit movies or create sequences longer than a phrase or sentence of narration in After Effects so I can't remember a time when I ever had an AE project that lasted more than 30 seconds. Most of them are under seven seconds. I worked on one on Monday that was only 32 frames. Even if I produce a 30-second ad for TV entirely in After Effects, the final edit is always done in Premiere Pro because I always have to be especially careful with the final color grade, sound effects, audio track, and the timing of the cuts. The comp you appear to be rendering would be over 10 minutes at 30 fps. You might want to consider breaking it up into smaller pieces.
Re: System Specs
Mac Pro 2013 6-Core, 128GB Ram, Dual D700
After Effects 18.2.0
Render Garden 1.2.0
Rick, thanks for the thorough response (as usual). Running these tests has opened a whole can of worms.
I'm just surprised how slow frame rendering is versus rendering out a MOV sequence. And I want to use Render Garden so I'm not tying up AE. In my memory, frame rendering (especially with RG), has always been massively faster. I ran a bunch of tests, and unfortunately, what I found was that Render Garden doesn't stack up with my Mac Pro. It seems like something has fundementally changed with AE Render Core? Or something else is going on with the computer?
The slow down is not progressive. As expected, it renders faster during more simpler points in the animation and slower during more complex moments.
My R/W on my render drive (700 r/w) is slower than my main working drive (900 r/w) but it's never effected render speeds before. I have to use AE for this because all the image moves and grfx overlayed are templatized. Most of the work I do is pure AE. The project is 60 fps because of client requirements.
For my TestRender comp, I threw some shape layers in and looped their animation over the 1800 frames. Motion blur. Color Balance adj layer. Text animates in over 900 frames and animates out over 900 frames.
Rendering straight in AE - GoPro Cineform was my fastest render. APR 422 and PNG sequence were my slowest.
Overall Render Time, approx 15 minutes to render all versions
Between my straight from AE renders, and my Render Garden renders, I purged the cache. For my Render Garden test, I ran 3 gardeners and did 5 seeds (per render type).
How'd it stack up?
APR 422 - exactly the same speed using RG 3:27 vs 3:27 AE
GoPro Cineform - much slower using RG 4:18 vs 00:53 AE
PNG - slightly slower using RG 3:57 vs 3:25 AE
TIFF - slower using RG 3:43 vs 2:02 AE
PSD - much slower using RG 3:35 vs 1:21 AE
TARGA - much slower using RG 3:05 vs 1:38 AE
EXR - much slower using RG 3:50 vs 2:14 AE
Overall Render Time, approx 19 minutes. On the Mac Pro, Render Garden is definitely slower and, in a lot of cases, much slower.
This is super weird, so I decided to run another test where I did ONE seed per render type. Still running 3 gardeners. This would treat RG as a background rendering tool, but allow me to render multiple render types simultaneously. This should, in theory, be the same speed as rendering straight in AE, with a slightly faster overall render time. This theory was proven wrong. In all cases, the render times were slower using this method than the previous two methods.
Overall Render Time approx 19 minutes
To be super clear, I decided to do a version where I did ONE seed per render type and running a SINGLE gardener. This should be the exact same speed as rendering directly in After Effects as there is no simultaenous rendering happening.
Overall Render Time approx 32 minutes
To make sure this wasn't computer based, I ran some of the same tests on a MacBook Pro 2018 6-Core, 32GB Ram, Pro Vega 4GB, running the same OS and same version of Render Garden and After Effects
It took approx 28 minutes to render everything directly in AE, everything is proportionally slower than the Mac Pro straight out of AE render test - though nothing near as fast for Cineform.
It took approx 13 minutes using RG on the MacBook Pro (much faster). 3 gardeners, 5 seeds per render type. Photoshop was the fastest and Targa was second fastest. This was two minutes faster than rendering on the Mac Pro.
For my next test, I made a 1 minute composition that is just solid black. Nothing happens. This should be lightning quick. It should also remove all variables to show what writes fastest to a drive. The two MOVs won out on both computers, I suspect for that very reason. For the image sequences, Photoshop was the fastest (within 10% speed of the movs). PNG was the slowest, but faster on the Macbook Pro. Overall, the renders took 9 minutes on the Macbook and 11 minutes on the Mac Pro. Running that same comp through the 3 gardeners, 5 seeds method yielded a faster render on the Mac Pro at 9 minutes and Macbook at 8 minutes.
Lessons: PSD seems to be always the fastest frame render. Not sure why. Cineform seems to always be slightly faster than APR (except for that first Mac Pro test).
Rick, what do you think is going on here? Render Garden / BG Render Pro / BG Render Max used to always out perform native AE rendering on my Mac Pro, but now, native rendering seems to go faster. Something else going on here?
So at the end of this, I'm just scratching my head. My Mac Pro performs better rendering straight out of AE, whereas, the Macbook Pro performs better rendering using Render Garden. Overall, the best speeds were from the Macbook Pro running Render Garden. The Macbook Pro has a higher single and multicore score in Geekbench 5.
Another observation - on the faster machine in my tests, I've found that lossless straight out of AE (not using Render Garden) is running faster than using Render Garden. Weird behaviours all around here.
Sometimes aerender is slower than the AE Render Queue for reasons I don't understand.
If your comp renders quickly, say less than a second per frame, then there's a good chance I/O is your main bottleneck, not CPU. In that case, running multiple processes will just make them fight over your I/O resources, which will indeed slow things down.
That makes sense, the frames are <1 second per.
In other situations, Render Garden is definitely faster (see tests above), but in the situation where each frame takes less than 1 second straight out of Render Q seems to be faster.
The thing I have the hardest time understanding is: How is it that RAM preview (at full quality, full frame-rate) is faster than Lossless rendering?
When you say Lossless, do you mean AE's default preset, i.e. QuickTime Animation codec? That still involves RLE compression, encoding, and file writing, vs. RAM preview which just copies pixels to the screen.
If RAM preview is ever slower than the Render Queue, that's when we should be alarmed.
PNG's are much slower to write because they are losslessly compressed and not really optimized for write speed. You might try TIFF instead.
Yeah, TIFF was faster across all my testing. Though PSD was always fastest for frame rendering!