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Rendering Preview: Big Problems on MacBook Pro M2 Max with 96 GB Ram

New Here ,
Aug 14, 2023 Aug 14, 2023

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Hello everyone.
I have a MacBook Pro M2 Max with 96 GB Ram and I have big problems with After Effects. I want to edit a 285 MB 4K 30FPS video (length 1:30 minutes) and I have big lags in the render preview. I can edit the same video with Premiere Pro without any problems and I don't have any lags there either. In After Effects, on the other hand, rendering in preview is a pain and the Mac's activity monitor shows a five-figure energy consumption. The MacBook also gets hot and consumes a lot of battery. After Effects and Mac software are up to date. What am I doing wrong?

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Explorer ,
Aug 14, 2023 Aug 14, 2023

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You are doing nothing wrong, that's just how AE does. you have about 2700 uncompressed lossless 4k images you're trying to fit in your RAM. AE's cache is just pure pixel-by-pixel image caching. (I'm not sure if you can set caching to 8bit but that would be shmick and halve RAM usage) Premiere, on the other hand, stores things a little differently, unless you have pixel effects on them, to save RAM.

despite being marketed as a creator platform, most macs will overheat and become inefficient for media editing, and are best used as a word processing or wireless online productivity platform, instead of After Effects. A big part of the M2 chips are that they are SOC's- they have a GPU on the same silicon as the CPU, and are big, with plenty of cores.
...But After effects is mostly single-core(and just renders frames separately, then gives each core a frame. that's why it sometimes can't make them in order fast enough), and doesn't use GPU for most everything but a few updated effects. The UI also runs on CPU, mostly.

If you want to know how your computer stacks up, https://opendata.blender.org/ is about the best benchmark I know that can test its GPU, CPU, and compare it apples-to-apples with most every other system, even down to the humble raspberry pi. 

A big reason for all of this, is that AE was never all too fast, and hasn't gotten faster(slower actually- look at the addon count on the info bit. should be over 450 still), but some time around 2008 I believe, we got RAM previews, which caused AE to always work as hard as possible, till it filled up your RAM, so you could preview well, but above 2k footage, it hits your RAM super hard and isn't worth it.

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New Here ,
Aug 14, 2023 Aug 14, 2023

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Oh nice, thanks for this helpful answer. 

I've found that I can work better with the footage if I pre-render it. Then I have an absurdly large file (30 GB here in this example), but here, interestingly enough, the preview has far fewer problems.

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Explorer ,
Aug 15, 2023 Aug 15, 2023

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4K footage isn't often super important to get pixel perfect, unless you have a specific roto-mask or something. You can theoretically double to quadruple the speed by setting the preview resolution to half.

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