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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
As much we love our dear beloved computers, sometimes they just can't keep up with all the stuff that we throw at them in After Effects. So, in this movie, I want to give you a couple of tips in how to work with After Effects when your computer is really struggling to get the job done. The first one is the Composition panel magnification dropdown here on the left-hand side. We can choose which magnification we want. The smaller the resolution, let's say we got 25%, the easier it's going to be for your computer to process what's happening. And especially when you're dealing with HD and now with the Red Camera, we have 2K and 4K files becoming very commonplace, this can really help you out.
With After Effects, if it's shrunk down really small like this, After Effects doesn't have to actually render every single pixel and you want to make sure that when you are zoomed to a small resolution like that, that you do set this to Auto. If it's not, then you could have it set to and inadvertently to say something like to Full, for example. And what this is going to do is it's going to render every single pixel. Even though we can't see it, we are only seeing 25% of the pixels, if this is set to Full, it means that it's going to render every single one of those pixels even though we can't see them.
So, if we leave this set to Auto, then you could see that it's set to Quarter automatically, so it's only rendering a quarter of the pixels anyways and so things go much more efficiently. By the way, in this Magnification dropdown, you also might want to try checking out Fit and Fit up to 100%. If you choose Fit up to 100%, it will make sure that you can see the entire video. For example, we are looking at this 86.3%, and as we resize our panels then it automatically resizes our view of the composition. By the way, if we select Fit other than Fit up to 100%, then if we keep stretching this above 100%, then it will resize accordingly and get extra blocky.
So, I usually set this on Fit up to 100%. You want to be careful though when you get to one of these like weird fractional values, like 80.2%, oftentimes you can see these little problems with the resolution, something with like the video card or how it's processed. But it makes things very blocky sometimes. I shouldn't say very blocky, but you definitely see along the edges that that's not as crisp as it would be. If we were going to take this to something like 50% or even 100%, things will look much more smooth. So, again Fit up to 100% is great. It's very dynamic.
But again, the downside is that the quality is not perfect. Now, the other thing you could do in this Resolution dropdown here is to force this to a lower resolution. So as we talked about, the correspondence between the zoom factor and then the quality, but even when we were zoomed in, let's say to 100%, we could also take this resolution dropdown to a Quarter. And again, that will render every fourth pixel and it does make it look a little bit blocky. But it's amazing how much faster After Effects can render this footage when you drop the quality down.
Now oftentimes, like when you're dealing with animation timing, like a ball bouncing or characters moving, you don't really need to see things perfectly. You are not like look looking for like a pixel-by-pixel perfect view. You just kind of want to get a sense of the animation, the timing. And again, if you are dealing with the 2K footage or 4K footage or even if you're working with HD and your computer is having a hard time with it, you can go to this dropdown. You can even choose Custom. And you could choose the Custom resolution so you could render every, let's say, 10 pixels horizontally and every 10 pixels vertically, which creates a very blocky image.
But again, when you're zoomed out you could still tell what's going on and it allows you to just preview your video so much faster. Now, of course, this is not ideal. And before you do a full render of something, especially if you have effects applied, you want to preview things at full resolution just to make sure that you have got all of your virtual i's dotted and t's crossed. But this can help you definitely while you are working if your computer is chugging along.
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