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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Caching and prerendering


From:

After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Caching and prerendering

Undoubtedly, as you work in After Effects, you'll end up building some compositions that take some time to render. And if you know you're going to be reusing a certain element over and over again, you might consider prerendering or caching. This will streamline your workflow. Before you get into prerendering and caching, you need to start with general organization because this is a workflow and it requires a little bit of prethought. So let's look in our Project panel and look at how things are organized. Notice the bottom folder here, Windmill Layers, if we open that, that has some Illustrator files and I have an Illustrator folder up here.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Caching and prerendering

Undoubtedly, as you work in After Effects, you'll end up building some compositions that take some time to render. And if you know you're going to be reusing a certain element over and over again, you might consider prerendering or caching. This will streamline your workflow. Before you get into prerendering and caching, you need to start with general organization because this is a workflow and it requires a little bit of prethought. So let's look in our Project panel and look at how things are organized. Notice the bottom folder here, Windmill Layers, if we open that, that has some Illustrator files and I have an Illustrator folder up here.

So let's drag the Windmill Layers folder up in to the Illustrator Sources. We also have Pre_Comps and just layer Solids and of course our Output_Comp. So double-click the Output_Comp just to make sure that it's up and active and let's look at our project. To actually see what's going on, let's load up a RAM Preview. Now notice this is taking a little bit of time to render. If I press the Spacebar, notice I can preview my render. And as you can see, I've got a bunch of windmills.

I have rather shallow depth of field. I have an Adjustment layer with a Glow applied to it, and the kineteco logo which currently resides in two dimensions and is applied with a Screen mode effect. In looking at this, if I know the background is going to stay the same but we might need to change the logo, I would go ahead and cache this background comp. To do that, we need to just pre-compose anything that we think would stay the same.

So let's start by selecting the two things that we want to remain editable, which is Layer 3, our logo layer, and Layer 2, our Adjustment layer. Let's drag those up to the top of the layer hierarchy and then we can select all the rest of the layers. Just click on Camera 1 and Shift+Click on Layer 9 to make sure they're all selected. Now if you go up under Layer, you can choose Pre-compose. When we pre-compose, obviously, you want to name it, so let's call this Mill Pre Comp and click OK.

Now with the pre-comp set up here, you can see the overall view of my scene has not changed at all. And if I just turn off the visibility of Layer 3, you can see I can turn off the entire composition. The cool thing about caching is the fact that it works downstream, meaning if we open our Mill Pre Comp here by double -clicking on it and then go up under Composition > Cache Work Area in Background, it's automatically going to start caching this composition. And the great thing is, any other comps that are using this composition will reference this cached data, so it definitely will speed up your workflow.

Now I know caching is working because I can see it up here in the upper right in the Info window. Also, in the timeline you can see I have some blue lines that are just letting me know the progress of the caching. Now what's great as this is caching, it is literally caching the background. So I can go back to my Output_Comp and make an adjustment to my Glow effect. I'm just going to press E on my keyboard and here let's bring the Glow Radius down a little bit, and we can bring the Threshold down and just make a minor adjustment.

There we go! Now the logo is glowing a little more brightly. Okay, now notice when we go back to our comp here, it's still caching. Let's go to our Output_Comp and load up a RAM Preview. I want you to notice that it's definitely loading a little bit faster. That's because it's referencing the cache. Now let's go back to our Mill Pre Comp so we can check out the cache. After Effects is rather smart. It will automatically try and background-cache comps that are really complicated.

So you don't have to force the issue, but a lot of times, if I know a comp is going to be kind of complicated, I'll go up under Composition and manually tell it to Cache the Work Area in the Background. Let's jump back to our Output_ Comp and I want to talk to you about prerendering. I want to pre-render this Mill composition. So when you select the Pre Comp layer and go up under Composition and choose Pre-render, look what happens. It gets loaded in the render queue and After Effects has loaded the main comp that that layer was in, and that's not what we want to do.

So if you're going to pre-render anything and its pre-composed, what you want to do is open that specific pre-composed project, so the windmills without the logo. With my Mill Pre Comp selected, I can go to Composition > Pre-render. Now let's delete the old comp by selecting its name next to the queue and press Delete. And here now under our Mill Comp, notice by default, it will automatically render to Best Settings, and if we click on the Output Module, notice it's going to render an animation full-quality QuickTime with RGB and Alpha channel.

So if I click OK, this will be good to go to render. So in order to pre-render, all you have to do is click Render. This may take a second, so I will join you as soon as this is finished. So as you can see, we covered two different processes for streamlining your workflow, the first being caching, and the next one prerendering. When do you do one and not the other? My general rule is this: If you're working on your own system and you're going to be staying there for a while and you know you're going to be bouncing around within that project for a bit, go ahead and use caching for your specific projects.

And like I said, remember, After Effects will do this by default so you don't always have to manually choose how to do this. But if you think you're going to be sending your project out to an external designer or a different design house, or maybe even building like a project where, let's say, you're using some filters in your pre-composition that you know don't exist on another system, you could pre-render that pre-comp and then save this project out and send that. So now, it's self-contained and you can work on any system regardless of the effects or filters that are loaded on it.

Either way, whether you use pre-render or just caching, you'll definitely be increasing your workflow by getting the heavy lifting out of the way early and often.

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