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After Effects CS6 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Considering quality versus speed


From:

After Effects CS6 New Features

with Chris Meyer

Video: Considering quality versus speed

Let's talk about quality and reflection. So if you look closely, you will see that this surface is pretty noisy. You particularly notice that when we put the Transparency down to zero and started blurring out our reflection. That's where we really saw a lot of noise in our ray-traced reflections. If you want to get rid of that, you need to go into your Compositions Settings. The shortcut is just to go ahead and click on this Renderer button up here; that will take you straight to the Advanced tab.

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After Effects CS6 New Features
2h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 11, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Get up to speed quickly with the new features in After Effects CS6. Join veteran After Effects user Chris Meyer as he explores the key enhancements to this industry standard visual effects and motion graphics software. Chris shares creative ideas and important production advice while covering the strengths of features such as memory optimization with the new global performance cache, 3D motion tracking with the 3D Camera Tracker, and the new 3D rendering engine for ray-traced 3D rendering.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the global performance cache
  • Using ray-traced rendering with beveling and extrusion
  • Working with 3D Camera Tracker
  • Performing rolling shutter repairs
  • Adding variable mask feathering
  • Working with CycoreFX HD plug-in
  • Touring Imagineer Systems mocha AE and Adobe SpeedGrade
  • Round-tripping between After Effects and MAXON CINEMA 4D
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chris Meyer

Considering quality versus speed

Let's talk about quality and reflection. So if you look closely, you will see that this surface is pretty noisy. You particularly notice that when we put the Transparency down to zero and started blurring out our reflection. That's where we really saw a lot of noise in our ray-traced reflections. If you want to get rid of that, you need to go into your Compositions Settings. The shortcut is just to go ahead and click on this Renderer button up here; that will take you straight to the Advanced tab.

Underneath the Options button, there is a pop-up for different anti-aliasing filters. You can see where this edge is little crunchy right here-- if you are having trouble with jaggy edges, you might want to try different anti-aliasing--but also Ray-tracing Quality. The more raise you have, the better the quality, but also the longer the render times. A Ray-tracing Quality of 3 is basically a box of three across and three down, or 9 rays inside that box. And as you see, that's fairly noisy.

I can increase that to a higher number, like 8 or 9, click OK, and it will take a little while to render, but now you see how much smoother it looks. On the other extreme, if you go all the way down to 1, you get a very noisy-looking render. So you'll need to spend some time on a project finding what is an optimal number of rays to smooth out the appearance of your render without completely killing your render times. Let's go a little bit higher here to 7. I think I am going to need to go up to 8 or 9 to actually make this look good.

That's a bit smoother. That's acceptable. This may seem like it's rendering fairly fast; however, keep in mind that I have a machine with two Quadro 4000 cards in it right now, so I'm getting a pretty hefty dose of CUDA acceleration. If you did not have a CUDA-accelerated graphics card, this would take a very longtime to render just one frame. As a matter of fact, to give you an idea of how slow this is without CUDA acceleration, I am going to go up to Preferences > Previews, click on the GPU Information and change the Ray-tracing from GPU to CPU. That means just using the 8 cores inside this computer. OK and OK.

And to get rid of our RAM cache, let's just change one parameter about this, such as Shininess to 50. You will see now it takes a lot time to render this scene with the setting of 8x8 rays. This is why you do want to invest, if you can, in an NVIDIA graphics card for After Effects CS6 if you intend to be doing any ray-trace 3D work. It's going to be painful on laptops, it's going to be painful with stock ATI cards that normally come with Mac Pros, et cetera. (music playing) There, finally done.

That is going to be painfully slow while you are trying to edit your objects; therefore, there are a few different options underneath this Fast Preview switch. Adopted Resolution you have seen. As I've scrubbed through parameters, it's gone down to a pixelated version of this scene, while I adjust the parameter. Then when I release the mouse, it re-renders this scene at full quality. You can set that degree of pixelation underneath Preferences > Previews. Right now set to 1/8th.

I find that a little bit coarse. I tend to work at 1/4th. But I'll Cancel out of that for now. If that drives you crazy, you can set it to Off (Final Quality) where you get full quality all the time, even while scrubbing parameters. It's a little bit slower, but if you have a fast graphics card, it's not bad. However, if you are in a situation of the slow graphics card or CPU rendering, quite often you will want to go down to Draft resolution. What that does is drop you down to just one ray-traced ray rather than this big array to makes things looks good.

It renders fast, it tends to be bit noisy, a little bit coarse, a bit aliased, but it does make things far more interactive. For example, I'll press C for the Camera tool and just start to rotate around my scene, and this is not horrible interactivity to be honest. I'll let go. However, if even that is too slow for you, you can go down to Fast Draft. This removes a lot of ray-trace- specific parameters, like reflections and transparency, but it does make your objects much more interactive.

So you may find on a slower machine-- slower meaning you don't have very good CUDA acceleration--you might want to drop down to Fast Draft to position the layers in your scene, animate the camera, animate the lights, etcetera. Then go back to Draft or one of the higher Quality settings to finally render the scene. I think a good strategy is basically to go to Off, go into the Preferences, find how many rays you need to get the scene to render nicely, and then when you have made that decision, do the rest of your work at a faster setting, such as Draft or Fast Draft.

That's what's going to make it more bearable for those who don't have very fast NVIDIA CUDA-enabled graphics cards.

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