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Exploring the global RAM cache

From: After Effects CS6 New Features

Video: Exploring the global RAM cache

Let's start by taking a look at the Global RAM Cache, which is a major upgrade over the previous RAM Preview Cache. I'm in After Effects CS6. You might have noticed already that the user interface is darker, again, than in previous releases. If you already have the copy of After Effects CS6 and you'd like to play along, open up any project file that has at least two compositions, or feel free to just sit back and watch. As before, when you're opening up an older project, you get a warning that it must be upgraded to the new product version. I'll click OK. You can save this project to the newest CS6 format, or you can do File > Save As > After Effects CS5.5.

Exploring the global RAM cache

Let's start by taking a look at the Global RAM Cache, which is a major upgrade over the previous RAM Preview Cache. I'm in After Effects CS6. You might have noticed already that the user interface is darker, again, than in previous releases. If you already have the copy of After Effects CS6 and you'd like to play along, open up any project file that has at least two compositions, or feel free to just sit back and watch. As before, when you're opening up an older project, you get a warning that it must be upgraded to the new product version. I'll click OK. You can save this project to the newest CS6 format, or you can do File > Save As > After Effects CS5.5.

No, you cannot save back two versions to version 5; they are only going back to the most recent to prior version, which in this case is 5.5. I am going to open up Comp 01-sports fades. As any After Effects user knows, if you press 0 on the numeric keypad, it will queue up a RAM Preview of your work area, and that's what it's doing now. I'll wait till it's done calculating, look at my preview, and make a decision, such as, you know, I really don't like those boxing gloves swinging across the scene.

So I'll turn off its video switch, it disappears, and I lose my RAM cache--the green bar over the area where that layer exists. I'll press 0 on the numeric keypad again and queue up another RAM Preview. And I decide, you know, now I actually kind of miss those boxing gloves. They fill up an area in the middle. I want to undo. Now, normally if you would turn that layer back on, you'd lose your RAM cache again. But watch what happens. I click its video switch, and I don't lose my RAM cache.

After Effects CS6 recognizes that I've returned to a previous state which it has already saved in RAM, and therefore you don't waste time recalculating it. That's pretty cool. This applies to all sorts of modifications. For example, if I was to take my light alchemy loop apply Effect > Color Correction > Hue/Saturation--inside I want to change the background color to be something that ties in a little bit better with those ski boots, a nice blue there-- as I would expect, I lost my RAM cache. I can queue up another RAM Preview.

You notice that this calculation goes much faster. Underneath the hood, After Effects does cache individual layers, in addition to the entire composite for the composition. That's why when you modify just a single layer in After Effects, subsequent RAM previews are faster, and that exists in prior versions. Anyway, I look at this and go, this is kind of an ugly green color. I really don't like it. Let's delete that effect. I do so. I'm back to where I was. I did not lose my RAM cache; or to be more specific, it reloaded the previously calculated RAM cache.

It kept that in memory so it could recall it if we ever came back to that exact same state. What if I decide I want that hue correction back? I'll do Edit > Undo Delete Effect, there is my effect back, and more importantly, there is my RAM cache back. I did not lose that either. So the basic point of the Global RAM Cache is, you don't have to keep re-calculating previously calculated work. I'll show you one more example. I'll go to this boxing layer, press U to reveal its keyframes, and decide I want to see what it looks like if those rotation keyframes were linear instead of eased.

I'll hold down the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, click on one of the selected keyframes, and they all change to diamonds. As expected, I lost my RAM cache, but notice that I did keep the RAM cache for these frames. The reason is is on those keyframes, the value is exactly the same as it was before. The interpolation before and after has changed, but that frame is the same. After Effects recognized that individual frame is the same as it was before and pulled it up from the prior RAM cache. Pretty slick.

I'll press 0 to RAM Preview. It happens pretty quickly since the layers have been cached. I am going to watch that motion. The side is a little bit harsh at the very ends of those keyframed animations, so I am going to stop, undo, back to my used keyframes, and retain my cache. This cache is not saved just for composition; it's saved for whenever you re-create these specific conditions in another composition. For example, if I just go back to my Project panel, take this comp, duplicate it, and open up the duplicate, you'll notice it has a RAM cache as well, that's because After Effects noticed it's exactly the same as this project was.

If I go back to my duplicated cache, select my rotation keyframes, Command+Click or Ctrl+Click on one of them to go to linear, After Effects recognized, I've been in this state before as well. I can recall that RAM cache. I'll undo to go back to my used keyframes, select my digi-loop movie, press F3 to open up the Effect Controls panel again, select the effect, delete, After Effects recognizes again, I've been in this state before. Now I still have my RAM cache. So you can see that this is going to save you a lot of time playing "What If?" You can go back to prior states without a penalty.

That's the main thing about Global RAM Cache. Whenever it sees frames that have been previously calculated, it will reuse them as long as they are still in memory. Just for fun here, I am going to apply a different effect to this layer. There is a whole bunch of new effects we are going to be talking about later in this course, including CC Plastic, a new Cycore effect. I'll render up that RAM Preview quickly. And while that's calculating, let's talk a little bit more about caching. Another feature in recent versions of After Effects is that whenever RAM gets full, if it sees that a frame is going to take longer to recalculate than it would to recall it from disk, it will save it to a disk cache to make it faster to retrieve later on.

That two has been expanded in CS6, and that's what we'll check out in the next movie.

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After Effects CS6 New Features

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