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Memory management

From: After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques

Video: Memory management

Now not just After Effects is 64- bit native in Creative Suite 5. The other video applications like Premiere, Encore and Adobe Media Encoder are also 64-bit native and an advantage of this is they all share the memory and you can manage their memory as one giant pool. For example if I have After Effects 4, I go to its Preferences > Memory & Multiprocessing, I see that I'm currently running After Effects, Premiere, and Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Encore is currently not running and here's how I divide up my memory.

Memory management

Now not just After Effects is 64- bit native in Creative Suite 5. The other video applications like Premiere, Encore and Adobe Media Encoder are also 64-bit native and an advantage of this is they all share the memory and you can manage their memory as one giant pool. For example if I have After Effects 4, I go to its Preferences > Memory & Multiprocessing, I see that I'm currently running After Effects, Premiere, and Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Encore is currently not running and here's how I divide up my memory.

I've got 16 gig in this machine. I decide how much to reserve for other programs including the operating system itself. 3 is the default and it's a good setting. The remaining pool is divided among these programs and it'll be dynamically allocated between them as needed. You don't need to manage it. If you are curious to what's going on, you can go down to the Details panel and you can see what's the minimum amount of memory that they need. What's the Maximum Allowed Memory under the current allocation and again Adobe is managing this for you. You don't need to worry about it.

And the Current Priority. Currently After Effects has 4 so it gets the highest priority. That's a subtle refinement you'll usually not even need to worry about. Another subtle refinement comes in the area of Multiprocessing inside After Effects. When I Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously, I get the same old issue of how many cores I have, how many do I reserve for other applications. I typically reserve at least two, so I can go to the Finder, check e-mail, check websites while I'm rendering, things like that. And you can decide how much memory to allocate per background CPU.

Now when you do have Multiprocessing enabled on After Effects, what it's doing is launching copies of itself in the background. Each of those copies running in the background get a copy of your project file on your sources and they're rendering frames in parallel and throwing them into the final pool which is assembled either into your render or your RAM Preview. You can decide how much memory each of those background versions of After Effects get. The default is three quarters of a gig. I personally think at least 1-1 1/2 is the minimum I'm comfortable with.

You can see why you might want to stuff all the RAM you possibly can into your computer. There's been another subtle enhancement to this feature inside After Effects CS5. Previously the foreground copy of After Effects just gathered together all the frames. It was the background copies that did all of the rendering. However, they all take up RAM, shortening your RAM Preview. In CS5 as your RAM starts to fill up, the background copies of After Effects shut down, release the RAM, the foreground copy takes over and does additional rendering.

So you get a longer preview out of CS5. That's a nice little touch. All this begs the question, well, how much RAM should you have installed? Well, Adobe has set up a web page with recommendations on configurations including RAM. They break up their recommended configurations based on baseline, high-performance or never worry about memory. The way that After Effects works though is the frame size that really dictates how much RAM you're going to need. You could be working on small web video, but if you've got a 20,000 pixel image of the universe in there, that's going to trip all your RAM and slow down your renderer.

So I think of RAM requirements in terms of how big of a frame I'm working on. I'm working just in standard def or web video? 4 gig is the baseline. I might want to have more in my machine if I can. If I'm working on high-def, at least 8 gig. I'd feel more comfortable with a 16 gig. And if I was working on film or other digital cinema formats, I'd really consider having at least 16 gig on my workstation. I'd feel comfortable if I had even more. Now how much you can stuff into your computer is partially restricted by what operating system you're running.

Again, if you're running Windows, the version of Windows you choose limits how much memory can be accessed in 64-bit mode, and again you need to have a 64-bit version of an operating system to run After Effects CS5. The short advice is, avoid the Home editions. The Home editions have limits on how much memory can be accessed. Professional through Ultimate has basically no limits. It's how much you can basically stuff in your computer. It's that way for Windows 7 and it's the same for Windows Vista.

Again the Home versions are limited. Business through Ultimate don't have limits; basically how much can you put in your computer. Now the Mac has a different set of gotchas to it. In most cases if you've got a MacPro tower, you put 32 gigs in it and that's the maximum amount of memory that can be currently accessed by the Mac operating system. There is an exception though. If you're running Snow Leopard OS 10.6, if you hold down the 6 and the 4 keys when you boot, you'll boot Snow Leopard into a 64-bit kernel. This will allow it to access up to 64 gigs in a MacPro.

So that's something to keep in mind if you are working in digital cinema or really difficult jobs. You can get a lot of memory into the Mac. You just have to boot 64-bit kernel mode. Laptops, it comes down to basically how much memory you can stuff into them. As long as you're not using a Windows Home edition you can access all the memory you can put into that laptop these days. So that's basically the idea of memory allocation and how much RAM you might want to put into machine to really take advantage of CS5.

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After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques

35 video lessons · 17932 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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