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Quality vs. speed in CS6

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: Quality vs. speed in CS6

As we've been working through the last couple of movies dealing with reflections, you might have noticed that these soft reflections look a bit on the noisy side. Also, some of these beveled edges can look a bit rough and crunchy. We observed that when working with environment maps, or ordinary reflective layers. Well you can improve this quality, but it does come at the trade-off of speed. I am going to open up this comp, RayTrace6-Ray-tracer Quality*starter. Here I've already set up a scene where some extruded and beveled 3D text is reflecting a fairly busy photograph.

Quality vs. speed in CS6

As we've been working through the last couple of movies dealing with reflections, you might have noticed that these soft reflections look a bit on the noisy side. Also, some of these beveled edges can look a bit rough and crunchy. We observed that when working with environment maps, or ordinary reflective layers. Well you can improve this quality, but it does come at the trade-off of speed. I am going to open up this comp, RayTrace6-Ray-tracer Quality*starter. Here I've already set up a scene where some extruded and beveled 3D text is reflecting a fairly busy photograph.

When reflections are set to 100% sharpness, the scene looks pretty good, although these edges could use some improvement, to be honest. I'm going to select the extruded layer, type AA to reveal its 3D options, scroll down to reflection sharpness, and back it off to around 50%. As I do so, you'll see just how noisy these reflections are. Well that is the result of not having enough rays in the ray-traced 3D renderer to properly resolve a nice, smooth, version of this scene.

Well you can edit that setting. The shortcut is to hold Command on Mac, or Ctrl on Windows, and click on the name of the renderer up in the upper right corner of the comp panel. I actually prefer just a single click on this, or even go through Composition > Composition Settings > Advanced tab, because this will enable the live preview feature and allow me to edit parameters without leaving this dialog. And move it off to the side here, and open up the options for the Ray-traced 3D Renderer. You have two parameters you can adjust, Ray-tracing Quality and the Anti-aliasing Filter.

The Anti-aliasing Filter has a relatively small effect on your rendered scene. It decides how to blend together adjacent pixels to smooth out their transitions. You'll notice I have some crunchy edges around the bevels of this type. If I go to the highest quality for anti-aliasing, Cubic, and click OK, you'll see a slight change or improvement in those edges, but not a lot. Let's reopen options, set this back to Box, again lower qualities will always render faster then higher qualities, and instead play around with Ray-tracing Quality.

A setting of three basically says a box of three rays horizontally by three rays vertically, nine rays in total, are being shot at the scene for each pixel that you have. When this setting is too low you end up with a lot of noise in your scene. If we set this to something higher, such as, say, a 10 x 10 box of rays per pixel, I'll click OK, leave the comp dialog open, you'll see it takes a little while to render, but now the reflections are a lot more smooth, very creamy looking.

Our edge is cleaned up as well. And now that we've done that, changes in the Anti-aliasing Filter can be that final 1% of polish to go ahead and smooth out little imperfections such as around the curve of this A. Now this is how long it is taking just one frame to render, you could imagine how this would multiply if you have to render a long scene. So the real trick when working with Ray-traced 3D renderer, is one, install the fastest NVIDIA CUDA accelerated card you can inside your computer. And two, bounce off these ray-traced settings.

When you're just developing a scene, laying it out, framing your objects, deciding how things will be lit, et cetera, work with a low ray-trace quality. One is pretty ugly looking, you don't even get to see soft reflections, but something in the two to four range will at least allow you to see things such as soft reflections, and render somewhat quickly. Then, right before you render, play around with the options and see how many rays you need to resolve your scene smoothly, so it looks beautiful.

Here's six rays, pretty good, but a little bit of noise. And then once you've found the minimum number of rays that will give you a lovely looking scene, use that for your final render. Then render over lunch or while you're sleeping or whatever because it may take a while. I happen to be a quality wonk, that's why I keep sneaking the setting up. Little bit better, 10 was even nicer. Again, I want to reinforce, you don't want to use this high-quality setting while you're still letting out your scene, because you'll quickly become frustrated with how slow things are. Work low, render high.

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Image for After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

54 video lessons · 14600 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      2m 47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Comparing 2D and 3D
      5m 30s
    2. Rotation in 3D
      4m 47s
    3. Keyframing in 3D
      4m 55s
  3. 15m 9s
    1. Multi-planing workaround in 2D
      3m 21s
    2. Using 3D views
      6m 45s
    3. Natural multi-planing in 3D
      5m 3s
  4. 13m 9s
    1. Keyframing a fly-in
      5m 24s
    2. Editing 3D motion paths
      5m 43s
    3. Auto-orienting a layer along its path
      2m 2s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Adding a camera to a composition
      9m 0s
    2. Comparing camera presets
      2m 48s
    3. Using the camera tools with the active camera
      4m 48s
    4. Using the camera tools in the alternate views
      4m 50s
    5. 3D view options
      1m 58s
    6. Animating a 3D camera
      6m 20s
    7. Creating an orbit camera rig
      5m 42s
    8. Extending your camera rig
      4m 31s
    9. Auto-orientation with 3D cameras
      7m 33s
    10. Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later
      5m 47s
    11. Controlling the focal plane in CS5.5 and later
      5m 12s
    12. Iris properties in CS5.5 and later
      6m 16s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Creating a 3D light
      6m 35s
    2. Working with Point lights
      3m 20s
    3. Working with Spot lights
      3m 48s
    4. Creating shadows
      10m 13s
    5. The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later
      5m 19s
  7. 48m 6s
    1. Enabling ray-traced 3D in CS6
      3m 26s
    2. Extrusions in CS6
      3m 39s
    3. Bevels in CS6
      5m 39s
    4. Bending layers in CS6
      5m 35s
    5. Transparency in CS6
      4m 20s
    6. Refraction in CS6
      4m 6s
    7. Targeting Surfaces in CS6
      3m 23s
    8. Reflections in CS6
      7m 35s
    9. Environment layers in CS6
      5m 40s
    10. Quality vs. speed in CS6
      4m 43s
  8. 11m 33s
    1. Quizzler challenge for CS6
      1m 42s
    2. Quizzler solution for CS6
      9m 51s
  9. 41m 6s
    1. Vanishing Point Exchange in Photoshop Extended
      9m 18s
    2. Vanishing Point Exchange in After Effects
      4m 38s
    3. Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 7s
    4. Creating 3D objects using Repoussé in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 46s
    5. Live Photoshop 3D inside After Effects in CS5.5 and earlier
      8m 17s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Introduction to dimensional stills
      3m 41s
    2. Cutting up the source image
      2m 25s
    3. Repairing the layers in Photoshop
      8m 26s
    4. Animating the resulting layers in After Effects
      6m 26s
  11. 25m 27s
    1. Rotation vs. orientation
      3m 15s
    2. Understanding the axis modes
      4m 4s
    3. Scaling issues in 3D
      4m 57s
    4. OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier
      6m 23s
    5. Fast previews in CS6 and later
      6m 48s

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