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View detailed performance information with Composition Profiler

  1. After Effects User Guide
  2. Beta releases
    1. Beta Program Overview
    2. After Effects Beta Home
  3. Getting started
    1. Get started with After Effects
    2. What's new in After Effects 
    3. Release Notes | After Effects
    4. After Effects system requirements
    5. Keyboard shortcuts in After Effects
    6. Supported File formats | After Effects
    7. Hardware recommendations
    8. After Effects for Apple silicon
    9. Planning and setup
  4. Workspaces
    1. General user interface items
    2. Get to know After Effects interface
    3. Workflows
    4. Workspaces, panels, and viewers
  5. Projects and compositions
    1. Projects
    2. Composition basics
    3. Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering
    4. View detailed performance information with the Composition Profiler
    5. CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer
  6. Importing footage
    1. Preparing and importing still images
    2. Importing from After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro
    3. Importing and interpreting video and audio
    4. Preparing and importing 3D image files
    5. Importing and interpreting footage items
    6. Working with footage items
    7. Detect edit points using Scene Edit Detection
    8. XMP metadata
  7. Text and Graphics
    1. Text
      1. Formatting characters and the Character panel
      2. Text effects
      3. Creating and editing text layers
      4. Formatting paragraphs and the Paragraph panel
      5. Extruding text and shape layers
      6. Animating text
      7. Examples and resources for text animation
      8. Live Text Templates
    2. Motion Graphics
      1. Work with Motion Graphics templates in After Effects
      2. Use expressions to create drop-down lists in Motion Graphics templates
      3. Work with Essential Properties to create Motion Graphics templates
      4. Replace images and videos in Motion Graphics templates and Essential Properties
      5. Animate faster and easier using the Properties panel
  8. Drawing, Painting, and Paths
    1. Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics
    2. Paint tools: Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser
    3. Taper shape strokes
    4. Shape attributes, paint operations, and path operations for shape layers
    5. Use Offset Paths shape effect to alter shapes
    6. Creating shapes
    7. Create masks
    8. Remove objects from your videos with the Content-Aware Fill panel
    9. Roto Brush and Refine Matte
  9. Layers, Markers, and Camera
    1. Selecting and arranging layers
    2. Blending modes and layer styles
    3. 3D layers
    4. Layer properties
    5. Creating layers
    6. Managing layers
    7. Layer markers and composition markers
    8. Cameras, lights, and points of interest
  10. Animation, Keyframes, Motion Tracking, and Keying
    1. Animation
      1. Animation basics
      2. Animating with Puppet tools
      3. Managing and animating shape paths and masks
      4. Animating Sketch and Capture shapes using After Effects
      5. Assorted animation tools
      6. Work with Data-driven animation
    2. Keyframe
      1. Keyframe interpolation
      2. Setting, selecting, and deleting keyframes
      3. Editing, moving, and copying keyframes
    3. Motion tracking
      1. Tracking and stabilizing motion
      2. Face Tracking
      3. Mask Tracking
      4. Mask Reference
      5. Speed
      6. Time-stretching and time-remapping
      7. Timecode and time display units
    4. Keying
      1. Keying
      2. Keying effects
  11. Transparency and Compositing
    1. Compositing and transparency overview and resources
    2. Alpha channels and masks
    3. Track Mattes and Traveling Mattes
  12. Adjusting color
    1. Color basics
    2. Color management
    3. Color Correction effects
    4. OpenColorIO and ACES color management
  13. Effects and Animation Presets
    1. Effects and animation presets overview
    2. Effect list
    3. Effect Manager
    4. Simulation effects
    5. Stylize effects
    6. Audio effects
    7. Distort effects
    8. Perspective effects
    9. Channel effects
    10. Generate effects
    11. Transition effects
    12. The Rolling Shutter Repair effect
    13. Blur and Sharpen effects
    14. 3D Channel effects
    15. Utility effects
    16. Matte effects
    17. Noise and Grain effects
    18. Detail-preserving Upscale effect
    19. Obsolete effects
  14. Expressions and Automation
    1. Expressions
      1. Expression basics
      2. Understanding the expression language
      3. Using expression controls
      4. Syntax differences between the JavaScript and Legacy ExtendScript expression engines
      5. Editing expressions
      6. Expression errors
      7. Using the Expressions editor
      8. Use expressions to edit and access text properties
      9. Expression language reference
      10. Expression examples
    2. Automation
      1. Automation
      2. Scripts
  15. Immersive video, VR, and 3D
    1. Construct VR environments in After Effects
    2. Apply immersive video effects
    3. Compositing tools for VR/360 videos
    4. Advanced 3D Renderer
    5. Import and add 3D models to your composition
    6. Import 3D models from Creative Cloud Libraries
    7. Image-Based Lighting
    8. Extract and animate lights and cameras from 3D models
    9. Tracking 3D camera movement
    10. Cast and accept shadows
    11. Embedded 3D model animations
    12. Shadow Catcher
    13. 3D depth data extraction
    14. Modify materials properties of a 3D layer
    15. Work in 3D Design Space
    16. 3D Transform Gizmos
    17. Do more with 3D animation
    18. Preview changes to 3D designs real time with the Mercury 3D engine
    19. Add responsive design to your graphics 
  16. Views and Previews
    1. Previewing
    2. Video preview with Mercury Transmit
    3. Modifying and using views
  17. Rendering and Exporting
    1. Basics of rendering and exporting
    2. H.264 Encoding in After Effects
    3. Export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project
    4. Converting movies
    5. Multi-frame rendering
    6. Automated rendering and network rendering
    7. Rendering and exporting still images and still-image sequences
    8. Using the GoPro CineForm codec in After Effects
  18. Working with other applications
    1. Dynamic Link and After Effects
    2. Working with After Effects and other applications
    3. Sync Settings in After Effects
    4. Creative Cloud Libraries in After Effects
    5. Plug-ins
    6. Cinema 4D and Cineware
  19. Collaboration:, and Team Projects
    1. Collaboration in Premiere Pro and After Effects
      1. Install and activate
      2. Use with Premiere Pro and After Effects
      3. Frequently asked questions
    3. Team Projects
      1. Get Started with Team Projects
      2. Create a Team Project
      3. Collaborate with Team Projects
  20. Memory, storage, performance
    1. Memory and storage
    2. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing    
    3. Improve performance
    4. Preferences
    5. GPU and GPU driver requirements for After Effects
  21. Knowledge Base
    1. Known issues
    2. Fixed issues
    3. Frequently asked questions
    4. After Effects and macOS Ventura
    5. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing

Composition Profiler allows you to view detailed performance information for your After Effects composition including detailed comparative breakdowns of the render time for all your layers, effects, styles, and masks.

Enable Composition Profiler

Render Time column dropdown

To enable the Composition Profiler:

  • Click the snail icon  on the lower left window of the Timeline panel to display the Render Time column. 


  • Right-click the Timeline window column headings and select Column > Render Time from the dropdown.

Having the Render Time option displayed at all times does not impact After Effect's overall performance.

Use the Composition Profiler

Composition Profiler is a visualization of data produced by After Effects while it renders the frame. As the rendering process is highly optimized, understanding the different color codes and other elements in the Timeline is vital.

Color coding guide

Refer to the color-coding guide to understand which color depicts the expected render time for a given layer or pre-comp in your project.

Color codes for different render times

  • Render times that are either real-time or half-real-time (based on composition frame rate) display as shades of green.
  • Higher values from 100ms to 5 seconds display as increasing intensity from yellow to red.
  • If the frame rate of your composition results in real-time or half-time Render Times that are longer than one of the fixed stops, the fixed stops are skipped up to the point where the fixed stops are greater than half-time. 

Understand the Composition Profiler UI

A. Composition Profiler time duration display

B. Frame Render Time

A. The Render Time column displays the amount of time a layer took to render (in either milliseconds or seconds) and a bar graph of how that compares to other layers on the same frame. Each of these bar graphs is assigned a color based on the render time.

B. The Frame Render Time display in the Timeline footer displays the total time your current frame will take to render, which is always visible.

In addition to seeing how long each layer takes to render, twirl down layers to get a breakdown of how much masks, layer styles, and individual effects contribute to the total render time.

Composition Profiler display for different workflows

After Effects renders each setting, workflow, and option differently, thus the visualization of the Composition Profiler also varies accordingly. Listed below are a few examples of situations to describe how the rendering pipeline handles them:


Layers that are nested compositions - precomps accurately display their render times. To further understand what elements of the -precomp contribute to layer render time, you may need to open the precomp and investigate its layers with the Composition Profiler. 

When you use the same precomp multiple times within a composition, the precomps placed higher in the layer stack utilize the cache from the instances lower in the layer stack and display a faster render speed.


Layers, effects, masks, and styles rendered to memory in whole or part (cached) display their render time value with an asterisk.

In this situation, the render time reflects how long it takes to render anything that is not already cached and the time taken to fetch items from the cache. Any items without an asterisk render without using anything from the cache.

Since After Effects frequently caches, to profile a frame, select Edit > Purge > All Memory and Disk Cache to force that frame to be recalculated from scratch.

Layers Referenced By Effects

Suppose a layer has its Video Switch off but is referenced by another layer’s effect, such as Set Matte. In that case, that effect’s render time includes the time it takes to render referenced layers, and the referenced layer’s render time is empty. This is because After Effects only renders the referenced layer as part of the effect’s render process.

In the image on the left, both Set Matte Source Layer and Compound Blur Source Layer report no Render Time. However, the Render Time for Set Matte and Compound Blur effects on the Footage with Effects layer includes the time to render Set Matte Source Layer and Compound Blur Source Layer.

Composition View Settings

Composition Profiler uses the current composition viewer settings. For example, if your composition viewer Resolution/Down Sample Factor Popup is set to Half, your profiled time is faster than if the resolution is Full. 

 When using Composition Profiler, turn off Adaptive Resolution so the times displayed are accurate for the preview resolution.


Expression calculation time is available in the Render Time column for the property that has the expression. Most expressions run fast, so you can expect to see 0ms for most of them.

Reduce render time for faster performance

Composition Profiler allows you to track down the elements of your composition that increase your render times, and can help you make intelligent decisions on how to speed up your workflow. Turning off layers, effects, masks and layer styles help previews render faster, and Composition Profiler can help you choose which elements to adjust.

You can also look at the following ways to reduce the render time:


To render a proxy file — a lower resolution version used for temporary previewing, right-click an element in the Project panel and select File > Create Proxy >  Movie or File > Create Proxy > Still. Project elements that have proxies have a square icon next to them in the Project panel.


If you have layers or compositions that are not changing, you can pre-render those elements via the Render Queue, and change the Post-Render Action in the Output Module settings to Import & Replace Usage.

Alternate Effects

Some effects take longer to render, try alternate effects that have similar looks with faster rendering times. For example, you can try Fast Box Blur vs. Gaussian Blur, Glow vs. VR Glow or Colorama vs. Tint vs. Tritone.


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online