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.
To enable the Composition Profiler:
Having the Render Time option displayed at all times does not impact After Effect's overall performance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.