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I've noticed After Effects has a render engine that works over the network: two computer run the engine at the same time on the same LAN, they have access to the same project and off they go.

I had a quick look at Adobe Media Encoder and couldn't find any info/command line arguments (like aerender does). Does it support encoding the same video with two different computers on the same LAN or not ?

What would be the most efficient way of rendering an After Effects projects to H.264+AAC using two MacBook Pro laptops on the same LAN ?

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The most efficient way is to use the command line renderer in multi machine mode. That will mean each machine will render the next un-rendered frame independently. You need to set the output module to a frame sequence, like png sequence, JPEG sequence, etc. and you need to make sure that "skip existing frames" is on. Then in a command prompt, type /path/to/aerender -project ~/path/to/your/project.aep where /path/to/… is replaced with the path to the aerender executable, and your project (dragging the files onto the terminal is the easiest way to find the correct path). On my machine the executable is C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2019\Support Files\aerender.exe on a mac it will be /Applications/Adobe/Adobe After Effects CC 2019/aerender.

Alternatively use the render engine and set up a watch folder. This is slower than the CLI renderer, but doesn't involve any CLI use.

Media encoder doesn't do multi machine rendering. Probably because if you need rendering speed enough to use multiple machines you don't want to be rendering with it anyway. It's about 20% slower than the CLI renderer.

  • Thank you for the detailed answer(+1). I've got no problem using CLI. The ideal scenario would be aeproject rendered to H.264 using multiple computers somehow. The CLI option sounds like aeproject rendered to image sequence on multiple machines then encoded from image sequence to H.264, correct ? – George Profenza Jul 17 at 16:31
  • Yes, to use multiple machines the only way is to render image sequences. If you're good with the CLI, then it's trivial to automate ffmpeg to compress the image sequence to h.264 afterwards - basically you do if /Applications/Adobe/Adobe After Effects CC 2019/aerender -project ~someproject.aep; then ffmpeg ~/renders/imageSeq_%05d.png ~/myMovie.mp4; fi – stib Jul 18 at 0:09
  • This is a good workflow, BTW, aside from the multi-machine (or multiple instances on one machine - see blob.pureandapplied.com.au/finally-managed-to-peg-my-cpu ) rendering this way means you get a master that you can spin off other copies of, e.g. you need an IGTV or Farcebook version at a different aspect ratio, or you spot a typo and you need to delete part of it - just delete the offending frames and re-render. – stib Jul 18 at 0:15
  • Apologies the delay and thank you so much for the detailed aexplanations :) – George Profenza Jul 20 at 16:08

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