AfterEffects job submission overview
After Effects scenes submitted to Pixel Plow are returned as image sequences or video files. We recommend only After Effects scenes that are CPU intensive and short in length (frame count) for image sequence output. Longer form scenes should probably opt for video file output. We’ll discuss both mechanisms below. Which type of rendering mechanism is used will be chosen by you when you submit the scene file using our agent software.
For image sequence output jobs
Submitted scene files must have whatever render task you desire present in the render queue at index 1 prior to submission. That task must *not* be in a RENDERING, STOPPED, or DONE state when your scene file is saved and submitted. As with all applications that we support, please use relative pathing to access files outside of your scene file so our agent can collect and upload them and After Effects can find them when rendering. After Effects itself is typically poor about allowing the definition of relative pathing inside the application. The easiest way to accomplish this, however, is to make use of the Collect Files function, native to AE:
Submit the collected scene file when you have configured the render queue in the scene file correctly. Choose the image format you desire for the sequence in the drop-down menu in the agent. You will need to specify the frame numbers of your scene file to render.
For video file output jobs
Just like in the image sequence job preparation steps above, relative pathing needs to be used inside the scene file to point to all external file assets. Using the “Collect Files” function is the easiest way to accomplish this. After that is done, please set up your render queue so that each composition you wish to render is “named” with a number. An example of how this should look is as follows:
Notice how the Comp Name of each composition is a single, unique number. This is, unfortunately, the only reasonable way to tell After Effects which composition to render on the command line here. In the “Frame/Comp List” field of the Pixel Plow agent software, specify the composition number(s) you wish to render. These numbers can be a range of numbers, like “1-3”, or they can be individual numbers separated by comma’s, like “1,5,27,59”. You may also combine the two, separating them by comma’s, like “1,3-10,56-67,108”. Just keep in mind that all numbers specified when submitting the job via the agent *must* exist as a “comp name” in your scene file.
Submit the prepared scene file as a video file output job by picking one of the video file output formats in the drop-down menu of the agent. After Effects will create the video output file based on the settings defined in your composition. The only departure from this is that the output file name defined in your comp can not be specified to AE on the command line. There will be a base file name and the comp number, which will look similar to this, “basefileoutputname_comp_23.mov”, for all output files delivered to your computer.
It is important to understand the scheduling differences between the two output types, as that will directly impact job render times. Image sequence jobs are scheduled like any other rendering job, with each frame going to a node to be rendered. This can scale upwards in performance quite well, and will always be the fastest possible render times. Video output jobs, on the other hand, will have each composition going to a node to be rendered. The reason for this is that no more than one machine can write to the same file at a time. Hence, 1 composition renders on 1 node that outputs 1 video file. This limits video output format render jobs in scaling performance to the number of compositions you are rendering from the scene file. Obviously, the greater the composition number being rendered, the more nodes can be working on rendering the scene at the same time. In all cases, the Power level of the job sets the maximum on how many nodes are exposed to the job at any given time.
Last, it should be noted that we do not and will not support custom fonts. Any object using a custom font in your scene file should be converted to a format such that the font is no longer needed.