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Forums Adobe After Effects Do Expressions enlarge AE Project files and slow down save/load times?

  • Do Expressions enlarge AE Project files and slow down save/load times?

  • David Schulz

    April 25, 2022 at 5:27 am

    Hey everyone,

    im just curious about your exprerience in this matter. I have a fairly small After Effects Project, that consists only of a few importet .CSV files and some Comps that contain only two text fields and two shapelayers each. on These layers there are a few expressions, handeling the import of some data that is contained in the CSV files, i.e. loading some text for the text fields, changing the color of the shapelayers, handeling linebreaks of the text, checking if its too long and so on.

    i was simply duplicating this one comp x Times so that the expression could read out the last two digits of the Comp name and read in the acording data from the CSV file.

    so one might think that this is only a copy of some text and very simple shape layers ( the shapse are simple boxes to enclose the text, so nothing too spectaular, and literally only consisting of 8 vertecies each. two of them. so 16 points…)

    However, in some cases i need to copy the comp to about 50+ times, so that i get a variation for every information contained in the CSV.

    with only about 50 of such very simple COMPs in it, the project file blow up to some 120Mb and from then on takes about 2 minutes to load and or save.

    So whats going on?

    does AE check all the expressions while loading/Saving, or is it simply the way After effects behaves when reaching an amount of 50 Comps.

    whats your experience, how would you handle such tasks, and might there be a workaround?

    Thanks in advace for your thoughts,


  • Walter Soyka

    April 25, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    This might be a good case for the Essential Graphics workflow. This would let you put all your logic into one reusable comp, then render out instances of it:

    That said, we still see our project files get pretty big any time we have a large number of comps.

  • David Schulz

    April 28, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks Walter, i’ll look into it!

  • Filip Vandueren

    April 28, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    It probably has more to do with the number of comps: if you’ve added the csv to the timeline in each of those precomps, after effects creates a property in the timeline for every single datapoint in the csv, each with an expression. That quickly adds up to possibly thousands of properties.

    Just having Lots of keyframes (corner pin tracking, or converting lots of things expression to keyframes) can also quickly balloon the file size

  • Tristan Summers

    May 4, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Also worth mentioning that the native data workflow is incredibly slow, heavyweight and clunky. I would definitely try Dataclay which is just so much more responsive and useable.

    I think it is probably reading in the CSV data and carving it out in stone with a blunt chisel!

    Assume you have an nvme OS, Storage and Cache drive? Helps with saving. A lot.

    I have also found turning off Multi frame rendering speeds up expressions considerably.

  • David Schulz

    May 13, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for your insights! very useful

  • David Schulz

    May 13, 2022 at 11:21 am

    sounds obvious now that you descripbe it that way.

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