Creative Communities of the World Forums

The peer to peer support community for media production professionals.

Activity Forums Adobe After Effects High-End PC Struggling with After Effects Performance on 4K Multi-Layer Projects

  • High-End PC Struggling with After Effects Performance on 4K Multi-Layer Projects

    Posted by Tommy Caiels on November 6, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I’m reaching out to this community after a long battle with performance issues in After Effects, hoping for some fresh insights or solutions. Despite running a robust setup, I’ve been experiencing persistent sluggishness and glitches, especially when dealing with multi-layer 4K projects. Below are the details of my system and the challenges I’m facing.

    System Specs:

    • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
    • RAM: 64 GB running at 2133 MHz
    • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core processor
    • Storage: Multiple NVMe SSD drives
    • Software: After Effects (latest version, regularly updated)

    Project Details:

    • Multi-layered 4K compositions
    • Source footage: 6 video layers composited together at 2560×1440 each
    • Desired output: smooth editing performance

    Issues Faced:

    • Even with the powerful hardware above, AE performance is slow and stuttery. Average frame render time is 1-2s.
    • Rendering an uncompressed AVI of a 9-minute video is estimated to take 6+ hours, with negligible CPU, GPU, and SSD utilization. (5-10% each resource is being used)
    • Occasional frame glitches and micro-stutters are present, which is highly frustrating.

    Over the past 7+ years, I’ve tried numerous approaches to resolve these issues – from hardware upgrades to different rendering methods – with no lasting improvements. It feels like the more advanced my setup gets, the less reliable the performance is, which is counterintuitive and contrary to what one would expect with technological advancements.

    Could there be a deep-seated compatibility issue? Or perhaps a setting within After Effects or BIOS that I’ve overlooked? I’m at a point where I’m considering switching software or seeking professional IT consultation, but before I take those steps, I wanted to ask here in case anyone has experienced something similar or has suggestions.

    Any advice on optimizing After Effects for heavy-duty editing or insights into potential causes for these performance discrepancies would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and for any guidance you can provide.


    Tommy Caiels replied 3 weeks, 2 days ago 2 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • Eric Santiago

    November 6, 2023 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for the specs but how about the specs on the source files?

    When you say 4K layers, are they all video and what codec are you using?

    How about high res graphics with animation?

    Vector with animation?

    And how long are your average Comps in time length?

    Do you pre-comp?

    Do you pre-render then re-import to avoid pre-comp overdose?

    Any specs would help.

  • Tommy Caiels

    November 6, 2023 at 3:19 pm

    Hello, and thank you for your response. I appreciate your interest in helping me troubleshoot the performance issues I’m experiencing. Here are the details regarding the source files and project setup:

    Source File Specs:

    • Codec: H.264 from Nvidia Shadowplay recordings
    • Resolution: 2560×1440
    • Frame Rate: 59.97 fps
    • Bitrate: Approximately 44 Mbps
    • Length: Individual gameplay captures are around 9 to 11 minutes long
    • File Size: Roughly 2.96 GB per file

    Composition and Project Details:

    • Final Comp Resolution: 3840×2160 (4K)
    • Average Comp Length: 11 minutes
    • Number of Video Layers: 6 gameplay videos, each at 2560×1440
    • Additional Elements: High-resolution stationary Photoshop graphics files (no animation/effects yet)


    • I have not pre-composed or pre-rendered individual elements yet. I started by placing all 6 gameplay layers side by side in a single composition.
    • I’ve just pre-composed these 6 video layers into one Quicktime file (ProRes 422 HQ) – it took 35 minutes. The initial output was set to 1920×1080 – I am unsure why it is not 3840×2160 which is my composition dimension. This resulted in a file size of 29.6 GB. I am in the process of re-rendering this pre-comp at the intended resolution of 3840×2160 although upon checking it states rendering at 1920×1080 and will be ‘resized’ to 3840×2160.

    My aim is to streamline the editing process by working with pre-composed layers to reduce the demand on After Effects during playback and editing. However, before I could do further pre-rendering to mitigate ‘pre-comp overdose’, I wanted to ensure that the pre-comped Quicktime file was correctly rendered at 4K resolution.

    I’m hopeful that there are some glaring mistakes in my process and expectations. I have never dived into formats, compression, compatibility in the past – because it used to just ‘work’. Now it doesn’t. If you have any further suggestions or require additional information, please let me know.

    Best regards,

  • Eric Santiago

    November 6, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    I will need some time to ingest all that.

    The only thing I can answer is in regards to the 4K res rendering to HD.

    If you choose a specific setting it will change it to HD.

    I believe ProResHQ does that.
    You need to select ProRes4444 (the extra 4 is alpha).

    Let me digest your setup and get back to you.

  • Tommy Caiels

    November 10, 2023 at 6:03 pm

    yes I wanted to be comprehensive and I appreciate it’ll take a while to ingest.

    I do suspect that the resolution and uncompressed file sizes are, simply, exponentially larger and therefore require a disproportionately higher amount of computational power to work with.

    I have found that by rendering 1080p proxies mitigates the problem quite profoundly, supporting the above. But I want to ensure I’ve left no stone unturned. In 2008-10 I made gaming videos and mixed 1080p uncompressed content and motion graphics without the PC really breaking a sweat, I’d have only expected relative performance with 2160p content today. However, in reality I’m seeing 10-15% of my resources being used at best, and around (quite literally) ~20x slower frame by frame performance. This seems off and I suspect if it isn’t just ‘facts’ that it’s now slower, it is a bottleneck or poor configuration.

  • Eric Santiago

    November 10, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    I generally work on the Mac platform.

    My day-to-day clip sources are RED R3D files ranging from 4K DCI to 8K (stupid res IMHO), Panasonic EVA-1 at 4K DCI, and the occasional and annoying Canon/Sony/Panasonic (GH4/5).

    In most cases, all files are converted to (NLE-dependent) Proxy ProRes, DNxHD/HR, ProRes422/4444, etc…

    I work with FCPX, Premiere, Avid MC, and Resolve.

    My experience on numerous Macs differs but they all seem to handle the above in docs, features, and shorties (spots, indies, etc….).

    The only major issues I have are After Effects using multi-layer vectors and high-res static images.

    Those are usual suspects when real-time is required.

    Not to make this a platform debate but the only major experience I had in the last 5 years is with a beast of an HP box lent to me to deal with 8K RED files.

    I tested that thing with older After Effects projects that would have made my loaded Mac Pro 2019 sweat. That HP box (sorry I would have to dig up the client and get info) was a killer unit for Max/Maya, Resolve, and After Effects.

    Pretty sure it was all XEON loaded with a ton of RAM and a $6K video card.

    I am not helping with your issues but I am here to tell you that something is up with your setup.

    I hope you figure it out. Seems like a killer setup to me.

  • Tommy Caiels

    November 11, 2023 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing, considering your extensive experience and insights. It’s genuinely appreciated.

    I agree with your sentiments about the Red files and the range of resolutions they offer. The sheer size and resource demands can be disproportionately cumbersome and quite challenging, especially for real-time work.

    Your mention of the other NLEs and the typical workflow of converting clips to proxy formats is in line with what I’ve been doing, and I’ve found similar success with those platforms.

    The information about the HP box you tested is intriguing. It does reaffirm my suspicion that something might be amiss with my setup, considering the hardware I’m working with. I’ll need to delve deeper into my system configuration and explore if there are any compatibility or optimisation issues that need addressing. Not sure where to start. I should also note, that I am seriously considering switching to a loaded and new M3 MBP and using that as my workstation – this has been a tempting move for me for around 5 years and with fiddly problems using windows, I’m continuously becoming more warmed up to the idea despite the huge learning curve it may entail (I’ve used Apple Macbooks for 10+ years but not for production). I’d happily budget around £3000 for something that allows me to spend 80% of my time creating and 20% troubleshooting; I have to say, to no exaggeration with my current setup, I am spending 80-90% of my time fighting the system and 10-20% of my time productively.

    Your input has been helpful, and I appreciate your time in sharing your thoughts. I’m determined to get to the bottom of this and optimize my workflow for smoother real-time performance.

    If you have any additional tips or further insights to offer, please feel free to share. Your guidance is invaluable.

We use anonymous cookies to give you the best experience we can.
Our Privacy policy | GDPR Policy