After Effects

After Effects Guide

Note

Our After Effects support is still in early development. Certain features may not be supported or may not work as intended. Please make sure to contact our tech team when you encounter a problem. We will gladly provide assistance.

1. Download and install

Log in to Web Manager (web dashboard) at https://app.garagefarm.net and download our renderBeamer app for you operating system. 

GarageFarm app's download page
Web Manager downloads panel

Install the renderBeamer app and start it. Once renderBeamer is done with the installation process, you need to choose the default download directory. This path will be used as the main output place for all your renders. Next, just log in using the account ID you received or your account email. Please keep in mind that the app should always be running in the background whenever uploading a project or downloading rendered frames.

renderBeamer startup windows
renderBeamer startup windows - default download directory on the left, and login panel on the right

Once renderBeamer is installed and you’re logged in, you’ll see the Plugins panel. Plugins installation panel should automatically open after the first renderBeamer startup. You can also open it anytime you need to install additional plugins for your 3D apps.

renderBeamer 3D app plugins installation panel
renderBeamer 3D app plugins installation panel

Here in the plugins panel, you can install plugins that allow you to work with our farm. Once you installed the plugin for your 3D app, you can proceed to the next step.

Note

Please keep in mind that each 3D app (DCC) you use needs to have a plugin installed to properly connect to and render on our farm. 

2. Prepare the project

Open your project in After Effects and prepare it for rendering on a render farm. 

  • Make sure that your project does not contain any missing assets. 
  • Video assets - please be cautious when using MOV assets in your project. Depending on the codecs used, After Effects may refuse to load them on a different platform (our farm environment is Windows-based). We recommend using image sequence as often as possible because that is the most reliable solution based on our experience.
  • Prepare your desired composition settings - resolution, frame rate and duration time. When rendering to frames, we strongly recommend using whole numbers (i.e 30 frames per second instead of 29.97).
Composition settings - here you can prepare output setup for farm rendering


  • Select composition and add it to AE render queue. Our plugin will prepare and send only the compositions added to AE render queue. Any other compositions which are used in the scene will be ignored.
Adding a composition to render queue
  • Configure “render queue” composition setup i.e render settings, quality, output format.

 

  • Output formats - not all output formats are supported on the farm. Especially “custom” made output templates can cause issues with the rendering process on the farm. We highly recommend using standard output presets, and ideally rendering a composition to frames (i.e. PNG or JPG sequence) instead of video. 
  • Image sequence vs. video format - to take advantage of the speed and power of the render farm, you should render your composition to an image sequence (i.e. PNG or JPG). Each frame of the sequence will be distributed over multiple machines and will be rendered in parallel, thus speeding up the total rendering time. If you choose a video format as your output (i.e. mp4), the composition will be rendered on a single machine, and thus rendering will be much slower. Please note that you can easily convert the rendered image sequence to a video by creating another task on the farm.

3. Use the plugin

Now that the project is prepared and ready to be sent, please save your project and use our AE plugin (run it from the menu Composition > renderBeamer batch relinker). 

You can also use the renderBeamer CostCalc option to get rough cost and time estimates of your project. 

After you select one of the options, our plugin will export the scene and all project data will be redirected to our renderBeamer app and uploaded to the farm.

Running renderBeamer plugin from AfterEffects interface

4. Upload the project

Once our plugin completes the scene export, your project will be redirected to renderBeamer to be uploaded. renderBeamer is a standalone uploader/downloader application that works in conjunction with our plugins. Simply put, it takes care of the file transfers.

After the scene has been fully uploaded, the app will show you a window with a direct link to your scene on Web Manager (web dashboard). To continue just use click here to submit job button. If for some reason you closed the window with the link or it didn’t work, don’t worry, you can locate your project in the web dashboard and submit your scene by clicking on the scene file later (more on that in the next step). You can also copy link to clipboard and manually paste it into your web browser.

renderBeamer window with options to add job to render farm
renderBeamer window with options to add job to render farm

5. Submit the job & monitor render progress

Now that your project is uploaded you will need to follow the final step - creating and submitting a job to render farm. Web Manager is a home to all your projects and render jobs. 

If you followed the link generated earlier by renderBeamer, you will now see the job submission window with several fields and settings. If you didn’t follow the link or it didn’t work, you can do it manually by locating your project in the Projects panel, finding the scene file within the project folder (in your folder structure look for the folder called “data”, i.e. Project_name/data/Scene_name.aepx), and clicking on it to open the job window. 

adding a scene to rendering directly from Web Manager file browser

As you can see, all plugin render settings are forwarded to Web Manager. If you still want to change something - like render range - this is the last place to do it. 

If everything is fine, just use “Submit” button. Now, your scene will be forwarded to farm render queue and video job window will be at the front.

Note

To render After Effects with video output, please don't turn off “create video” switch. Otherwise, your scene will be rendered only to PNGs.

Adding “create video” to After Effect project

Now, all that needs to be done - is just using the “Submit” button on the video job. At this point, your scene will be added to the farm render queue, including video ffmpeg.

6. Download and review frames

Each frame that has completed rendering is downloaded automatically to your local drive to a directory you selected in the renderBeamer application. If you’re not sure where your download folder is located, you can double check it or change it in renderBeamer’s settings (click on the cogwheel). Also, make sure you have auto download turned on to get the frames downloaded as soon as they are available. If this box is unchecked, you will have to click on each job in Beamer's "downloads" tab, and manually download the frames. 

renderBeamer default settings with auto download ON
renderBeamer default settings with auto download ON

If you prefer more control over what to download and when, you can also download your frames manually. To do that, just turn off auto download switch in renderBeamer settings and go to the “downloads” tab. Next, select the desired render output using a checkbox, and click the download button. 

enderBeamer downloading frames for a selected render job
renderBeamer downloading frames for a selected render job

This kind of workflow will download all rendered frames for the selected job or jobs. However, renderBeamer also gives you an option to download individual frames. To do that, you need to use the list files function under RMB. 

renderBeamer listing files option for selected render job
renderBeamer listing files option for selected render job

Once files for the selected job are listed, just roll down the list and select the files you’d like to download using checkboxes. Next, use the same download button.

renderBeamer downloading only selected frames from a render job
renderBeamer downloading only selected frames from a render job

Once your frames are downloaded, you can use open directory option under RMB to open the folder where frames are saved. 

Note

Please make sure you keep renderBeamer running whenever you have jobs rendering to get the frames downloaded right away. It may happen, however, that your frames aren’t downloading in the given moment, and most likely that’s because our application checks for the files on the server in 15 minute cycles and it is currently in between the cycles. You can click refresh list to force the check without waiting for the next cycle.

7. Purchase credits

When you use up all your trial credits, you’ll need to charge your account to continue using the service. Please note that when your balance goes below $0, you won’t be able to download rendered frames or start new render jobs. You can make payments in the Billing panel in Web Manager. We accept debit cards, credit cards, PayPal and DotPay payments.

If your rendering needs are high or you plan to render regularly, please make sure to check out our volume discounts.

Billing panel where you can buy credits
billing panel where you can buy credits, view cost & payment history, and view discounts

8. Contact us anytime

You can talk to the GarageFarm.NET’s tech team any time of the day, any day of the week. We’re here to help you get started, answer your questions, and assist you in any way. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout.

You can contact us through our live chat accessible in the web dashboard or our desktop app when you log in to your account or message us here through the guest chat.

We also recommend checking out our FAQ page which answers most of the questions new users have.

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