LayerRender Effect

Layer Render Effect allows the user to render at the layer level using an external FFmpeg installation. All known AE renderers render at the level of a composition.

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Target Audience

This plugin is meant for power users who end up with complex After Effects compositions with multiple layers. Often, the client will ask for samples of intermediate stages of the project. Earlier, renders may have required the user to open up Media Encoder. Now every possible codec and container can be rendered directly from After Effects.

Trial vs Activated

The Codecs, Presets and Codec Options fields are greyed out in the trial. These will be enabled once you enter the activation code. The trial allows for renders using H.264 without a watermark.

Value Proposition

Add an adjustment layer above the layers you want rendered, use the in and out points of your layer to define the range of output video and click the render button.

  1. Very fast (uses all cores) and easy to use.
  2. Direct access to external FFmpeg without intermediate files.
  3. Extensive presets for VP9, H.264, H.265, DNxHD, Cineform and Prores codecs
  4. All render options can be tweaked via Options window.
  5. Direct Render of layers from within After Effects comp

Qualifying Questions

  • Do you wish the entire range of render options (containers and codecs) from Media Encoder was available inside After Effects?
  • Do you want to render out intermediate stages of your project for your client to preview?
  • Do you require direct access to open source codecs like x264 from your After Effects project?
  • Do you need finer grained control of your render?

Compatibility

After Effects Creative Cloud. Tested with CC 2017, CC 2018, CC 2019, 2020, 2021. macOS 10.12 and above or Windows 7 and above.

Important Notes

The plugin can use custom installs of FFmpeg. So, its best to have the latest version downloaded on your edit station.

You can download the Win or Mac trial version.

This effect works with 8-bpc or 16-bpc. The optimal usage will require 32-bpc and full resolution. In 32-bpc color, After Effects does not clip the video and allows the user to view any out-of-range data. Cineform and ProRes require 16-bpc or 32-bpc color.

Layer Render Controls :-

TIP :- Set RAM for other application at >= 4GB or you may have a system crash due to FFmpeg RAM requirements.

After Effects -> Preferences -> Memory : RAM for other applications setting

TIP :- The plugin should be used on an adjustment layer and the in and out point of the layer should be used to notify the start and end of the video. The video can only be rendered if the play marker is on the active part of the layer.

Codecs

Codecs – VP9, H.264, H.265, DNxHD, Cineform, Prores. Common codecs are provided here. Alternatively you can use Codec Options dialog to enter options for other codecs.

Presets

Presets – For every codec, there are corresponding presets available. For 8-bit options, lossless 8-bit RGB video is sent from AE. For anything else, 16-bit lossless RGB video is send out. Some presets also encode alpha channel. The plugin detects those presets and send out 8-bit or 16-bit RGBA video as needed.

Render Separate Audio – Selecting this will generate an extra .wav file with the same root name as the output video.

Codec Options

Codec Options – Click on Display to open a dialog box with currently selected preset. You may change this to use other codecs. TIP :- The plugin selects the AE format based on 8-bit RGB/RGBA or 16-bit RGB/RGBA presets respectively. So you need to make sure your starting preset matches the pixel formats being used.

Debug Console

Debug Console – Select to view the FFmpeg log.

TIP:- Using the Debug Console slows down the render time. It should be used only if there are issues with the render.

Render – This dialog allows you to select the directory and filename for the output file. The output extension notifies the plugin which container you wish to use.

TIP:- Before clicking on Render, make sure that the resolution is set to Full.

Display Error if Resolution is not Full
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Anmol

Software Engineer, Dancer and Filmmaker. Currently rebooting his life.

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