Support / FAQ

  • Is there a formula to decide the best ratio of CPU cores to Seeds and Gardeners?

    Each Gardener is a background After Effects "aerendercore" process. RenderGarden splits the comp up into multiple segments (Seeds) which can concurrently run in multiple Gardeners to maximize your CPUs. The number of Gardeners open per machine should be dictated by the physical CPU cores in your computer. Modern computers use a technique called hyperthreading which adds a virtual core (vCore) to each physical core, so a 12-Core MacPro will be seen by the OS as a 24-Core Mac. It is very important to look at the number of physical CPU cores in your computer when deciding how many Gardeners to use. We recommend starting with half the number of Gardeners as physical cores. This should give you a solid boost in rendering performance while leaving headroom to continue to work in the background. If you are using a computer as a render node and want to maximize cores you can try adding more Gardeners, but you never want to launch more Gardeners than physical cores. To be safe, always leave at least one physical core available (i.e. if you have a 16-core computer, never go above 15 Gardeners).

    The number of Seeds will vary depending on a numerous factors. If you are rendering on one workstation, the simplest way to proceed is to plant the same number of Seeds as Gardeners. If you choose 4 Seeds and 4 Gardeners, RenderGarden will split your comp into four segments and render them concurrently. While a safe option, in some situations this is not the most optimized solution. For example, if you have a comp where the first half is a slate and the second half is a heavy render, the two Gardeners rendering the slate will finish in seconds then sit idle while the two Gardeners rendering the back end take minutes. In a situation like this you may want to plant 16 Seeds and choose 4 Gardeners. This way the Gardeners used to render the slate quickly will pick up more Seeds when they finish and help contribute to the heavy part of the comp.

    When rendering over your network to multiple machines, the number of Seeds will depend on the number of Gardeners per machines. If you have three 12-core Macs running 6 Gardeners each, the simplest solution is to plant 18 Seeds. Or if you have the same slate situation mentioned above, you may want to plant 72 Seeds. Note that it takes time to launch an aerendercore, so you do not want your segments to be too small or else the time it takes to close and launch new aerendercores could negate speed benefits.

  • Can I submit to RenderGarden from a Mac and render on a PC (& vice versa)?

    We only support submitting and rendering on the same platform. If you make a scene on Mac you can open it on a PC in AE and submit to your PC nodes from there.

  • How can I use a non-licensed After Effects in Render-Only Mode?

    You do not need to have Creative Cloud serialized to run aerender. Simply follow these directions to enable Render-Only mode for aerender: Adobe Render-Only Node

  • I'm getting errors regarding licensing effects and missing fonts.

    All render nodes must have plug-ins serialized and fonts installed. Some plug-ins require you to run the plug-in once to license it through the After Effects GUI. If you are on a render node you may need to license Creative Cloud, run AE to install the plug-in licenses, then de-serialize AE before running in render-only mode.

  • I’m getting errors saying “Render Failed” when trying to combine movie segments.

    FFMPEG is used to combine movie segments and transcode for Post Render Actions, so make sure it is installed in the same location on every computer and your RenderGarden prefs are set to point to this directory.

    If FFmpeg is failing on a particular segment, check your segments. AE may have rendered an incomplete segment that is giving FFmpeg problems. Re-plant the seed to re-render the bad segement and also re-plant and post render actions such as combine and MP4 seeds.

  • Is there a quick and safe way to stop all processes?

    The safe way to kill a process is to find the Gardener’s Terminal/Console window you want to kill and use Control-C. This will shut down the aerendercore process gracefully. If you simply close the Terminal/Console window it will kill the render, but potentially leave the aerendercore process running. Over time this you may end up with multiple stuck aerendercore processes. We provide a free utility with RenderGarden called AEpesticide which can be run to kill all stuck aerendercore processes.

  • How do I re-queue a failed render?

    Sometimes aerender will fail to complete a job but report that it is complete. To re-queue this segment find the completed .RenderGarden file in your seedbank and simply change the beginning of the file name from Complete to Ready. When this is changed any open Gardener will pick up the segment to complete the job.

    RenderGarden provides droplets to do this for you easily. On Mac find the droplet at /Applications/RenderGarden/Replant Seeds.app. On Windows it's C:\Program Files\Mekajiki\RenderGarden\Replant Seeds.bat.

  • How do I find total render time of my job?

    The Done Alert post render action will tell you how long the job took to render from the first seed picked up to the last. You can also look in the Terminal and logs to find the time which an aerender began, then look at the time of the final combined Quicktime to figure out the duration of the render.

  • Why are Post Render Actions not precisely matching the AE render?

    Though FFmpeg works well in most circumstances (especially excellent mp4 encoding quality), we don't really guarantee that RenderGarden's post-processing defaults will give you perfect results. These movies are transcoded by FFmpeg and may have discrepancies in color space, compression and other inconsistencies, and should be used for quick viewing copies only. Always use the After Effects Render Queue settings for your masters.

    Oftentimes you may find that After Effects displays MP4 and ProRes QuickTime differently from QuickTime player and VLC.

  • I work with Python 3.6 but RenderGarden requires Python 2.7. Why?

    RenderGarden is using Python 2.7 because it's still the standard in most studios, and it's what ships with all Macs, even with the latest Mac OS. Python 3 is incompatible with Python 2, so we had to choose one. But on Windows you should have no problem using Python 2.7 alongside Python 3.6. You don't need to switch your PATH environment variable to 2.7, just browse to your Python 2.7 in RenderGarden's preferences. In fact, if you have it installed in the standard place, C:\Python27, RenderGarden should see it by default.

  • Is there a way to automatically launch Gardeners on Render Nodes?

    The following is a method to start gardeners automatically when you log in to your Mac:

    1. Get the command line that launches Gardeners. The easiest way to get this is to go to a running Gardener (start one if you have to) and scroll to the top. It'll be something like:

    python "/Path/To/Gardener.py" "/Path/To/SeedBank"

    1. Create a new plain text file in TextEdit, and paste that Gardener command into it. Then save it somewhere, calling the file something like "Gardener.command". A .command file will launch in Terminal and run whatever is in there.
    2. Probably double-clicking that file will not work currently, because you have to make it executable. You can do this in the Terminal using the chmod command. Something like:

    chmod a+x /Path/To/Gardener.command

    (In terminal you can get it to type the path for you by dragging the file into the window.)

    1. Now that your .command file is working, add it to your Login Items (under your user in the Users & Groups preference pane)

    If you want to have multiple Gardeners, you could just duplicate your .command file and run multiple Login Items.

    Alternatively, this is a way to do it with AppleScript:

    1. Get the command line that launches Gardeners, same as above.
    2. Open the Script Editor, which should be included on your Mac. Your script text will be something like this:

    set theScript to "python \"/Path/To/Gardener.py\" \"/Path/To/SeedBank\""

    tell application "Terminal"

    set theTab to do script theScript

    set custom title of theTab to "Gardener"

    set current settings of theTab to settings set "Grass"

    end tell

    (You'll have to edit the command to match your setup. Note the backslashes in front of the quotes in the command.)

    1. Go to File > Export and export as an Application.
    2. Add the application you exported to Login Items.

    Again, you can duplicate these applets to launch more. Of you could make a loop in AppleScript if you know what you're doing.

  • Does RenderGarden utilize the same ProRes codec as AE, or does it perform with FFMPEG?

    RenderGarden uses After Effects to render the format set in the After Effects OutPut Module. In the case of QT it uses the same Adobe Media Core as if you rendered from the AE queue. When it finishes rendering the segments, FFmpeg combines the script using “concatenation”. This simply copies and pastes the segments together into a joined movie. There is no re-encode/re-compression performed by FFmpeg, so it matches pixel perfect to the segments or a rendered movie right out of the AE render queue.

    If you choose to use our Post-Render Actions feature, when your initial ProRes is complete, FFmpeg will open the combined movie and re-encode/re-compress to the formats specified. So if you chose ProRes again the second movie will have a generation loss. In general Post-Render Actions are there for viewing copies, not master (i.e. you render a big uncompressed image sequence and want an mp4 to preview).

    We posted this timelapse screen capture to show off a 3.5x speed improvement. At the end of the movie you can see a difference test performed between the AE render queue ProRes and the RenderGarden ProRes… all pixels show RGB values 0,0,0, so can see its pixel perfect.

  • Can Seedbank run on a different server than the project/output?

    For best results when network rendering, all files involved with your project, including the footage and render output destinations, should be on the same shared drive. If your Seed Bank is on one drive but your output is on another, you run the risk of a render node sending the output to a different location than you expected. This is even especially likely to happen if you set your render destination to somewhere on your local boot drive, like the Desktop.

  • Is there a possibility to render to frames using RenderGarden plugin (i.e. PNG or TIFF) or does it support only MP4/QT?

    Yes. The primary render is set in the AE Render Queue and can use QT, AVI or Image Sequences. The Post-Render Actions set in the RenderGarden script can be used to then transcode the master QT, AVI, or Image Sequence into an mp4 or QT for a viewing copy.

  • If I want to use another machine as a network render node does it need to have all the plugins that I have installed on the initial machine?

    Examples: Particular from Red Giant or Optical flares from Video Copilot?

    Yes. Every render node needs licensed plug-ins, fonts, etc. A good rule of thumb is that the render node should be able to open the AE project and render it on its own. Some plug-ins give you free render nodes. Others require additional render licenses. After Effects can run in Render-Only mode which does not require you to be signed into a CC account.

  • If I were to buy and install this plugin on each machine would it make much difference in render time?

    The license gives you one submit script and unlimited render nodes. So you only need to install the Gardener app on the render nodes which is free. Spawning more than one Gardener on each render node will increase rendering time over native AE 2-3x on average. So on a single machine you can see a 3x speed increase, and if you throw a second machine on it you can see a 6x increase. Your 24CPU system will love RenderGarden.

  • Do I have to render via AE Render Queue or does RenderGarden render in the background, allowing me to continue working in AE?

    RenderGarden works in the background so you can continue working.

  • I'm having trouble getting the Done Alert to work

    The Done Alert will only run on the computer that planted the seeds. If you generally aren't running Gardeners on your work machine, you will not get them. The way to get Done Alerts without rendering other seeds is to run the RenderGarden Gardener launcher de-select all render types except for "notify".

    If you get errors one Windows because the "msg" command is not available (probably because you are running Windows Home Edition instead of Windows Professions), you can change the Done Alert command template to something like this: echo msgbox "Render complete! {job} ({renderDuration})" > "%temp%\popup.vbs" && wscript.exe "%temp%\popup.vbs"

  • Do I have to install Python (Windows) & FFMPEG (Mac & Windows) in the same directory on my network render nodes as my initial machine?

    Correct. Then install the Gardener on each render node. Make sure all render nodes can see the server where the seed bank is, the aep and the render directory.

  • Will RenderGarden network render an H264 MP4?

    No. Set ae render queue to render a qt. Then check on the rendergarden post render action to transcode the mp4 from the qt. In general even without rendergarden this is always your best solution for AE. Never render directly to h264.

  • Does it work with all versions of AE?

    We officially support back to 2014. But we have found it works back to CS5.

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