[Thanks for today's post go to Tim Kurkoski, who did the hard parts. Note: If you have questions, don't leave comments on this blog post; instead, come to this After Effects forum thread, where we can help.]
One of the changes in After Effects CC (12.0) regards when activation occurs, and this affects how you install render-only instances of the After Effects application, known as render engines.
The single-user retail license allows you to install and activate the full version of the After Effects application on two computers.
You can install After Effects CC render engines on any number of computers without consuming these two activations. You only need to activate the render-engine instances if you need to use the specific codecs for which our license agreements with the providers of these codecs require activation because of the payment of royalties. See this page for details about royalty-bearing codecs and how to use the render engine without these royalty-bearing codecs. This is all the same as in After Effects CS6 (11.0).
What has changed for After Effects CC (12.0) is that your software license is activated when you install Creative Cloud applications. Previous versions of After Effects activated when the software was started for the first time. This means that when you install a render-only instance of After Effects CC, you will want to sign out of Creative Cloud on that computer to avoid using one of your activations.
instructions for installing render engines with a single-user Creative Cloud Membership subscription
Follow these steps to ensure that your activations are not used by installing render-only instances of After Effects CC:
First, if you have installed Creative Cloud applications on two computers, sign out of one of them by opening any of the applications and choosing Sign Out from the Help menu. You can sign back into Creative Cloud on this computer after the render-only instances of After Effects are installed.
Then, on each computer on which you want to install a render-only instance of After Effects CC, do the following:
1. Go to the Creative Cloud download page to download and install After Effects CC.
2. When the installation is complete, start After Effects.
3. Choose Sign Out from the Help menu.
4. Quit After Effects.
5. Create and place the ae_render_only_node.txt file as described here.
Creative Cloud Packager for Creative Cloud Teams and Creative Cloud Enterprise
You do not need to follow the instructions above if you are deploying After Effects CC as part of a multi-seat license, Creative Cloud Teams or Creative Cloud Enterprise. Instead, use the Creative Cloud Packager (CCP) to deploy the software. In this case, create the ae_render_only_node.txt file before deployment:
1. Create the ae_render_only_node.txt file as described here, and use CCP to set the destination for this file.
2. Deploy After Effects CC using Creative Cloud Packager.