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codecs and the render engine in After Effects CS6 and After Effects CC

After Effects CS6 and After Effects CC include a significant change from After Effects CS5.5 regarding the ability to use network rendering without activation of render-only instances of the application, known as render engines.

After Effects CS5.5 had to be activated (serial number entered) on render-only machines due to licensing restrictions for certain codecs. See this post by After Effects product manager Steve Forde for more background about this.

In After Effects CS6 and later, you can now run aerender or use the watch folder functionality in a non-royalty-bearing mode, without activating the render-only instances of the application.

In this non-royalty-bearing mode, the following codec-specific features are disabled:

  • decoding and encoding (import and export) of MPEG-2 video, including formats that are based on MPEG-2 video: XDCAM EX, XDCAM HD and other formats in MXF OP1a containers, and HDV
  • decoding of AC3 / Dolby Digital audio, which is used in AVCHD media

All other formats that After Effects can import and export are enabled in non-royalty-bearing mode.

To enable non-royalty-bearing mode:

  1. Install After Effects on the render-only machine.
  2. Place a blank file named ae_render_only_node.txt into one of the following locations, depending on the user account type:
    • Mac OS:



    • Windows:

      C:Users/[username]/My Documents

      C:Users/Public/Public Documents/Adobe

If you want to enable these royalty-bearing codecs, you need to activate After Effects on each rendering computer, meaning that you need to enter a serial number after installation. If you need to do this on a large number of computers, you probably want to consider a volume license.

See this page for additional information about how to install render engines for After Effects CC using Adobe Creative Cloud.

For more about what’s new and changed in After Effects CS6, see this page.

For more about what’s new and changed in After Effects CC (12.0), see this page.


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