Adobe Creative Cloud

October 31, 2016 /

After Effects CC In-Depth: Performance Improvements

This year at Adobe MAX, we released After Effects CC 2017 (14.0), which features a variety of performance and workflow enhancements.

In this article, we’re sharing more detail about the performance improvements, including additional support for GPU rendering.

Please, if you want to ask questions about these new and changed features, come on over to the After Effects Forums. That’s the best place for questions. Questions left in comments on a blog post are much harder to work with; the blog comment system just isn’t set up for conversations. If you’d like to submit feature requests or bug reports, you can do so here.


Additional GPU-Accelerated Effects


The following effects will now render using your computer’s GPU when the Project > Video Rendering and Effects > Use option is set to Mercury GPU Acceleration:

  • Brightness and Contrast
  • Find Edges
  • Glow
  • Hue/Saturation
  • Invert
  • Tint

Playback Performance Improvements


Most video footage can now play back from disk in real-time before effects are applied, without waiting for it to cache.

As long as no effects or other changes need to be rendered, uncached movie file format footage (QuickTime, MXF, etc.; but not image sequences) is played directly from disk, and can be played in real-time for most cases. This means that you can open imported footage in the Footage panel and preview it without waiting for it to cache. As the frames are played, they are cached to RAM for future previews.

The same functionality was added for audio footage in After Effects CC 2015.3 (13.8).

Also, playback of some video footage is now accelerated using the GPU when the Project > Video Rendering and Effects > Use option is set to Mercury GPU Acceleration. This includes decoding and debayering of RED camera raw (.r3d) footage on the GPU, which improves playback speed. (Note: on macOS, RED acceleration only supports OpenCL; Metal is not yet supported.)


Other Performance Improvements


  • Compositions dynamically linked to Premiere Pro now render faster if color management is enabled. Fastest results are obtained when the project working space is set to HDTV (Rec. 709).
  • The Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, and Footage Panels option in Preferences > Display is now enabled by default. This option has been available in After Effects for a long time, and has received many improvements in recent versions. It utilizes the GPU to accelerate drawing grids, guides, layer controls, and display color management during previews. Color management performance is especially improved with this option enabled.