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RenderGarden v1.1

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Your renders will FLY with RenderGarden!

Increase your render speeds by 3 times on your computer and maximize your CPU cores when rendering across your network. RenderGarden is an absolute must-have script for After Effects users.


Highlights

RenderGarden Tagline Animation

RenderGarden is an Adobe After Effects script that splits your comp into a specified number of segments (which we refer to as seeds) and then renders them to multiple background command line windows (which we call, Gardeners). Through segmenting the comp into multiple seeds, you can fully maximize your CPU cores on a single machine or across multiple machines with network rendering.

 
CPU

Increased Render Speeds

  • Render 2-3x faster with Hyper-threaded Rendering.
  • Maximize your Mac or PC’s CPU usage.
  • Render multiple frames simultaneously.
  • Render multiple comps in sequence or in parallel.
network rendering

Network Rendering

  • Grid multiple computers together on your network.
  • Render QuickTime/AVI Movies or Image Sequences.
  • Hyper-threaded Rendering supported on each render node.
  • Easy to set up. No custom scripting or network config.
  • Unlimited Render Node licensing.

 

background rendering

Background Rendering

  • Continue working in After Effects while your comps render in the background.
  • Option for Post-Render transcoding to MP4 and/or QT.
  • Render multiple comps in sequence or in parallel.

UI Overview:

Speed Tests

Speed Test

After Effects Render = 50min 32sec
RenderGarden = 15min 2sec

3.3x Speed Increase!

Project Specs:
4096px x 1152px
250 Frames
16bit Project
9 Effects Used


speed test 2

After Effects Render = 1hr 43min
RenderGarden = 38min

2.7x Speed Increase!

Project Specs:
4096px x 1152px
800 Frames
16bit Project
24 Effects Used


speed test

After Effects Render = 18min 19sec
RenderGarden = 6min

3x Speed Increase!

Project Specs:
1920px x 1080px
300 Frames
8bit Project
6 Effects Used

Your Purchase Includes:

  • After Effect Script for submitting renders to RenderGarden
  • Gardener Application (this automatically picks up RenderGarden file and renders them in the background).

If you are looking to setup multiple computers as render nodes, you don’t need to make another purchase for each additional machine. You can just install the Gardener application for free!

Testimonials

RenderGarden not only makes distributed rendering an option for us, it raises the bar for the kind and quality of work we're capable of doing. I don't ever want to go back to working without it.

 

Matthew Law, Sr. Motion Designer, Lyft

 

RenderGarden works great – easily doubles the speed of projects using our plugins when rendering in After Effects CC 2018 on a single workstation.

 

Pierre Jasmin, Founder, RE:Vision Effects

 

RenderGarden is a great addition to our current tool set. It bridges the gap between local rendering and putting projects up on our render farm. We can finally utilize the full power of our workstations to render our After Effects projects. Nice work Mekajiki.

 

Phil Spitler, Creative Director, Bonfire Labs


FAQ

1. 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.

2. 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

3. 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.

4. 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. Additionally, FFmpeg requires standard alpha-numeric file naming conventions, so make sure the output name of your render does not contain any symbols or odd characters such as asterisks or parenthesis.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. How do I find total render time of my job?

Though we do not provide a GUI to view task progress, you can look in the Terminal 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.

8. 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.

9. 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 location on Windows, RenderGarden should see it by default.

10. 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"
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

We just fixed a windows bug where it would fail if you Seedbank is on a different volume than the aep so please download the latest installer.

18. 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.

19. Does it work with all versions of AE?

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

 


TROUBLESHOOTING

Download the sample project here.

1) Open the project.

2) Add main comp to the render queue. Set output module to QT/AVI.

3) Render from the AE Render Queue. This will verify that the project renders on your configuration.

4) Render local to RenderGarden using 1 seed. This will verify that RenderGarden is installed right, and Python/Seedbank are set correctly.

5) Render local to RenderGarden using 2 seeds. This will verify FFmpeg is working right.

6) Render over network with a single render node using RenderGarden. This will verify network is configured right along with Render Node config.

 


UPDATES

v1.1.0

  • Done Alert option in Post Render Actions to tell you when a job has completed and how long it took
  • Speed/Quality and Tune presets added to MP4 assistant
  • Replant Seeds and Kill Renders droplets
  • Render logs written to _logs folder, plus a log in seeds folder when all seeds are complete
  • Fix issue where new version of AE would get old aerender path
  • Fix various issues involving non-ASCII characters
  • Eliminated a few command line issues on Windows
  • Count Frames option in success/failure detection, defaults to off
  • Added options to LaunchGardeners UI for the various render types

Operating System:

  • macOS 10.9+
  • Windows 7+

Host Support:

  • After Effects CC 2015 (14.0)+

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

5
9 reviews
80% of reviewers recommend this product
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Customer Reviews

Amazing. Completely accelerated all our renders. We have a few stations on a network that can divide and conquer and we've seen an incredible amount of time saved with renders. Even without network rendering, we're seeing at least a 20% reduction of render times. Super easy to setup when you watch their great tutorial videos. You'll be off an rendering fast in no time! Highly recommend. Just make it work with Premiere...somehow...and I'll be forever indebted to you.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: MC Post
Date: February 08, 2018

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Rendergarden unleashed my 16-core threadripper machine and made it the AE render beast it was meant to be. A 10 hour render (thousands of shape layers + expressions) was cut down to 1.5 hrs. Absolutely worth it and then some. Now if only you could somehow make it work with RAM previews...

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: Dylan Wilbur
Date: January 03, 2018

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Working professionally in After Effects? Get this and take control of your machine resources! You can set it gently in the background while working or go full throttle for tight deadlines. Installation is a breeze, network rendering setup is even simpler. The Mekajiki support team is really helpful, no matter what. They already have a nice FAQ and the installation PDF is clear. Post render actions lets you create a mp4 or prores as reviews or approuvals. If you render to image sequences, this is neat. 2 weeks and it’s already part of my workflow. Someone rate this product 1 stars? This product is not intended for comps taking 1 or 2 minutes to render. But if you have heavy comps or just comps with a longer length, Render Garden is your friend.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: thierry roussel
Date: December 20, 2017

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If you do serious work in AE you need this. Period. I have a 12 core trash can, 128 gb owc ram, FirePro D700s. I do a lot of particle work with Trapcode and Stardust. Render times were brutal. Same comps render least 3x faster. I've only had it for a short time but I already can't imagine not having it! Experimenting and ripping off full res test renders is now a part of my workflow even on tight deadlines. I don't have to wait until bedtime to hit render anymore!!!! Thank you, Mekajiki.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: Scott Reus
Date: December 18, 2017

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Fantastic! Finally I can make use of all my CPU cores. Mekajiki achieves what Adobe couldn't figure out for some reason. Does exactly what it's supposed to do, slashing render times. Just one annotation: It has trouble with VideoCopilot plugins sometimes. VC and Mekajiki are working together to resolve this apparently. According to Mekajiki support it's actually a GPU related programming issue at VC. So hopefully Andrew is on it as I think RenderGarden is one of the best things which happened to the scene in quite some time!

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: Oliver Koch
Date: December 14, 2017

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Holy Smokes! I had a render that took 1hour and 45 minutes in AE, Rendergarden did it in 18 minutes. Totally worth $99 in headaches alone!

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: adam tracksler
Date: December 10, 2017

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I began using RenderGarden as soon as it was available. I have a 2010 era 8 core MacPro 5,1 with 64 GB ram. Overall I'd say I'm averaging render time savings around 2.5X (some projects are even faster). For an old machine that's pretty spectacular-- enough that I can hold off upgrading this hardware for another year or two. There's also the bonus that all this extra rendering is in the BG, so I can continue working in After Effects at the same time. I've rendered to image sequences and ProRes files, both workflows have been great. The team at Mekajiki has been very responsive to suggestions on improving their product, so I'm sure future releases will be even easier to use. This is clearly the best $99 add on to After Effects I've ever had. I can't praise it enough.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: Rob Birnholz
Date: December 06, 2017

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Not, sure what exactly Martin's issue above is. I purchased this 1.5 days into the 7 day trial. The best $99 I've spent on software in along time and has usurped Particular as my number one add-on to AE. I have struggled un-successfuly to get network rendering working with AE until I discovered RenderGarden. I now have 3 of my 2010 MacPro 12-core machines doing all my AE renders while I continue working on my main machine. It has reduced my render times by a factor of 10. Especially on heavy scenes using Particular, Shine and Optical Flares plugins combined. As with any typical render farm workflow I always render to image sequence and post combine into video files. Finally, Mark at Mekajiki is very responsive to support. I can not recommend RenderGarden highly enough.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? Yes

By: Tom Hall
Date: December 05, 2017

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This tool really sucks. My final output was about 32 sec. while it should have been 43 seconds. It seems the several parts are not stiched together very well. I did not notice it with the demo version before. Today, after purchasing it this bug (or whatever it is) came out.

Would you recommend this product to a colleague? No

By: Martin Melis
Date: December 05, 2017

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