RenderGarden FAQ

Below we have a collection of common RenderGarden questions, covering installation, error messages, plugin support, rendering and file formats, and more.

See also RenderGarden Troubleshooting

Installation & Licensing

Does RenderGarden work with all versions of AE?

We officially support back to CC2014. But we have found it works back to CS5 (unsupported).

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.

How to Uninstall Rendergarden

  1. Go to your applications folder.
  2. Inside this folder there is a file called Uninstall Rendergarden.pkg. (Note: The name is slightly different on Windows but will be similar enough that you can find it).
  3. Click the Uninstall app and follow the instructions. It will remove RenderGarden from your computer.

Can RenderGarden use HAP Rendering?

By Post Render Actions, click the Configure button. This will bring up a dialog that allows users to choose to make a QuickTime. There is a menu for selecting the codec, and that is where users can choose HAP.

For the actual After Effects render, users should render to ProRes. That will run multi-threaded as usual. Then the HAP encoding will happen after the main render. FFmpeg does it quickly.

Alternatively, users can get this plug-in and render HAP right out of After Effects, although I have not tested it.

Get the After Effects HAP Renderer

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.

Download FFMPEG & Python

The version numbers reflect the current version when this was added to the FAQ. There may be something newer available.

RenderGarden Documentation

RenderGarden user manual (PDF).

I’m working a bunch with Python and have 3.6 installed on my windows but RenderGarden forces me to install 2.7 and change my path to 2.7 instead of 3.6, resulting in messing with my current other python projects.

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.

If I were to buy and install this plugin on each machine would it make a difference with 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.

On Windows, do I just install Python, and then FFmpeg in the same directory on each Windows computer, if I want to network render? Is there anything else I have to do besides that?

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, and make sure all plug-ins and fonts are installed on every computer.

Does Python also need to be installed on each Windows computer?

Yes. In the same directory. Do I need to install Python on Mac? No. Python comes pre-installed on every Macintosh, so you only need to install FFMPEG.

How do I switch my submit license to another workstation?

Each RenderGarden license entitles you to one submit and an unlimited number of render nodes. To move a submit script’s license to a new machine, simply run the RenderGarden installer on the old submit workstation and choose Uninstall. Then run the installer on the new machine.

Does RenderGarden support cloud drives like Dropbox or Google Cloud?

No. We do not officially support cloud drives with RenderGarden. Though we have had some users report success, we recommend you try it at your own risk and let us know what you find.

Does RenderGarden support After Effects Teams projects?

No. We do not support Teams projects. The current workaround is to save your Teams project as a stand-alone After Effects project then renders from there. Does RenderGarden work with other Adobe applications like Premiere or Media Encoder? No. RenderGarden requires a command-line tool that is only offered in Adobe After Effects (aerender). We’d love Adobe to add more command-line tools for other applications, so please reach out to Adobe with this feature request if you are interested in seeing RenderGarden support other tools.

Plug-in Support

Does RenderGarden work with GPU plug-ins?

Yes and no. RenderGarden helps speed up CPU intensive operations by running multiple instances of aerender concurrently. Plug-ins that heavily rely on the GPU can not run multiple instances (Gardeners) at the same time due to the GPU over-saturating. These projects can render with a single Gardener, but this prevents RenderGarden speed ups on a single computer. Note that these GPU heavy projects can still see a RenderGarden benefit when used in a multi-machine render farm setup, assuming each render node has a single Gardener and compatible GPU. And on a single workstation they can be used with one Gardener which still gives you add functionality over AE including background rendering and post-render actions. The following GPU plug-ins have been reported as problematic and are officially not supported (i.e. use at your own risk):

  • NeatVideo
  • Video Copilot

Errors & Failures

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 parentheses.

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. 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.

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 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.

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.

I keep getting an error saying “Unable to read VR Path Registry…”

This is a benign error that is common on Windows when running aerender and can be ignored. It appears to be something related to Steam’s OpenVR libraries used by Adobe for VR headsets. Adobe is aware of the problem and will hopefully remove the warning in future versions of aerender.

Rendering & File Formats

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.

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).

Is it possible to render to frame sequences with RenderGarden (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. For movie containers, we recommend rendering any of the QT ProRes formats. 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.

Is it possible to render an h.264/mp4 or other compressed formats from the AE Render Queue?

Hyper-threaded Rendering with RenderGarden requires us to render the AE comp in segments concurrently which get quickly re-combined in FFMPEG without a generation loss (concatenate function). LONG GOP compression such as h.264 rely on adjacent frames for encoding and can not seamlessly combine the segments, especially if there is audio. The way to handle these compressed formats is to set your AE Render Queue to render a master QT, AVI, or Image sequence, and use the RenderGarden Post-Render Actions to automatically transcode an mp4 from the master render. The Hyper-threaded Rendering of the master movie should massively negate any speed hit caused by the extra transcode step. In general, this is best practice for creating compressed movies from After Effects whether rendering straight from the AE Render Queue or through RenderGarden.

Is there a way to tell aerender which GPU to use if you have more than one card installed?

No. After Effects does not seem to have a way to tell aerender which card to use and seems to default to the card driving the monitor.

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 Hyper-threading 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.

In addition, 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 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 machine. 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 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.

If I want to use another machine as a network render node does it need to have all the plugins (i.e. Trapcode Particular from Red Giant or Optical Flares from Video Copilot) that I have installed on the initial machine?

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.

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
    • Note: You’ll have to edit the command to match your setup. Note the backslashes in front of the quotes in the command.
  3. Go to File > Export and export as an Application.
  4. 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.

Is there a way to submit from a Mac to Windows render nodes?

We do not officially support cross platform rendering. The simple solution is to save the Mac project, open it on a Windows workstation and submit from Windows. That being said, it is possible but takes a bit of setup to make this work which is why we do not “officially” support it and will not handle tech support requests.

Is it possible to render to the HAP codec?

Yes. RenderGarden’s post-render actions can automatically transcode your master movie or image sequence to HAP. Though this is an extra step, the time savings from RenderGarden’s Hyper-threaded and multi-machine rendering will offset the extra transcode.

What if my comp has really heavy sections and other very light sections? How do I get Gardeners to pick up more Seeds?

RenderGarden splits your comp into a set number of segments (Seeds) which get picked to render up by waiting Gardeners. If you have a 10-second comp which starts with the first 1/3 as black frames followed by heavy effects on the back 2/3 and split it into three Seeds, the first Seed will get done super fast, then the other two Seeds will be left to render the remaining frames while the first Gardener sits idle. To make the first Gardener pick up more frames, simply submit more Seeds. In this case, we can submit 10 Seeds so each segment is shorter. This way when the short black segment is complete the Gardener will have another segment to grab. Note that too many Seeds could theoretically produce a slow down since aerender requires time to open each Seed, so ideally do not make each Seed less than 10 frames.

Sometimes Gardeners do not pick up Seeds and just sit idle until the previous Gardener finishes. Any way to fix this?

We have seen this problem happen on Windows. If you are maximizing your CPU’s on a single PC, you can open more Gardeners than planted Seeds to alleviate this. So for example, if you have a 12-core PC, you can submit 6 Seeds and instead of launching 6 Gardeners you can launch 12 Gardeners. Only six of these twelve will render, but having the extras open tend to pick up the Seed faster than if it’s only six. Note that this could cause problems if you submit more than one job, as the extra Gardeners will pick up the newly planted Seeds and can overload your system. Same holds true in a network rendering environment.

How do I balance a project being submitted to a slow machine and a fast machine on a network?

This is essentially the same problem as if your comp has heavy sections and light sections. Simply submit more Seeds than open Gardeners on both machines. This way when a Gardener on the fast machine finishes it has more Seeds to grab rather than sitting idle.

Run aerender in non-royalty bearing mode

After Effects CS5.5 had to be serialized on render-only machines due to licensing issues. In After Effects CS6 and later, you can now run aerender or use Watch Folder in a non-royalty bearing mode, so serialization not required.

To ensure that After Effects is running in non-royalty bearing mode, place a blank file named ae_render_only_node.txt into the following location:

Install After Effects on the render-only machine.

Mac locations:
/Users/<username>/Documents/
/Users/Shared/Adobe/

Windows locations:
C:/Users/<username>/Documents
C:/Users/Public/Documents/Adobe