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Section: I Working Foundations > Optimizing the Pipeline

Chapter 4. Optimizing the Pipeline

Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.

—George Bernard Shaw

This chapter examines the flow of data through After Effects in specific detail. I realize that might not sound utterly gripping, but once you learn to efficiently use the features that affect the order and conditions in which things happen, After Effects can help you work faster and solve thorny problems.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is two-fold. At times, you must be the After Effects version of a master chef—someone who knows what has to be finished before something else can be started, and what can be prepped and considered “done” before it's time to serve the final result. At other times, you must think like a programmer. You have to isolate and “debug” elements of your project when the result doesn't look anything like what was planned. This chapter helps you reach both goals.

In the big picture, the keys to mastering the After Effects data pipeline are

  • Understanding how to use multiple compositions

  • Knowing when to pre-compose

  • Optimizing your rendering time

This chapter will help you get After Effects running closer to real time, so that you're less likely to give your client the lame excuse that your shot is late because After Effects is still rendering. Efficient rendering, however, depends on well-organized compositions and plenty of advanced planning.

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