The 7.0 Workflow
2048, horizontally), but they’re not bad habits for speeding you along regardless of format (or the speed of
Resolution and Quality
After Effects 6.5 finally made it standard for any new layers in a composition to be set to Best quality in the
timeline (with a check box for the setting in Preferences > General). Long ago, in the era of truly slow desktop
computers, Draft quality was an effective hedge against slow previews, but in this day and age there are far
more effective ways to manage preview speed without creating inaccurate previews, as Draft quality does.
Avoid Draft quality, because in most cases the potential pitfalls (forgetting that it is set when making
fine adjustments) are no longer outweighed by the benefits (which can be gained by reducing overall
resolution, sampled area, frame rate, and so on, all detailed here).
There are several other effective ways to speed up previews and interactivity without ever resorting to Draft
• Change Resolution/Down Sample Factor to Half; or in extreme cases, change it to Quarter
• Preview a Region of Interest (ROI)
• Change the way controls update using Preview settings and the Option key (for more on this, see the section
“Caching and Previewing”)
• Enable the Caps Lock key to prevent further updates to rendered views; use only in cases of extreme slow-
In Preferences > Display is an option to “Auto-Zoom When Resolution Changes” but most artists
leave it off, preferring to manage these separately. I find it can be handy with specific tasks such as
Production monitors with a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels or more are more common than they used to be,
but they’re far from universal. Artists working at film resolution tend to use this to their advantage by leaving
the footage at 50% magnification and Half resolution, which keeps things moving more quickly (Figure 1.25).
Figure 1.25. It’s generally good practice to keep the resolution (highlighted, right)
matched to the current magnification setting (highlighted, left); this prevents over-
rendering the current view (wasting your time) and helps RAM Previews to play at full
This setup allows four times as much data to fill a RAM preview, and preview renders are created in a
fraction—sometimes one half or, in extreme cases, one tenth—of the time required for Full resolution, which
is reserved for cases in which it is necessary to zoom in and look closely, and for final render preparation.
To quickly change the display resolution in the Composition panel, use the keyboard shortcuts shown in Table