Technically Speaking: After Effects Layer Disappearing On Render…

Technically Speaking is a completely random series of articles documenting the troubles & troubleshooting of various technical software and hardware problems I come across.  Not entertaining at all, but extremely useful for those who should need it.

I was just on After Effects CS6, trying to render out a new commercial for the latest Kicksandsnares product.  Upon render, about halfway through the video, a few layers completely disappeared for no apparent reason.  They both played all the way through ram preview and during normal scrolling… but not on render.

Google only managed to pull up a few forum posts from people who had the same issue.  None of those posts  had any remedies for my problem.  Two days before a product launch, this sort of thing can get a little frustrating.

After staring at my workspace for about an hour straight, I started to figure it out…  It’s not that certain layers were disappearing, an entire pre-composition was (this is key).    I eventually realized  two layers contained within one precomp were disappearing.  I also noticed a small box to the left of this precomp in the project window.  Untitled-1

After some digging around, I learned that this box is there to denote a proxy file.   A proxy file is used when you’d like to replace a large file with a smaller proxy file, so while you are working on your project, the proxy is not taxing your system as much as the larger file would.  A proxy file only plays in preview modes.  Some time down the line, I created a proxy file for this composition which I did not need.

The thing is, the proxy I chose was not a composition or video element, it was just a plain ole photoshop PSD.  Therefore, it’s length (in time) spanned my entire workspace (about 2 mins).  But the original pre-composition the proxy was replacing was  only 55 seconds long!

When I rendered, AfterEffects was removing the proxy file and playing the whole 55 seconds of my precomposition!  Once that 55 seconds was over, then the precomp was “disappearing” from my render.

All I had to do was go into the “disappearing” pre composition and lengthen it’s time to the full length of the project.  I also removed the proxy, because it was completely pointless.

The End?!



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