Pro Tips, Tutorials

Understanding Render Settings and Output Modules in After Effects


Among the least talked about features of Adobe After Effects are the Render Settings and Output Modules, but understanding how these work will help immeasurably in making your renders more efficient. You can also create templates that contain your commonly used render and output-module settings and share them with your team to ensure that you always get the same quality and consistent output.

How to Create a Render Template

Open the Render Settings dialog box by selecting Edit > Templates > Render Settings.

Render Templates

When the Render Settings Templates window appears, type a new name in the Settings Name field, then press Edit to open the Render Settings.

My New Template

The Render Settings window has three sections:

The first section is directly linked to your timeline settings and composition panel. You can tweak this to override your current settings in the timeline and composition panel. For example, by rendering only a half-res output of your current composition.

The second section is Time Sampling. You can override the timing of the render by specifying a new frame rate, add fields in the Field Render, and specify settings for motion blur and frame blending. Options for rendering only the work area or the entire span of the composition are also available.

The third section is Options, which allows you to skip already existing files. This is ideal if you’re rendering image sequences, as it won’t re-render anything that’s already been rendered.

The Render Settings

Change all of these settings depending on what you need. After tweaking, press OK to save your template.

Creating an Output Module Template

The Output Module takes care of writing all your renders into an actual file. The main things that you need to consider here are the format and the codec if applicable, whether you need to resize your video, and whether you need to render with or without audio.

Output Module

Select Edit > Templates > Output Module, type a new name in the Settings Name, and select “Edit.”

Output Module Settings

Choose your preferred format and select which Post-Render Action you would like to happen.

If you select Import and Replace, AE will import and replace the composition with your rendered file.


In this project, I have a main composition and another composition that is my background.

BG precomp

My background composition is a bit heavy, so I decided to render it, then chose Import and Replace.

Import and Replace

As you can see, AE automatically imported the file for me and replaced my background comp in my main composition with the rendered file. It also didn’t remove my actual comp, so I can still tweak it if I want to, then do another render.

imported pretender

Pre-rendering your animations or composition is a great way to make your final comp a lot lighter, which helps make working in After Effects much faster.

Each format will have its own settings that you can change. For example, selecting “Quicktime” also allows you to select the codec that you prefer. You can do this by pressing the Format Options button, which will then show the Quicktime options with the list of available codecs in your system.

Format options

The output module settings also allow you to resize your composition when you render, so instead of creating two separate compositions and having them render one at a time, you can just resize your present composition and render them at the same time. Check the “Resize” tick button, then either input the size you need or choose one of the presets. Don’t forget to set “Resize Quality” to “High” as well. That will give you the best output.

Resize options

Options for cropping are also available if you need to render only a certain part of your composition.

The last section you can tweak is whether you want to render with or without audio. Set this in the lower section of the output module. You can also specify the sampling rate, bitrate, and whether you want mono or stereo audio.

Audio and Crop

Once you’re done, press OK. This template will now be available for you to use.

My Settings

A lot of After Effects users also don’t realize that you can render different codecs, resolutions, and outputs with or without audio in just one go. Just click on the plus sign on the Render Queue to add another output. In the image below, you can see that I’m outputting to different formats and settings, which will all be rendered at the same time.

Adding Outputs

The actual rendering of the composition is what takes a long time, but writing the renders to a file is fairly quick. If a single render takes 10 minutes, then rendering to these four formats and settings one at a time would take me at least 40 mins. But just adding all the output in a single render allows me to process everything at once. This workflow saves me at least 30 minutes. Imagine how many hours it can save you.

A lot of factors come into play when rendering your work, but knowing the ins and outs of how Render Settings and Output Modules work will help you maximize all your rendering tasks and make your workflow more efficient than ever.

Do you have any questions about anything in this post? Is there other info on working with After Effects or Premiere Pro that you’d like to see? Tell us in the comments below!