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4K Video Rendering from Ae Farm (Mac / PC)

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HP Z8, Z820 Z840 Z860
Microsoft Windows XP (64-bit)

I own a small production company in Australia and we have a unique project for a fitness app filming exercises on a Green screen with equipment in the hundreds of clip shooting 4k RAW and ending up with compressed H.264 and H.265 Apple Watch, Iphone and Apple TV files turned around in 2 weeks.  We have solved every issue except render times and a few months ago installed 2 Synology enterprise 10Gbe NAS units so the VFX artists can work on a centralised file, grading is in Resolve, Keying and effects in Ae with Red Giant, Neat Video + Reel Motion plugins across most clips.  Originally I had 8 Mac Computers setup as slaves in a render farm running Squidnet and 4 x 12 Core Mac Pros maxed out as workstations but after weeks and weeks of downtime trying to get this to work I had to kill the render farm and export through media encoder manually to every machine which worked but labour intensive and not a scalable solution.  In the middle of all this my VFX guys have been at me for months to try a Treadripper and I know nothing of PC's and have never used them for the last 15years but with the farm down I got one as a last resort to test, (from memory so excuse the exact terms) I had a Threadripper 16 core using the ROG extreme board with 10Gbe built in, Samsung 1tb 960 PRO M.2 SSD Boot disk and 1TB backup HDD, 64gb Gskill ram, GTX 11gb GPU and I was blown away, this cost me 1/3 of the price of the Mac Pro and was about 4-6 times faster rendering out on its own.  


So now im eating my words and trying with the little knowledge I have for someone to help spec out a build we can do to scrap the render farm and build a single dedicated Rendering workhorse.  So whats possible and what is the best machine I could build not to edit on but purely so the VFX guys can output their clips when done from Ae to Media Encoder outputting files as fast as possible?  Im happy to spend some good money on this if its the right solution but im growing at the moment and funds are not unlimited and like most small business tight with growing pains.  I need to prove to the client I can solve their issues with quick turn around times and happy to invest in a solution.  Im also happy to entertain some good second hand parts if anyone has some available and it doesn't need to look good just operate as an ultimate workhorse.  


A nother solution ive found is to use three seperate machiens for each encoding 1-Apple Watch, 2-Apple Iphpone, 3.Apple TV and use a watch folder to send them to each computer for seperate encoding using lower spec machines. 


Thanks in advance any help would be greatly appreciated 

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Message 2 of 4
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software drives the hardware, i strongly recomend you contact the makers of the software packages you use and see what they recomend, and/or state that you are interested in using a threadripper based system.  they can give you a solid recomendation on what hardware they support.


also asking on the forums of each software package you use can give you usefull information.


this forum is mostly for general hardware/software support, and i think your questions/needs really require a very specific focus that is best answered by the users of the software or the makers of the software you use , they can provide you with a specific hardware recomendation that suits your needs once you know this you can look at hp workstations and see which HP models meets those recomendations




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With Ae, I suppose you refer to Adobe After Effects?
Whilst Iam not familiar with your specific work flow, I have dealt with similar issues and requests from video artists and photographers.
Iam also familar with the Apple Ecosystem > upgrading a Mac for Pro Tools and other DAW software as I type this reply.

Although your Mac Pros are no slouch they are quite easily outperformed by (even previous generations) HP Workstations that are optimized for your specific needs. I specifically mention previous generations, because going that route might save you a serious amount of money.

Apart from raw processing power, amount of RAM and performance of the SSD's, the GPU's could also make a difference in render times.
Given the fact that Apple Mac Pro's are based on hardware from 2013 with older Xeons and AMD D-Series GPUs, while perfectly capable of professional video/photo editing, these are definitely no longer the best choice for high performance video processing tasks.
As with CAD software, there are certain hard/software combinations that will give a much better performance compared to others.

Ae works best with nVidia. For example: if your workflow consists of 3D Graphics, the nVidia P-Series are optimized for the use with its 3D Ray Traced Render Engine.
Another thing to consider is higher speed per (CPU)core with a lower number of total cores vs. multiple low speed cores. While After Effects is primarily a single or lightly threaded application, the recent integration with Cinema4D heavily favors higher core counts.


Some additional links that might be of interest:


And here is an interesting comparison between the 8th generation Intel processors vs. their similar priced 2nd generation AMD Ryzen opponents with After Effects:


No surprises there 😉



Finally, it's good to remember: raw performance is one thing, long term reliability another.

While I like AMD GPU's, I prefer Intel Xeons CPU's for their stability and reliability.

I have some 10 year old HP workstations which are still going strong without any major breakdowns.

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After reading your post once more,  you may find appropriate info on your specific needs here

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