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Collect Files and Reduce the Project Size in After Effects

March 12, 2021 · ,
Max Kravchenko
Max Kravchenko Motion Designer & Tutor

Collect files and Reduce Project options are the main features to keep your projects well organized.
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Guide: How to Reduce After Effects Project Size for Improved Performance

Adobe After Effects projects can quickly become large and resource-intensive, affecting both your computer’s performance and project management. In this guide, we’ll explore practical steps to reduce your After Effects project size without compromising quality. Follow these tips to optimize your workflow and enhance overall performance.

1. Media Management

Managing your media efficiently is crucial for reducing project size. Follow these steps:

  • Consolidate Assets: Collect all project assets in one folder. This simplifies organization and prevents unnecessary duplication.
  • Delete Unused Assets: Remove any unused files or compositions from your project. This reduces clutter and streamlines the project structure.

2. Composition Cleanup

After Effects allows for detailed compositions, but excessive layers and effects can bloat your project. Consider the following:

  • Pre-compose Layers: Combine related layers into pre-compositions to simplify the main composition structure.
  • Remove Unnecessary Layers: Delete any layers or effects that are not contributing to the final output.

3. Optimize Video and Image Assets

Large video and image files contribute significantly to project size. Optimize them to strike a balance between quality and file size:

  • Adjust Compression Settings: Use appropriate compression settings for videos and images. Find the right balance between quality and file size.
  • Trim Video Length: If possible, trim excess footage from video files to reduce unnecessary data.

4. Trim and Crop

Unnecessary information within compositions can increase project size. Trim and crop where applicable:

  • Trim Composition Duration: Adjust the work area to only cover the necessary frames, reducing the overall duration of the composition.
  • Crop Images and Videos: Remove any parts of images or videos that are not visible in the composition.

5. Reduce Effects and Adjust Render Settings

Effects and render settings can significantly impact project size. Optimize them accordingly:

  • Simplify Effects: Use effects only when necessary, and consider simpler alternatives where applicable.
  • Adjust Render Settings: Review your render settings and balance quality with file size. Experiment with different settings to find the optimal configuration.

6. Purge Memory and Disk Cache

After Effects uses memory and disk cache to enhance performance. Regularly purge unnecessary data:

  • Purge All Memory: Go to Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache to free up system resources.

7. Use Proxy Footage

Work with lower-resolution proxy footage during the editing process to improve real-time playback:

  • Create Proxies: Generate proxy files for large video files. After editing, switch back to the high-resolution files for final rendering.


Implementing these steps will not only reduce your After Effects project size but also enhance overall performance. Regularly review and apply these optimizations to maintain a streamlined and efficient workflow. By managing media, cleaning up compositions, optimizing assets, and adjusting settings, you’ll experience smoother editing and rendering processes.

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