School of Motion

How to Render In (or Export From) After Effects

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A Quick Tip Tutorial on Saving Your After Effects Animations to Your Hard Drive

New to After Effects and not sure how to access your After Effects creations outside of the app? No problem.
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In today's tutorial, Birmingham-based motion designer, director and SOM alum Jacob Richardson shows you how to export your animations from After Effects. Also known as rendering, this is the process through which you save your work to be used or shared elsewhere.

How to Render In / Export From After Effects: Quick Tip Tutorial Video

How to Render In / Export From After Effects: Quick Tip Tutorial Project Files

To follow along, download the project files used in Jacob's tutorial video.
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Download the Shiny Project File

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How to Render In / Export From After Effects: Explained

Here, we provide you with step-by-step instructions for adding compositions to the After Effects render queue, choosing your preferred file format and render settings, and selecting your download location.

Adding Your Animation to the After Effects Render Queue

Once you're ready to export your After Effects composition, you can use any of the following four rendering methods:
  1. File > Export > Add to Render Queue
  2. Composition > Add to Render Queue
  3. Drag and Drop from Project Window (ideal for downloading multiple animations)
  4. Keyboard Shortcut CMD+CTRL+M
FILE > EXPORT > ADD TO RENDER QUEUE
To download your work using the File menu in After Effects, navigate to File, scroll down to Export, and select Add to Render Queue.
This will automatically open the Render Queue window.
How to add a composition to the render queue using the file menu.png
COMPOSITION > ADD TO RENDER QUEUE
To send an After Effects animation to the Render Queue using the Composition menu, click Composition from the top menu, and then click Add to Render Queue.
This will automatically open the Render Queue window.
How to add a composition to the render queue using the composition menu.png
DRAG AND DROP FROM PROJECT WINDOW
Exporting multiple animation files from After Effects can be tedious. Instead of opening each composition and navigating through the File menu, simply drag and drop each composition from your Project panel directly into the Render Queue, as seen below.
Of course, to use this method, the Render Queue window must already be open.
how to Drag and Drop multiple compositions into the render queue after effects.gif
KEYBOARD SHORTCUT CMD+CTRL+M
The most expeditious method for rendering in After Effects is to leverage the keyboard shortcut. This can be achieved for one or multiple composition(s).
To render one file, make sure your composition window is selected; for multiple files, select the compositions in the Render Queue, as seen above. Then, click keyboard shortcut Command + Control + M.

Changing Render Settings in After Effects

Right below your composition in the After Effects Render Queue is the Render Settings option. Click, and then, adjust the settings (e.g., quality, resolution, etc.) to the right.
How to change render settings in after effects render queue.gif

Choosing the Codec For the File You're Rendering in After Effects

Right beneath Render Settings below your composition in the After Effects Render Queue is the Output Module option. Click, and then, under Format to the right, select how (e.g., Quicktime, AIFF, etc.) you'd like to download your file.
how to change the codec in after effects in the render queue.gif

Choosing Where to Download Your File from After Effects

Across from the Output Module option below your composition in the After Effects Render Queue is the Output To option.
Click this to select the location for your download.
How to set the file output save path in after effects redner queue.gif

Looking to Learn More?

Now that you know how to render your animations in After Effects, it might be time to start mastering the animation process itself. Fortunately, we can help with that.
As the number-one online motion design school in the world, we specialize in providing determined motion graphics artists with intensive online-only courses on After Effects (and other 2D and 3D design apps).
This year, we surpassed 5,000 alumni from more than 100 countries, with a satisfaction rate higher than 99%!
Learn why for yourself...

After Effects Kickstart

With After Effects Kickstart, taught by The Drawing Room's Nol Honig, you'll learn After Effects through real-world projects, with comprehensive feedback from our staff, and an invaluable membership to our engaged community of students and alumni.

Not Ready to Invest?

We know enrolling in After Effects Kickstart isn't a decision to be made lightly. Our classes aren't easy, and they're not free. They're intensive, and that's why they're effective.
If you're not yet ready, though, that's OK. We have another option ideal for early-stage motion graphics artists: our free Path to MoGraph course.
The Path To MoGraph is a 10-day series of tutorials delivering an in-depth look at what it's like being a motion designer. We kick things off with a glimpse into the average day at four very different motion design studios; then, you'll learn the process of creating an entire real world project from start to finish; and, finally, we'll show show you the software (including After Effects), tools and techniques you'll need to know to make moves in this industry rapidly growing industry.