Wow, you must have been having a bit of a hard time working with AE if you didn’t know all the RAM preview options. I RAM preview about every 4 seconds.
Heree they are…
If you’ve got a five minute project, unless you’ve got some absurd amount of RAM, you’re going to have to render a low res version out and look at it in Quicktime player. I usually render 5 or 6 of these out over the course of a big project. They act as good reference. Sometimes it’s a good idea to put a text layer on too which shows the timecode.
On a Macintosh, you can scrub the audio. Hold down the command key and scrub along the timeline. If you hold down alt and command, you scrub just the audio without the picture updating and if you hold down just alt, you can scrub along the time line with nothing updating. I’m not sure if you can also do this on Windows though…maybe do a search for scrub audio After Effects in Google.
If you want to preview audio from where the playback head is, just press the . (period) key on your numeric keypad or select Composition -> Preview -> Audio (CS4). You can preview from the current time or the whole work area, I think.
If you want to ram preview just a section of your composition, there’s two ways.
- Move the playback head to where you want the preview to start. Press B on your keyboard. Now move it to where you want it to end and press N on your keyboard. You’ll notice that the beginning and end of the work area jump to the playback head when you press these keys. Now you’ll just RAM preview what’s in the work area.
(Incidentally, the four most useful keyboard shortcuts in AE… select layer, alt [ trims the layer in point to current time alt ] trims layer out point to current time, [ jumps layer in point to current time, ] jumps layer out point to current time. These will save you years of your life)
- In the time controls panel, there’s options for both the ordinary ram preview (0 on the numeric keypad) and the shift-ram preview (which is when you either click the ram preview button or hit the 0 on the numeric pad with shift held down). You can set each up to be different. I usually set my shift RAM preview to preview from the current time. You can also set up the RAM preview to preview at a lower resolution than what you’re working in which saves RAM and gives you a longer preview. And you can elect to only render every nth frame, skipping out lots of the frames, but still giving you an idea of movement.
Hope that helps.