• Price When Reviewed: 265

  • Pros: Delivers a great productivity boost to After Effects. Offers timesaving functions not found in AE.

  • Cons: Some users will only need lower-cost standard version.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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As the name suggests, Nucleo Pro is an expanded version of GridIron’s Best Buy-winning Nucleo plug-in for After Effects (AE) which was reviewed in Digit 103. Nucleo boosts AE’s preview and rendering performance notably on dual-processor or dual-core Macs and Windows PCs, and hugely on DDC (dual dual-core) units.

Nucleo Pro pushes rendering into the background, giving you a big productivity boost. AE’s own rendering system locks down the application, but using Nucleo Pro’s background rendering you can set one project to render and get on with the next one. You’ll see a performance drop and rendering will take longer, but it’ll still be faster than a vanilla AE.

Background rendering performance is a hard thing to test – as it depends on how much power you use up as you use the application while it’s rendering. We created two HD five-second projects with some heavy-duty effects work and rendered one to disk while modifying the other and regular previewing. Rendering on a DDC Xeon-based system took just over six minutes, compared to almost nine in AE alone. Nucleo Pro’s standard rendering tore through it in just over three minutes.

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The plug-in offers speculative previewing and rendering, which automatically updates, previews, and renders while you work. Speculative previewing – which uses up idle moments to boost processing power in the background – is handy too, especially when working on complex HD projects.
Another timesaver is Commit To Disk, which replicates functions from other compositing software. This renders finished layers to disk, so that they’re not recreated every time you preview or render your composition. You can ‘unlock’ them if you do want make changes.
Some video professionals may be content with the £80 standard version, but if you spend a reasonable amount of time in After Effects, or work to tight deadlines, Nucleo Pro is definitely worth purchasing. It allows you spend even more time creating – rather than waiting.
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