Premiere Pro Proxy Workflow
What are proxies?
I have recently discovered the numerous advantages of using proxies in my Premiere Pro workflow. The latest Premiere Pro update (v. 13.0.2) has also added some huge functionality for PC users. PC users now have the option to use the Apple ProRes 422 codec which up til now has only been available for Mac users. This is huge. ProRes is a super high quality intermediate codec to use for editing as well as exporting a master video file to use in the future without quality loss. I’ll go over exporting masters later, but today is all about it’s use in editing.
Proxies are essentially “virtual copies” of your original source video files. When you activate the proxies, you can then edit your video using the proxy video files. When proxies are created using a pro-level intermediate codec, such as ProRes 422, editing is much faster. Premiere Pro just has an easier time working with these files than reading your original videos files, which often come out of camera in a .mp4 format. MP4 is a good codec for delivering and posting your video online, but it is not as good for editing. When you finish your edit and export your video, Premiere Pro subs back in your original video files for the proxies, and you are good to go. You can then delete the proxy files you made.
Why would I use proxies?
For my workflow, there are 3 huge advantages of using proxies.
Perfect for multi-hard drive users
My workflow makes use of two hard drives. I have an 8 TB internal RAID volume [see my Previous Post for more details] which stores all my original source files. I then use a separate Samsung Pro SSD to actually edit my Premiere Pro project on. Editing on a SSD vs traditional hard drive is night and day due to the massive increase in Read/Write drive speed (~5x faster).
However there exists a problem with this setup. My project files live on the SSD, but my source video for the project still lives on the spinning hard drives, which slows down the editing process. You could just copy the original files over to the SSD and import into your project that way. While possible, this no doubt eventually starts to create data mismanagement. Once you start messing with your source video files, they are bound to become unorganized. This also breaks the link from Premiere Pro project to the video files. You will have to search for and relink the video files if you start moving them, which could break your whole project.
Using proxies here solves several problems. First, your original video files stay on your source drive. Proxies can be created on the SSD which further speeds up your editing. Second, when you are finished with your project and move it off the SSD and archive it elsewhere, you can safely delete the proxies without breaking your project. The project will still keep the data link to the original source files since they have never moved. You can then, in the future, open up your project and re-edit using the original files, or even recreate proxies if you need to do major re-edits.
Better editing codec
As we discussed, using proxies allow you to use an intermediate codec, such as ProRes 422, to edit with. If your original files are in MP4, then you will see improved performance scrubbing through your timeline.
Editing on different computer
This is HUGE! I recently found this giant advantage while travelling for work. I was in the middle of an edit on my desktop PC when I had to travel for work. I usually travel with a Surface Pro 3 and I thought it would be great to continue editing while travelling. But how to take it with me without breaking everything? Without proxies, you would need to copy the project file and original source files to your laptop, then relink all the media using the file structure on the laptop. When you get home, you will have to relink again using your PC file structure.
With proxies, you only need to bring the project and proxy files with you, leaving the originals at home. No data links get broken in the process. Once the proxy files are on the laptop, you only need to copy the project file back and forth as you edit. This also has the advantage of editing with ProRes on the laptop. Since laptops usually have less powerful CPUs than your desktop, this helps tremendously.
How do I make proxies?
OK, so enough discussion, just make the proxies already and get back to work! This is super easy, we will start from scratch and show the process I use.
1. Create new Premiere Pro project on my SSD scratch drive
2. Open up Premiere Pro and import source video file
You can see I have imported a MP4 file, which is stored on my separate RAID storage
I now have a project file on the SSD with media linked to the RAID
3. Right click the video file and select Create Proxies
4. Configure the settings
For format, go to Quicktime
Then use preset, 1280 x 720 Apple ProRes 422 Proxy
If your original video was shot in 1080p or any 16:9 aspect ratio then select 1280x720 so the aspect ratio stays the same
For Destination, it is key you save the proxies on the SSD, not next to original Media, otherwise you will lose the SSD speed advantages
I create my own ‘Proxies’ folder inside my main project folder and save it there
5. Click OK, which will open Adobe Media Encoder to do the work for you
This will process through all the clips you chose to create proxies for (you can select multiple at once)
When it is Done you are ready to edit with Proxies
You will now find the MOV files created by Media Encoder in the folder you selected.
After you add your video files to a timeline, you can tell Premiere Pro whether or not to use the proxies. You just have to toggle the “Toggle Proxies” button under your program monitor. If you don’t see it, hit the button editor and drag it under the program monitor. If the button is Blue, then proxies are being used. If not, then the original source videos files are being used.
Who is this for?
Anyone looking to speed up their Premiere Pro editing workflow while keeping source video files untouched would benefit from using Proxies. This workflow works particularly well for creators who make use of large, traditional spinning hard drives for media storage and small, fast SSD’s for editing projects. This is also useful for anyone who wants to edit at home, then edit while travelling, then back at home without causing data chaos.
Hope this helps, as always leave a comment or Contact Me directly if you want to chat!!!
Here you will find affiliated links for gear & tools I have used in this project. Clicking and purchasing sends a little back to me to keep this site going. Huge thanks for all the support!
SSD I use for editing: https://amzn.to/2WgtPyN