If you’re struggling to play 4k footage, don’t have a very fast computer or you don’t have a very fast hard drive, then you might want to consider using Proxies in Premiere Pro.
Adobe introduced Proxy editing in Premiere Pro a few years ago and I’ve been using it quite a bit to edit 4k video, or even 1080p video from huge projects.
Here is a quick guide showing you how to take advantage of Proxy editing in Premiere Pro.
Proxy Editing For Professionals
I edit trailers of all types and often find myself dealing with 4k 60p footage, this is getting more and more common especially with game trailers since consoles are now spitting out 4k. This is a burden on any system, new or old and even the most high-end machines. When I’m not dealing with game footage I’m dealing with 10-12 episode tv shows where we’re often given terribly compressed mp4’s or h264s which are also hard on the system to decode. So Proxy editing is a must.
Using Proxies allows for a few things, it makes it so you don’t hog all the bandwidth of your servers if you have multiple editors working on the same project off the same server, and it also helps alleviate stuttery playback from 4k footage.
Even if you’re using a 1GB Ethernet NAS like a Synology or something, Proxies can make it so you can still easily work with 4k footage.
Proxy Editing For Consumers
Proxies are also great for consumers working with DSLR or Mirrorless 4k footage. I especially like to use it with H265 HEVC footage which is a nightmare to work with otherwise. Many cameras are supporting this now and if you don’t have a processor newer than 2015 Skylake, it will really cause your computer to be completely unfunctional.
So how do you make Proxies in Premiere?
It’s super easy but requires a few steps.
Premiere Pro comes Proxy ready, it’s all set up all you need to do is add the toggle buttons to your UI so you can turn them on and off. (You’ll also need to have media encoder installed and working correctly.)
So here’s how you add the toggle button.
On your playback window and clip viewer click the little plus button in the bottom right.
Once that is open you’ll want to drag the Proxy Icon to your bottom bar. I already have it set in the image above so you can see where I like to put it.
This little button toggles the proxy on and off. It’s turned off in the image shown above.
Now you’re free to make your Proxies.
You do that by right-clicking any clip or multiple of clips and selecting Proxy -> Create Proxy.
Next you’ll have a proxy dialogue.
I always like to put my proxies next to the clips, but you can put them where ever you like.
I always like to use ProRes 422 (Proxy). Sometimes if it’s important to have high-quality playback for client review, so in that case I’ll create my own Ingest Preset with 1080p 422 in Adobe Media Encoder and add that for higher quality proxies.
If you’re on PC you can also use some form of the DNxHD or equivalent. I don’t like using one of the default H264 proxies because it is a fairly resource heavy codec.
You don’t have to use Premiere to make your proxies if you don’t want. You can also use something like Devinci and then attach your proxies separately.
You do that by right clicking on your clip, scroll down to Proxies and select Attach Proxy.
To see if you have Proxies attached, you can add the Proxy section to the metadata bar by right clicking the bar and scrolling down to the Proxy Metadata tab.
Now search “Proxy” and you have Metadata options you can add to your window. I usually just add “Proxy.”
If you scroll all the way over to the very right in your Project clip viewing window, it will show if you have a Proxy attached or not.
That’s it. It’s super easy and now you can edit with Proxies in just a few steps. The only hard part about this process is waiting for the Proxies to render.
One other note: you can build your own proxies with your own resolution and aspect ratios with Media Encoder. When I shoot with my GoPro I often shot 4:3 so I’ve built a custom proxy for those dimensions. That’s a whole different tutorial but it’s not too hard to figure out if you need custom dimensions for your proxy files.