Speed Up 4K Video Edits Using Proxies in Adobe Premiere Pro

Speed Up 4K Video Edits Using Proxies in Adobe Premiere Pro

You’ve bought a brand new 4K video camera with all the bells and whistles and shot your first piece of work. You can’t wait to get home and edit the footage for your client imagining how incredible and crisp the video will be. You open Premiere Pro, import the files, and within seconds your computer takes a crap as it struggles to render the data intensive footage.

Time to drop another $2,000–3,000 on a computer? Not so fast. I ran into this very same problem recently after shooting a promotional video for a local BBQ restaurant. Between my second camera operator and I, we produced well over 200 GB of 4K, 10-bit video footage that was very difficult to parse through while skipping several frames at a time during playback. My 2015 MacBook Pro has 16 GB of RAM, a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2048 MB graphics card, which is no slouch but it definitely struggled at times as I worked through my edit.

A friend suggested I use something in Adobe Premiere Pro called offline editing or proxies. In simple terms, offline editing is the use of proxy footage (i.e., duplicate footage of the original source but at a far lower resolution) that is linked to the original media for export but allows you to use the for smaller resolution files while editing. For example, you can create duplicate files of your 4K footage in 1080x720 resolution, edit in Premiere Pro using the low resolution 720p files, and then easily export in 4K or 1080p if desired linking back to the original footage. If you don’t have an incredibly fast and expensive computer to edit your footage on right now, this is an insanely good alternative that has saved me countless hours of time since.

This video by Adobe’s help team is the best tutorial I’ve found explaining the process. While it takes a bit more time up front down sampling your high resolution files, it can be worth it in the long run as your editing process will be far smoother without the constant stop and go of your computer trying to keep up.

I highly recommend giving this a try on your next project if you are looking for a faster alternative to editing your footage. It has been a lifesaver for me and a tool I was completely unaware of until a few weeks ago.

Log in or register to post comments

1 Comment

Brian Rodgers Jr.'s picture

Before upgrading to the 27" 5K iMac, I was using a 21" iMac from 2011 with 32GB of RAM. Editing 4K video on it was near impossible, until I discovered the new proxy workflow. It takes a little bit of time to set up, but I think it's a pretty genius way to work, especially on machines that can't really handle 4K video production.