Video Editing Techniques: How can I streamline my workflow with proxy files?

No matter how efficiently you work, computer lag can be catastrophic to your time management.

One of the biggest obstacles any editor will face is overcoming the amount of time wasted while attempting to play and edit footage smoothly. The increasing demand for 4K content over the past few years has exacerbated this problem.

Fortunately, the solution is simple: streamline your workflow with proxy files.

Slider - Editing Laptop

  • What are proxy files?

    Proxy files are copies of raw video data, transcoded to a lower resolution and a codec that is optimized for editing. They are generally much smaller in file size, and demand less from your machine.

  • What do I do with these files?

    Proxy files are used in place of your raw video data when editing a project.

    Once the project is complete, the raw video data is then re-linked, and the final product is rendered in its original quality.

  • What is the point of this?

    By editing your entire project with a lighter codec and low-resolution video content, you avoid heavily taxing your machine. This will ensure smooth playback, even in an effect-heavy project.

    Proxy files also have the added benefit of being smaller in file size, and thus more easily transferable. This is particularly helpful when working on a single project with multiple machines. The raw video content can be stored on a single drive, and the proxies can be copied to other devices throughout the editing process.

  • Isn’t time being wasted during the initial rendering of the proxy files?

    This is a fair criticism, particularly on very short projects that need to be edited quickly. In these situations, it may not be worth investing the time generating proxies.

    However, on most other projects, your investment of time will almost always pay off – especially when working through multiple revisions.

    If you are familiar with your editing machine, and understand what it is capable of handling, you’ll find it much easier to make the right judgement call on different projects.

  • Great! How can I begin making this a part of my workflow?

    Currently, both Final Cut Pro and Premiere offer built-in proxy generation.

    This will allow you to automatically generate proxy files upon import. It will also allow you to easily flip back and forth between your raw video data and your proxy files, while editing.

For more specific instructions on how to configure proxy files, please review these Final Cut Pro and Premiere instructions, which provide much more elaborate detail!

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