Here is a simple workflow tutorial for improving editing speeds using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. (Might work with Final Cut Pro as well but I have not tried it out). Proxy editing means that you edit your footage with lower quality files and then use your full-res files for the final export. This is especially useful for HD footage from all the new HD-DSLR cameras out now.
Usually when you get the highly compressed H.264 footage from a Canon 5D mark II, 7D, etc and want to edit these clips you really notice the performance speed down since the files are huge. This form of proxy editing improves speeds if you don’t mind editing files in lower resolution.
In short: we create low-res files that we edit with, after editing switch them around and export the file in the pristine quality that our photo camera filmed it in. In long:
- After saving your video files from your camera to your harddrive, make a separate folder for your proxy files. (I usually make it a sub-folder of the folder with my original files called AIC)
- Convert your files to a smaller size and use a codec that is either native to your OS or not highly compressed. I usually choose to convert them to Quicktime files with the AIC codec in 320p at 50% quality.
To do this I use an application called MPEG Streamclip by Squared5.
(Save these files in the folder you made for the proxy files and make sure to keep the same name as the original files) You can choose whichever size resolution you want although your computer will work faster with lower resolution files.
- Making a new composition of sequence it is important that it is in HD size: 1920×1080 (or 1280×720 if your original files are 720p).
- You can now import your proxy files into the project like normal.The files will look small in the Program window and you may have to zoom in a bit (I use 150% to see them). Make sure they are in the middle since they will fill up the full space once using the HD footage.
-> Remember that when editing aspects such as size, position, motion, etc is that these properties will not look the same when using the full-sized footage. I usually do a general edit to get an impression for what I want and do the real thing with the HD footage.(You can also scale your footage to HD size, so if you are using a proxy file with the size of 569×320 you want to scale it by 337.5% to get 1920×1080. You will then have to change the scaling back down to 100% when exporting your HD film which may get a bit tedious if you have a lot of clips)
-> if you use graphics from images or Photoshop files you should edit them relative to the whole canvas and not your footage since this is going to change once you are done with the proxy files.
- After you have finished with your editing you can put all your proxy files that are in the AIC folder into a new temporary sub-folder and pull your high-res files into the AIC folder. (Premiere usually has no problem switching back and forth while running although After Effects takes a while to catch on. I would recommend quitting After Effects before the switch and then restarting it after your files have moved)
- Now just export your footage with Adobe Media Encoder or put in in the After Effects render queue.