Making Proxies That Work, Part 1

I promised that I’d talk about a better way to make proxies that work. In this case, I refer to a proxy workflow in Adobe’s Premiere Pro that allows you to switch between proxy playback or camera original playback at the click of a button. Flipping to proxy playback reduces load on the computer and helps if you drop frames during playback. If done correctly, the difference between viewing a proxy vs. viewing the original isn’t too distracting.

Previously, I talked about problems that occur when you try to build proxies outside of Premiere Pro. These are centered primarily around linking the proxies to the original clips. If the files don’t match properly, they won’t link automatically, or, in the case of mismatched audio channels, they’ll never link up.

However, there’s a fairly easy remedy to all these problems. If you use the tools available in Premiere Pro when you ingest your footage, you’ll have success. During ingest, you can bring your footage in and at the same time create proxies that are automatically linked to the clips.

When I ingest footage in Premiere Pro, I always use the Media Browser tab, rather than clicking in a bin and using the import function. I do this regardless of whether I use a proxy workflow. This method helps with things like long takes that may span multiple files due to camera card limitations. (RED and other cameras use spanning.) Simply importing those files may result in duplicate clips or clips that don’t match what was shot.

When you use the Media Browser, there’s a checkbox for Ingest. Click it to bring up the project Settings window where you can set your ingest parameters. This setting tells Premiere Pro how you want it to bring in your footage. There are several ingest methods available in a pulldown menu.

Making Proxies That Work, Part 1
Ingest settings give you four ways to bring your footage into Premiere Pro.

The first option copies the footage to another destination with or without verification. Use this if you’re copying from a portable drive onto your edit storage drive. Verification assures that all the files are copied properly.

The second option transcodes the files while copying them. This works well for files that come from cameras that use codecs that are difficult to work with. You can transcode to ProRes files as they’re copied to your edit storage drive. Note that these files aren’t connected to the original footage files like a proxy would be.

The third option is where Premiere creates proxies and links them to the original footage. The original footage stays where it is. But if you want to copy the footage over to your edit storage, there’s a fourth option that copies the footage and creates proxies.

These last two options take care of making proxies and linking them to the footage. Select the files you want to ingest, and Premiere brings the footage into your project, launches the encoding application Media Encoder and starts creating proxies.

Making Proxies That Work, Part 1
This button, located below the source and program monitors, enables proxy playback.

You can start editing right away. As the proxies are created, they’re linked and will be used when the viewer windows are set for Proxy playback mode. But you must make sure you’ve set the proxy ingest preset properly. More on that next time.