Making Proxies That Work, Part 2

The proxy workflow designed into Adobe’s Premiere Pro is a great way to work when you deal with footage that taxes your computer during playback. When set up properly, a click of a button underneath the source or program monitor windows toggles between normal and proxy playback. Since the original footage is available with a simple click on a button, you can instantly look at the original footage if you question any artifacts you see. And when you render effects, the original footage is used as the source.

Making Proxies That Work, Part 2
If the toggle proxies button isn’t showing in the monitor control panel, you’ll need to add it using the button editor.

To make all this work, it’s important that you create the right proxies. I previously explained how to enable creation of proxies during the ingest process. During that setup, you need to select an ingest preset, a special preset created in Media Encoder. It defines what happens during ingest (copying and/or transcoding). Choosing the right ingest preset is critical to switching seamlessly between proxy and original clips.

The ingest preset is based on Media Encoder settings and contains all the settings for video and audio encoding—things like resolution, frame rate, audio channels and more.

Making Proxies That Work, Part 2
The ingest preset drop-down menu has built-in settings with several codecs and resolutions.

When you look at the built-in ingest presets, it really isn’t apparent which one you should use. You’ll see various codecs like Apple ProRes 422 Proxy, H.264 and GoPro Cineform. I like using the ProRes codec, but I recommend you try each to see which works best for the image quality and performance of your setup.

You’ll also see various resolutions. The resolution choices are all about the aspect ratio. It’s critical that you use the right aspect ratio when you generate the proxies. If you don’t the image will stretch or compress when you toggle between camera original and proxy display.

You’ll see several different resolution choices, such as 1280×720, 1024×540 and 1536×790.1280×720 is 16:9 aspect ratio, which matches HD and 4K UHD. 1024×540 is 1.9:1, which aligns with 4K for cinema. Lastly, 1536×790 matches the aspect ratio of some cameras capturing with 6K sensors.

You can create your own ingest presets with other codecs and settings. In fact, you’ll have to if you work with other aspect ratios like 3:2. If you do, the resolution must be lower than that of the original footage. Although it seems attractive to use the same resolution and go with a more compressed codec, that idea doesn’t fly in Adobe’s current proxy ingest workflow.

If you want to create your own preset, you first have to create an encoding preset in Media Encoder and then select that preset when you create the ingest preset—also in Media Encoder.

The best method to avoid the problems with proxies’ audio channels that I talked about in the past is to use the ingest workflow built into Premiere Pro. It also confirms my preference for always bringing in footage to Premiere Pro via the Media Browser.