Reducing The Load With Proxies

I’ve gone through several posts on various ways to use proxies and how to make sure that workflow is successful. But, I haven’t talked about using proxies side-by-side with your original footage on an edit workstation.

You might ask, “Why use proxies if the real files are available?” As camera resolution has increased, the load on edit computers has increased as well. Throw in raw recording—and the need to debayer each frame on the fly—and you’re asking a lot of your hardware. (If “debayer” is a new term for you, keep reading my posts. It will be covered in a future one.)

Instead of using the original footage, proxies—with their reduced resolution and, if representing raw files, the elimination of debayering—reduce the load on the system. But you’re not locked in with viewing only proxies. The workflow I’m talking about still keeps the original footage available at a moment’s notice.

Note: I’ll be talking about Adobe Premiere’s method, but Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve also have similar methods they refer to as using “optimized media.”

The concept is to “attach” proxies to the original camera footage in Premiere. Then, via a button under the source or record window, you can toggle between playing back the proxies or the original footage.

Switching to proxy playback frequently lessens the scourge of dropped frames. But viewing the camera original is just a button push away—no need to disconnect the proxy. And, fortunately, when you need to render or export your sequence, Premier uses the camera original file.

If done right, proxies are a great way to work when your computer can’t keep up. How do you do it right? That’s for next time.