I’ve written in the past about the built-in proxy workflow for Adobe Premiere Pro, when Premiere creates the proxies. The current implementation in Premiere makes this fast and easy.
NOTE: Here’s the link to a tutorial that illustrates this.
But, what’s the workflow when you are getting proxies sent to you directly from the set, while the high-res master files will arrive a few days later on a hard disk? You need to start editing now, without waiting for the high-res masters to arrive. But, you don’t want hassles when the camera masters arrive.
Premiere has you covered for this as well, but there are two steps that aren’t intuitive. Here’s how this works.
Tell whoever is creating your proxy files that they MUST follow two rules:
H.264 files are about 1/10th the size of ProRes Proxy. However, if you want to use a codec like H.264 for your proxies (for space requirements to send online, etc.) you CAN’T, because Premiere can only render H.264 in the MP4 container—and that container only supports 2 channels of audio. The workaround is either to use ProRes, DNxHR codecs, which create larger files, or use Davinci Resolve to generate proxies and use a Quicktime filetype and the H.264 codec.
Be sure to follow these two rules when creating proxies to avoid problems later.
CREATING THE PROJECT
In this example, I’m working with a 4K camera master and 1/2 size proxy file.
Here’s my master file (I shrunk the display size to fit onto this webpage. Frame size is 4096 x 2304 at 30 fps, as indicated by the two red arrows.
Here’s my proxy file. This is 1/2 the size of the master file. Frame size is 2048 x 1152 at 30 fps. Notice that, while the frame sizes don’t match, the frame rates do.
Let’s pretend that all we have to work with today is the proxy file, the source file is coming “shortly.” So we need to create our project and start editing with files who’s frame size is smaller than the camera master.
Create a new project the same as always. Then, create a new sequence who’s setting matches the frame size and frame rate of your camera source media. In this case, 4096 x 2304 / 30 fps.
Before you import any footage, we need to change a preference setting: Preferences > Media. Change the Default Media Scaling to Scale to Frame Size.
Normally, I recommend using Set to Frame Size. However, when working with externally-created proxy media, as in this example, AND you want to adjust scale or position of the proxy clips, changing this preference means that the camera native media will match the scale and position of your proxy files, even though the frame sizes don’t match.
NOTE: Verify you’ve set this correctly when you edit a proxy clip into the timeline. The Scale % in Effect Controls should say 100%. If it does, you’re all set. If it doesn’t, you set this preference incorrectly.
Import and edit proxy media as though you were working with the camera masters. If Premiere asks if you want to change sequence settings the first time you edit a proxy clip into the Timeline, be sure to say: “Keep existing settings.”
Because the preference setting we adjusted earlier tells Premiere to automatically set all proxy clips to match the frame size of the sequence, the proxy file expands to fill the frame; as you’d expect. Yet, the image scale remains set at 100%.
Now that I’ve edited a clip into the timeline, let’s make this more interesting and scale the proxy clip 50% and move the image to the top left corner. Here are the settings I used and the resulting image.
CONNECTING THE MASTERS
Finally, the masters arrive and we need to connect them to the proxies so that we can easily switch between proxies and masters.
In the Project panel, Control-click the proxy clip and choose Proxy > Reconnect Full Resolution Media.
NOTE: You’ll probably have more than one proxy file. Select all of them, then follow this procedure. If they don’t link properly, select and connect them one at a time.
First, make sure the proxy clip you clicked is displayed in this first dialog. Select it and click Attach.
Navigate to where the high-resolution clip is stored, select the appropriate high-res clip and click OK.
You’ve now connected the high-res and proxy clips. If other clips are in this folder, they should reconnect automatically. If not, repeat this manual process until they are all connected.
Also, notice when you get back to the timeline that the high-res clip is scaled and positioned identically to the initial proxy clip, even though the two media clips have different frame sizes.
SWITCHING BETWEEN MEDIA
To switch between proxy and source media, click the Toggle Proxies button in the Program Monitor tool bar. Blue means proxies are displayed. White means source clips are displayed.
NOTE: To add this button to the button bar, click the Plus icon, then drag the proxy icon from the Button Editor into the Program Monitor button pane.
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