How to Use Smart Rendering with the Premiere Pro Extension

One of our most widely-read articles is about how to speed up your exports inside of Premiere Pro. There’s a ton of useful information there, most notably how to use Smart Rendering.

But one big question many readers have asked is how to take advantage of Smart Rendering alongside the Premiere Pro Extension. In today’s article, we’ll cover how to do exactly that.

And with this week’s update for our Premiere Pro Extension, it’s now easier than ever to add these speedy improvements to your Premiere workflow. So, if you haven’t used our extension already, go ahead and download it so you can follow along below.

Note: The instructions in this article reference the Adobe CC 2019 update (Premiere Pro version 13.1).

Why render with the extension

If you are anything like me, then you probably use the Premiere Pro Extension regularly in your editing workflow. My personal favorite feature is the ability to send dailies to a director with markers from my timeline that separate each scene, shot, and take.

This is a great way to get fast and accurate information to collaborators, which saves a ton of time in the feedback cycle. But, some of you might not know you can speed up things even faster with Smart Rendering. Let’s quickly recap how that works.

Here’s a sequence I set up to demonstrate Smart Rendering.

This sequence is a simple arrangement of clips, with one clip that has some pretty heavy video effects applied to it. That will make playback sluggish, and fresh renders slow. Fortunately, you can avoid these issues by rendering out previews inside your sequence.

In my sequence settings, I’ve selected Apple ProRes 422 for my clip previews.

If I go ahead and render this clip in the timeline, a ProRes 422 file is substituted for the original. Since all the effects are now baked into the clip, playback will be much smoother.

Choosing the right preview format is the first step in using some of our Smart Rendering techniques. For this scenario, we’ll use Smart Rendering as it applies to clip previews, but the concept applies to all three types of Smart Rendering. Once the preview files are generated in a format you need, you can use those previews files in your final export, which saves even more time.

But how does the Extension come into play? If you go to the Extension’s “format” settings, you’ll find the only options for uploading a sequence are Web 1080, Web 720, AIFF, and certain flavors of ProRes.

Obviously, there’s no option in the Extension to “Use previews” while rendering, like there is with the default exporter in Premiere Pro. Fortunately, there’s a way around this.

What you can do is create your own encoding preset in Media Encoder, and then import that into the Extension.

Creating an encoding preset

Creating a new encoding preset is pretty easy. That said, you may have trouble finding your preset if you don’t know where to look.

But first, let’s go ahead and create our encoding preset. Open Media Encoder, and click on the plus-shaped icon to see the expanded option list. Now click the “Create Encoding Presets” option.

Once you click that, a familiar-looking window will pop up.

From this window, you can create any encoding preset you want, which you can then import into the Extension.

For this example, let’s say we want to create an h.264 preset for sending sequences to clients for review. We will also want the preset to use preview files in rendering.

Selecting these options will make the window look like this:

Here I’ve created an h.264 preset based on the popular “Match Source – High Bitrate” option, but I’ve made sure to check the “Use Previews” box at the bottom. I’ve also given the preset a custom name, so that I don’t confuse it with any of my other presets.

Now my new preset will appear in my list of export presets inside Premiere Pro/Media Encoder. But there are a few more things we need to do for it to appear in the Extension. There are two ways to do this.

Two ways to quickly find your preset file

The first thing you’ll want to do is right-click on your preset file inside of Media Encoder and choose “Reveal Preset File”.

This will open the Finder/Windows Explorer window containing all of your preset files.

From here, the easiest method for adding this preset to the Extension is to simply copy and paste it in an easy-to-find location, such as your desktop or a Dropbox folder.

Although this method is fast and easy, there’s another clever way you can do it, which might come in handy if you ever want quick access to the presets folder.

The process works on both Mac and PC, though the steps are slightly different. On a Mac, you need to create an alias to this folder, and on a PC you need to create a shortcut. This is basically the same process, but the different terminology can be confusing.

In either case, you’ll need to navigate up one folder level from the Presets folder. That window will look something like this.

From here, simply right click on that Presets folder and choose “Make Alias.” Similarly on a PC, all you have to do is ’right click and choose “Create Shortcut.”

From here, just drag that alias or shortcut to whatever easy-to-reach destination you choose on your computer. This makes it easy to manage multiple custom presets you might use in different projects, without having to copy and paste files every time you make a new preset or update an old one.

One important note: if you are reading this and are not on CC 2019, or have versioned up since reading this article, then you will need to recreate that alias as it will no longer point to the most current Media Encoder directory.

Whichever method you choose, once you reach this point it’s time to head back to Premiere Pro, and open the Extension. Select the same “format” drop-down menu as before, then scroll all the way down to the bottom to the “Select Preset File” option.

Since we made it easy to find all of our presets, and used an easily-recognized name, it will only take you a moment to find the preset we need.

Once you’ve selected the preset you just created, voila, you’re finished. You now have the time-saving advantage of Smart Rendering inside the collaborative power of the Extension.

Also, once the custom preset has been selected and used for rendering, the Extension remembers it and makes it available for quick access from the preset dropdown.

Now you can use all your favorite comment-making, marker-adding, auto-versioning features of the Extension even faster.

Now, go ahead and get to rendering!

Brian Levin

Brian is a director, producer, and editor based in Los Angeles. He runs a boutique production company called Forge and Discover, which works with brands of all sizes in helping to tell their stories. You can learn more about him at He's also one of the trainers at, where he teaches various editing techniques and conducts demonstrations.