The Complete Guide to Premiere Pro Proxies and Proxy Workflows
If you didn’t already know, proxy video workflows in Adobe Premiere Pro allow you to edit high-resolution footage more efficiently and smoothly. Proxies are usually low-resolution copies of the original video that are easier to handle for your computer. They’re temporary files that you use in your edit before reverting to the original media for finishing.
Their biggest advantage is providing smooth playback on a system that cannot play the full-resolution media, so your system can work as fast as you do.
Why use proxies?
I often hear people say “I don’t need proxies. My system handles my long-GOP 4k footage with ease”. I tend to disagree. Even with a beefy system, you’ll drop frames on compressed high-res footage while scrubbing and trimming in the timeline.
For example, my Dell Precision 7680 system plays just about everything I throw at it, but Premiere Pro struggles with 12-bit 8K cRAW footage from a Canon EOS R5 on that system. So I make proxies. On the same machine, 4k h.265 plays nicely, but scrubbing and trimming isn’t perfectly smooth. Dropping frames when trying to find the exact right frame means I spend more time finding it. So, again, I make proxies. It’s just faster.
“I’ve seen cynics whose jaws drop when they try using proxies for the first time.”
I’ve seen cynics whose jaws drop when they try using proxies for the first time. They thought they had smooth scrubbing until they actually had it—and felt the difference. Yes, it’s more a feeling than something you can measure. The timeline response is immediate and silky smooth, and finding that exact frame to cut on is a breeze.
Apart from the time it takes to make proxies (you can continue editing while they’re being made) and the extra storage needed for these additional files, there are no real downsides to using them. In Premiere Pro, you can switch between the proxy and the original video file at any time during the editing process with just one click.
Premiere Pro can make the proxies for you using its built-in presets, or you can create your own Proxy presets if you have special needs.
What’s a typical proxy workflow?
The traditional proxy workflow in film editing is to edit with proxies only—you don’t touch the camera originals until conform/grading/online. This workflow is used frequently with feature film and narrative TV, particularly where turnovers are going to be part of the workflow, and the proxies are often made outside of Premiere Pro.
Premiere Pro’s integrated proxy workflow is more commonly used in shorter-form projects and where turnovers aren’t needed. Working with proxies is usually a seamless experience. However, some users may encounter problems—and we’ll have a look at some common situations where hiccups can occur.
What we won’t be covering
Not covered in this article: “I want to make full-res, high-quality proxies that I use for final output.” This isn’t a proxy workflow. It’s a transcode workflow. While it’s possible to make the camera originals offline in this workflow, it can create some challenges during turnovers, or with Dynamic Linking to After Effects. It’s also very dependent on pulling metadata from the originals.
A transcode workflow can be great, but that’s not what this article is about.
Proxy icons and indicators
Premiere Pro has several ways of letting you know if you’re using proxies, and whether they’re attached or offline. The handy Enable Proxies button in the Program Monitor and the Source Monitor lets you toggle between proxies and original video files with just one click.
If this button is missing, add it using the Button Editor (the “+” sign in the lower right corner of the monitors). Just drag it to where you want it. Note that Show Transport Controls must be enabled in the Program Monitor Settings menu (the wrench icon in the lower right of the panel) to show the buttons.
If, like me, you prefer to hide Transport Controls, there’s no indication in the Program Monitor other than a proxy watermark—assuming you’ve chosen to add one. This is totally fine, as you can also get the same info from the timeline proxy badges.
In the Timeline, Premiere Pro lets you see the status of the proxies, provided Show Proxy Badges is enabled in the Timeline Display Settings menu (the wrench icon in the top left corner of the timeline panel).
- Blue proxy badge means proxies are enabled, and the proxy file is attached
- Red proxy badge means there used to be a proxy file, but it’s not found
- Grey proxy badge means proxies are disabled
- No proxy badge means there is no proxy for the file, or it is detached
The proxies icon is also shown on clips in the Project panel and bins in Icon View and Freeform View, but not in List View, even with thumbnails enabled.
The Project panel and the bins can also give you some info on proxies for individual clips. Right-click on an existing column header and choose Metadata Display. Search for proxy to add the columns you want and move them to the left side of the panel. It’s a good idea to save this as a new View Preset (in the panel menu) so it’s easy to get it back.
The Enable Proxies option is also available in Preferences: Preferences->Media->Enable Proxies.
The state of the Enable Proxies button is linked between the Program Monitor, the Source Monitor, and the Preferences, so wherever you enable or disable it, it will do so globally.
My favorite method to toggle proxies is with a keyboard shortcut, because it will work with any panel active. I use the F12 key, since it’s easily found on my keyboard. You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to the Create, Attach and Detach Proxies commands.
When you show properties for a clip with a proxy attached, you’ll see info about the original clip at the top, and for the proxy clip below.
If you choose to add a watermark when creating proxies, it’ll be burnt into the proxy video file. The Add Watermark checkbox is found in the Create Proxies dialog. The default proxy watermark looks just like the proxy icon in all other places in Premiere Pro.
Changing the default proxy watermark
The actual file that’s used as the proxy watermark is located in Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Premiere Pro 2023\PNG and is simply named ProxyWatermark.png. It’s 150x150px in size. You could just swap that out with another image of your choice by naming the new image the same and replacing it. (Note that you’ll have to replace it every time you update Premiere Pro.) In this screenshot I’ve used a magenta watermark made in Photoshop.
Watermarks and custom proxy presets
The built-in watermark will work with custom presets, so you can just check the Add Watermark box and the built-in watermark will be added. You can also add an Image Overlay effect (or any other effect in the Export mode) to the preset, which is more or less what’s being done behind the scenes with the built-in watermark.
If you have added an Image Overlay in the custom preset and check the Add Watermark box, the two will cancel each other out and there will be no watermark. So if you want a custom watermark, leave the Add Watermark box unchecked.
The path to the image overlay is an absolute path, which means if you move the preset to another computer, the path may not be the same and the preset will fail to find the watermark. In this case you’ll have to either modify the path in the .epr file or recreate the preset.
More on making bespoke proxy presets later.
Proxies and markers
Say you’ve been working with proxies for a while, and then you get the originals. How do you make the markers from the proxies move over to the original footage?
If you use “Reconnect Full Resolution Media” to re-attach the original footage, at least within Premiere, the markers should continue to show up on the clips that now have both originals and proxies attached. However, those markers don’t get written to the actual source files if you have Write Clip Markers to XMP enabled. The tedious way to fix it would be this:
- Be sure Write Clip Markers to XMP is enabled
- Be sure your original media is connected
- For each clip:
- Open the clip in the source monitor
- Create a new clip marker
- Delete that clip marker
That should write all the markers on that clip to the original clip’s XMP. Unfortunately, this must be done clip by clip. It should be easy to automate this with scripting, though.
Proxies and preview rendering
Proxies are not used when rendering previews in the timeline. (And please don’t confuse Rendering with Exporting.)
Not many users are aware of this, but when you render effects, Premiere Pro uses the originals if they are available—even if proxies are attached and Enable Proxies is set. That’s why it can take a while.
This also means you can use the previews when you export if you use a decent preview codec, so the export is much faster—especially if you export to the same codec as your previews. If the original clip is offline but the proxy is online, then the proxy will be used.
Also, if you apply Warp Stabilizer or any other analysis effects—like Rolling Shutter Repair or Morph Cut—to the clip it switches back to the original file even if you have a proxy attached. You can make the original file offline so that it is forced to use the proxy.
Proxies and Render and Replace
If your original files have proxies attached, and you use Render and Replace on a clip, the clip in the timeline is replaced, as expected, and a new video file is made in the folder you chose when initializing Render and Replace, also as expected.
But immediately after the new file has finished rendering, the existing proxy file for the original is also copied over to the Render and Replace destination folder, and that’s not well documented anywhere—and a bit of a surprise. The proxy file is just copied, not attached.
This is most likely a precaution in case the originals are later removed from the project. You can of course manually attach the proxy copy should you want to.
Proxies and export
When you export your masterpiece, Premiere Pro always uses the original, even if you have enabled proxies. The only exception for this is when the original media is offline but the proxy is online. In this case, a warning gets displayed that the export uses proxies.
You can override this and choose Use Proxies under General in Export mode.
If you select Use Previews in conjunction with Use Proxies, the rendered previews will be used if a section of the timeline has both a rendered preview and proxy video, making the export faster.
Limitations of Premiere Pro proxy workflows
A few formats are not supported in Premiere Pro proxy workflows. See Adobe online help for a list of supported formats.
The frame rate of the original clip and the proxy clip must match, as well as fielding, duration, and audio channels.
Premiere Pro will allow proxies with other frame sizes and combinations if they are divisible by the original clip size. For example—1920 x 1080 1.0 original can have 960 x 540 1.0 PAR proxy or 1440 x 1080 1.33 PAR proxy.
Other parameters such as fields, frame rate, duration, and audio channels must match.
Note that mismatched audio channels will throw a warning dialog, so you’ll know if something’s wrong there. But other mismatched video parameters, including frame size that’s not divisible by the original clip size, are not blocked and can result in issues later.
Audio channels must match
In most cases, you will be able to use Modify->Audio Channels option if the proxies are made in Premiere Pro, though.
If you import video files with, say, eight channels of audio and then try to create H.264 proxies, you’ll get a warning, and no proxies will be made. This is to be expected, as H.264 in an MP4 wrapper in Adobe Media Encoder does not support multichannel audio.
The most common problem when attaching or relinking proxy files is that audio channels do not match the original file. In these cases, you won’t be able to attach or relink the proxy file.
If you create ProRes proxies, everything will work as expected provided you have not modified the audio channels. If you’ve modified the audio channels to only two channels, the proxy creation will work, but the proxies will not be automatically attached.
You can still manually attach them, however, so there’s no need for a new proxy generation process.
The Modify->Audio Channels option and Interpret Footage options are not fully supported for proxy workflows, so if you’ve interpreted the audio channels of the source clip in Premiere before creating the proxy, that may lead to problems.
For the same reason, leave the settings for Default Audio Tracks in Preferences->Timeline at the default (Use File) when you plan on making proxies.
When there’s an audio channel mismatch, Premiere Pro shows an “Attach Failure” dialog. If you dismiss this dialog, it takes you back to the Attach dialog to choose a clip with matching audio channels. If you don’t have one, you’ll be stuck in a loop.
Variable or non-standard frame rate can cause problems
Smartphones will often create VFR (variable frame rate) footage. Even when you lock the frame rate, some frames may have a different duration. Screen recordings can also create VFR video, and some cameras can record non-standard frame rates, like 29.97008985 instead of the NTSC standard 29.97002997… The difference is very small, but enough to be non-standard.
In the widely used smartphone camera app Filmic Pro, I can set a constant frame rate. A quick glance in the bin when the HEVC footage is imported in Premiere Pro shows it’s 25 fps, so everything looks good, right? Well, when I right-click a clip and choose Properties, it says Variable Frame Rate Detected. That’s a bad sign if I’m planning on making proxies.
When I right-click a clip and choose Modify->Interpret Footage->Frame Rate it reveals more decimals. For this clip, it’s 25.0041 fps, so not exactly 25. Another clip is 25.0042 fps. MediaInfo says that the minimum frame rate in the clip is 24.972 fps, while the maximum frame rate is 25.028 fps.
So it’s clearly VFR footage, but why is this a problem? Premiere Pro can play VFR footage. So as long as you’re not making proxies, everything should just work, right?
But neither Premiere Pro nor Adobe Media Encoder can create QuickTime VFR footage or non-standard frame rates, so when you make a QuickTime proxy from a VFR or non-standard clip, the proxy is created at a standard, constant frame rate, which leads to a frame rate mismatch between the source media and the proxy. This can impact proxy playback as Premiere Pro keeps trying to fetch proxy frames that don’t exist.
So, QuickTime proxies created from source material that either has a variable frame rate (VFR) or a non-standard frame rate can cause very sluggish playback and scrubbing. Sometimes a lot worse than the originals, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from proxies.
Luckily, there are some workarounds for this until the code warriors at Adobe find a solution.
- Transcode the file to ProRes 422, so it has a constant frame rate.
- Interpret the footage to match the frame rate of the proxy.
- Use H.264 instead of QuickTime for proxies.
When transcoding or interpreting long clips, look out for audio sync problems close to the end of the clips. For shorter clips, this will not be a problem. H.264 proxies should not need any interpretation, as the issue only affects QuickTime proxies. But if your footage has multiple audio tracks, H.264 is a no-go, so we probably want to use QuickTime ProRes proxies.
Setting the footage frame rate (Modify->Interpret Footage) to the same frame rate as the proxies will fix the issue. It can be done both before and after the proxy has been created and attached, and you can do it to multiple selected clips in one go. A good way to find all the clips in question, from different bins, is to use a Search Bin.
If you’re only using a few seconds from a long interview, you probably don’t want to create a proxy for the whole recording. You can use Render and Replace to create a constant frame rate ProRes 422 (HQ) file for just the short clip in the timeline. If your system still struggles with playback, find the new clip in the bin and make a proxy for that short clip.
No proxies for files with embedded captions
Another known gotcha that’s not mentioned by Adobe above: you can’t attach proxies to media with embedded captions. Proxy creation is also disabled for footage with embedded captions.
Transforms and Time Remapping are okay
Some users seem to think that Transforms cannot be used when the proxy files have a different frame size. This is not the case. You can use Transforms as much as you like, just like normal. This means you can still “punch in” on your 4k footage in an HD timeline without disabling proxies.
Speed ramps (Time Remapping) also works very well with proxy workflows, despite what some people may say.
Interpret Footage is no longer a no-go
Some improvements were made in version 22.6 of Premiere Pro, so most of the warnings against this are outdated. Specifically, the Modify->Interpret Footage->Frame Rate option is now supported for proxy workflows inside of Premiere Pro. But if you’re planning to round-trip to other applications, don’t use Interpret Footage for slow motion. Use Speed/Duration and Time Remapping instead.
When you create a proxy from a source clip with an interpreted frame rate, the proxy file will be created with that interpreted frame rate and everything will work within Premiere. So, for example, you import a 120fps clip in Premiere, interpret it to 24fps, and create a proxy.
The proxy will be created at 24fps, but toggling between full-res and proxy in Premiere should work seamlessly, apart from the audio playback of the proxy, which will be out of sync. If you’re planning to use the audio, don’t use the Interpret Footage method to change the speed.
A little hack
There is one more workaround, but it’s probably exploiting a bug in Premiere, so there’s no guarantee that it will work in future versions. It basically tricks Premiere into interpreting the frame rate of the proxy before the original source clip is attached.
This must be the very first thing you do after importing a clip. If you’ve already edited with the clip, it won’t work. Let’s say you have a 120 fps clip you want to interpret to 24 fps.
- Import the 120 fps clip,
- Create a proxy, thus creating a 120 fps proxy file,
- Delete the clip (now a source clip paired with a proxy) from the project,
- Import the proxy file directly into the project,
- Interpret that clip to 24 fps,
- Right click the clip and go to Proxy->Reconnect Full Resolution Media,
- Select your full-res clip from the dialog that appears.
The standard behavior when you use Reconnect Full Resolution Media is that the previous clip is now attached as a proxy instead—if no proxy is attached. Consequently, the method described here makes the original clip into a proxy and attaches the new full-resolution clip.
Both have the frame rate interpretation applied to them, so both will play back at the interpreted frame rate.
Unfortunately, the Reconnect Full Resolution Media step must be done one clip at a time, so it’s not super practical. That said, if you have a little bit of scripting experience you should be able to automate this workflow, making it a one-click procedure.
LUTs and color spaces are also now taken care of properly in proxies. If you add a LUT or override the color space, the proxy will be interpreted with the LUT or color space conversion as opposed to the LUT being baked into the proxy file, which was done in earlier versions.
There are still a few unsupported features. For example, don’t use proxies for clips with modified timecodes. Here’s a bit more info from Premiere Pro online help.
“The proxy workflow is not supported for interchange options such as Project Manager, Render and Replace, AAF, Final Cut Pro XML, EDL, OMF, and so on. You lose proxy attachment for these functions. After Effects and Audition interoperability functions are also not currently supported with the proxy workflow.
Modify->Audio Channels and Modify->Timecode are also not supported for proxy workflow, although we’ve already seen that there are workarounds for using Modify->Audio Channels.
Formats with Source Clip Effects Source Settings (for example, R3D, ARRI, DPX, and so on) are supported for Full Res clips. Source Clip Effects Source Settings formats are not supported to be used as proxy clips, however. for example: R3D Full Res and H.264 proxy is supported. R3D Full Res and DPX proxy is not supported.”
If you do want proxy support for some of those unsupported features, head over to the Feature Request page.
Proxies and Productions
If you are working in a Production, it’s best to create your proxies before you start editing. You can use the Create Proxy method as usual, which is what I recommend anyway.
Ingest settings, however, are disabled in the Production Settings dialog. To use Ingest Settings, close the Production and create a standalone project that is saved outside of the Production folder. Set your desired Ingest Settings and import the media. After the Ingest is done, save your project and close it. Open the Production and use the Add Project command to bring the Ingest project into your Production.
Proxies may not be available in a Sequences project
If you add footage to a Media project in a Production, then add the footage to a sequence in a Sequences project, and then you create proxies for the footage, the Sequences project will not show the proxies. There are two workarounds, though. Either create your proxies before you start editing, or you can offline the original media then relink it and the proxies will show up.
Sharing proxies in a Team
If all the team members will use proxies, have one person make them and sync them to Creative Cloud or some other shared storage, and share that folder out to the team. This way, only one person has to make the proxies. Also consider using Frame.io to share proxies.
If you move the Project to another system, the Enable Proxies preference gets determined by what was set on that system, and not in the Project.
Making proxies in Premiere Pro automatically
You can create proxies at any point in time. The easiest way to make proxies– also the safest one–is to let Premiere Pro make them semi-automatically. Just choose the clips you want to make proxies for, then tell Premiere Pro what preset you want to use, and the job is sent to Adobe Media Encoder. This will do the encoding in the background while you continue to edit in Premiere Pro.
Just make sure you have not made any Modify->Audio Channels changes before making your proxies or you’ll have to manually attach them.
Here’s a more detailed walkthrough:
Select your source clips in a bin, then right-click and choose Proxy->Create Proxies (or use your custom keyboard shortcut). Choose QuickTime, and then either the ProRes Low Resolution Proxy or the ProRes Medium Resolution Proxy preset. For widescreen footage, Low Resolution is 1024×540 px, Medium Resolution is 1280×720 px, and High Resolution is 1536×790 px.
If you’re wondering “Why ProRes, and not CineForm?” it’s because CineForm is not entirely resolution-agnostic. It needs the width and height to be divisible by 16, which can cause problems with some frame sizes. ProRes is more forgiving. Plus, currently there’s no support for CineForm on Apple silicon systems in Premiere Pro, so ProRes is your safest bet.
The proxies will automatically match the source media audio channels, frame rate and aspect ratio.
Tip: use search bins to sort out certain file-formats to make proxies for.
Tick Add Watermark if you want a burnt-in proxy icon overlay on your proxy files. I also like to save the proxies to a dedicated proxies folder, making it easy to delete them, copy them, or move them. Even though they’re proxies, saving them to a fast drive is recommended, preferably SSD or NVMe drives on a fast connection—or internal.
What about H.264. Nah. For almost all purposes, use ProRes proxies. Only use H.264 proxies when you’re going on a trip to remote areas with your laptop, and don’t have the storage capacity needed for ProRes proxies, or if someone on your team is working remotely, and can’t download the originals.
H.264 is more demanding on the system, and Premiere Pro does not currently support multi channel H.264. So for camera formats with more audio channels, it may also cause some audio trouble—and relinking problems, should you need to reconnect the files. This is why Premiere Pro throws a warning and cancels the proxy job if you try this.
“It’s best to only make proxies for the clips that need it.”
I don’t recommend making proxies automatically at ingest—especially if you’ve made your own custom proxy presets. Most projects will have source material from different cameras, using different codecs, frame sizes, frame rates, etc.—and some clips may be shot for slow motion.These need different treatment, so it’s best to only make proxies for the clips that need it, and to choose the best treatment of all sources.
When you’re creating proxies, the progress in Adobe Media Encoder is displayed in the Progress panel. Choose Window->Progress… to see it, or click the Open Progress Dashboard button in the upper right corner of Premiere Pro. You can undock the panel. Just right-click the icon and choose Undock or click Window->Progress Panel. The icon in the top bar changes when a progress is running, so look for a button that looks like one of these.
Every proxy job will show a status or a progression circle, or an error message if the job failed for some reason.
When creating proxies, you can cancel the entire operation while the “Creating Proxy Jobs” dialog is open. After that, you’ll have to switch over to Adobe Media Encoder to stop or pause the queue.
While creating proxies in Adobe Media Encoder, you can pause the queue without destroying the connection to Premiere Pro. When you restart the queue, proxies will automatically be attached as the queue progresses.
If you stop the queue in Adobe Media Encoder, a dialog will pop up, asking you if you want to finish the current file. If you say yes, the file will be finished, and attached. If you say no, any connection between the proxy and the original file is lost, and no proxy attachment is done for that file.
If you restart the queue, the remaining proxy jobs will be done, and attached—but the file that you chose not to finish will not have a proxy. Not even if you duplicate the job in the queue and restart the queue, which only creates an orphaned file. You’ll have to start the Create Proxy routine again for that file or attach the proxy manually.
You don’t have to keep Premiere Pro running while proxy jobs are processed in Adobe Media Encoder. You can quit Premiere Pro, and proxies created while Premiere Pro was not running are automatically attached when you open the project again.
Create Proxies obviously doesn’t work with offline clips. Attached proxies are not supported for interchange options such as Project Manager, Render and Replace, AAF, Final Cut Pro XML, EDL, and OMF. Proxies can get lost with these export features, and only the original files will be used for such exports.
Tip: The proxy file takes its name from the clip name in Premiere Pro, not from the original file name. If you have renamed the clip in Premiere Pro, the proxy file will take its name from the new clip name, followed by _proxy. If you want the proxy files to take their name from the originals, you should make proxies before you start renaming clips.
Roxy Proxy panel
If you want an easier way to create and manage proxies, have a look at Roxy Proxy—a free macOS only panel extension from MoovIT GmbH. It can help you automate H.264 your proxy creation as well as getting around the audio channel limitation mentioned earlier, since it uses a MOV wrapper.
Making proxies in Premiere Pro manually
Now that we have proxy automation built into Premiere Pro, making custom proxy presets is not as important as it used to be—but it’s still useful for vertical video and other frame sizes. Different sources might need different proxies. Proxies are dependent on resolution, pixel aspect ratio, and number of audio channels.
If you choose to create your own proxy presets you must really, really know what you’re doing. It involves a few steps:
- Make a new Export preset in Media Encoder.
- Create a new Ingest preset in Media Encoder based on that Export preset.
- Save the Ingest preset as a file.
- Add that Ingest preset to the drop-down menu in the Create Proxies dialog in Premiere Pro.
Again, make sure you have not made any Modify->Audio Channels changes before making proxies.
Step 1. Create an export preset
Select one of the source clips in a bin, right-click on it, and choose Export Media. Yes, I know this is not what the official guide says, but this has the advantage of immediately giving you the correct frame size and aspect ratio. This opens Export mode where you create a new Export preset.
Choose QuickTime under Format, ProRes Proxy under Video Codec (in the Video section), and then un-tick the Match Source check box for Frame Size, choose Custom in the drop-down menu, and your enter new numbers.
Note: When making proxy presets, you can either match the frame size or the frame rate. If both are set to Match Source, Premiere Pro won’t recognize that preset as a proxy preset. Instead, it will be categorized as a Transcode preset. If either the frame size or the frame rate is not set to Match Source, then the preset is categorized as a proxy preset.
I like to stick to known numbers for video people, like 720, 540, 1080, etc. for either width or height—and if the lock icon is active, Premiere Pro calculates the other number for you. You want the aspect ratio of the proxies to match the originals to avoid black bars. When in doubt, always divide the original size by a whole number (integer) to avoid any aspect ratio issues.
If you’re not sure what size to create, here are the sizes of the built-in presets for comparison:
- Low Resolution: 1024×540
- Medium Resolution: 1280×720
- High Resolution: 1536×790
Under Scaling, under the preview image, select Stretch to Fill. This is to make sure it matches all aspect ratios, so you don’t get black bars in your proxies.
If you want to add a custom watermark—and I recommend that you do, because the built-in one tends to get stretched to weird sizes for vertical video footage—tick Image Overlay under Effects, choose the watermark image, and place it where you want it. Note that just the file path to the image is stored in the preset, not the image itself. If you move or delete the image file, the preset will fail to add the watermark.
When you’re satisfied with your choices, click on the ellipsis/meatball (…) menu next to the Preset Name (which now says “Custom”) and give it a descriptive name, like Export_Proxy_ProRes_720. You can now cancel the export.
Step 2. Create an ingest preset
Now let’s use the new export preset to create an ingest preset. Locate the Preset Browser panel in Adobe Media Encoder. Click the plus sign (+) and select Create Ingest Preset, or select Preset->Create Ingest Preset. This opens the Ingest Preset Settings dialog.
Under Preset Name, name your preset Ingest_Proxy_ProRes_720 or something similar. Choose Transcode files to Destination under Transfer and choose your default proxies folder. For format choose QuickTime, and under Preset, choose the new one we made. It should be at the top of the list.
Now click OK to save the Ingest Preset.
Like the one we created here, the built-in presets are set to Stretch to Fill, so they can handle different aspect ratios. The video may look correct when attached to footage in Premiere, but distorted when you’re looking at the proxy file on its own.
Note from Premiere Pro online help: If Copy is enabled in the ingest preset, the preset becomes available in Premiere Pro’s Ingest Settings dialog under the Copy and Copy and Create Proxies options. It is not available in the Transcode and Create Proxies options. If Transcode files to Destination is enabled in the ingest preset, the preset becomes available in Premiere Pro’s Ingest Settings dialog box under the Transcode and Create Proxies options, it is not available in the Copy and Copy and Create Proxies options.
For the nerds: If you forgot to choose Stretch to Fill when you made the preset, you can change it by editing the .eps file. Just change CropType in your .epr file to value 5.
Delete the old preset in the Preset Browser and then import the edited preset.
Step 3. Save the ingest preset to disk
Now save the preset from Adobe Media Encoder to disk as an .epr file. To do this, right click the new preset in the Adobe Media Encoder Preset Browser, and select Export Preset—or select the preset and click the Export Presets button in the top left corner of the Preset Browser. Select a location on disk for the .epr file.
Step 4. Add your ingest preset to the Create Proxies dialog
Now we’ll add the new preset to the Create Proxies dialog in Premiere Pro. Select the source files in a bin, right-click and choose Create Proxies. Click on Add Ingest Preset, and browse to the newly saved .epr file. It will be available in the drop-down menu from now on.
(If you chose to add a custom watermark, make sure to un-tick Add Watermark.)
Ingest presets are stored as .epr files in Documents->Adobe->Premiere Pro->[version]\Profile-[profile name]\Settings\Ingest Presets. This is where you can delete unwanted custom presets.
Pay close attention to the Audio Channels
With its built-in proxy creation workflow, Premiere will automatically match the channelization and sample rate of the source file (the bit depth doesn’t matter). It will ignore any channelization and sample rate setting in the preset if the chosen proxy format supports the settings.
For QuickTime proxies, this is almost never an issue, because QuickTime supports arbitrary audio channelization. For H.264, it’s a different story. H.264 and the AAC exporter only support a limited number of channels for export; mono, stereo, 5.1, and 4-channel (for ambisonic audio).
Premiere Pro needs the number of audio channels to match when attaching proxies. There’s no way around it. For multichannel audio, it’s better to create a QuickTime ingest preset using ProRes Proxy. Multichannel audio should just work if you use that kind of preset and leave the audio values to their defaults.
Making proxies only for clips in the timeline
You may want to create proxies only for the clips you have used in your timeline. Here’s a recipe from Matt Christensen on the Premiere Pro team on using a Search Bin to accomplish this.
- Pick a metadata column that Search Bin supports that you aren’t using. For example, Log Note, Comment, Description, Client, etc.
- Select all the clips in your sequence.
- Open the Metadata panel and under the Clip section, find the metadata column you identified in Step 1
- Add some unique text to the field, it can just be “Proxy”
- In your Project panel, click the folder icon with a magnifying glass in it to create a Search Bin. Change the first drop down menu to whatever metadata column you chose in Step 1, and in the Find box, put in your unique text from Step 4. Create the Search Bin.
- In your Project, open the new Search Bin and select all the clips, right click, then choose Proxies->Create Proxies
Adobe Help has some great info on making custom proxy presets here.
They also have a well-made video on YouTube that explains the process.
Making proxies using third-party software
It’s common for larger productions to create proxies outside of Premiere Pro. When you want to relink or attach your proxy or full-resolution clips, it’s recommended that the proxy media is named with the suffix _Proxy. Let your DIT know this.
Having the exact same filename for the original clips and the proxy files is not recommended, as the filenames can get associated with incorrect clips if there are clips sharing the same name on the system. Also, having the proxies and originals in the same directory can result in incorrect auto association.
Full-res or proxy clips with the same name (like, C0001.mxf, C0001.mxf, C0001.mxf) or multiple versions of same name with appended number (like, CoolClip_Proxy.mov, CoolClip_1_Proxy.mov, CoolClip_2_Proxy.mov) can cause some confusion with the Attach and Link Media dialogs when they are set to Relink Others Automatically. This can result in attaching the wrong clips. To avoid issues, you can deselect this option and attach clips one by one.
Audio channels must match
If your footage has four audio channels, and the proxies were made with just two, you’re out of luck. You need to educate your DIT. I highly recommend that you do a test with just two or three files, test the workflow, and see if it works. Then make the proxies for the real project.
Don’t start with only the proxies
There’s no easy way to relink to your original footage if you start by importing only the proxies. Premiere Pro’s proxy workflow was not designed for this. You may have to manually overcut every clip in the timeline.
Instead, start with the original media imported, either manually or via an ALE file. You can attach proxies but keep the originals offline and edit using only the proxies in the traditional manner.
You can attach existing proxy files to original video clips in the Project Panel even if the originals are offline. Right-click your clips in the Project panel or Bin and choose Proxy->Attach Proxies.
This launches the Attach Proxies dialog box. You can choose between Media Browser or OS dialog to attach your proxy clips. You can also use Attach Proxies if you want to reattach proxy files to Offline clips.
Premiere Pro allows attachment of proxies with only a select range of frame sizes and pixel aspect ratios. As mentioned earlier, other parameters such as fields, frame rate, duration, and audio channels must also match.
Attaching clips with mismatched audio channels will throw a warning and be impossible, but other mismatched video parameters will not do this and may result in issues later. See the section “Limitations in Premiere Pro Proxy Workflows” for more details.
You can assign a keyboard shortcut for Attach Proxies in the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog to speed up the process.
If you open a project, and the proxy files went offline since last time the project was saved, you automatically get the Link Media dialog where you can relink your proxies. If you click Cancel, you’ll have to use the Attach Proxies dialog to link the proxies.
If you choose Offline or Offline All and then save the project, the Link Media dialog will not appear the next time you open the Project.
Reconnect original media
If you only have proxy clips online, use Reconnect Full Resolution Media to attach the original clips to your proxy clips. Choosing Reconnect Full Resolution Media in the same right-click menu as for Attach Proxies launches the Reconnect Full Resolution Media dialog, which is almost identical to the Attach Proxies dialog.
When using this option, the selected clip moves into the proxy state and the clip you select in the Reconnect Full Resolution Media dialog becomes the new Full Res original clip.
I think that Reconnect Full Resolution Media is a bit of a misnomer, since it’s also possible, and pretty common, to have proxies in the same resolution as the original files.
If a proxy was already attached to your clip, then it keeps the proxy clip and only the Full Res portion is replaced. Reconnect Full Resolution cannot be undone, but you reconnect another clip.
You are allowed to attach new media, even if a Full Resolution file is already attached.
If one of the original files goes offline after the project file was saved, you get a Link Media dialog when you open the project again. If you want to keep the originals offline, click Offline All or Cancel. If the original clip goes offline while you are working in a Project, you will get the Link Media dialog.
Once the Project is opened, you can still use the Link Media or Reconnect Full Resolution Media options.
Assign a keyboard shortcut to Reconnect Full Resolution Media to speed up the workflow.
You can detach a proxy if you want to recreate a new proxy or if you don’t need proxies any longer. Right-click the clip in the bin and select Proxy->Detach Proxies. When you detach a proxy, Premiere Pro does not delete the proxy files on disk, to avoid deleting files or proxies that could be referenced in another project. You can decide to keep the proxy files or delete them manually.
Assign a keyboard shortcut to Detach proxies to speed up the workflow.
Red RAW has built-in proxies
Since RED RAW is compressed using wavelets, it’s already got 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 resolution built-in, and plays back very smoothly with reduced resolution on most systems. So if the system has enough storage (and it’s fast enough), a proxy workflow should not be necessary. No relinking issues or other issues, no fuss.
Just reduce the Playback Resolution in your Program Monitor and Source Monitor to use the built-in reduced resolution of the RED RAW files. If you’re playing back multiple RED RAW files simultaneously—as you would for a Multicam edit—you may have to create proxies anyway, depending on your storage, GPU and CPU.
Using proxies in After Effects
After Effects is not dependent on real-time playback in the way Premiere Pro is, so the proxy workflow is also a bit different—and not as useful, in my opinion. To make a proxy, right-click a clip in the Project panel and choose Create Proxy->Movie (or a still image if you don’t need the movement).
After Effects creates a composition for each source file that’s selected, and adds them to the Render Queue. When you hit Render (or send it to Media Encoder) it creates a movie file or a Photoshop still image. On Windows the video file is going to be an AVI file by default, but I like to change it to a ProRes proxy MOV file by clicking the name of the Output Module. I’ve also saved an Output Module named ProRes Proxy.
When the job is done, your files get a proxy indicator in the Project panel. After Effects also puts the file into a new Composition with the dimensions from the original files, so that you can use proxies with a reduced resolution.
Being uncompressed by default, the proxy movies you make in After Effects will probably be a lot larger than your originals. As an example, my 28-second, 201 MB UHD clip resulted in an HD AVI file 4.87 GB in size and 8-bit. As a comparison, the proxy file made with Premiere Pro (ProRes Low Resolution Proxy) is 66.5 MB and 1024 x 540px in size, and 10-bit.
You can also create proxies for comps in After Effects, which may be more useful. Anyway, with the improvements that have been made in After Effects the last few years; multi-frame rendering, rendering timeline when idle, hardware accelerated decoding of some formats, etc., I find myself using proxies in After Effect a lot less than I used to.
Proxies through Dynamic Link
We now have Dynamic Link support for proxies. This means that when you send a clip that’s got a proxy attached in Premiere Pro to After Effects via Dynamic Link, the proxy tick box is available in After Effects. Ticking it will enable the proxy file from Premiere Pro. If you choose to add a watermark when making the proxy, that watermark will show in After Effects when proxy is enabled for the clip.
Note that you must disable proxies for the Dynamically Linked clips (and other clips) in After Effects to see the original through Dynamic Link in Premiere Pro—even when you export. Premiere Pro has no idea what proxy settings After Effects has, and just shows whatever comes out of After Effects, complete with proxy watermarks and all.
Note that After Effects has separate color settings for the main clip and the proxy clip under Interpret Footage, found in the right-click menu in the Project panel. So if you see a color change from Log to normal colors when toggling proxy on/off, this is where you’d fix it.
Proxies and MOGRTs
Just like with Dynamic Link, the proxy footage will be collected into the MOGRT export if it is active. If you turn the proxy switch off, then the original source footage will be packaged with the .mogrt file.
When you make MOGRTs in Premiere Pro, the original video file will be used in MOGRTs, even if proxies are enabled.
User experiences: proxy problems I’ve helped solve
I’ve helped many clients out of problems they’ve gotten themselves into when using proxy workflows in Premiere Pro. Most of the time, if not every time, the problems occur because people don’t understand the limitations of proxy workflows on Premiere Pro, or how it works.
Why do my proxies have black bars?
This is a very common question. The blunt answer is “Because whoever made the custom proxy preset didn’t know what they were doing.” You must follow the guidelines in this article, under Making Proxies in Premiere Pro.
The most common scenario for this is when people have 4k source files, and make proxies that are meant for UHD, often misnamed as 4k UHD. It’s not really 4k, but close. UHD is 3840×2160 px, while cinema 4k is most often 4096×2160. The difference in width is what creates those black bars.
Create your proxy presets with Stretch to Fill, or use the built-in presets, and the problem is solved.
My proxies don’t align with the originals
This can happen if your proxy files have a different frame rate than your original source files. Using the methods described in this article, this should no longer happen—but if your project was started in an earlier version (especially 2022.3 and older) it can still happen.
I would recommend that you either create new proxy files, or detach and reattach the proxy files, and do the necessary Interpret Footage workaround, as explained under Interpret Footage is no longer a no-go.
There was also a bug in version 2023.4 that would cause all transcribed clips to start at frame 1, losing the in-point set by the user, but this has been fixed in version 2023.5.
I can’t get Toggle Proxies to work
This is most often caused by a corrupted Preferences file. If you encounter any issues with Toggle/Enable Proxies not working, and you do have proxies attached, quit Premiere Pro, and hold down the Shift, Alt, or Opt keys while launching Premiere Pro again. Choose Reset App Preferences. This should fix the problem in most cases.
I have scaling issues, and Match Frame looks weird
This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be confusing if you don’t understand what’s going on. It happens when the DIT has given the proxy files the exact same name as the originals, as is common in some offline editing workflows where you’re not using the proxy workflow per se.
It works fine at the initial set-up, but when the project is moved to another folder, drive, or system, the files must be relinked. When Premiere Pro asks you to point to where the file is stored now, you link to the proxy file instead of the original—and the link to the original is gone.
This is why it’s recommended to always add _Proxy suffix to the proxy file name. Premiere Pro will allow you to attach the same file as both the camera original and the proxy. But only temporarily; when you save, close, and reopen the project, it will ask you to relink again.
So you’ll be stuck in a loop where you’ll have to Attach Proxies every time you open the project. Plus, when you do a Match Frame to the original, it may not look like what you were seeing in the timeline. You may be editing in an HD timeline with 4k footage, and scaling will be off, since the wrong file is attached.
Don’t tell Premiere Pro that the proxy files are your camera originals! In addition to the strange issues with scaling, you’ll send the wrong files to color grading if done outside of Premiere Pro, and you’ll have to do some file acrobatics to fix the problem.
There is a way to fix it: Make everything offline, rename or move your proxy folder, relink/attach camera originals using Reconnect Full Resolution Media. Save, Attach Proxies, and save again.
Summing it up with some advice
If you want an almost automatic proxy workflow, let Premiere Pro make proxies using the automatic method. If you need custom proxies, follow the guidelines in the Making Proxies in Premiere Pro—Manual Method section in this article. Pay attention if you’re moving or sharing the project.
If taking the route of importing camera proxies, or proxies made by someone else with the intention of reconnecting to the originals later, test that workflow ahead of time with a few clips to make sure it works as expected. It may not.
I want to thank David Heidelberger, Software Quality Engineer on the Premiere Pro team for extremely valuable input when writing this article. I’d also like to thank Luisa Winters for permission to use her drone footage.