Insider Tips: Should You Use ProRes or H.264 Proxies in Final Cut Pro?

Every week, Insider asks one of our expert contributors to share a tip, tool, or technique that they use all the time and couldn’t live without. This week, Reuben Evans discusses the differences between using ProRes and H.264 proxies in your Final Cut Pro workflows.

ProRes vs H.264 Proxies in Final Cut Pro

I’ve always considered Final Cut Pro’s proxy workflow to be one of the best features of the software. I’ve been shooting 8K REDCODE RAW since its release back in 2016,  so editing with proxies has been critical to workflow.

Once the pandemic started, we were ready to adapt to it with cloud-based technologies like and Postlab. That made a proxy workflow even more important. But initially, FCP only offered ProRes Proxies. These are very easy on your Mac’s CPU and GPU. But more recently, Apple added H.264 proxies and the ability to change the frame size of the proxies.

To create proxies, just select your clip(s) in the browser, right-click, and select “Transcode Media….” Now you’ll have the option of ProRes or H.264 proxies. But which one should you choose?

Basically, if you have an older mac choose ProRes. If you have a newer one, give H.264 a try. ProRes has a bit better image quality, but you can always swap back to the original for full fidelity. H.264 is smaller, so it’s better for cloud-based collaborative workflows, and putting proxy footage on your system drive while your original footage stays on external storage.

My go-to setting is H.264 at 50 percent size. Then just select Proxy Only or Proxy Preferred at the top of your viewer. Now you’ll be ready to take your high-resolution editing with you on the go.

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Screenshots from Amazing Grace (due for release in 2024). Courtesy of Visuals 1st Films, LLC.

Reuben Evans

Reuben Evans is an award-winning screenwriter, executive producer at Faithlife, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. Reuben’s tools of choice are RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve. He writes for Insider and is part of the Blade Ronner Media writers network. Reuben resides in Washington state with his wife, four kids, and one crazy goldendoodle puppy named Baker.

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