Proxy Video Editing (Bait-n-Switch) Method with Adobe Premiere

Posted on 6/24/2013 2:37:00 AM

Proxy Editing is a great way to edit video in draft cuts even with a low power processor laptop/ultrabook.

(I did not invent this method but I have been editing this way since Premiere 4.2 with laptops. Just would like to share the experience.)
With today's high compression complex codecs like AVCHD or MPEG4 H.264, editing with NLE would be challenging on a lower power laptop CPU. The complex encoding scheme makes scrubbing on timeline less responsive. With Proxy files, editing could be done on low power laptops. It also makes possible with DSLR .MOV files doing Same Day Edit at weddings/events with a regular laptop too.
To have proxy editing, all source files are needed to be transcoded to a faster codec. These are my choices
AVI - Microsoft Video 1
MOV - Sorenson 3.0 or Photo JPEG codec.
A tool allowing batch transcoding is needed. Grass Valley Procoder, or Adobe Media Encoder (AME) both allows Watch Folder setup. It's a quick way for automatic batch conversion. With AME, first we need to create an Export profile. For example, a Quicktime MOV preset can be set as follow
Video Codec : Photo - JPEG
Quality : between 50 to 100. Higher quality takes longer time to transcode.
Width and Height : 640x360 or 320x180. Higher resolution takes longer time to transcode. It could be as low as 256x144 for quicker conversion.
Frame Rate : 29.97 or 15 for 30p. 23.976 or 12 for 24p. It could be as low as 10fps for even faster conversion.
Aspect : Square pixel.
For audio codec, it should match the source clip format to avoid any re-conforming of audio in Premiere Pro. For most DSLR .MOV, it will be 48khz, stereo, 16bit.

Once done, save the preset to be used with the Watch Folder setup at Adobe Media Encoder later.
In AME CS5.5, you can create watch folder setup at File, Create Watch Folder. Then specify the Format as QuickTime, and Preset with the one created above. You might also check the option on top for "Auto-Encode Watch Folders". This option allows any files being copied to the watch folder to kick off the transcoding process automatically. It is great for working on Same Day Edit when content from memory cards are being copied to computer.

Once the low res MOV files are transcoded, they can be imported to Premiere for editing. The resolution together with frame rate could be low. But it is only temporary and good enough for a quick rough cut.
When done, before rendering a full quality version of the project (on the same laptop or at desktop computer), close the Premiere project. Then rename or move away those LQ MOV files. Next time when re-opening the Premiere project, Premiere will prompt the user to locate where are the missing .MOV files. At this time, point back to the original full resolution .MOV files. This "bait-n-switch" fools Premiere to export a high quality full resolution output.
I have been using Grass Valley Procoder's watch folder feature to transcode .mov files. The low res files are small and very portable. It makes editing with rough cuts a lot faster and more scrubbing responsive even with a low power laptop.
Any comments, welcome to leave them below.



Posted by Kevin on 1/31/2011 2:02:00 PM Can you do this on Adobe media encoder, or is ther a setting already in there that you could just convert the files to.

Replied by LA Color Pros You can use Adobe Media Encoder to convert the video file to a smaller low quality version.
Posted by Jacob on 7/22/2011 1:07:00 AM What size and format would you recommend compacting down to when dealing with 1080p 24fps footage from a T2i? Does it make a difference where its coming from?
Also, after editing in Premier 4, would I simply have to Export it at a the quality of the original?
Thank you for the all the awesome tutorials you've posted by the way!

Replied by LA Color Pros When sizing down the video, I use Microsoft Video 1 to 320x240 (4:3 format) then adjust the aspect ratio in Premiere. Remember, this proxy version video is just for rough cut. Once you have the video edited, you would need to switch all the LQ clips back to HQ clips before exporting.
Posted by Prashant on 6/24/2013 7:45:00 PM Awesome tip. Do we have anything like for Sony vegas ??

Replied by LA Color Pros Hi Prashant, Proxy Editing is a concept. It can work with all NLE including Sony Vegas. You only need to find a tool that allows batch transcoding to convert to a low resolution files for quick edits. You can check out Handbrake or SUPER for taking care of the batch conversion job.
Posted by cgbier on 6/24/2013 8:47:00 PM I'm using MPEG Streamclip for batch transcoding. Is pretty fast. Don't know how well the Windows version is working though.

Replied by LA Color Pros Thanks for reminding me that MPEG Streamclip can do the batch encoding job too.
Posted by picturelights1 on 6/24/2013 11:55:00 PM I'm using MPEG Streamclip for batch transcoding.
Posted by Celso Vitorino on 6/25/2013 10:23:00 AM
Taky, thanks for the excellent tip for Adobe Premiere.
On the question of Vegas made ??above, Malow, a Brazilian fellow developed a script (freeware) that allows mutate proxy for the original and vice versa. Details on the links below:
Generate Intermediate Files (Script)
Switcher Proxy x Original (Script)
Details of installation, configuration and use, visit:

Posted by James Rivera on 8/28/2014 2:04:00 AM Hey,thanks for this blog entry, though it was quite a while ago. When you use 320 x 240, how do you adjust the aspect ratio in premiere? Thanks.

Replied by LA Color Pros Thank you for visiting our blog. For 16:9 video, you can still do 320x240 and "Interpret Footage" as 1:1.2 pixel aspect ratio. Or, you can transcode to 384x216 too.
Posted by dslr uk on 6/15/2015 6:53:00 PM Hi taky, what about fcpx ?

Replied by LA Color Pros I'm sure you can do the same with FCPX. If not, FCPX sucks!
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