Making and using proxies with Adobe

Proxies are small versions of your media that you can use to reduce the workload on your computer. Proxies can also make it easier to work as group when editing. This quick guide will show you how to make proxies using Adobe Media Encoder and how to reconnect your high-quality media at the end of your edit.

Before we start, it is important to note that there are countless ways to make proxies and countless workflows. While this quick guide walks through how my students and I use proxies in our projects, it is important that you use the system that is most efficient for your workflow.

Step 1: Organize your high-quality media – Like I mentioned in class, it is important to create a clear and replicable structure for your raw media. I put all my original assets (i.e., stuff I shot) into a single folder organized by date and description and then by camera. I do this as soon as I get back from a shoot. This way I am sure all the assets are copied and nothing is getting lost. It should look like this:

Step 2: Make your proxies – Once I get my assets dumped off the card and safely stored on my hard drive, I can make my proxies. Open up Adobe Media Encoded. When you open it up there are four sections of the main window.

A) This is the media browser window. You should be able to easily find the folder you create in step 1.

B) This is the render queue. This is where you will choose the settings for exporting out your proxies.

C) This is the progress window. You will be see how your proxies are coming along by watching this window.

D) This is the presets window. You can find a bunch of default settings in this box, but generally I don’t use this box. I tend to set everything myself. Conversely, I could (and should) make a preset that contains all settings I always use.

So now how do you use all these blocks? Well, first go to block A and find the files you want to convert in to proxies. Select the files and drag them into block B. Once they are in block B, you will need to adjust the size and where you want the files to go.

Block B

The size will be adjusted by clicking the “Match Source – High bitrate” text in the example above (i.e., the Preset option). When you click it, a pretty normal looking video settings window – identical to the one that comes up when exporting in Premiere – will appear. Being that you probably want to edit on your old, fairly slow laptop or you want to easily transfer these files with you group mates, you should pick a format that is super small. Here is what I pick: 1) in the format drop down on the top, right side of the window, I pick “H.264” and 2) then with the next drop down, “preset,” I pick “Twitter 720pHD.”

You can change the settings for more than one video at a time by selecting multiple videos. Then when you click into any video, it will change the settings for all the selected videos.

Once you pick the new small format you want, you will now need to tell Adobe where you want the new files stored. I start this process, by going back to my hard drive and replicating my original file structure in a new “Proxies” folder. My hard drive then looks like this:

Now all I have to do is go back to Adobe Media Encoded and click on the output file location (right next to where you set the preset). It will default to either the folder in which your high-quality files are or the last folder you exported proxies to. Regardless, you’ll need to click the current location and change it to our all new proxies folder.

Once you set the location, make sure it (and the format) is set correctly for all the videos in block B. Then click the play button in the top right corner of block B. The videos should start converting, and you should be able to watch the progress in block C.

Step 3: Edit with your proxies – Once Adobe Media Composer finishes creating your proxies, you should have identical file structures in the Assets (01) and the Proxies (02) folder. Now all that you have to do is import the proxy folder into Premiere and you can start editing.

With proxies (especially 720 Twitter proxies), you should be able to edit without much lag on just about any computer.

Step 4: Relink your high-quality media – Once you get done editing and have reached picture lock, you’ll need to dump the proxies and reconnect the high-quality media. This is fairly easy in premiere. First, select all the media you want to replace.

[Note: If your timeline is a mess, this is the point where you should clean it up. You strategy you want want to use is putting each type of media on a separate track. V1 can be original interview footage. V2 can be original b-roll. V3 can be archival video. V4 can be stills. V5 can be graphics. And you can keep going based on your project. If you used multiple cameras you can also keep those on separate tracks.]

Once you have all your proxy clips selected, right-mouse click (or control+click) and select “Make Offline…”

Your timeline will now be covered with red clips. Don’t worry we’ll fix it in just a couple clips. Select all the clips and right-mouse click again. This time you will click “Link Media…” When you do, the following box will pop up:

The box will list all your missing media. Select one of the clip and then choose “Locate.” A finder box will pop-up and all you have to do is point Premiere to our Assets folder (01) and click search. Premiere will find the high-quality version of the file that we have in that folder. Hit OK. Then ideally, Premiere will not only link the file you click, but will connect all the missing files. This is assuming you created identical files structures between folders 01 and 02.

If they aren’t identical you might need to go through the process a few times, telling Premiere where to look, to reconnect all the files.

Once you reconnect everything, you should be ready to export.