How to Use Video Proxies to Speed Up Your Editing Process

Female Video Editor Works with Footage on Her Personal Computer with Big Display.

Videos is the most one of the most effective vehicles for communication and content, alongside the written word, and the cartoon opera. So it’s no wonder that high-quality video content has become an essential part of any marketing strategy. 

And thanks to increasingly affordable cameras, shooting a professional video is getting easier too. But editing high-resolution footage can be extremely time-consuming and eat up a lot of your computer’s processing power. Fortunately, you can work with a video proxy instead.

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What are video proxies?

A proxy video is just a smaller and lower-quality copy of a high-resolution video. Video proxies are typically created to stand in for raw footage during the editing process. The reason? Smaller files (aka proxy files) are easier to work with because they’ll load faster and use less processing power. Then, when the editing process is completed, the video can be exported using the high-quality original files. 

Why edit using proxies?

High-quality raw footage can take up an enormous amount of hard drive space and is much slower for your computer and your video editor to process. If you’ve got a powerful processor and a high-quality offline video editor, that might not be a problem. But for those on a laptop or other device that may experience lag times when working with large files, using a proxy file can make the editing process much faster and smoother because your computer and your editor won’t have to work as hard or as long to load and render previews. 

How does a proxy work in video editing?

Working with proxy files for video editing is much faster than 4k video editing. If you don’t know how to create proxies, here are a few different methods. Which one you choose will depend on your video and editing equipment.  

How to record a proxy file

The quickest way to create proxies is to shoot them. Some cameras (such as the Sony A7 III) actually offer the option to simultaneously record proxy video files and hig-resolution files. In this case, you won’t have to convert your raw footage to create proxies, saving time. 

If you use an editor that supports a proxy workflow, just remember to attach your proxy files to your project during the editing process. If your video editor doesn’t allow you to attach proxies to your project, edit the video using the proxy files, and then swap the original files in before exporting (as described below in “How to make a proxy manually”). 

How to make a proxy in your video editor

If your video camera doesn’t include a proxy recording option, don’t worry. Some video editors (including Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Final Cut Pro X, and Vegas Pro) will convert high-resolution video to proxy videos for you. 

In Adobe Premiere Pro CC, for example, this is as simple as selecting the raw footage, right-clicking, and selecting “create proxies”. From there, you can choose what kind of format and file size you want to work with. Once you’re done with the editing process, your video editor will use the original, high-quality files to export the project. 

How to make a proxy manually

If your video editor doesn’t give you the option to create proxies, you can create proxy files manually. You’ll need to keep your files organized and have access to a video converter (try Handbrake or FFmpeg if your editing software doesn’t include one). 

  • First, copy your raw footage and separate it into two different folders, keeping identical names on the files within each folder. 
  • Then, convert the files in one of the folders to a smaller, more manageable size. Those are the proxies you’ll use during the editing process. 
  • When you’re done editing, save your project and close your video editor. 
  • Next, you’ll swap the names on your two folders (so if your proxy folder was named “proxy”, you’ll now name your original files folder “proxy” and you can name the actual proxy folder something like “proxy for editing” to indicate which is which). Once that’s done, reopen your project in the video editor and export. Your final product will use the high-quality files instead of the proxies. 

Pros and cons of proxy video editing

Proxies can make editing video files faster and easier, but there is some technical expertise required to create and manage proxy files.  Here are the pros and cons of using proxy files:

Pros of using proxy files

  • Proxy videos can improve the performance of your editing app.
  • Using proxy videos reduces the amount of time your computer needs to render previews. 
  • Proxy files occupy significantly less space on your computer’s hard drive than raw footage. 

Cons of using proxy files

  • Creating proxy files requires a little more setup time than just editing raw footage. 
  • Creating proxy files manually can be time-consuming and requires careful organization. 
  • When using proxy files during the editing process, your previews are going to appear in low resolution.

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