As digital camera technology has evolved, so has the post-production process. The raw footage which editors are given has become increasingly larger and larger. This can pose a problem for an efficient and seamless post-production process. One of the best solutions for these problems is the utilization of proxy videos. What is proxy video in video editing and when should it be used? Let’s take a look. 

What is Proxy Video in Editing?

A quick definition of proxy video

Understanding the proxy video definition will help you understand why they might be beneficial to use. Let’s define proxy video before we take a look at their pros and cons. 

WHAT IS PROXY DEFINITION

What is proxy video?

A proxy video is a duplicate, transcoded file of a project’s source footage that is smaller in data size and lower in resolution than the original video file. Video proxies are used to replace raw footage files during post-production for more efficient and faster video editing and rendering. How? The smaller file sizes of proxy videos are able to load and edit more quickly than larger, raw footage files. 

What is proxy video used for?

  • Improving video editing software performance
  • Freeing up data space on hard drives 
  • Reducing video rendering times

What is Proxy Video Good For?

Pros of using proxy videos

What are the benefits of using proxies? While there are quite a few, there are a few standout pros that make proxies an appealing tool for any editor.

Improve performance of editing software

These days, owning a decent laptop or computer is more common among aspiring filmmakers. However, not all of us can afford the latest and greatest processors or best editing laptops. Proxies allow those of us with average performing editing hardware to improve the performance of the editing software we use. 

Because proxies are smaller file sizes, editing softwares like DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere can run a bit more smoothly on hardware that lacks outstanding processing power. 

Reduce rendering times

Even if you do have a laptop or computer that is able to run an editing software at a decent performance, you may notice dropped frames or slow rendering times. In other words, previews may take a while to load and view.

Using proxies in your edit actually reduces rendering times so that previews of your edit loads much faster. This can really decrease the time it takes for an edit and smoothen out the process for an editor. 

Free up space in hard drives

Finally, since proxies are much smaller in file size, they will free up space in your internal or external hard drives. You can keep your source footage in the drives you initially dump them in and relink them to the proxies after the edit is complete. There is no need to keep the sometimes enormous file size source footage on every hard drive you edit with. 

For more, check out our buying guide for best laptops for editing.

What is Proxy Video Not Good For?

Cons of using proxy videos

Using proxies seems like a no-brainer. However, before you start using them, it’s important to be aware of a few cons to them as well. 

Extra setup time in post-production

Using proxies will mean creating proxies during post-production. Creating proxies requires extra set-up time since every single shot and file will need to be transcoded into a proxy file. 

In addition to creating the proxy files, an organizational system must be created and implemented to ensure that it is easy to relink source footage to proxies later. Specifically, proxy files need to be the same exact name as the source footage file they are duplicated from. Here is a video of an editor working with proxies to show you how you might organize your workflow. 

How to make proxies  •  Editing with Proxies

This organizational system is also important if there are multiple editors working on a project. This may be a naming convention or system that ensures it will be easy to relink a project later on. 

Previews will be in low-resolution

Another downside to using proxies is that the rendered previews of your edit will be a lower resolution than your source footage. To make the file sizes smaller, proxies sacrifice the quality of the footage. 

Most editing softwares, however, have the ability to toggle the use of proxies in the rendered preview with a simple click of a button. This makes it easier to check if a shot is usable, out of focus, or in focus. 

What is Proxy Video in Video Editing?

When to use proxy videos

We’ve taken a look at the pros and cons to using proxy videos. Now, let’s take a look at some of the primary situations when using proxy videos in the post-production process might be a good idea. 

Low performance editing computers

As we mentioned earlier, proxies are a great tool if you are using hardware with low processing power. Using source footage on a low performance editing computer can be a nightmare. And it will slow down the editing process remarkably. This is especially true when creating any type of visual effects within your edit

Multi-site post-production

These days, it is not uncommon to have post-production team members work remotely. Transferring large source footage files can be time consuming and sometimes impossible. 

Proxies allow editors to receive files from anywhere more quickly so that post-production can start sooner or so it may be executed in another location. 

Protection of source footage

Finally, if there are multiple editors working on a project, using proxies can help protect source footage. The use of proxies allows editors to edit with files that are separate from the source footage files. This means if mistakes are made or files are corrupted or compromised during the editing process, the source footage files are still safe. 

Film editing with proxies has become a common practice as camera technology has evolved and file sizes have become larger and larger. Proxies are a great solution for anyone looking to streamline their post-production workflow, edit with a bit more flexibility, or to provide a bit more protection to their source footage files. 

Up Next

Video Production Process Explained

If you’re looking for more ways to streamline your video production process and make the workflow more efficient where you can, check out our next article. We breakdown the phases of production, including post-production, for those looking to learn about the process. 

Up Next: Production Process →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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