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FAQ: What is Smart Rendering?

Adobe Employee ,
Oct 03, 2019 Oct 03, 2019

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Smart Rendering is a "workflow" to export files 20 times faster by using your preview files to assist the export.

How:

  • Change the Sequence Settings to one of the following codecs for rendering preview files: ProRes, DNxHD/HR, or GoPro Cineform.
  • Render previews of any clips with effects and clips that are not the same as the new smart rendering codec, as well. 
  • Export the sequence using the same codec you rendered previews with.
  • Export a file with "Match Sequence Settings" enabled and the "Use Previews" box checked.
  • The export goes 20x faster.

 

Changing Sequence Settings for smart rendering

Set up a "Custom" sequence setting to use for your footage, ideally before editing—but you can do so after you've gotten an edit going too.

  • Choose Sequence > Sequence Settings > Editing Mode > Custom
    • Scroll to the top of the list to find "Custom".
    • Settings should match the footage precisely.
    • You can set this up after working in the Sequence too, only you will be prompted to delete existing preview files—which you must do.
  • Change the Preview File Format's codec for rendering Video Previews to a smart rendering aware codec (ProRes, DNxHD/HR, GoPro Cineform). 
  • Preview Settings should also match the footage's frame size.
  • Click OK to save the Sequence Settings.
  • Choose Project Settings > Scratch Disk to ensure you are rendering previews to a high speed disk, capable of playing back and storing large preview files.
    • You'll need a lot of room to store these large files. These files are much larger than your source files.
    • Later, you can recover this storage after deleting the preview files.
    • Preview files are deleted after exporting to recover that storage.

 

Editing and rendering previews

Edit as you normally would but render the preview files as you go. Every time you walk away from the computer, render the timeline. You should see much better performance while editing in most cases since you're now editing with an intermediate codec in these rendered “green bar” sections. If you've already transcoded these files to ProRes or the like, these sections won't require a render (no bar).

 

Exporting a master

Now comes the export process. Render the timeline first from In to Out. If you've been rendering as you go, it should not take long.

  • Choose File > Export > Media. Set the Export Settings in the Export Settings dialog box with "Match Sequence Settings" enabled. This will set up the export as a file encoded using ProRes, DNxHD, etc.
  • Make sure to enable "Use Previews," to ensure the preview files will be used in the process.
  • Click the Export button. The export process is very fast.
  • Consider this your "master" file. It's a visually lossless copy that you can use to encode multiple versions of your sequence. 

 

Creating a file for YouTube or Broadcast

  • If you need web or other deliverables, import the Master you just created into Media Encoder and use the H.264 or H.265 presets for encoding. If you are doing that process over and over, you can also create a watch folder. You can also set up presets in Media Encoder to automatically upload to social sites.
  • The time it takes to encode a flattened mezzanine file to a H.264 copy should be much faster than exporting in the standard way
  • Note that it’s possible to simply upload the master to YouTube. Looks great, it just takes longer.

 

Even though there is some investment in time (and drive space) in rendering previews up front, there are lots of advantages to exporting files using this technique. Please try it and see if it helps improve export times.odd

Tip: Transcoding footage to a smart rendering codec before the editing process even begins can really speed up the export process by conforming odd frame rates, and frame sizes (especially, those served up by mobile devices). Other items can be added like a LUT for a one light color grade, or a watermark intended for social media. If you want to save even more time, acquire footage in one of these codecs at the shoot by using higher end cameras (or recorders like those from Atomos) right at the video shoot. Editing with this footage is also preferable since it is much more performant.

 

Back to the FAQ: How do I speed up rendering, exporting, or encoding?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 03, 2019 Oct 03, 2019

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One of the advantages of shooting in 4k when mastering and delivering in 1080 is that you can zoom in, animate, reframe your material without losing any quality.  If you transcode to 1080 before editing you'll lose this ability...  Otherwise this is great advice.    

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Adobe Employee ,
Oct 03, 2019 Oct 03, 2019

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Hey, good comment, mgrenadier. I usually keep my 4K transcodes at full raster for reframing purposes, then just render them back to ProRes in the Timeline. I should have make that clearer. Thank you!

 

By the way, these techniques are not widely known and I'm experimenting with better and faster workflows, especially for social media.

 

Let's keep this conversation going. Cheers.

 

Regards,
Kevin Monahan

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Adobe Employee ,
Feb 20, 2020 Feb 20, 2020

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Article on Smart Rendering by Larry Jordan with links to this article.

Premiere Pro: Export Faster with Smart Render

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New Here ,
May 08, 2020 May 08, 2020

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This has been fantastic. However I chose the DN720 for my codec (probably where I went wrong) And this exported a .MXF file. I then open Media Encoder to encode it to MP4 720p and the file exports really quick, but the file can't be opened, with various numbers as the extension in the file. What have I done wrong?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 08, 2020 May 08, 2020

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In my experience, MXF files can be tricky to work with. 

 

Try bringing your exported mxf file back in to premiere.  If that works, you should be able to export this file to another more usable format...  but there might be some loss in quality in this workflow so have a close look at the resulting file.

 

You might need to change your preview format in your sequence settings which of course will eliminate your time savings in this case but should help going forward...

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 05, 2020 Jun 05, 2020

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Thanks for your remarks. I am a new Premiere Pro 2020 user, and when Adobe Media Encoder comes up, I see the files in blue but there's no start button, which I'm hearing I should see. It must be something simple or I wouldn't ask. Thanks, Jed [personal info deleted by mod]

 

(I am also not pleased by the Mac Pro 2019)

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New Here ,
Mar 21, 2021 Mar 21, 2021

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hi kevin 

thank you 

i used it for short clips that was good but for long ones dosn't differ a lot (i guess the system causes this )

 i was thinking if i set sequence setting matching the source then check preview and use match source setting in export (h.264) it should be faster as it doesnt change the source a lot 

 is it possible to set preview setting match ...?

and  do you think it is faster ?

thank you

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Adobe Employee ,
Apr 19, 2021 Apr 19, 2021

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Hi,

H.264 export with hardware encoding (and decoding) is way faster these days, so Hardware Encoding is almost as fast for a one off export. A ProRes export comes in handy for producing multiple exports faster, though.

 

Smart rendering is also a secret weapon for doing 4K with underpowered systems. A lot of people are in this predicament right now and will be using smart rendering for that purpose, not rendering speed.

 

Thanks,
Kevin

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Adobe Employee ,
Sep 10, 2021 Sep 10, 2021

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LATEST

September of 2021: Update on Smart Rendering

I think it's still a valuable technique to know and use for many situations, especially those that are having trouble with their exports.

  • Problems exporting: If you can't complete an export, try a smart rendering pass to see if you can at least generate a ProRes master (or the smart rendering codec of your choice). 
  • Problems with playback of export: Working with a file that has been transcoded or rendered to an intraframe codec like ProRes can make for better, and higher quality exports. Since the source footage's Long GOP artifacts are removed after they are rendered into the new codec, you won't experience any strange frames, or playback freezing up in the exported file. 
  • No support for Hardware Encoding: Some computers that have AMD or Xeon CPUs do not support Quick Sync for H.264 footage, and therefore, no access to Hardware Encoding. In that regard, a smart rendering codec might be the better way to go over editing with H.264 footage. This category is in flux and could change the next time I update this article.
  • Many changes: If you have a workflow which is senstitive to last minute changes, smart rendering can often save time in generating masters with the fixes included more quickly than with a pure H.264 workflow.

 

Smart Rendering vs. Hardware Encoding in 2021

If you have a newer Intel CPU that features smart rendering and a GPU that supports hardware encoding, with H.264 fooage, an export which uses "Hardware Encoding" and 1 pass VBR may be fast enough to be satisfactory for most editors.

 

You may wish to do a speed test between the H.264 and the ProRes (or what have you) to see if there is any advantage using one workflow over the other.

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