Smart Rendering is a "workflow" to export files 20 times faster by using your preview files to assist the export.
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.
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.
Creating a file for YouTube or Broadcast
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.
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.
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.
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?
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...
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)
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 ?
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.
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.
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.