So you have backed up your footage and you are now ready to edit. If you have the computer to handle it and you know you will be the sole editor from start to finish on the project, then, great, proxies are probably not necessary. But, if your computer struggles at the sight of compute-intensive H.264 files, especially 4K or higher ones, or if you have even the inkling that the edit might be sent to someone else for coloring, audio, final touches, whatever, then proxies are a very good idea.
Cloud proxy workflow
My workflow is to have all edit-necessary files in the cloud. This includes Premiere Pro save folders, audio, graphics, music, and proxies synced up on Dropbox. Really the only files that shouldn’t be synced with the cloud are the raw media files. Having all edit-necessary files on Dropbox makes sharing an edit easier and gives me peace of mind if the hard drive fails.
In detail, audio files are synced because they are not large in file size and they are often extracted inside Adobe Audition and reinserted into the Premiere project. If the files are on the back-up drive when they are extracted, the resulting files will be saved to the back-up drive, making editing unplugged from the back-up drives (meaning offline) impossible. Audio files should be in the cloud because the extracted versions will get saved there as well. This gets rid of the need for an external hard drive to listen to an edit. The concept of saving to the cloud is the same here for graphics, music, and other lightweight media.
Proxy files are synced for the same reason as audio files; to allow editing anywhere and on any computer. If a second editor needs access to the project, all I have to do is share the Dropbox client project folder with them. After 20 or so minutes of downloading, they will have the entire project in lightweight proxy form.
Each project is generally around 30-40 GB of content in the cloud, which is totally manageable compared to the 400 GB to 1.5 TB of data backed up on (multiple) drives.
Creating proxies in new projects
While creating a new project, navigate to the Ingest Settings tab. Enable Ingest and pick Create Proxies from the dropdown. I like to go with the 720p ProRes 422 Proxy preset. Make sure that your proxy destination is set to a proxy folder in your project folder in the cloud.
Once you have made your project, navigate to your files using the Media Browser panel. If it is not open already, go to Window and enable the Media Browser. Displayed in the top left corner is an Ingest checkbox. Enable it. Locate your files. Drag them into your project. Adobe Media Encoder should begin loading and processing your files.
Creating proxies in preexisting projects
With a preexisting project with files already in project bins, highlight what you want to create proxies from, right click, hover over Proxy, and click Create Proxies.
Choose your format (Quicktime), preset (720 ProRes 422 Proxy), and save destination. Like with creating proxies in new projects, it would be a good idea to save your proxies to a proxy folder in the cloud.
Once all proxies have been created, save and close the project. Unplug the hard drive. Reopen the project. Premiere will say that it is missing some files. Notice that these files are the footage files that you just created proxies from. Click “Offline all.” The project will continue to open. If all is good, your footage files should load in proxy form in the Program monitor just as normal.
If at any point you want to switch back to the original files, plug in your hard drive, select all in the Project panel, right click, and pick Link Media.
The same popup that occurred earlier when first opening the project without the hard drive should come up again. Click Locate, navigate to the selected file on the hard drive, and click Ok. Premiere will quickly remember the file structure for the rest of the files and find the rest of them.