BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):
Q1: How do I keep Adobe Premiere from crashing/slowing down when my project gets too big?
A: Use the Media Browser instead of importing the files into your project.
Q2: How do I keep Adobe Premiere from crashing/slowing down when I’m working with still photos in my timeline?
A: Your photos are probably huge. Use Photoshop to resize them to a video/film frame size.
I was recently at a two-week small-arms/photography/videography training exercise (you’re not gonna find that combo anywhere but combat camera.) Besides being one of the mass communication instructors, I was also tasked with editing a video using the VI products the students were turning in. There were 16 students, and every day I chopped up each of their primecut reels and interview reels and organized them on timelines. Sixteen primecuts per day for two weeks equals a lot of footage. I worked in one Premiere project for the entire time.
On one of the first nights of the exercise, some of the students were surprised to hear that when I’m on a real-world mission, I will usually work in one project for weeks at a time. I explained that I’m able to do this because I keep my projects lean by using Premiere’s built-in Media Browser. I assumed everybody has been using Media Browser for a while now, so I just glossed over the point and moved on to the next subject.
At the end of the two-week exercise, the best editor from each team edited together a multi using footage/photos his team had captured throughout the exercise. That’s when the trouble started. Computers were freezing up, Premiere was crashing, projects were getting corrupted and error messages were flying. At first I didn’t know what was causing the havoc, but a quick peek into the editors’ workflows pointed toward two culprits:
1. Editors were importing entire primecut reels into their projects instead of using Media Browser to load the clip into the Source window and edit from there.
2. Editors were working with (many) full-sized JPG stills in their timelines. Instead of resizing the photos to a reasonable size (e.g.: 1920×1080) before bringing them into Premiere, editors were resizing in Premiere.
(Just for your situational awareness, the problems we were having were on MacBooks running OS X with 16 gigs of RAM and a 2.7 GHz processor and using Premiere CS6)
Using the Media Browser and resizing photos in Photoshop are two really easy workflow shifts that’ll really help keep your Primo projects lean and mean. Here’s how I roll:
Media Browser in Premiere
If you want to keep your Premiere project lean, DO NOT IMPORT VIDEO into the project. Use the Media Browser. One of the advantages of Premiere over other systems is that it can work with almost every video file format without having to transcode it. This means you don’t have to import a ton of video into your project. So, you can leave the video where it lives on your computer or hard drive, and just use the Media Browser to navigate to the video files.
Find the Media Browser
You can find the Media Browser tab behind the Project tab (if your Workspace is set to “Editing” in CS6).
Navigate to the Video Files
In the Media browser tab, navigate to the folder where you keep your video. I keep my video in my “Movies” folder. In this example, I’ve navigated to some F-35 footage I shot in October 2014. Once I’ve navigated to my video folder, thumbnails of the video clips appear in the Media Browser.
Double-clicking a thumbnail will load the video clip into the Source Monitor where I can create In and Out points and edit into the Timeline.
I haven’t done any research on it, but I’m pretty sure this is the way Premiere is designed to work now. At our training exercise we had folks importing clips into their projects (File> Import). Their projects were dealing with 14 days of footage from multiple people, they were importing a ton of footage, and I believe that is what was freezing and crashing their projects. Once we got them using the Media Browser workflow most of the crashing issues cleared up.
Resize Photos to a Video Frame Size
Still photos were another thing that was causing Premiere to freeze or crash. Some of the editors were importing full-sized photos and scaling them down in Premiere. At the very least, this is going to slow Premiere down. Once the editors had edited in a bunch of these full-sized photos Premiere started crashing and freezing.
There are a million ways to resize a photo. In Photoshop, go to “Image > Image Size” (or CMD + OPT + I). In the Image Size dialog box, change the width of the photo to something closer to the 1920 pixel-width of a video frame.
The example I used here was a JPG that had already been compressed, and it was still 4928 pixels wide (about two and a half times bigger than the typical video frame width of 1920 pixels).
(One more point about resizing photos: I save my JPGs at a medium quality of 7. I know this is probably heresy to some people, but it gives me a good quality image that isn’t a pain in the ass to move around and manipulate.)
In Conclusion …
So, these were two fixes to Adobe Premiere problems we were having at our COMCAM exercise. If you’ve got any fixes or bugs, please hit me up and let me know.