We all dread the moment that our editing software freezes. We cross our fingers and hope it will come back. But alas, nothing changes, and we resort to the force quit. Experiencing lags and frozen screens while editing can be extremely frustrating, and it happens to the best of us, from novices to pro. So what can you do to prevent slow playback, crashes, or freezes from happening? There are many factors that could be contributing to a slow editing experience — these are the steps you need to take to ensure that you’re getting optimal performance out of Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Optimizing Your System
First off, you want to make sure you have at least 8GB of RAM (I’d recommend even 16GB as a minimum) and a fast graphics processing unit (GPU). You also should know that solid state drives (SSDs) are much faster that than hard drives that depend on a spinning disk. You definitely want to be editing from a computer that has an SSD. Here are my recommended laptop computer systems for both Mac and PC users.
- MAC: $2,499 13″ Macbook Pro, 16GB RAM, 512SSD, GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
- PC: $2199 15″ Gigabyte Aero 15X v8-BK4 Notebook, 16GB Ram, 512GB SSD, GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
Many effects and plugins for Premiere Pro CC require GPU acceleration for rendering and playback. If you don’t have this on, you will either get a warning or experience higher render times and very slow playback.
To make sure you do have this on, go to File > Project Settings > General. Under “Video Rendering and Playback,” there’s a “Renderer” dropdown. From this dropdown, you should select “Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration.”
For Mac, you will have two options: OpenCL or Metal. Try both and see which version works best on your system .
For PC, you should have CUDA as an option.
No matter what system you have, you do not want to have “Mercury Playback Engine Software Only” selected.
Media Cache Settings and Location
Whenever you import video, image, or audio files into Premiere Pro, it processes and creates cache versions of them so that it can quickly access and read them from your drive. For example, audio files are turned into .cfa files and mpeg files are “cached” into .mpgindex files.
Over time, these cache files can not only fill up your disk space, but also slow down your drive and your video editing workflow. This is why it’s very important to manage your media cache size and location.
If you have an internal SSD, you can set your media cache to your local drive to speed up your performance in Premiere Pro. To do this, go to Preferences > Media Cache and click on “Browse” to change your location.
If you don’t have enough space on your internal SSD, I’d recommend getting an external SSD that you can save your media cache to. The portable Samsung SSD 1TB is great for the video editor on the go.
Bonus Tip: If you finish projects fast, you can adjust your settings to automatically delete cache files older than any number of days you choose. You can set this to 30 days so it will reset quicker. You can also click on “Delete Unused” from the media cache preferences to remove any unused cache files.
If you’re running any other software on your computer while you edit, this will use up RAM on your computer. In Premiere Pro, you can tell your computer how much of your RAM you want to use for other applications and also how much you want to reserve for Adobe video apps.
To do this, go to Preferences > Memory. From here, you can designate more RAM for Premiere Pro. For example, I have 32GB of RAM on my Mac, and I designate 26GB to be shared by After Effects, Premiere Pro, Adobe Media Encoder, and Audition.
You can create proxy versions (smaller versions) of your full-resolution video to edit faster in Premiere Pro. For example, if you edit in 1080p, you can create 480p versions of your video to edit with. Check out the blog post below for an in-depth look at doing this.
If you’re still experiencing lags on your playback (this can happen as you add more effects), I’d also recommend reducing your program playback resolution from “Full” to 1/2 or 1/4 resolution. This will not reduce the quality of your video — it will just use less memory to display and play it back in your timeline. So, for example, if you set your monitor playback at 1/2, as you play it back, it will look like 1/2 your normal resolution, but it will play back much faster for editing purposes.
Taking the time to make sure you have the right hardware, memory, GPU settings, and media cache settings will ensure that you are editing at optimal speed. Additionally, adjusting your playback resolution and creating proxies can speed up your workflow.
If you have any other questions about your hardware and what settings to use, be sure to leave a comment below! You can also subscribe to my Premiere Gal YouTube channel for weekly video editing and production tutorials to help you create better video.