This guide explores the export capabilities of Adobe Premiere Pro.
It is written for the beginner, so you can understand what is possible with Adobe Premiere Pro and what isn’t. Hopefully by the end, you should be able to decide whether Premiere Pro is the right tool for your workflow or not. I highly recommend you read the Adobe Premiere Pro manual (click here to see how to get it) for a more detailed overview once you’re done with this guide.
In this part we’ll look at the basics of exporting, and which codecs are supported.
How to export a movie from Adobe Premiere Pro
To export anything, go to File > Export and you’ll get this:
I’m not going to explain how to export to tape in this article. You have two major options:
- Export the project to a third-party application via EDL, OMF, AAF or XML (Only FCP 7 XMEML. There is no FCPXML support).
In this part, we’ll look at what options you have under ‘Media…‘.
Codecs supported by Adobe Premiere Pro for export
When you select Media… you get the following popup (click to enlarge):
Premiere Pro supports the following video codecs for export:
- DNxHD MXF OP1a (all options)
- Flash video
- Quicktime (all installed codecs, including Prores)
- XDCAM EX and HD via MXF OP1a
- IMX via MXF OP1a
There is no AVI uncompressed video option. You can export uncompressed video via Quicktime. With image sequences and Quicktime, you have the following frame rate options: 1, 5, 6, 7.5. 8, 9, 10, 12, 12,5, 15, 23.976, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 50, 59.94, and 60 fps.
Premiere Pro supports the following image sequences:
- DPX (up to 16-bit)
There is no OpenEXR option.
Premiere Pro supports the following audio codecs:
Under Quicktime, it also supports Quicktime-specific audio codecs installed. Premiere Pro supports a maximum of 32 channels, up to 32-bit float depth, and up to 96 KHz sampling frequency.
As you can see in the second box under Export Settings, you can create custom settings if you don’t like the presets given to you. This helps greatly if you’re working on non-standard projects with different resolutions, aspect ratios, frame rates, etc. These settings can be saved as presets for future use.
Some additional notes:
- Always pay attention to the Output view rather than the Source view. It should show exactly how your video will look, black boxes and all.
- When exporting an entire sequence, make sure you select that option under Source Range (left panel, bottom). If you’re only exporting a few clips for reference or whatever, mark in and out points or the work area bar and then export – or you might have to wait for a long time!
- When exporting the final master, check Use Maximum Render Quality. The file size does not vary, but I assume this is Adobe’s way of just making sure the calculations are correct, so it will take more time. I could notice a slight improvement when this option was selected. When in doubt, test. Don’t select Frame Blending. I prefer using After Effects for this because it offers more control.
- You can directly upload your finished file to the heavens via FTP.
- To change metadata settings, click the Metadata… button (right panel bottom). You’ll get this:
If you’re in doubt, export metadata as a sidecar by selecting ‘Create Sidecar File’.
Creating a master from Adobe Premiere Pro
When you are exporting as shown above, you are using the Adobe Media Encoder. If you like to export using the Media Encoder, hit Queue instead of Export and launch Adobe Media Encoder (it’s a separate application that comes with Premiere Pro):
The general settings are the same, but sometimes you see variations between different apps (No, I didn’t compare them one by one). You can batch render your work from Encoder, and this is a more professional approach when you have multiple renders going all day long. You also won’t render the same thing again if you’re the forgetful type!
I prefer these settings in general for your master:
- Cinema, Shorts, Documentaries and Broadcast: Uncompressed DPX sequence (for 10-bit to 16-bit) and uncompressed TIFF (for 8-bit*). No exceptions!
- Blu-ray and DVD: Standards are fixed to H.264 and MPEG-2. Use the maximum possible, and I recommend using Encore after having created a master in Adobe Media Encoder.
- 1080p Internet and Mobile Device: 8 Mbps H.264
- 720p Internet and Mobile Device: 5 Mbps H.264
- SD Internet and Mobile Device: 1 or 2 Mbps H.264
You can use the above values as a starting point and then go as low as possible until the quality is no longer acceptable. The only time I draw the line is with the uncompressed option. Even a ‘measly’ 5-minute 4K corporate video is only 400 GB uncompressed. A 4 TB drive costs about $150, and you can dump 10 of these videos in one drive.
Remember, I’m talking about the master, not the deliverables. These are created from the master. I can’t begin to imagine why anyone would want to spend thousands (if not millions) on an important watershed project and then master it in a compressed codec.
*Important Note: Adobe Premiere Pro limits TIFF to 8-bit for export (up to 16-bit for DPX though), even if you select Render at Maximum Depth. For this reason I highly recommend After Effects or Speedgrade for mastering if you prefer TIFF over DPX.
In Part Two we’ll look at how to export to:
- Adobe After Effects
- Third-party applications