The Adobe Premiere Pro Export Guide (Part One): Codecs

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:

Premiere Pro Export

I’m not going to explain how to export to tape in this article. You have two major options:

  • Media
  • 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):

Adobe Premiere Pro Export Settings


Premiere Pro supports the following video codecs for export:

  • DNxHD MXF OP1a (all options)
  • Flash video
  • H.264
  • MPEG2
  • MPEG4
  • P2
  • Quicktime (all installed codecs, including Prores)
  • AVC-Intra
  • 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)
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • Targa
  • TIFF

There is no OpenEXR option.

Premiere Pro supports the following audio codecs:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • MP3
  • WAV

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:

Premiere Pro Metadata Settings

You don’t always need Metadata carried over from Prelude and Premiere Pro to your master. Not all applications support XMP fully.

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):

Adobe Media Encoder

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
  • Speedgrade
  • Encore
  • Third-party applications

21 replies on “The Adobe Premiere Pro Export Guide (Part One): Codecs”

  1. Hi guys, for shutterstock they recommend to export PhotoJPEG – Non-DV progressive scanned video. Use the 75% / high quality level.

    I can not find PhotoJPEG choice on Export Media on my premiere, any ideas?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Careful: K and k are two different symbols, with different meanings.

    K = kelvin

    k = kilo- = 1 000

    It’s kHz, not *KHz.

  3. Sareesh Sudhakaran WilliamRanieri I have a 1280×72 side-by-side Skpye  recording with ecamm call recorder, that I’ve edited and tried to export at the same 1280×720 in . The Original is 14.493 fps, but the H.264/Match Source-High Bitrate sets the output at 1fps which trashes everything…If I try and export it as a QT, it gets the fps, but changes the video size, adding a letterbox view. I’m trying to export it as original size/quality, so I can upload it afterwards to Limelight for streaming.

    Thank you for your insight.

  4. bhud 24 fps is the same as 23.976 fps. You might have also chosen PAL, but I don’t see how that would affect your choice.

    Most likely you’re doing something wrong, because it’s always there.

  5. If my frame rate is 24 fps but when i need to render it already, i dont have anything for 24 fps under the preset tab. What should I use or do i need to download it?

  6. if I rendered an aftereffects animation and a premier pro movie into Quicktime separately, how can I join them together in cs3?

  7. Well, I render now these semi-bounce videofiles to H264. Then I get them back to timeline again and keep on editing, otherwise the un-noise & uprez filters eat all my processing powers.  So when I move to after effects to make more sophisticated effects, what compression method I should use in my 4K project. I cannot just “go” to after effects cos all the filters in premiere has to be rendered..

    You see now dear Sareesh?

  8. You really know your thing, Sareesh!
    But what if I need to make a temp render premiere pro cc in 4K, you see i have a lot of noise filters and upscale stuff and film colors.. All the good you know..

    I cannot bring back DXP image sequence. It used to be possible to use uncopressed avi and I did that a lot with 1080P but now it cannot render out 4K – at least with default settings.

    Can you help me on this?

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