How to Fix Playback Lag in Adobe Premiere Pro

Unless you work on an ultra-powerful computer built specifically for video editing, chances are you struggle with playback lag. There are several factors that can create lag when playing back your footage during the editing process, such as video resolution, intensity of effects and color correction, and the capabilities of your computer hardware. In this post, we cover three of the easiest ways to address this issue.

1. Adjust Your Preview Resolution

The quickest way to fix playback lag is by adjusting your preview resolution. You can do this either by going to the “Sequence” menu, clicking “Sequence Settings,” and adjusting the resolution of your video previews.

As you can see in the example below, my preview resolution is currently set to 1920 x 1080. To help with our playback, we are going to want to decrease our resolution, while maintaining our 16:9 aspect ratio. For the example video, we can simply change the resolution to 1280 x 720. By decreasing the resolution, we reduce the volume of data that the computer needs to consider when playing back our video, creating less lag and an overall smoother experience. Note that this will not affect the actual resolution of your sequence, just your video previews.

You can also adjust your playback resolution by going to the bottom right corner of your program monitor, clicking on the “Select Playback Resolution” dropdown, and selecting one of the options, which will adjust your playback resolution to a fraction of its original size. With 1080p footage, like we have in this example, we are given the option to drop our resolution to ½ or ¼. When even larger footage is used, we will also be given the option of 1/8 or 1/16. Selecting “Full” will use the original playback resolution.

2. Render Your Footage

If you are still encountering playback issues after adjusting the resolution, my next suggestion would be to render your footage. This will always help with playback speed and clarity, but it can take a while, especially if your project uses complex effects or you’re editing on a slow computer. To render your timeline, go to “Sequence”, “Render In to Out.”

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to wait on rendering your entire timeline, you can render specific portions of the video by adding a few in and out points to your timeline before rendering.

3. Using Proxy Files

If you are still encountering playback lag, you should consider using proxy files. These files must be configured at the beginning of the editing process. If you know you are going to be working on a computer that will struggle with lag, you should set these ahead of time. It can be a bit of a time-consuming process, but can make a big difference when working with larger, more complex projects. To learn more about what proxy files are and how to use them, check out our post on proxy files here, or watch our tutorial, How to Create Proxy Files, on YouTube.

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Check out our Keystone Academy YouTube tutorial to learn more about how you can use proxy files to improve your workflow.