With the video production standard increasing from high-definition 4K to 8K footage, editing now involves working with file sizes that are larger than ever. Since rendering time rises exponentially with bigger file sizes, optimizing for rendering speed is a key factor in reducing time when exporting your final video. But is it possible to export a video without rendering?
You can export a video without rendering. In some specialized video editing programs, the video is rendered behind the scenes or can be turned off as an option altogether. When you go to export the footage, then it is done and rendered.
The rest of this article will explain everything from video editing industry terms, the different types of rendering in some popular video editing software programs, and a few tips for speeding up your video exports.
Video Editing Industry Terms
There are a few industry terms to understand (or refresh your memory) before diving into the processes and workflows of exporting a video while using some of the most popular video editing software tools such as Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro.
Rendering is the process in which a computer converts coded data information applying any edits or transformations, and ultimately producing an image or a finalized video file. The term rendering can also be used as a general industry description to encode and export a video file.
The process of rendering can be categorized by two different kinds of renderings, which are real-time rendering and advanced rendering. Real-time rendering happens when the computer can update and display images without any apparent or noticeable delay. However, your computer can only do so much real-time rendering at once!
Advanced rendering is when the computer takes additional time before any edits are done to generate a version that can be worked on in real-time. For example, some long animated movies feature scenes that are too demanding for the computer to process, so it requires rendering prior to any edits.
The term “rendering” can also slightly differ depending on the video editing program you use. In Adobe Premiere Pro, the term “rendering” usually refers to the creation of the sequence menu’s preview files. In Apple Final Cut Pro, the term “rendering” usually refers to creating temporary files in the timeline for parts of your project that cannot be played in real-time.
In video editing and video production, “encoding” is a term that specifies the proper specifications and formats to ensure the file can be played through compatible video players or encoder software.
In the early days, video files were a compilation of photos. So in the case of 30 frames per second of footage, there were 30 photos on file for each second of the video. Considering it would take over a thousand photos (1,800 photos to be exact) for a single minute of footage, the size of the overall video file was huge!
Unfortunately, the quality of the footage was reduced when compressing the size of the video files to make them smaller. Therefore, video encoding was developed to compress these video files without compromising too much on the footage quality of the exported final video project.
There is often some confusion between the word “exporting” and “rendering” as the two terms are often used interchangeably in the video production and editing industry. However, the term “exporting” is technically more precise when referring to the overall process of preparing a video clip and specifying the actual encoding that turns your work into a new video file.
Your computer works to combine the preparation and encoding processes in the overall workflow to export the finished project.
Background Rendering vs. Pre-Rendering
In some video editing programs, rendering happens in the background of the software. Generally, the advantage of background rendering is the time it takes to render. However, the disadvantage of background rendering is that it can slow your computer down as it takes up processing power.
In Apple Final Cut Pro, the program will render your video footage in the background after approximately 5 seconds of inactivity. As you continue to edit, Final Cut Pro will update your files to preview your work continuously. The time to render can be adjusted from a longer time frame of inactivity, or background rendering can be toggled off. Rendering can also be manually controlled for various portions of a video file or can be deleted to free up space.
In other video editing programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro, exporting a video file can be a very long and arduous process for your computer. With this in mind, it is important to pre-render, so exporting becomes faster.
Officially Adobe Premiere Pro calls this feature “smart rendering,” where media optimization for previews cuts down export processing time by doing more work prior to editing. Go for a quick coffee break or stretch your legs a bit to ensure that most of your timeline is pre-rendered as much as possible.
Once the timeline previews are rendered, exporting will take less time as your computer will not be re-rendering footage it has already rendered for your previews. Instead, Adobe Premiere Pro can use the pre-rendered timeline sections in the final media file, as long as you choose the ‘Use Previews’ option before exporting your final file. When using this pre-rendering video editing workflow, the exporting speed will reduce exponentially.
Render and Export Faster
Video editing requires a computer with high performance to ensure programs run smoothly. Since time is money, avoid wasting unnecessary time waiting for video projects to encode, render, and export. Computers with faster computer processing units (CPU), graphic processing units (GPU), and random access memory (RAM) will render at a faster speed as they work together to handle your intensive workload.
Since rendering is a process that takes up a lot of your computer’s CPU, consider reducing or having zero applications that run at startup to optimize a slower CPU. You can also upgrade your hard drive to a solid-state drive (SSD) that will access your data the fastest such as this Samsung 970 EVO SSD.
The GPU assists the CPU, which results in getting renderings done faster. Make sure the GPU drivers are updated, as outdated drivers can cause issues for your computer. Consider investing some serious money to boost your editing and rendering times, such as this AMD PowerColor Radeon RX 5700XT upgrade for the Mac Pro, or the latest GeForce RTX 3070 upgrade for the PC, which hit the market in October 2020.
Proxies are another way to speed up the process for large video projects. Proxies are duplicates of original footage while it being at a smaller size and lower bitrate than the source video. This allows you to not only edit high-resolution video formats while reducing the intensive load on your computer system’s capabilities but also save time and edit efficiently.
As the standard for video resolution increases, the file sizes also increase exponentially. This becomes more intensive on the computer hardware, ultimately taking much longer to export a finished project. While Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro are not the only video editing software options on the market, there are key differences in exporting video files from either program that optimizes for speed.
Whether it be using proxies to boost the general performance or investing in hardware upgrades for your computer workstation, it is always important to expand your knowledge and make proper adjustments that will optimize the overall speed of your video editing process. After all, time is money!
My Current Video Editing Setup and Favorite Products
Apple MacBook Air M1 512gb Ram (Waiting for the new 16in Pro)
LG 27MK400H-B Full HD Monitor with FreeSync 27″ (I literally have 4 of these 😅 )
Razer Holiday Bundle Cynosa Chroma Gaming Keyboard, Abyssus Gaming Mouse, Goliathus Chroma Mousepad
KTRIO Large Gaming Mouse Pad with Stitched Edges
Panasonic LUMIX G7 Digital Camera – Great Entry Camera for Shooting and Streaming
Neewer Ring Light Kit — A Must Have
Emart Green Screen Backdrop with Stand Kit – Affordable and Lots of Uses!
Elgato Stream Deck Mini – I only need the 6 keys
- Frame.io: 4 Tricks to Make Premiere Pro Exports Faster
- The Beat: How to Render and Export in After Effects
- Wikipedia: Rendering
- ProMAX Educational Blog: How Does Rendering Impact Video Quality?
- Techwalla: What is Video Rendering?
- DaCast: Video Encoding, The Definitive Guide
- Videomaker: What are Proxies and Why Do We Need Them?
- Motion Array: Final Cut Pro X Rendering Guide
- Apple: Background Rendering in Final Cut Pro
- MacPaw: How to Speed Up Final Cut Slow Processing
- DigiProTips: Export Up to 10x Faster In Premiere Pro!
- Driver Support: Why is Adobe Rush Slow at Rendering?
- Adobe Support Community Premiere Pro FAQ: What is Smart Rendering?
- Adobe Support Community: What is the Difference Between Rendering, Exporting, and Encoding?
- PennState: Importing Still Images for Stop Motion Animation With Final Cut Pro X