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Helpful Tips for Staying Productive Through Long Exports

Jourdan Aldredge

How to maximize your productivity. Here’s a constructive guide to staying busy — and sane — during long, arduous exports.

For all the great quick tips, YouTube tutorials, and film school courses you sit through that teach the basics of video editing, there’s one part of the process you simply cannot teach — how to stay productive during those long, grueling exports. If you ask any editor, they’ll tell you that export times are the bane of their existence.

Not only do they take forever, they can be mentally and emotionally draining as well. You’re rushing to get an export done so you do a final upload with a client breathing down your neck. You’re sitting twiddling your thumbs for hours when you have another — just as important — project to dive into next.

And what’s worse — things can still go wrong! Exports crash. Hard drives fail. Or, you discover one last mistake you forgot to fix and have to start the whole export over again.

Well, while there’re no foolproof methods for guaranteeing perfect exports where your productivity never has to wane, there are some simple, creative tips, workflow adjustments, and programs that can help to keep you productive — and sane — through your export process.

Use Adobe Media Encoder

Helpful Tips for Staying Productive Through Long Exports — Adobe Media Encoder

If you’re using Adobe Premiere Pro (or After Effects) and aren’t familiar with Media Encoder, you need to check it out right now. Not only is it part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, it’s also free to use. When you go to export in Premiere Pro, you’ll notice that the default button highlight isn’t “export” but “queue.” This button will take you directly to Media Encoder for your export.

There are many reasons to use Media Encoder over exporting directly with Premiere Pro. However, the biggest reason is the flexibility it offers to stack and batch multiple exports at once. You can read a good deal more about how to unlock the power of Media Encoder here:

Queue Exports for Downtime

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to stay productive as an editor is to not let exports take away your valuable work time. If time affords you the luxury, queue up your exports throughout your work day. Then, leave them to export over your downtime, whether that means queuing up multiple videos in Media Encoder to export overnight, your lunch break, or whatever. When I was in-house at a video production agency, it was a cardinal sin for any editor to be exporting during normal work hours (unless told to directly).

Upload While Exporting

Another trick to maximize productivity during exports is to put in place a workflow of uploading your files while you’re exporting. Uploading footage to file sharing services or to video hosting websites like YouTube or Vimeo can sometimes take just as long as the exports themselves.

Similarly, if you combine these two downtimes together you save yourself from having to handle each part separately. If your computer can handle it, you could cut your downtime in half.

Quick Export Drafts in Low-Res

An editor should have a pretty good idea of which exports are going to be rough drafts for review (or client feedback, etc.) and which exports are going to be for final upload. If you’re working with drafts, make it your standard practice to export videos at a much lower resolution.

Not only does this save on export times, it also creates smaller file sizes for quick and easy sharing. Yes, some clients might want to see everything in 4K or HD. But, you can always share high resolution screen grabs or images to confirm footage quality or color design.

Low-Processing Power Tasks

Helpful Tips for Staying Productive Through Long Exports — Low-Processing Power Tasks

Image by ImageBySutipond.

Not all of us are lucky enough to be working on ten-thousand dollar editing stations (or even the latest iMacs or top of the line PCs). So, for the majority of us editors, starting an export often means stepping away from your computer and praying it makes it through without crashing.

Still, even if the export seems to be taxing your computer to the extreme, there are steps you can take to free up processing power, be aware of what’s available, and a few low-processing power tasks that you can still tackle.

First off, close all open programs and web browsers before an export. For some, it might even be beneficial to do a full restart of your computer before starting an export batch. You can also keep tabs on your computer’s processing performance by using Task Manager for PC and Activity Monitor for Mac.

Personally, I’ve found that unless you have a second computer (like a laptop, or even a very inexpensive Chromebook), there are tasks you can perform with very limited processing power. You can use export time to respond to emails, update your professional pages, or browse through helpful filmmaker communities like Reddit, as you’re monitoring to make sure it’s not taxing your computer too much.

Cover image by ImageBySutipond.

For more productivity and video editing advice and tips, check out some of these articles below.

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