How to fix slow phone footage on Premiere Pro

Dec 25, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

How to fix slow phone footage on Premiere Pro

Dec 25, 2023

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

News Editor

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

How to fix slow phone footage on Premiere Pro

If you’re experiencing trouble and slowness when trying to edit phone footage in Premiere Pro, you’re not the only one. Phone footage can give you a headache even on strong PCs because it uses a different encoding method from camera footage. Let’s review why and how we fix that so you can start editing phone footage like a boss.

If you mix CFR (Constant Frame Rate) and VFR (Variable Frame Rate) footage in the same timeline, Premiere can struggle. It doesn’t really matter which frame rate you are working in. It is the mix that makes it difficult. You’d find it hard to scroll the timeline and probably see annoying lags. Sadly, this is not something that you can solve with proxies because even your proxies will be VFR.

Why is your phone footage slow in Premiere Pro?

Usually, if your phone footage is slow in Premiere Pro it’s because it’s encoded using VFR. As the name suggests, this format stores footage with a frame rate that changes throughout a clip. VFR is good at saving space. This is why you’ll find this format with smaller devices like smartphones or webcams (see the OBSBOT Tail Air, for example). The tradeoff is that the encoded file takes more CPU to decode. While VFR excellenteat for compressing video, Premiere Pro struggles to handle VFR clips.

How do you know if your clip is VFR encoded?

You can see if your files are VFR-encoded in Premiere Pro, but sometimes, you want a faster option.

Using Premiere Pro

It’s actually quite simple. Import your desired file to Premiere Pro. Right-click the file and select properties. Then, in the properties panel, look for “Variable Frame Rate Detected”. If you found it, your file is VFR.

Premiere Pro Properties window

Using MediaInfo

If you prefer avoiding Premiere to check if a clip is VFR or CFR, you can use MediaInfo. Here’s how:

1. Go to the File menu and open the source file. (Or CTRL+O)

MediaInfo

2. Go to the View menu and change the view mode to “tree”.

MediaInfo tree

3. Finally, scroll down until you find a line that says Frame rate mode. If it says “Variable frame rate“, then the file is encoded with VFR.

MediaInfo VFR

How to fix slow phone footage on Premiere Pro using Shutter Encoder?

To fix the slow phone footage, you will need to convert it from VFR to CFR (Constant Frame Rate). You can’t do this from within Premiere Pro, so you’ll need additional software. We recommend Shutter Encoder, but you can use other programs if you would like. (FFmpeg is another option if you are tech-savvy).

If you are constantly working with phone footage, then you should probably have this VFR to CFR conversion as part of your ingest workflow. Converting the footage to CFR early on will save a lot of headaches later in a project.

To convert using Shutter Encoder, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Shutter Encoder page and click “Downloads”. Download the version that you need. (Install versions are the “normal” versions. If you want to keep a version on a thumb drive, pick the Portable version.
  2. Once you launch Shutter Encoder, import the footage you want to convert using the browse button in the top left.
  3. Go to “Choose function” and select H.264. (Or whoever codec you want to work with).
  4. Once you select a “function”, Shutter Encoder will expand to reveal more features and settings. (If you just want to convert to CFR, you can ignore all of the new settings)
  5. [Optinal]: You can go to the bottom and change “Hardware acceleration” from “none” to whichever option is available. The options differ depending on your PC’s hardware. Using this option may make the export faster.
  6. Press the “Start function” button on the left.
  7. After Shutter Encoder completes the queue, it will open the destination folder of the new clip. By default, it is in the same folder as the source footage.
  8. That’s it. Your footage is fixed.

Keep in mind that your CFR-encoded footage will be larger than the original. Instead of minimizing the amount of frames throughout the clip, you have the constant maximum framerate of the original VFR version. In our case, the size increase was about 30%. Additionally, Shutter Encoder will change the naming scheme of your file. In this case, it adds “_H.264” at the end of the file’s name.

The properties of the same clip after conversion
The properties of the same clip after conversion

In conclusion

If you followed this tutorial, hopefully, you now have no issues with your phone footage in Premiere Pro. Perhaps Adobe will one day add VFR to CFR conversion into Premiere Pro. Until then, you have tools like Shutter Encoder to help you instead.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd

Sagiv Gilburd is an Israel-based commercial photographer and videographer with extensive expertise in studio work, event photography, and managing large-scale photography projects.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *