Native, Optimized or Proxy Import

Lesson Details

Subject: Editing

Title: Native, Optimized or Proxy Import


Optimized? Prost? Native? Learn the differences between these little-understood media import options and how it can affect your editing.


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When you import media into Final Cut Pro X using the Import Media window, Transcoding options are located along the right side bar. You can choose Create Optimized Media and/or Create Proxy Media, or you can choose neither in import your footage natively from your camera. 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at these three import options and why you’d use them.  

You don’t need to check either of the boxes for Create Optimized or Proxy media, and can simply import your video files natively from your camera if you have a fast computer that has the following minimum specifications:

OSX 10.11.4 or later

At least 4GB of RAM with 8GB of RAM recommended for 4k editing 

An OpenCL-Capable graphics card or Intel HD graphics 3000 or later 

And 256MB of VRAM with 1GB recommended for 4k editing  

If your computer falls short of these requirements, you’ll want to consider checking the ‘Create Optimized Media’ box. 

When you create Optimized media, Final Cut Pro will import both your native camera files (or leave them in place on your hard drive if you select that), as well as create a entirely new optimized file using Apple’s Pro Res 422 codec. The Pro Res 422 codec creates a file that’s high quality, but has a faster data rate for speedier editing performance. This is really useful if your computer’s processor isn’t very powerful, but the down side is that each ProRes 422 file can be as much as ten times the file size of your original native media from your camera. What this means is that you’ll need more hard drive space to accommodate these much larger files, and buying more hard drives can have a big impact on your budget. 

The Create Proxy media option is a good compromise between the native and Optimized choice. 

When you create Proxy media, Final Cut Pro creates medium-quality or one-half the resolution of your native media which also increases editing performance. You would edit your project using the Proxy media, and them when you’re finished, you can easily switch your project back so that it’s using the better-quality native media for your export.  

Even if you decide not to check either of these transcoding options when you import your media, you can always create them after the native media has been imported. Likewise, you can delete any proxy or optimized media that was created during your import after the fact as well, making these very useful and flexible import options. For instance, if you import only your native media, but find that editing playback is running too slowly, you can at that point, create Optimized or Proxy media files by right clicking on a clip or several clips in the Browser and by choosing ‘Create Optimized Media’ or ‘Create Proxy Media’ or both. 

If Final Cut Pro determines that your native files that came directly form your camera will yield good editing performance, then the Optimize option will be grayed out.

If you edit your project using Proxy media, you can switch back to Optimized or Original media by going to the View pulldown menu in the top right corner of the viewer and by checking the “Optimized/Original” option. All the clips in your project timeline will now be at the better resolution.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2017