The problem with previewing video in Adobe Photoshop is that many of us have limited RAM installed on our computers. The combat this, Photoshop employs a number of methods for smoothly previewing video files, but many of them skip frames, reduce resolution and even make for a choppy session. Because of this issue, attempting to preview a file with audio attached to it can be complicated and offer less than stellar results. Luckily, there’s a workaround that can help you see and listen to a file in a manner that’s smooth and accurate. And the best part is, you can rely on this preview to use as an output file.
In today’s post, I’m going to demonstrate how to go about progressing through this workaround inside of Adobe Photoshop. It’s not that anything is terribly challenging per se, it’s just that we need to understand what’s happening behind the scenes and then take corrective actions to eliminate the problem. Nobody wants to preview a choppy and terribly sounding video file so it’s in our best interests to make things as good as possible.
The Demo Video
I have a strange feeling that I just used this video clip not too long ago. I decided to add some pretty cool audio to it this time and I’ll probably upload the finished clip to Youtube at the end of this post. I’ll include it here as well. Anyway, the video clip is of some stars at night with some audio that sounds tranquil and soothing.
Some Things We Need to Know
The goal with what I’m about to show you below is to preview a video file, with audio, that isn’t choppy. We need the video to accurately match the audio in the clip. We don’t need a lag of any type. With this in mind, I’d like to show you are few things.
I’ve already gone ahead and opened the clip in Photoshop. I’ve also added some audio to it, so you should see the blue clip and the green audio in the screenshots below. The first thing I’d like to show you is the frame cache indicator. This is a thin light blue line that spans the entire timeline. If the line is solid, that means that no frames are being skipped during playback (all are being cached in the computer’s memory). If it’s choppy and parts of the line are missing, that means that frames are being missed for one reason or another. Probably because of the low RAM issue I spoke of above.
The next thing I’d like to show you are the audio on/off button for playback as well as the playback options button. I’ll use both of these down below.
And finally, I’d like to show you how to size the work area. There are two handles, one on each side of the timeline, that you can move to the left and to the right. By moving these handles closer to one another, you can essentially shrink the size of the functional work area. This can greatly help when playing back files for preview.
What’s the Problem?
If you’ve done a lot of video editing in Photoshop, you’ve probably realized that the application only likes to cache a certain number of frames at a time. So, as you play a clip back, you’ll notice that the thin blue line I showed you above gets filled in. As the video continues on though, the front part of the line will disappear as the rear of the line continues to grow. This is sort of like filing a glass full of water. Eventually, the glass will become full and it will overflow. Depending on your settings, Photoshop will only allow a certain amount of data to be stored in RAM before it begins overflowing.
Also, all frames aren’t always cached. There’s an option that I showed you a long time ago in a previous post that allows us to skip frames as we’re working. Oftentimes, while editing video, it’s not critical to see each and every frame. Skipping frames allows for a much faster work flow without having to wait for each and every frame to load, which can be very slow at times.
Basically, we need to figure out a way to, 1. see all frames, 2. reduce the quality as much as possible so we can fit as many frames as possible into RAM and 3. reduce the work area so we preview each and every frame in a specific area without having to worry about Photoshop overflowing and removing some of our frames. I’ll show you how to deal with all this next.
Okay, so the first thing we have to concern ourselves with is making sure that each and every frame is included in our playback. To make sure if this, I’ll head over to the right side of the Timeline panel and I’ll click the menu there.
In the menu that appears, I’ll make sure that Allow Frame Skipping is unchecked. This will force Photoshop to load all frames during playback. Again, things will be slower this way, but once the frames are loaded into RAM and are cached, subsequent playbacks will be smooth.
The next thing I’m going to do is reduce the quality of the playback to 25%. Doing this will allow Photoshop to squeeze many more frames into RAM. This is a good thing because it’ll make our work areas much larger. More on that later.
To reduce the quality of the frames, I’ll click the Playback Options button. Then, I’ll select 25% from the slider that appears. This will reduce the frame quality to only a fraction of what it was initially, giving up more playback frames to preview with the sound later on.
Finally, I’ll move the rear work area controller to the 5:00 second mark. Where this slider gets moved is entirely dependent upon your system. If you have lots of RAM and your settings allow for many frames to be cached, you’ll likely be able to move your work area indicator further down the timeline. And if your video is short, you’ll probably be able to preview the entire thing. What I’m demonstrating here is that you can control how many frames are played back at any given time. In general though, you’ll get about 20-25 seconds with the average system.
Caching the Frames
The next task is to get the frames in question cached. I’ll turn off the audio by clicking on the Mute Audio Playback button near the video controls. Then, I’ll move the playhead to the beginning of the clip and then press the Play button. I’ll let the playhead move across the entire work area. Doing this should cache all the frames in that area and it should show the light blue line as completely solid.
Previewing the Video with Audio
The final step is to actually preview both the video and audio together. The way to do this is to simply turn the audio back on and press the Play button once more. The result should be as smooth as butter and the audio should line up with the video however you applied it. If it doesn’t line up, it means that you need to work on moving the audio to its proper position.
Here’s the video: https://youtu.be/UXSS6HtaJpg
I hope I clearly explained an effective method for playing back video and audio in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!