How to Configure Adobe Media Encoder to Automatically Render Videos on a Remote Machine

As much as I like working on videos, I must admit that the rendering process certainly takes a toll on a machine’s performance, particularly when you’d like to use your machine to do something else while it renders. In my case, my main computer at home is by far my most powerful and versatile machine, so when it’s locked up doing rendering for a multitude of hours, I’m faced with a terrifying prospect – actually going outside or reading a book. Determined to avoid this type of cruel fate when away from home, I started to think of ways that I could do the editing on a somewhat less powerful machine, but offload the actual rendering to my beast of a machine at home. This would allow me to just plow through my editing tasks without thinking about the rendering – and gradually, the rendering would occur with no toll on my editing machine.

So when I googled for a solution, I found a post by a Kevin Snyder that proposed a simple, but brilliant idea. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before – you see, Adobe Media Encoder has a “Watch folders” feature, allowing you to identify folders on your machine where if a file appears there, Media Encoder immediately starts rendering that file according to your pre-established directions. Kevin’s article proposed a very simple idea in my mind: what if the folder was in Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint/OneDrive, or any other cloud sharing tool?

Of course! Brilliant! I quickly configured a “[MediaEncoder]” folder in one of my cloud sharing utilities, and was excited to do the test. Machine A was designated as my editing machine, machine B as my rendering machine. As a first attempt, I copied both the Adobe Premiere Pro project file I wanted to render, and all the media it referenced into Machine A’s copy of the “[MediaEncoder]” folder. It synchronized just fine, but then I noticed that Adobe Media Encoder started to spit out multiple rendered files, rather than only the project I wanted it to render. It was rendering the media I included as references. It didn’t work as I expected, but it taught me a lesson. I would need to supply my actual Premiere Pro project file, and see if that worked by itself. But… what about the media referenced from within the project file? Would Media Encoder be smart enough to locate them, even if the cloud sharing folders are installed to different drives across machine A to machine B?

Well, guess what, folks. It seems like Adobe Premiere Pro project files actually use relative paths when referencing media files – because despite both machines being on different different top-level drives, it rendered the file just fine on machine B.

Solution

Once again, Kevin’s idea was brilliant. You simply set up the same cloud sharing solution on both your editing machine (A) and your rendering machine (B), and then you configure Adobe Media Encoder to watch a specific folder (within your cloud solution’s synchronization area) on machine B. Then, after you’re done doing your video editing on machine A, you can just copy that tiny project file into that specific folder on machine A, it’ll synchronize with machine B, Media Encoder will see it, and after a while, machine B will finish rendering, and the rendered files will be synchronized with the cloud, and next thing you know it, machine A receives the rendered project. Amazing!

Additional Tips

  • On the rendering machine, you can use Windows 10’s task scheduler to make sure Adobe Media Encoder always opens on startup.
  • The name of the sequence in the Premiere Pro project will determine the name of the rendered file.
  • Apparently*, for Adobe Media Encoder to be able to render a project file, you can’t have any sequences placed in any bins. They have to be in the top-level root of the Adobe Premiere Pro project file.
    • *I lost my source. I’ll locate it soon and reference it here – I never tested it personally.
  • This approach can result in burning a lot of bandwidth (the rendered file is uploading from machine A to the cloud, and then from the cloud to machine B). I only use this when both Internet connections I’m using have unlimited bandwidth, or I know the files aren’t going to have any meaningful impact on the monthly bandwidth limits.

Ideas for Improvement

I’ve got the following ideas in mind for improving this solution – I’ll be updating this page as I progress.

  • Is there I way I can avoid manually copying the project to the watch folder? I’m not sure right now, but I’m hoping there’s something I can do in Premiere Pro to signal I want a copy of the project dumped to my watch folder. Will investigate.

See Also

Using Adobe Media Encoder as a Remote Render Farm for Adobe After Effects – School of Motion – Kevin Snyder