Tip #1102: What is a Render File?

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1102: What is a Render File?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

A render file is a media file calculated based on the effects applied to a source clip.

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Since all NLEs are non-destructive editors (leaving original media intact), render files are created when you alter an original clip, create a clip via a generator or use a still image in the Timeline. Those alterations need to be turned into media. That process is called “rendering.”

Essentially render files are new media files that match your project/sequence settings that your NLE uses instead of the original clips. They effectively ‘replace’ the original media and the NLE will refer to them instead of the original media once they’ve been rendered.

If you make additional changes to a rendered clip, the NLE will delete the old render file and it will be replaced by a new render file.

Generally, render files are retained by the NLE if you delete a clip from the timeline, which saves time in case you put it back in.

To pick up storage space, you can delete render files. If that file is needed again, the NLE will re-render it.

Once a project is complete, render files can be deleted. If they are needed in the future, the NLE will re-render them, as well.

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4 replies
  1. Ron Kesecker
    Ron Kesecker says:

    Do files have to be rendered before they are shared (FCPX)? Or can you stop the rendering and just output the file?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      For ALL NLEs, render files must be created for any clip to which an effect has been applied. These render files can be created in the background during your edit, or as a part of export.

      If your project doesn’t have any effects – including dissolves – then no render files are created. Otherwise, render files are essential.


    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Not that I know of.

      Render files are stored inside the Library: FCP X Library > Media > Render Files > High Quality Media



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