Premiere Pro CS3: Troubleshoot Export Failures

Error Type 1: Export failed. Application failed to return a video frame.

There could be any number of reasons for this error message. You need to be prepared for a long period of trial-and-error troubleshooting; I hope you aren’t trying to meet an urgent deadline.  Let’s begin:

1. You can simply try the export again; sometimes, the export will work by simply restarting the process again (though if you’ve taken the trouble to find this page on the Internet,  I would guess that you’ve already tried and re-tried this step).

2. Reboot your computer, shut down all other applications like anti-virus software and web browsers and let your computer focus on the exporting task.

3. Select the ‘Optimize rendering for memory function’ (Edit – Preferences – General) in Premiere Pro. Maybe your system can’t handle the memory demands of the exporting process. This might be able to help. The exporting should be slower, but might have a greater chance of success.

4. Try to export the file into a different format. Usually, I export video (for YouTube) as an H.264 mpeg4 file, but if I’m having export problems, sometimes changing the export file to a Windows Media file works.

5. Try to identify problematic files and deal with them. There may be a strange video or audio format (or combination of formats) that Premiere Pro does not like. When the video is being exported, watch the progress bar (it will tell you which frames are being exported at any given time). Note any places where the export progress slows to a snail’s pace and especially note the frame number just before the export fails completely (this is a tedious job that may take over an hour for long HD videos). Once you have identified problem area(s), you can find the corresponding frames in your timeline (you can view the frame numbers in your timeline by going to Project – Settings and changing the video display setting to Frames.

Similarly, you can try rendering the work area (select Sequence – Render Entire Work Area) and noting where rendering stops. There will be a green line above the timeline up until the potentially problematic frames (after which point, the line will be red).

Once you identify where the export is failing, examine the files there. You might find things like:

  • A video clip that is not compatible with Premiere Pro and/or is not the same format as the other clips in your video. Sometimes Premiere Pro CS3 will happily accept files for editing but will not want to export them. Try adjusting the work area so that only this part is included and test whether you can export the video. If you can’t, you may need to change the format of the original video clip. I sometimes run into this problem when I am combining WMV files and AVI files.
  • An  image that is too large  (the maximum size Premiere Pro can handle  is 4096×4096). Again, you may be able to import and edit the file, but not be able to export it. Open the image in a picture-editing programme and resize it. Even slightly altering, saving and then replacing an image sometimes works.
  • Combined audio files that have different sampling rates (e.g., one audio file is 48 kHz while the other is 44.1 kHz). Premiere Pro shouldn’t have any problems handling different audio formats at the same time, but in a leave-no-stone-unturned troubleshooting session like this one, you can try changing the sampling rateof  one of the audio files (using a shareware programme like Goldwave) so that the sampling rate of both audio files match and preferably match the audio sampling rate in your project settings as well. I’ve noticed that Premiere Pro CS3 can become unstable when there are both mono and stereo audio clips in the timeline.
  • A file that is loaded with video effects. Remove all effects and try exporting that area of the timeline.
  • An image or video file that has no apparent problems. You can try right-clicking on the file in the timeline, selecting ‘Reveal in project‘ – the right clicking on the file in the project window amd selecting ‘Make offline’ (but make sure the File-remains-on-disk option is chosen). Then right-click on the file in the project window again and select ‘Link Media’ (and then link to your original file). In theory, this shouldn’t have any ffect, but it does work sometimes. In one case, I was able to export a set of images in a timeline, but the export of the entire video would crash when encountering the images. I simply exported the images as a video file (WMV or AVI) and replaced the static images with video.

Good luck! Let me know if you have any other suggestions. Also let me know if any of the above solutions worked for you.

Error Type 2: I uploaded my video to YouTube and the audio plays at a normal rate but the video is playing at half speed (the audio does not match the video).

This is most likely YouTube’s error. Unfortunately, even if you re-upload the video, the problem will likely appear. I’ve used two methods to solve this problem: 1. Re-exported the video and changed the audio sampling  rate of the exported file (e.g., from 44.1 khz to 48 khz). 2. Re-exported the video into another format (e.g., Windows Media instead of H.264).

If you only have the final video you can try converting the file into another format or simply waiting a week or two before trying to upload the file again.

My Other Articles on Video Editing


~by longzijun


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3 thoughts on “Premiere Pro CS3: Troubleshoot Export Failures

  1. Pingback: Exporting Video for YouTube: Pixel Aspect Ratio Basics | Longzijun

  2. Pingback: Exporting HD Video for YouTube (Premiere Pro) | Longzijun

  3. Pingback: Choosing Premiere Pro Project Settings for HD Video | Longzijun

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