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Sounds like the empty timeline or premiere's 'black video' freeze issue.
For some reason the encoder freezes when the timeline encounters any 'blank' frames. By blank I mean either an empty timeline, or any of the Premiere generated color mattes, title cards, bars and tone, etc. (if this is overlaid with 'real' video footage it does not seem to be an issue).
So if your project ends with a fade to black, or some black footage at the end, that may be the culprit. Is this happening in your case?
Solution: I've generated a black video file (i created and exported this in After Effects) that I have now laid on the first (bottom) layer of every Premiere project I start. I have a 5 second video file that I just stretch over the duration of the project before I render. This has solved the freeze issue for me. If you search the forum there is other mention of introducing opacity keyframes into your generated footage as another work around. I haven't tried this way myself, so I can't fully comment.
>the encoder freezes when the timeline encounters any 'blank' frames.
I have not noticed that to be the case. All my sequences start and end with a Premiere generated black clip. All exports thus far have worked fine.
On a Mac, he's likely using Quicktime, and this is a significant issue with Quicktime exports.
Actually, you don't even need video. I just create a black tif file in Photoshop of the appropriate dimensions for the video, e.g., 720x480 or 1280x720 and import that into the project for use in fades, etc.
I have however created a "real" Universal Counting Leader video for each of the sizes I use and lay that on the timeline before inserting footage.
Yes, my videos end with a fade to black (they're slideshows generated by iPhoto), but there's no "blank" frames between the end of the slideshow and the end of the timelines. They're being exported as Quicktime files. And same result if I export them as mp4s, h.264, uncompressed, etc.
So, I'm just supposed to do this workaround of putting a still black layer underneath the video? There's not a bug fix or anything? And since my timeline is mp4, should I make that AE holding slide the same as my Premiere timeline? (640x480, 30 fps progressive, mp4)?
The black is not really a separate layer, just another clip placed at the end of a picture clip so there is something real to fade or dissolve to. Be sure to leave enough handle length on both sides of the transition.