Creative work

Your thumbnails in blender video sequence editor are not gone

Lately, I have been enjoying the thumbnails feature in blender video sequence editor a lot.

This post is for everyone who thinks:

  • oh no, my VSE strip previews / thumbnails don’t work in blender
  • blender does not show the thumbnails anymore or
  • blender VSE thumbnails don’t refresh / show up at all

Yes, your thumbnails (or strip previews) are still there (or can be activated). Here is how.

How to activate thumbnails / strip previews in blender’s VSE

In a pretty standard blender 3.x VSE tab, you can find the check box for VSE strip previews here:

How to activate thumbnails in blender video sequence editor
Thumbnails in blender video sequence editor: / VSE strip preview option can be found in the lower right corner of a standard VSE tab (within the

My blender VSE setup

Before you edit anything and can see thumbnails (strip previews) or waveforms, wait until proxy-rendering and waveform preview rendering is finished.

I always use 25% size proxies with the blender thumbnails, so that I can edit fast and comfortably with AV-sync (sound and video properly synchronized – works better than frame-dropping in newer versions of blender, at least on my debian). But once that’s done, editing is so much easier. I love this feature for vlogs, reels and TikTok videos.

Here is a screenshot of my blender template for video editing:

Thumbnails in blender video sequence editor not showing up: it's not a bug! It's a user problem.
No thumbnails in blender video sequence editor: My blender VSE setup for maximum editing speed, zoomed out, so you can not see the thumbnails anymore.

Your thumbnails in blender video sequence editor are not gone!

One thing that took me a while to understand was that thumbnails only appear when zoomed in far enough in the y-direction. Not only do they just appear then, they also need some time to load after that. Here you can see this effect:

This is how my thumbnails look in the blender video sequence editor strip view:

Thumbnails in blender video sequence editor: Zoom in (in the y-direction = vertically) to see thumbnails load and show up.
Zoom in far enough, otherwise strip previews / VSE thumbnails don’t become visible and don’t load or refresh.

And this is the very same file:

As you can see, if you zoom out (or not zoom in far enough) in the VSE movie strip editor, you can not see the strip previews / thumbnails. This makes no sense to me, especially when title and source text are deactivated, but for now (v 3.x) that’s just how it is. Good news though: You only need to zoom in in the y-direction. For the time-axis there does not seem to be such limitation.

If the thumbnails still don’t show up after zooming in, first give them some time to render. Then you might try refreshing your VSE by hitting Ctrl+R (while zoomed in). Sometimes, thumbnails only render partially, that has happened to me too, and then you just want to refresh to reload them all together.

In case that also did not do anything, you can use the .blend1 backup file, rename it to a .blend file, load it into your (hopefully newest version of) blender and wait until all proxies have rendered, all amplitude curves have shown up and basically your laptop fan is not making any more noises. Then and only then should you get nervous about thumbnails. Don’t interrupt proxy-rendering because you want to see your neat little previews. Pushing ESC or stopping rendering manually might stop all previews, and then you have to start over. If you have a slow machine like me, just hang in there! These little MFs will show up at some point.

Setting for fast preview / playback in blender VSE

So, I hope this helped. Also don’t forget to always edit with proper preview settings, such as:

  • use a low-quality proxy for all video strips
  • organize your strips in horizontal categories (such as: video, b-roll video, color-grading effect stips/overlays, sound effects, music, voiceover)
  • don’t set the “prefetch frames” option (slows down preview)

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