top_ten-_fcp_technical_errors

For all you Final cut Pro newbies out there, and for some others who should probably know better, there are a clutch of technical errors which can quickly de-rail any promising project. Pro Apps Expert Alex Snelling points them out one by one.

By Alex Snelling

From Bollywood in India to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa I see the same mistakes time and time again. I made these same mistakes myself, before I decided to learn the software properly from the ground up. 

10. SAVING

When you create a new project FCP does not ask you to name it and calls the project “Untitled Project 1” (or 2, 3, 4…)

ajs_001_untitled_project

This is VERY VERY BAD.

You must name this project immediately. The reasons for this are not obvious but in the background, FCP will store media and render files in folders named after your project. If you ever lose connection between these media files and the clips within FCP (for various reasons, see below) you might find it either very boring or sometimes impossible to locate the correct files.

If several people are using the same user account, the danger becomes even greater as they may also create an Untitled Project 1 and their files will go into your folders.

So always name your project as the very first thing you do.

9. RETAIN THE PROJECT NAME UNTIL THE END OF THE JOB

As a freelance editor, I have spent days reconnecting media from other editor’s fragmented projects.

FCP does have an autosave function but this has its own way of working and I always periodically make manual backups of projects. This is best done at finder level by just copying the project and renaming it (opt drag, see figure)

ajs_004_opt_drag

Opt drag to copy a file at finder level.

Back-up at least once a day but more regularly if you have a weak heart!

If you choose a SAVE AS function from within FCP, the name of the project will be changed.

ajs_002_project>>>>ajs_003_project_copy

 

 

 

 

 

By default, the project name has “copy” appended to it but my suggestion is to add  the date and time. IF you do it this way, this you must remember to CLOSE the new project and then REOPEN the original project.

Otherwise this can create a huge problem in terms of where future media is saved, the worst-case scenario being that the media is divided between many folders all named after that day’s project name. Again this is not an immediate problem but can cause SEVERE PAIN in the future.

8. ALWAYS NAME YOUR CLIPS

Just like with projects, name your clips before you do anything else, particularly when capturing from tape.

Although FCP now allows you to change the name of media files after they are captured, this is a last resort and should not be attempted unless you are very confident with FCP. If you do this without good knowledge of FCP, you run the risk of losing the connection to your project FOREVER.

So think about your needs, plan your strategy and get the clip-naming right first. NEVER record clips without a name or a reel number.

logncap

The name becomes a combination of the ticked fields, in this example; Description, Scene and Angle.

If you do not name your clips you will get a bunch of clips with generic names that could belong to anybody.

7. IMPORTING CREATES NO MEDIA

The import files (or folder) command produces a link to the files but does not create new files. This means if you attach a disk, CD or DVD and import files into FCP, you may think you’ve got ‘em. You haven’t!

You have simply created a link to the files and as soon as you disconnect the disc the files will be gone too.

import

The most common time I see this problem is when people drag tracks directly from a music CD.

6. I KEEP HAVING TO RENDER MY AUDIO FOR PLAYBACK

Look closely at the following grab. What is the issue with this picture?

audio_render

The audio render bar above the first part of the sequence is red. Which means it needs to be rendered right? WRONG.

Go to USER PREFS. Change the number of tracks for real-time audio mixing.

audio_prefs

No longer any need to render. DOH!!

NOTE: if you have audio filters in the timeline, these often act as extra audio tracks. In other words, you will need to increase the number of tracks to more than are in the timeline.

5. WHY DOES MY VIDEO ALWAYS NEED TO BE RENDERED?

video_render

Above is a clip with the simply amazing Volumetrix plug-in applied.

But I have a graphics card installed that is faster than a Ferrari? Why do I need to render in order to see the effect? Answer: YOU DON’T.

video_render2video_render3

 

In the RT Extreme pulldown menu (pictured),

change the playback to·UNLIMITED.

This will allow you to preview most effects without rendering

(you will still need to render for output)

but this function massively speeds up your workflow.

 

 

 

4. WHEN I “SEND TO” MOTION, MY CLIP DISAPPEARS.

motion_1

motion_2

Where has my original clip gone?

motion_3

ANSWER: It has been saved in a new sequence that is now in your browser however a much easier method is to simply make a copy of the clip above itself before you send the top clip to Motion…

motion_4

Note the two copies.

motion_5

Now you have the original clip underneath the Motion project should you need it.

You can now mix between the two clips and having the original clip is very useful for EDL/clip management.

3. WHY ARE MY SPEED CHANGES ARE NOT SAVED AS FAVOURITES?

A very frequently asked question, this one.

The answer is an incredibly simple and frustrating one.

FCP does not support this function.

You should use copy and paste attributes as an alternative to saving favourites.

Speaking of favourites. As your favourites are saved with the FCP preferences file which may need to be deleted every now and then, it is worthwhile backing up your faves every now and then. I do this by copying them into a project and saving that project. Put that project on a cloud somewhere, along with your keyboard settings etc – and you’re never alone.

faves

2. WHERE ARE MY FILES?

One of the biggest misunderstandings with FCP that even the most experienced editors entertain, is that the scratch disk locations are saved with a project.

THEY AREN’T!

scratch

Scratch disk locations are saved with the user account; if you change the above menu, this will affect every project. This means that if you are working in a shared environment, on a network or even jumping between projects, you might have to reset the scratch disk location every time you take-over from another project.

This can be very frustrating and inevitably, some media will go into the wrong place or even go missing.

To avoid this happening, consider creating a new user account for each project.

user_accounts

(You will need admin privileges to do this.)

Go to SYSTEM PREFS

Choose ACCOUNTS

UNLOCK to allow changes.

Click the plus sign on the left at the bottom and name the account intelligently.

I have been working a feature film for several years now and every time I come back to the dedicated account for this project, everything is exactly as I left it.

Once set-up, it takes ten seconds to change user-accounts.

Having a second test account is also a very useful diagnostics tool (see below).

1. THE SIMPLE THREE STAGE PROCESS TO FIX MOST TECHNICAL PROBLEMS

If none of the above work and FCP is still failing you somehow, not behaving properly or just acting plain weird; try the following steps in this order.

A. Save your project, close FCP and reopen the project. 

B. Restart the computer.

If neither of these work, then you need to dig deeper.

C. Try opening the project in another user account. (See above).

If the project works fine in another account then you could have a corrupted preferences file in the original user account (this will need to be deleted).

If the project still exhibits problems you may have a corrupt project, drive or files. Now it’s time to worry. Call the cops!!

Alexander Snelling   ©fcp.co 2011 All Rights Reserved


Alex Snelling has been training pro apps around the world since 2004. He has also made a feature film using FCP that was released in the UK and the US in February 2011. http://www.tantrictourists.com/