Solutions to Common Problems

The following section describes common problems and solutions in Final Cut Pro.

Problems with Video Devices

If you experience the following issues when working with video devices, try these solutions.

Your camcorder or deck is not recognized
  • Make sure your device control cable or FireWire cable is properly connected and plugged in all the way.

  • Verify that the camcorder is set to VCR mode.

  • Make sure the appropriate protocol for your device is selected in the device control preset. (See Viewing a Summary of the Current Presets.)

  • Quit Final Cut Pro, shut down your computer, turn your camcorder or deck off and on, then restart your computer.

You can’t control certain functions of your camcorder or deck
  • Make sure your device control cable is properly connected.

  • Make sure the appropriate protocol for your device is selected in the device control preset you’re using. (See Viewing a Summary of the Current Presets.)

    If you’re using FireWire, try changing the protocol to Apple FireWire Basic.

  • If your deck has a Local/Remote switch, make sure it’s set to Remote.

Problems During Playback

This section lists problems that can occur during playback, along with possible solutions.

Video is not visible on an external NTSC or PAL monitor
  • Make sure your cables are properly connected from the DV device to your computer and from the DV device to the NTSC or PAL monitor.

  • If you’re viewing your video on a camcorder that’s connected to your computer’s FireWire port, make sure the camcorder is set to VCR mode.

  • Close the Log and Capture window if it’s open.

  • Make sure you choose View > External Video, then choose All Frames or Single Frames.

  • Make sure you’ve selected the appropriate setting in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window. (See Learning About Audio/Video Presets.)

  • If you’re outputting to a DV device, make sure that the clip you’re viewing is a DV compressed clip. Choose Edit > Item Properties and make sure the Compressor setting is the DV-NTSC or DV-PAL codec.

Your external NTSC or PAL monitor is displaying an orange frame with a message saying that the video card is not supported for RT effects and may have insufficient video memory or be an unsupported type
  • Make sure the monitor displaying the Viewer and Canvas is connected to a video graphics card that’s compatible with Final Cut Pro.

The audio is not in sync with the video, or you’re experiencing dropped frames in your video

Many audio sync issues stem from dropped frames on capture or output. Nearly all dropped frames are caused by either incorrectly configured hardware or incorrect preference settings. The leading causes of dropped frames are the following:

  • If you’re using external speakers connected to a camcorder, deck, or third-party capture card, and external video is set to All Frames, the video displayed on your computer’s monitor (from the Viewer or Canvas) will not be in sync with the audio. The audio will instead be in sync with the video that is displayed on the NTSC or PAL monitor that’s connected to the same output device.

  • If your clip or sequence is zoomed while open in the Viewer or displayed in the Canvas, frames can be dropped. Choose Fit to Window from the View pop-up menu in the Canvas or Viewer.

  • The computer display is set to a low refresh rate. The refresh rate in the Displays pane of System Preferences should always be set to 75 hertz (Hz) or greater. (This is not applicable to flat-panel displays.)

  • The Canvas and Viewer windows are overlapped by other windows; they should not be.

  • If more audio tracks are specified to be mixed in real time than your computer can handle, frames can be dropped. Reducing the number of tracks in the Real-time Audio Mixing field in the General tab of the User Preferences window will result in your having to render your sequence, but will result in improved playback.

  • Incorrect versions of Mac OS X and QuickTime can be another cause of dropped frames. Check the Final Cut Pro website for the version of system software you should use.

  • The hard disk drive you’re capturing to is inadequate for capturing video. This could be caused by slow hard drives, incompatible drivers, or configuration issues. For more information, see Determining Your Hard Disk Storage Options.

  • Another source of dropped frames on capture or playback may be fragmented hard disks. In general, it’s preferable to capture to disks that are specifically reserved for video. To avoid fragmentation, you should avoid filling up your disks with numerous files unrelated to the projects you’re working on.

    If you’re editing a long project where some clips are captured, others are deleted, and then more are captured, and so on, even the cleanest storage volume may become fragmented. You can diagnose this with a hard disk utility. Should your capture disks be seriously fragmented to the point of impeding performance, you can try the following three options:

    • Quit Final Cut Pro, back up your project file, and delete all the clips from the affected volumes. (Delete only media that can be recaptured; do not delete graphics, audio, or project files.) Upon reopening your Final Cut Pro project, you will find that all your video clips are now offline. Simply recapture them and performance should improve.

    • Copy all the files from the fragmented volume to a blank volume with enough space. Copying files defragments them on the volume to which they are copied. Then delete the files from the original, fragmented volume; now you’re ready to capture more clips to it. Upon reopening your project, Final Cut Pro automatically begins the process of reconnecting your media.

    • A more time-intensive solution is to back up your project file and then use disk-defragmenting software to defragment your volume.

  • You can also try deselecting “Mirror on desktop during Playback” in the A/V Devices tab of the Audio/Video Settings window.

  • Another potential cause of dropped frames during output is having too many sequences open simultaneously in the Timeline. Especially with complex sequences with numerous edits, having more than one sequence open at the same time can affect playback performance. To resolve this, close all sequences except the one you want to output to video.

  • Another cause of dropped frames is playing sequences with numerous short edits. Projects with a large number of short edits (for example, a video made up of several hundred ten-frame clips) can sometimes overwhelm a hard disk’s ability to jump from one clip to another. In this case there are two things you can try:

    • Write out one single file. When rendering out using the Export QuickTime Movie command, disable the Recompress All Frames feature to save unnecessary rendering time.

    • Another solution, particularly in the case of long sequences, is to split a single long sequence into multiple short sequences, outputting them to tape one at a time.

After editing to tape, you don’t see the material you edited when you play back the tape
  • The Edit to Tape command requires that the sequence or clip you’re outputting be opened in the Viewer before you click the Insert or Assemble edit buttons in the Edit to Tape window. For more information, see Assemble and Insert Editing Using Edit to Tape.

An error message appears during capture reporting a break in the timecode
  • When capturing clips for your program from source tapes that were shot in the field, or from old source tapes that have been played to the point of wearing the media, timecode breaks may appear, disrupting the computer’s ability to read a continuous stream of timecode. A few timecode breaks are normal on any source tape, but these timecode breaks should be avoided during capture whenever possible, as they can cause audio/video sync problems and incorrect timecode in your captured clip. Incorrect timecode can in turn cause inaccurate EDL export, and incorrect recapture of the clips containing the breaks.

    If you’re logging your source tapes manually in preparation for capture, it’s a good idea to avoid logging clips along with the breaks that appear between shots, as these are spots where timecode breaks frequently occur. If a timecode break appears in the middle of a shot, it may be because the tape is worn, or because the media simply failed on that frame.

    To avoid capturing timecode breaks in any circumstances, make sure that the “On timecode break” option in the General tab of the User Preferences window is set to either Make New Clip or Abort Capture. For more information on the “On timecode break” option, see General Tab.

  • If you are experiencing excessive timecode breaks during capture, try cleaning the heads on your camcorder or deck. Dirty heads can cause timecode breaks that don’t actually exist on the tape.

An error message says that the servo can’t lock
  • The tape transport mechanism in the camcorder or deck may not be able to synchronize as expected and may require more time to synchronize to where the computer thinks it is. Try increasing the pre-roll time in your device control preset. (See Device Control Settings and Presets.)

  • If your device is connected via FireWire, try changing the protocol from Apple FireWire to Apple FireWire Basic in your device control preset. (See Device Control Settings and Presets.)

DV video clips look fuzzy on the computer’s monitor
  • Older Power Mac G4 computers cannot process and properly play back DV in real time when playback quality is set to High. As a result, these computers display DV video at a lower resolution in order to maintain the full frame rate of playback for DV clips. This lower resolution results in a softer image, but no information is lost. You can see this when the picture is stopped. Final Cut Pro can use a high-quality still frame when it doesn’t have to maintain playback, so the picture snaps back into focus.

    To view your DV media at full quality while playing at 25 or 29.97 frames per second (fps), you’ll need to connect the FireWire output of your computer to a camcorder or deck. The camcorder or deck will decompress the DV stream using dedicated hardware, resulting in smooth playback of your DV media on an attached NTSC or PAL monitor.

    Note: You’ll see the same fuzzy effect with DV clips that are exported into other applications as well. As long as the clip is compressed with DV, slower computers will lower the resolution during playback, but the source media on disk still contains all of the information, at the highest quality.

You’re having problems playing a reference movie
  • If you encounter playback problems with a reference movie, export the media as a self-contained movie (which includes all its media files), and not as a QuickTime reference movie.

    To do this, make sure the Make Movie Self-Contained checkbox in the Export dialog is selected. For more information, see Exporting a QuickTime Movie File.

Video does not play through to the computer screen
  • Make sure cables from the video device are properly connected to your computer.

  • Check your QuickTime video settings in the Capture Presets tab in the Audio/Video Settings window. For details on QuickTime source and compression settings, see Capture Settings and Presets.

You experience poor playback and stuttering video when trying to edit
  • Make sure you are not editing with media that uses keyframe compression, such as Sorenson or Cinepak.

Your camcorder or deck doesn’t go to the specified timecode number or won’t perform a command
  • Make sure you selected the correct protocol in the Device Control Presets tab of the Audio/Video Settings window. If you’re using FireWire, try using the Apple FireWire Basic protocol.

Problems with Audio Quality

If you experience the following issues with audio quality, try these solutions.

You don’t hear audio through your camcorder speakers
  • Make sure your cables are properly connected.

  • If you are scrubbing audio in the Audio tab of the Viewer, increase the volume of the computer’s audio output.

You don’t hear audio on your computer’s speakers when playing video from your camcorder or deck
  • Make sure the speaker’s cables are properly connected.

  • Make sure your audio cables are properly connected.

  • If you’re monitoring your audio from your computer, make sure that Mute is off, and that the computer’s volume is adjusted to a reasonable level.

  • Make sure the Preview option is selected in the Clip Settings tab of the Log and Capture window, and that the appropriate audio output is selected in the Sound pane of Mac OS X System Preferences.

  • Check your QuickTime audio settings in the Capture Presets tab of the Audio/Video Settings window. For details on audio sample and source settings, see Capture Settings and Presets.

Captured audio sounds distorted and crackly during capture
  • During capture, make sure that you always set the Final Cut Pro sample rate to that of your recorded source material. Mismatched sample rates can result in pops and crackles in the audio, incorrect audio/video sync, and generally diminished sound quality. Use 32 kHz when you’re capturing media from a DV camcorder that was set to 12-bit recording. Use 44.1 kHz when you’re capturing digital audio from certain DAT or CD players. Use 48 kHz when you’re capturing from most digital video formats.

Other Issues

If you experience the following issues, try these solutions.

Final Cut Pro seems to be working slowly
  • The amount of memory available to Final Cut Pro can make a big difference in performance, especially with long projects. More RAM is also needed for software-based real-time effects and long projects. You may not have enough RAM allocated to Final Cut Pro. This can be changed in the Memory & Cache tab of the System Settings window.

You cannot import an EDL or batch capture list
  • Final Cut Pro does not support the import of RTF files. To import information from an RTF file, you should first open the file in a text editing application such as TextEdit and save it as a “plain text” document. The plain text version can then be imported into Final Cut Pro.