About Render Status Bars in the Timeline

Final Cut Pro shows you which segments of your sequence need to be rendered by using render status bars in the Timeline and, in some cases, on individual audio clip items. A segment is a continuous group of frames within a sequence that require the same kind of real-time processing.

For example, suppose you have two clips in a sequence. The first clip has a Gaussian Blur filter applied and the second clip has no effects applied. Final Cut Pro sees two segments in this sequence: the clip with the Gaussian Blur filter and the clip with no effect. Adding a transition between the two clips can potentially create a third segment that has different processing requirements than the other two.

There are two render status bars in the Timeline above the ruler: the upper one is for video and the lower for audio.

Figure. Timeline window showing two render status bars.

Video Render Status Bars

The color of the video render status bar above the Timeline ruler indicates the real-time or render status of segments in your sequence.

Bar color
Render status
Description
Dark gray
None
No rendering is required.
Blue-gray
Rendered
The material has already been rendered.
Dark green
Full
Indicates a real-time effect that’s capable of playback and output to video at full quality with no rendering required.
Green
Preview
The media does not need rendering and will play on the computer screen in real time, but not at full quality.
Yellow
Proxy
The effect you see during real-time playback is an approximation (proxy) of the effect you’ve specified. Effects indicated by yellow render bars may ignore some filter parameter controls (for example, Edge Softness) in order to show you a real-time preview. To get the true final effect, you must render these clips. The final effect is displayed when playback is stopped or when scrubbing. For example, you may have added a wipe transition and set the angle to 37 degrees. Depending on your selected effects quality, Final Cut Pro may only be able to display the wipe angle at 45 degrees in real time, so you see an approximation during realtime playback. You can still see the effect as you specified it (the 37-degree angle) by placing the playhead over a frame of the effect in the Canvas or Timeline, or by rendering the effect before playing it back.
Dark yellow
Rendered Proxy
Indicates that an effect has been rendered at a lower frame rate or quality than currently specified in the Frame Rate and Resolution pop-up menus in the Render Control tab of the Sequence Settings window. These render files are preserved even if these settings are changed back to 100 percent. This render status bar color appears when you render a proxy effect (see the entry above for more information).
Orange
Unlimited
Indicates effects that exceed your computer’s real-time playback capabilities but are enabled anyway because Unlimited RT is selected in the RT pop-up menu in the Timeline. Unlimited real-time playback lets you play more effects but increases the chances that your sequence will drop frames during playback. This mode is useful for getting a real-time preview of complex effects compositions.
Red
Needs Render
The real-time capabilities of Final Cut Pro have been exceeded and the material must be rendered before playback or output to tape.

Audio Render Status Bars

The color of the audio render bar above the Timeline ruler indicates whether the items below need to be rendered.

Bar color
Render status
Description
Dark gray
None
No rendering is required.
Blue-gray
Rendered
Sections of a sequence have been rendered using the Mixdown command.
Red
Needs Render
Sections of the Timeline contain audio items that cannot play in real time and require rendering. Sections of sequences needing to be rendered play audible beeps.

Several other indicators show you the playback status of clips in your sequences:

  • ”Unrendered” message in the Viewer or Canvas: When video material that requires rendering is playing in the Viewer or Canvas, and the Play Base Layer Only option in the RT pop-up menu in the Timeline is not selected, a blue background with the word “Unrendered” appears, indicating that the video can’t play in real time.
    Figure. Canvas window showing an unrendered message.
  • Beeps in the Viewer or Canvas: When audio material that requires rendering is played in the Viewer or Canvas, a steady beep indicates that the material can’t play in real time. You can turn off the beeps in the Playback Control tab of the System Settings window.
  • Item-level render status bars: Audio clip items in the Timeline that require sample rate conversion also display individual render bars (for example, audio clip items that were captured at 44.1 kHz but have been edited into a sequence set to 48 kHz). For more information on audio rendering and item-level render status bars, see the next section, About Item-Level Render Status Bars.