Finding Your Media Files After Capture

The most common question editors have after capturing is, Where did my media files go? Knowing what directory Final Cut Pro stores captured media files in and being able to quickly navigate the Mac OS X file hierarchy are two of the most important aspects of being a successful editor.

Where Are Captured Media Files Stored?

To determine where your media files are stored, you should first check the Scratch Disks tab of the System Settings window. In the Scratch Disks tab, the folder with the Video Capture column selected is the folder that Final Cut Pro captures media to. However, Final Cut Pro does not store media files directly in that folder. Instead, each time you choose a new folder for video capture, Final Cut Pro creates several folders within that folder:

  • Capture Scratch

  • Render Files

  • Audio Render Files

Final Cut Pro uses the Capture Scratch folder to store captured media files. However, it is still one level deeper in the hierarchy than you may expect. Within the Capture Scratch folder, Final Cut Pro creates a folder named after the project that contains the currently selected capture bin.

For example, if you chose a scratch disk named Media, and if you are currently capturing clips for a project named Hard to Trace, your captured media files are stored here:

/Volumes/Media/Capture Scratch/Hard to Trace/

Note: Because you can select up to 12 scratch disk folder locations, you may have to look in several locations before you can find the disk that contains your media. However, this is only an issue if you have the Video Capture checkbox selected for more than one scratch disk folder in the Scratch Disks tab of the System Settings window.

To summarize, captured media files aren’t stored directly in the folder you choose as a scratch disk folder. Instead, they are stored two levels deeper, in a folder named after the project, inside the Capture Scratch folder.

Important: A very common mistake is to select a folder named Capture Scratch in the Scratch Disks tab. On the surface, it seems like the right thing to do, but make sure you don’t. Instead of selecting a Capture Scratch folder, select the parent folder of the Capture Scratch folder. Never select the Capture Scratch folder itself; if you do, your media files will be stored in the following location: /Volumes/Disk Name/Capture Scratch/Capture Scratch/Project Name/.

Revealing a Clip’s Media File in the Finder

The fastest way to find a media file is to use the corresponding clip in the Browser.

To reveal a clip’s media file in the Finder
  1. Select a clip in the Browser or Timeline.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose View > Reveal in Finder.

    • Control-click the clip, then choose Reveal in Finder from the shortcut menu.

Consolidating Media Files to One Folder

If you save a project with a new name part way through the capture process, media files captured after the project is renamed are stored in a new folder. For example: You originally captured some clips in a project called Hard to Trace, but at some point you renamed your project Hard to Trace Version 2 and then resumed capturing clips. In this case, clips captured before the project name change are stored here:

/Volumes/Media/Capture Scratch/Hard to Trace/

and clips captured after the name change are stored here:

/Volumes/Media/Capture Scratch/Hard to Trace Version 2/

This can make it difficult to manage your project, especially if you want to copy the project file and all of its corresponding media files to another system. To avoid these problems, it’s important to pay attention to where your media is stored during capture. If you want all of your media files to reside in one folder, you need to avoid changing the name of your project. However, it’s common for editors to change project names as they save versions of their work. At some point, it’s likely that you are going to capture a media file to a folder where you don’t want it.

To consolidate media files into a single folder immediately after capture
  1. In the Browser, select a clip that corresponds to one of the media files you just captured.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose View > Reveal in Finder.

    • Control-click the clip, then choose Reveal in Finder from the shortcut menu.

      A Finder window opens with the media file selected.

  3. Click the Final Cut Pro icon in the Dock to switch back to Final Cut Pro.

  4. In the Browser, if it isn’t selected already, select the clip that corresponds to the media file you just highlighted in the Finder.

  5. Press Delete.

    This removes the clip from your project, but the media file is still on the disk.

    Important: Because you deleted the clip, any comments or notes applied to the clip are now gone.

  6. Switch back to the Finder and move the media file to the folder where you want to keep all the media files associated with your project.

  7. Drag the media file from its new folder in the Finder to the Browser in Final Cut Pro.

    You now have the same clip as before, but it points to its media file in the proper location.

    If your clip has comments and notes that you don’t want to lose by deleting the clip, you can ignore the step where you delete the clip from the Browser. In this case, Final Cut Pro warns you that the clip’s media file has gone “offline” when you return to the application. You can choose to reconnect the clip’s media file, which is now in the proper location, using the Reconnect window.