Bizarre FCP/Episode Issues
I've been a lurker, but this is my first time posting and I wouldn't do it unless I was at a total loss. I've been through all parts of this forum in search of a situation similar to mine. I haven't yet found it...but then again my searching capabilities are questionable. So if there's another thread that someone knows of relating to my problem could you direct me to it? And then I humbly apologize in advance for a repost.
To start, here's the system I'm working on:
Mac Pro, 2x2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon Processor, 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM Memory, Final Cut Studio/Final Cut Pro 6.0.6
Now to the work:
3 minute videos (on average) delivered to the web. Mostly consisting of footage cut together with a music bed and a few graphics.
More and more frequently, I had problems exporting QT files out of FCP. At first it was rare when FCP would crash on an export. Then it seemed at some point in time every project would unexpectedly quit. There were times where I would start again and it would be fine. Other times I attempted 3 or more tries before it would successfully export all the way through. (And during all of this I was under a deadline so I didn't really have time to dive in and narrow it down to a corrupt clip...but eventually I would always be able to export a full QT file.)
**And to note I was almost always exporting at Current Settings. This has been my go-to export method and (up until recently) never gave me any problems.
The Problem Grows:
This unexpected quitting out of an export started to become such a nuisance that it led me to this forum where I found that a common problem solver is trashing FCP preferences. Which I did. And then all heck broke loose.
1) A particular video that was correctly exported at Current Settings prior to the preferences being trashed took about 35 minutes to export and was fine. After trashing the preferences it took less than 30 seconds and was corrupted (pixelated frames, green frames/gray frames, etc) from 5 seconds in until the finish.
Problem 2) Able to export a QT file out of FCP using Custom Settings (and applying all sequence settings to the custom settings window). The video clip was not corrupted. However, it was cut short by 15 sec. (again a 3 minute video). And no, there weren't any errant in and out points set. Yet, when in and out points WERE set to the beginning and end of the video (with a 10 frame slug off the back-end) the result was the same. The end was not exported.
3) Once a file was successfully exported (in its entirety and not corrupted and using another method [i.e. Apple Pro Res at the correct size]) I then needed to bring the file into Episode for encoding. Now I've never had an issue with Episode previous to this debacle. After encoding I ran into two issues.
3a) We place end credits on our videos. A small black transparent black bar with simple text in white that runs along the bottom. This was all fine and good in the exported file out of FCP. However, after Episode spit out the .mp4 file (with settings that have worked ever since I started here) the place where the graphics faded in - well, the video became corrupt and was gray and pixelated. The graphic held for roughly 5 seconds. After the 5 seconds was up and the graphic was to fade out (in theory) the video repeated that section again, but this time the graphics were MISSING. Like they had never been there to begin with -- even though it was a part of the finished file out of FCP. Then the rest of the video went on in tact and unaffected.
3b) Second issue came on a separate clip out of FCP. I needed approval on a quote during an interview. I exported a file out of FCP of a talking head that was about 5-7 seconds in duration. Saved to my desktop, I brought it in to Episode. After compressing it so I could send the clip through email, I noticed the audio/video sync was off. Even though the exported file out of FCP clearly had a beginning and end, Episode was reading about 15 to 30 frames BEFORE what was exported. This caused the audio to start correctly (same start and end as exported file) but the video had extra frames at the beginning making it completely out of sync. I checked all my settings in Episode and that wasn't the problem. I have no idea how it could read extra frames from something that wasn't there.
Sorry to make this so long, but I wanted to give as many details as possible to explain the scenario. I can't believe that just trashing the preferences would cause all this to happen, but nothing else has changed. Literally, one moment everything was running fine (for the most part [aside from the unexpectedly quitting error]) and the next everything was having issues. It was as instantaneous as that.
I've had other little hangups along the way, but these are the major issues. I'm trying to find ways to solve this, but now must humbly ask for help. If I've left out any detail please let me know and I'll supply you with any extra info you need.
I'm on tight deadlines with some of these videos, so honestly, there are some things I did that I can't remember because I was just frantically trying to find a temporary solution in order to make it work. It's hard to remember all that I tried. I'm just so confused as to why FCP is being so temperamental.
Thank you so much for any help you can provide.
I don't think I'm necessarily going to be much help, but just a thought.
When you trash the preferences for FCP you lose any and all "customization" or personalization to FCP. If there were any settings that you are used to using, or haven't been changed on your computer in a while, (you may not have realized you were working with them), this could be the issue. I've trashed my preferences a couple of times and it has worked cleanly, but I had to reset any personalization or customization I had previously worked with.
Again, probably not much help, but maybe this could clue you in to something. Good Luck!
[Becky Geear] "my first time posting and I wouldn't do it unless I was at a total loss"
Hey Becky, don't feel bad posting...there is a TON to learn here and it's a great discussion board, scratch that...it's a FANTASTIC discussion board! I only get bothered when I see the EXACT same question over and over (ie-why can't I edit footage from my Canon 5D) :) I've certainly re-posted...and asked dumb questions, but that's how we all get better. I don't think anyone here will chastise you for that. (Although Dave LaRonde will probably make some sarcastic remarks...but he's crazy anyway! :)
On to your issue. A couple questions that I didn't read about your setup in your post. --
1) What version of FCP? Is it an upgrade or fresh install?
2) Snow Leopard? Again, upgrade or fresh install?
3) Did you trash prefs using an app like "preference manager" or do it manually?
3) Have you tried OS - repair permissions? Or ran a program like Disk Warrior?
4) Have you tried a similar compression in Compressor, it came with Final Cut Suite...or Adobe Media Encoder if you have the Adobe suite? It may help to determine if it is the source or not.
Is this one project or all projects?
My advice would be to trash any and all video and audio render files and rerender.
This is happening on all projects and I totally forgot to mention that I did end up trashing the audio and video render files. This was right before I ran Disk Utility, but the issues still kept happening....
Thanks for the reply! And I really appreciate the welcome to the forum. Can't wait to learn as much as I can. And sounds like I should keep an eye out for this Dave LaRonde. ;) hahaha
Ok so to answer your questions (and I apologize for leaving some of this info out)
1) The version of FCP is 6.0.6. And to be honest I don't know if it's an upgrade or a fresh install because the software was acquired before I started working here. However, if I were to hazard a guess I'd say it most likely would be a fresh install.
2) I'm running Mac OS X 10.5.8
3) I actually trashed the prefs both ways. I did it manually then after it going completely wonky on me I did it manually again. Yesterday I ran into a post with a link to Preference Manager and so I downloaded it and did it that way too. Same result.
4) I haven't tried Disk Warrior, but I did run Disk Utility.
5) Hmmm...no I haven't tried Compressor. But I can definitely give that a whirl and see if it might work.
I really appreciate your help. Thanks so much for any insight you can give!
p.s. I seem to have this other problem as well. I have so many issues trying to edit footage that comes out of our Canon 5D....... ;) j/k
Well, the reason I asked about version and fresh install was because if you go back and read posts about bizarre issues, they are usually tied to upgrading to snow leopard or FCP7 verses doing a fresh install. From what I've read (and experienced) when going from version 6.5.whatever, to v7 you should do a fresh install of the software. Again, same with OS upgrades.
I suggested compressor, because it may help lead you down the path of finding out if it's your source file, or a program error with Episode.
Could you look at your export from FCP and see if the issue is there? Or does it only show up after transcode?
Aaah, gotcha, Jason.
Yeah there hasn't been any finagling with any of the software or a system update. Just one day it was working, the next day I had issues.
I've been trying some more tests and seem to be having the same difficulties.
I just exported a movie out of FCP using Current Settings and it was once again corrupted. So in this particular case I'm having the issue before I can even get it to Compressor.
I'll try and add some stills of what I'm looking at here. They are just some random screen grabs from the exported movie done at Current Settings.
OK...so you have narrowed it down to the issue coming out of FCP. So you can eliminate Episode. You are now focused on FCP.
I'd do 2 things.
1-Do a "send to compressor" -- on versions previous to FCP7, you'll need to wait while compressor works with the file. Use a template "apple" setting for ipod or something.
2-Do an export from FCP not using current settings, but forcing it to go to ProRes at the dimensions you are using.
Thanks, Jason. I am on it!
Quick question though: I'm currently on Step 1 regarding Compressor. It's been running for 30 minutes now with about a quarter of the video encoded according to the progress bar. Since I'm used to exporting a QT file and then going to Episode I'm unfamiliar with the process in Compressor. Should it be taking this long? (The video is 3:06). Just curious.
I'll let you know what I find out from this and from Step 2 when I get there.
Thanks a ton for the help
[Becky Geear] "Should it be taking this long?"
You are "exporting" and compressing in one step. That's what "send to compressor" does. In FCP7, this is done in the background (worth the upgrade).
So depending on your setting in compressor, combined with the complication (filters/effects/layers) of your sequence, this can take a long time. (usually done overnight, unless you have some hardware accelerator, or qmaster set up)
Ok, great. Thanks Jason. I figured it might take awhile, but wanted something to gauge it by so I didn't think it was stalled, etc.
I went ahead and exported a version out of FCP with Apple Pro Res 422 1920x1080 30p and it exported it in its entirety and was clean. No corruption.
I will let you know how the Compressor route turns out.
Becky, what format/ frame rate/timeline are you working with?
How did you get the footage in to the system?
Give me a run down of your workflow so far.
Here's what we're looking at:
For this particular video I'm running a sequence with the following parameters. 1920x1080 with a Square pixel ratio at a frame rate of 29.97. The sequence is also set to have a compressor of H.264.
Now as for the footage on this project I was given MTS files without a parent directory so I had to run them through Wondershare to convert them.
After converting the files, I brought them into Final Cut. What I usually do is drop a piece of footage on to the timeline and it asks me if I want to change the timeline to match the footage. This I always do. After editing the video (with nothing out of the ordinary occurring) I exported the video as I always do using Current Settings. If I remember correctly, Final Cut unexpectedly quit once or twice while trying to export. But I was able to finally get a complete file out of it.
It was only after this that I realized I had forgotten to place our end credits on the video. So I went back into Final Cut, added the graphics and went to export again. This is when FCP kept crashing and unexpectedly quitting time and time again. I had finally had enough and manually went through and trashed the preferences. And this is when everything went haywire.
Doing the exact same thing I had previously (and again always) done -- I exported using Current Settings and I could not get a clean file. Everything came out completely corrupted and has been ever since using that particular setting.
It strikes me odd that I got a clean video out of FCP once with the old preferences and couldn't after trashing them. And then this leads into numerous other problems that I stated above. If you have any enlightenment or advice I would love to hear it.
A ha. I knew it.
[Becky Geear] "The sequence is also set to have a compressor of H.264."
Problem number one. You should convert any and all h264 files in to a more FCP friendly codec before editnig in FCP. And you should most definitely NOT edit on an h264 timeline.
[Becky Geear] "Now as for the footage on this project I was given MTS files without a parent directory so I had to run them through Wondershare to convert them."
Problem two. Probably made them h264 files I take it?
[Becky Geear] ". If I remember correctly, Final Cut unexpectedly quit once or twice while trying to export. But I was able to finally get a complete file out of it."
See problem one. FCP does not handle h264 natively very well at all.
[Becky Geear] " If you have any enlightenment or advice I would love to hear it."
Convert everything to at least DVCPro HD but better yet ProRes before editing. Use ClipWrap (http://www.divergentmedia.com/clipwrap) to convert MTS files (yes you will need to pay a small fee for it). Edit on a ProRes timeline. Export that out of FCP, then use Compressor to make h264 files for the web.
Don't try and use native h264 files in FCS3 or lower versions. It will cause nothing but trouble as you are finding out the hard way.
Ha...Becky...this isn't 5d footage is it? That was the point I addressed in the very first post in this long discussion. You can't edit canon 5d footage, because it's h264!! Lol...
Are there software programs that successfully handle compressed file formats? Why would people expect this workflow to work? H264 is delivery, not source...
hahaha....wouldn't that be something? After all this, "Oh wait......it WAS shot with a 5d!" hahaha.... Yeah, as far as I know it wasn't shot with a DSLR. So at least I got that part right. ;)
Yeah, now that I feel like I have egg all over my face it was something simple. However, I'm still not sure why I was having encoding problems as well....with it truncating the footage and removing graphics (on a totally separate project). I responded to Jeremy's last post with another problem I was having (and listed in my original post). It's a promotional video sent to me in an .mp4 format. Just had to add a graphic. Same exporting problems (all corrupted and wonky)...then when I finally got it out clean Episode stripped the graphic I added and corrupted part of the video.
Is this along the lines of the same issue?
Oh for crying out loud.... Yep, you're right. It all makes perfect sense and I totally know about the whole issue with H.264. But for whatever reason (probably being overworked) ;) I simply missed it and it didn't even click. Even when I typed it. Doh!
Now I can't remember exactly how the footage was converted because it was almost a month ago and usually I stay away from H.264 upon converting, but it must have slipped since that's how the sequence was set. Yes?
Light bulb moment. Thank you, Jeremy. I feel completely stupid now. =P hahaha
But I do have another question for you....because I was having problems with another project.... Now in this instance I had to add a graphic to a promotional video created by someone else. This video was given to us as an .mp4. Same issue. Haven't had much experience using the .mp4 format...so does FCP not like those as well?
Mp4 is essentially an h264 file (mpeg4).
You need to convert to a fcp friendly edit codec, like ProRes, BEFORE you edit.
If you get more mts files, check out clipwrap. mp4 files, I'd run through compressor first.
These exports, Becky, look like compression problems.
Can you please fill us in on your workflow?