I am not an editor, but can get around FCP. But working out the right workflow is a nightmare. I am currently in an edit where I have been handed - HD footage from EX3 with nanoflash giving me 1920 x 1080i at 100mbps, I also have SxS cards from EX3 which gives me 1920 x 1080i @ 35mbps, then I have some SD stock footage to put in too. I edited on an HD timeline, as it doesnt matter if the stockfootage looks bad (it kind of adds to the effect!!). However I now have to send a rough cut over an FTP site.
I thought down converting my sequence to SD would make compressing it (using compressor) quicker? As I am sending it over an FTP site, I am compressing it using Quicktime 7 option. But it is taking forever...
Is this the best way to do it, or am I being really stupid and there is a much better way?
I know nothing about your horse power but encoding always takes it's tall. Don't forget you have a mixture of formats on time-line that should be converted into unified frame-rate resolution-based video. If you have adobe media encoder around it'll do that job ten times faster.
Crunching HD down to SD takes time and codecs like H264, which are excellent, are also very processor intensive.
Compressor with QMaster enabled can use all cores in your machine. If you have a rendered HD timeline, then export a self contained quicktime with current settings and then import the file into Compressor, start with the presets and adjust to taste. Should be faster than using quicktime or export>quicktime conversion from the FCP timeline.
Also Compressor can run in the background and FCP isn't tied up so yo can get back to work.