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thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash

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Alan Langdon
thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash
on Sep 21, 2012 at 7:50:01 pm

FCP 7.0.3
Mac OS X 10.6.8
MacPro 2x2.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon w/ 20 GB RAM

I am working on a feature length documentary shot in XDCAM. Now that I have about a dozen timelines and a dozen buns, a month or so into the project, FCP keeps crashing after I notice the following: thumbnails take long to load, sometimes load with inverted (negative) colors, and sometimes the clips in the viewer get bugged out colors, blueish and greenish horizontal lines, or just a plain green screen... then eventually it crashes shortly after. This started just a few days ago, and I have not added more material to the project, just have been having to sift through a lot of bins quickly, viewing sometimes in Large Icon mode.
I have of course trashed the Thumbnail Cache and Data, but no luck there, still happens. This is becoming often and ruining workflow... any ideas?
Note: I am using two projects open at teh same time: one contains the thousands of videoclips, only, and the other just the sequences where the raw footage is being assembled.
Any help much appreciated!

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Aeolan Kelly
Re: thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash
on Sep 23, 2012 at 9:10:17 pm


Sounds like your video card is freaking out-- that's the green screen you're seeing. What kind of card do you have in your machine?

Assuming you are using the card your computer shipped with, try turning off the icon view in the bins and the timeline. I know you want to see everything, but if you have thousands of clips in there, all of them showing a real-time preview of your footage, that's eating up a lot of RAM and likely contributing to the crashes. At best, it will just slow down the project. At worst, it will crash a lot.

I describe how to trash the correct prefs below, but if that doesn't help your situation, try using the Finder in your workaround.

In FCP, open a bin with the clips you want to view, and turn off icon view. Arrange your FCP windows so that you can also see an open Finder window containing the Quicktimes that correspond to the clips you need to review. Select icon view in the Finder, or use Apple + 1. If the icons are too small, either use the slider at the lower RH side of the Finder window to enlarge them (I think that's a feature in OS 10.6, can't recall), or Control-click anywhere in the Finder window to get a pop-up, and select "View Options." Here, you can increase the icon size.

You can see your footage at a glance this way, by looking at the original Quicktimes, and then enter your notes about the footage back in FCP, in the columns in the bins. This method is a workaround I particularly like because it uses different memory than FCP does. In other words, there is certain RAM delegated to just powering FCP, but the Finder has its own delegation.

When you trash your preferences, make sure you're really trashing the correct files. First, save your project, and if you don't already know all your settings, take screen grabs of them. On a mac, do Shift + Apple + 3 for the fullscreen, or Shift + Apple + 4 to select only a portion of the screen.

Back up your project as well. Completely trashing the FCP prefs will reset all selected user preferences, system, and A/V settings back to the defaults, so make sure you know what your current A/V and system settings are, to recreate them. This won't erase your keyboard or column/window/button/etc. settings, just reset the defaults in FCP so that you have to select your customized pre-sets again.

Find the FCP prefs here:

HD>Users>Library>Preferences>Final Cut Pro User Data.

In here you'll find the folders containing keyboard profiles, window layouts, etc., and you'll also see three small files that resemble FCP project files. In your system, they'll be called

Final Cut Pro 6.0 Preferences
Final Cut Pro Obj cache
Final Cut Pro Prof cache

Throw out these three files listed above, and restart your computer.

Another issue you may face with so much footage, also relating to playback issues/dropped frames, is that FCP gets crabby with really long sequences. This of course depends on what is in them (lots of graphics, lots of different file formats, lots of still images, etc.). For example, if you are cutting a doc and you have 45 min in one timeline of just assembled or rough-cut clips, you'll probably be fine, unless you have all the preview icons/waveforms selected as well. That will slow down the seq a bit, even on a powerful machine. If you have that same 45 minutes and lots of fx, mixed formats, stills, complicated renders, etc, you're looking at even more slowing down.

Whenever I've cut features in FCP, I ended up having to break them up into smaller sequences, and then combine them later for viewing/output, etc. This includes cutting on super-fast systems on a SAN, with all the bells and whistles under the hood. But for my own everyday workflow, I didn't want to be slowed down and having to trash prefs/restart constantly, which is what happened during long projects once I was past the assembly stages.

Your idea of having one FCP project for clips and one for timelines is smart-- I definitely use that myself when grappling with long-form projects. Eventually, when I get to the final stages, I may export the entire film overnight and then have a viewing version that I can produce quickly for the execs/director/production, etc. That way I don't have to worry about playback issues or dropped frames during a viewing with the people who are paying for everything!

Hope this helps!


Final Cut Pro 7 For Non-Editors

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Alan Langdon
Re: thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash
on Sep 26, 2012 at 3:13:26 pm

Thanks for such an extensive answer.. your tips seem like they will help, let me try those this week and see. The computer I am working on is at a production house where I freelance, so I need to make sure I can go about trashing prefs and such.
I hope to get back with a positive result, thanks again!

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Alan Langdon
Re: thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash
on Sep 26, 2012 at 11:22:49 pm


Thanks again for being there.
So, I have trashed the pref files you suggested to trash, and the problem occurred again: crashing, with FCP sending the crash report to Apple.
I think there MIGHT be two issues at hand, but maybe they are the same:
1- The thumbnails maxing out the RAM and causing slow down to load thumb images and then crashing
2- The Canvas window going green or green-stripped and then FCP crashing.

Answering you about the videocard, these are the specs:

Chipset Model: ATI Radeon HD 5770
Type: GPU
Bus: PCIe
Slot: Slot-1
PCIe Lane Width: x16
VRAM (Total): 1024 MB
Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
Device ID: 0x68b8
Revision ID: 0x0000
ROM Revision: 113-C0160C-155
EFI Driver Version: 01.00.436

Most likely, what came with the MacPro.
There's also a MATROX MX02 LE installed, sending audio and image via HDMI to a HD TV. COuld it be freaking out the video card?

Can/should I change/increase the amount of Still Cache, or Thumbnail Cache (System Settings/Memory & Cache)? This is set at :
Disk : 28192
RAM: 2048
(After trashing the prefs today I bumped these up to this, the default I think is 8192 and 512, respectively.

Again, thanks! Any help is much welcome.
Your method of using the OS thumbnails as oposed to FCPs might be the next and only way out, but I am trying to find a FCP solution...

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Alan Langdon
Re: thumbnails slow & with inverted colors, and clip viewer bugging out = crash
on Oct 12, 2012 at 8:08:55 pm


I have been practicing your tips, trying to keep FCP from crashing, but nothing has been ultimately helpful... I think the issue might lie elsewhere. And I wanted to run by you (and others here at the Cow) something I just discovered. I have been watching the Activity Monitor while using FCP, just to see how the RAM is gobbled up as I open windows, thumbnails, etc... and of course, as I scroll down and visualize more and more thumbs, sure enough, RAM gets up into the 2 GB level for FCP, and crashes the program.
Since thumbnails AND green flashing frames/flashing video fragments have been haunting me at the same time, I tried using Render Manager to delete the COnstant Frames (which always seem to creep up and cause crashing too) and immediately my RAM usage for FCP went from 1.85 GB to 1.25 GB...

Does anybody know anything about Constant Frames not being dumped/used properly and adding up until the system crashes?

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