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Choppy Playback in FCP7 Timeline - How to fix?

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Ben Hunt
Choppy Playback in FCP7 Timeline - How to fix?
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:55:06 pm

Hello all! I'm using FCP7 on my 2011 iMac w/ OSX 10.6.8. I've imported some video files from a 32G SD card (footage shot on Sony NXCAM AVCHD MPEG SD video camera) at 30 fps. I've saved all the video clip files as Quicktime and imported them into FCP. They play back fine in the Viewer, but when I bring them down into the Sequence Timeline, they look a bit choppy.

NOTE: When I brought the footage down into the timeline it asked me "Attention - This clip does not match this sequence's settings or any of your sequence presets. For best performance your sequence and External Video should be set to the format of the clips you are editing. Change sequence settings to match the clip settings? I click YES.
I then render the video/audio. It then looks a bit choppy. It's almost as if the frame rate got tweaked somehow.

It's "passable" for what I'm going for, but another issue is that the video quality suffers even more when I start doing edits/transitions/graphics/text overlays of any kind. What am I doing wrong?

Maybe this is a compressor setting issue? Please help!

Current Sequence Settings:
Frame Size 1920 x 1080
Aspect Ratio: HDTV 1080i (16:9)
Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square (anamorphic 16:9 unchecked)
Field Dominance: Upper (Odd)
Editing Timebase: 29.97
Compressor: H.264
Quality: 100%
Audio Settings: Rate 48 kHz, Depth 16-bit, Config Channel Grouped.

Video Processing: Motion Filtering Quality - Normal.

Render & Playback:
Filters and Frame Blending For Speed both checked
Frame Rate 100%
Resolution 100%
Codec: Same as Sequence Codec
Master Templates and Motion Projects: Normal

I can check other settings, based on feedback here - but I hope this is enough to go on.

FYI, I've also tried exporting the video to my hard drive as a QT file - looks the same (bad).

Thanks in advance to any and all advice givers!

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Shane Ross
Re: Choppy Playback in FCP7 Timeline - How to fix?
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:08:12 pm

FCP doesn't support H.264. All sorts of issues with that format, mostly choppy playback and sync. Doesn't matter if they are Quicktime, FCP and H.264 do not mix.

You need to convert the files to ProRes 422.

To import this footage, you use Log and Transfer...that does the converting for you. I have a full tutorial on the tapeless import process here:

Also here:

Everything stems from the fact you are trying to work with H.264 material...FCP doesn't do that.

Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Ben Hunt
Re: Choppy Playback in FCP7 Timeline - How to fix?
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:35:12 pm

Thanks! Will try that now and post results - thanks so much for the fast reply!

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Bernardo Palmeiro
Re: Choppy Playback in FCP7 Timeline - How to fix?
on Aug 15, 2015 at 8:28:44 pm

I would convert the material either to Pro Res or to XDCAM. Final Cut 7 does not work well with .h264 compression, nor .mp3 for that matter. Personally, I'm very satisfied with the results I get with Quicktime XDCam 1080p (35 or 50 mbps).

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