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FCP Video Playback stability

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Neil Gowan
FCP Video Playback stability
on May 23, 2013 at 4:54:31 pm

I'm running FCP 7 on a Mac Pro 2GHz quad core with 4 GB of RAM, running OSX 10.6.8. The machine is getting old (purchased in 2007), but has done a fine job keeping up with all the new codecs that have developed since then (ProRes predominately). I have not had any clients coming to me with 4K workflows, so the probability that this machine could not keep up well with 4K media is not an issue for me (at least not yet).
While playback usually functions properly, maybe 20% of the time I'll wake up my machine and have playback issues for half an hour or so. Common behavior would be something like playing back for 5-10 seconds, starting to jump a few frames, then freezing and giving me the "dropped frames" warning. Obviously, if I'm using Compressor in the background or downloading hefty files or something, playback suffers as a direct result. But sometimes, I'll make sure there are no other programs running and still have similar issues. But, usually after some time, I'll return and playback seems to function properly.
I'm not much of an expert when it comes to hardware optimization, so when I experience playback problems, I don't really know how to fix them. Can anybody give me some tips? Should I re-install my OS? I don't know how to wipe memory or cache, etc...should I do something like that? Should I clean up harddrives? Does FCP have any data that should be wiped clean from time to time? Any other ideas of what might be causing playback issues?
Any thoughts would be appreciated. I know I can't keep using my machine from 2007 forever...but as long as it works for the jobs my clients send me, I'll keep cranking on it.

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