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Pesky Updates Ate the Video of My Homework

Apple recently updated Final Cut Pro to version 10.0.3, adding a boatload of welcome new features and fixes, and just as with the previous updates, also introducing a number of problems for people after updating to the latest version of FCPX. There are a few things you can do to prepare for an update to help minimize problems and disruptions to your workflow, and a few things you can do after an update to help recover. This tutorial will outline some steps you can take to a more successful update.

The Rules of Engagement

There are a few rules regarding updating software, that if followed will make updates go more smoothly, whether it’s your operating system or the programs that you use on a daily basis.

Rule number 1: Never update your software in the middle of a project.

Rule number 2: Backup your data before performing an update (or making any major changes to your computer).

Rule number 3: Never be the first to update your software.

Rule number 4: Read the Readme file or online documentation before performing an update.

While there may be more, these, I believe, are the essentials. Let’s take a look at each one.

Rule number one helps keep you from pulling your hair out when you have to completely re-install your software or restore the computer to a previous state, losing valuable time in the process. Always update your software in between projects. That way you can test for any issues that arise without risking your client’s video files and minimize the risk of missing deadlines because the plug-ins you need, the hardware devices where your data is stored, or your software itself become unusable after an update. Murphy’s law usually guarantees that without proper preparation, these things can happen. Never (ever) update in the middle of a project.

Rule number two is your safety net in case you ignore rule number one. As long as you have a backup of your data (System, programs, and video) you can always get back to a previous state and start again, or recover critical data, hopefully losing only the time it takes to perform the restore. You should already have a regular backup procedure in place that protects your media assets and those of your clients. Time Machine is a good option for short term disaster recovery, but don’t depend just on that. A long-term archival solution for backing up and storing data should be in place as well. Backup early . . . Backup often.

Rule number three also protects you, by letting you learn from others who live on the bleeding edge of technology, upgrading as soon as updates are available, and who discover all the potential gotchas and glitches and ultimately provide solutions so that when you update you don’t fall into the same pitfalls. Obviously updates that provide cool new features or critical fixes to existing problems cause a great deal of excitement when they are released, but it’s good to be patient and see what shakes out before you commit to updating your software. Take a deep breath and count to ten before updating.

Rule number four keeps you in the know about what features and fixes, and potential gotchas a particular update may include. A readme document will also usually indicate any requirements (operating system version, firmware revision, type of Mac, etc.) or steps that may be needed prior to performing the update. They also help determine whether you need or want to perform the update immediately or should wait (but keep rule three in mind). Just think of those television public service announcements that always end with “The More You Know.”

In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

So now that you know what steps to take to prepare for an update, what do you do when something does happen and you experience problems after the update is installed? First, in the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!” Take a deep breath and try to calmly figure out what’s wrong and how to correct it. There are some basic things you can do to help locate and resolve the problem.

Try Restarting the Computer

Many updates from Apple require the Mac to be restarted after the installation completes, but it can’t hurt to refresh the system by forcing all the system process to reload by restarting.

1.  In the Menu Bar select the Apple Menu > Restart.

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2.  In the confirmation Dialog box click Restart.

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3.  In the Finder launch Final Cut Pro and see if the problem remains.

Note: Sometimes just quitting and re-launching Final Cut Pro may resolve the issue.

Login as a Different User

Mac OS X is a multi-user operating system and you can have more than one user account configured for use. By logging in as a different user you can determine if the problem you are experiencing is caused by a system issue or by a glitch in your user account. If you don’t have a secondary user account you should create one to help assist in troubleshooting problems

To create an additional user account:

1. In the Finder under the Apple Menu choose System Preferences.

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2. In the System Preferences Window click Users & Groups

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The Users & Groups Preference pane will open displaying a list of current users and options to create new user accounts or adjust current ones.

4.  In the Users & Groups pane click the lock icon on the lower left.

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To prevent unauthorized users from making adjustments several System Preference panes are locked and can only be unlocked by an Administrator account.

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5.  In the authentication dialog, enter your Administrator username and password to unlock the preference.

6. At the bottom of the User List click the Plus button to add a new user.

A new user sheet will drop down.

7. Choose standard from the account type pop-up menu, then enter your chosen Full Name, Account Name, and password.
You do not need to enter a password hint.

8.  Click the Create User button to create the account.

Note: If you are part of a large organization that manages its systems you may need to contact your IT department to perform this option.

Now log in using the new account.

1.  In the Finder, from the Apple Menu choose Log Out <Name of User>.

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The system will close your account down and bring up the Login Window. If you are running the default settings the Login Window will display a list of Users. If you have set more secure settings then the Login Window will display a simple Username and Password field.

2.  At the Login Window either select the new user from the listed, or type in the account name and password, and click the Login Button.

You will be logged in and presented with the Desktop of the new user account.

3.  Launch Final Cut Pro and see if the problem persists.

If the problem is gone, then the problem is with a setting or file in your regular user account. If the problem is still there, then the problem may be with the operating system’s settings or files.

4. From the Apple Menu choose Log out of < Name of User >

5.  From the Login Window log back into your regular user account.

Check your Mac’s Hardware Specifications to Verify that Your Hardware is Compatible Check

As Apple has updated Final Cut Pro they have also raised the bar for which Mac systems can actually run the software, typically increasing the requirements for the operating system version, amount of RAM, or the type of video card that is supported. FCPX 10.0.3 requires Mac OS X 10.7.2 or higher. Some users found out, after updating, that their video card was no longer supported. You can verify Final Cut Pro X’s requirements by checking out this Mac specs article. You can confirm which video cards are supported by viewing this knowledgebase article.

You can view your Mac’s hardware specifications using Mac OS X’s System Information utility.

1.  In the Finder, from the Apple Menu choose About This Mac.

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The About this Mac Window shows basic information about your Mac including, Mac OS version, and CPU type, and available RAM.

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2.  Click the More Info button.

The System Information utility will appear with an overview of your Mac hardware, which displays even more information about the Mac than the About this Mac window, including your video card info.

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3. In the System information window click the Displays tab.  This tab provides more detailed information regarding your video card.

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4.  Click on the Overview tab and then click the System Report button.

The System Report is a comprehensive view of all the hardware, software, and networking information regarding your Mac. To view detailed information about any aspect of the Mac, simply click on a listing on the left, and the info about that item will appear on the right.

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5.  In the Menubar choose System Information > Quit System Information, once you are done checking the Mac’s specifications.

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Check for Corrupt or Damaged Support Files

Final Cut Pro X creates and references a number of preference files, cache files, and other application support files needed to function properly, efficiently and recall your previous settings. If any of these files were to become corrupt or damaged through every day use, updates, or application and system crashes, then trying to reference those corrupt files could prevent FCPX from launching or working properly.

Most of these files are located in the Library folder in your user account’s Home folder. In Mac OS X 10.7 Apple has hidden the user’s Library folder to help prevent users from inadvertently removing or damaging critical files. Here is how to open the Library folder and check for problem settings files.

Bad Preferences

Preference files store the settings and adjustments you make to change how the program behaves or which options you want available. The preferences are xml-based property list or .plist, named in reverse DNS format, com.company (or domain) program name.plist.

1.  In the Finder, hold down the Option key on the keyboard and from the Menu Bar choose Go > Library.

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Either a new Finder window will open or the currently active Finder window will update to display the contents of your Library folder. You will also need a place to put the suspect files.

2. In the Finder Right or Control-click on the Desktop and choose New Folder.

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A new untitled folder will appear on the Destop.  

3.  Type the name "Suspect Files" and press return on the keyboard.


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This folder will be where you move files that could be corrupt or damaged so that the Mac OS or Final Cut Pro can't access them.

4.  In the Library Folder scroll down to the Preferences folder and double-click to open it.

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5. In the Preference folder, scroll down until you see the following two Final Cut Pro preference files:

User>Library>Preferences>com.apple.FinalCut.plist

and

User>Library>Preferences>com.apple.FinalCut.LSSSharedFileList.plist

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6.  Select both the files and drag them to the Suspect Files folder on the Desktop.

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Once the preference files have been moved out of the Preferences folder, applications will not be able to access them. In fact when many applications cannot find an existing preference file they will create a new one with the programs default settings.

7.  Launch Final Cut Pro and see if the problem persists or not.

If the problem is gone, then there is probably an issue with the preferences. If the problem still remains, then something else is the culprit.

Bad Cache Files

Cache files are temporary files that typically hold information the Mac OS or an application will access frequently. By caching this information it can be accessed more quickly than having the program get it from its original location. Cache files are typically created to help boost the performance of an application or the OS.

1. In the Finder open the Library folder (see step one above).

2. In the Library folder scroll to the Cache Folder and double-click to open it.

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3. In the Cache folder scroll down to locate the com.apple.FinalCut folder.

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4. This folder contains Final Cut Por X specific cache files.

5. Drag the com.apple.FinalCut folder to the Suspect Files folder on the Desktop.

6. As with the Preference files, once the cache files are moved from the Cache folder, Final Cut will not see them and will generate new cache files as needed.

7. In the Finder, relaunch Final Cut Pro to see if the problem persists.

If the problem is gone, then the issue may have been with the cache files. If the problem still persists then something else may be the culprit.

Bad Application Suport Files

Application support files are ancillary files that program may need to function, that are not preferences or cache files. They are generally installed when the program is installed. Each program’s Application Support files are store in the Application Support folder in your Library folder. In some cases if the Application support files are bad then you may need to reinstall the program in order to restore them.

1.  In the Finder open the Library folder (see step one above).

2.  In the Library folder locate the Application Support folder and double-click to open it.

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3 In the Application Support Folder scroll down to locate the Final Cut Pro folder and double-click to open it.

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The typical contents of the Final Cut Pro folder are the Command Sets folder and the Layouts Folder.

4. Drag the Command Sets and Layouts folders to the Suspect Files folder on the Desktop.

As with the preferences and the caches, once the application support files have been moved Final Cut Pro will not be able to access them.

5.  In the Finder, relaunch Final Cut Pro to see if the problem persists.

If the problem is gone, then the issue may have been with the cache files. If the problem still persists then something else may be the culprit.

Note: There have been some instances where Final Cut Pro X will hang on launch with the following message displayed in the FCPX launch dialog “Restoring the Window Layout." Removing the Layouts folder from the Final Cut Pro Applications Support files folder will usually correct this problem.

Bad Third Party Plug-Ins

Third party plug-ins provide additional features and tools to Final Cut Pro that can make your workflow more efficient or allow FCPX to do things weren’t part of the original program. Third party plug-ins can be a tremendous benefit, when they are working correctly, but can also cause problems if they become damaged or corrupt. Plug-ins are not stored in the Library folder, but are instead located in your Movies > Motion Templates folder.

1. In the Finder, open a new Finder Window if none is currently open.

2. In the Finder Window Sidebar click Movies.

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3.  This is the default location of FCPX and Motion’s Effects, Titles, Transitions and Generators.

4.  In the Movies folder, double-click to open the Motion Templates folder.

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5. There are several folders, Compositions, Effects, Generators, Titles, and Transitions. Each folder contains the native and third party
version of these effects resources.

6.  In the Motion Templates folder, double-click to open the Effects Folder.

7.  In the Effects folder, select any of your third party plug-in folders and drag them to the Suspect Files folder on the Desktop.

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8. After you have moved the plug-in folders then Final Cut Pro will not be able to use the plug-ins effects.

9. In the Finder launch Final Cut Pro and see if the problem persists. If the problem is gone, then the issue may have been with the cache files.

If the problem still persists then something else may be the culprit.

10. Repeat steps 4 through 9 to move third party generators, titles, and transitions to test for problems.

Bad Event or Project Files

Final Cut Pro could also be flaking out because it can’t properly load an Event or Project that is stored on your media drive. This is definitely a time where you want to have backups of the data, otherwise you might have to recreate, from scratch, a problematic Event or Project. If you have a backup then all you need to do to correct the problem is restore the problem Event or Project from the back up. If not then you have a bit of work ahead of you.

Events and Projects are usually stored either in the Movies folder of your boot hard drive (the default location), or the root, or top level, of your media drive.

1.  In the Finder, open a new Finder Window if none is currently open.

2.  In the Finder Window Sidebar click Movies.

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3.  In the Movies folder, Right or Control-click and choose New Folder to create a new folder to hide the Events. Name it Suspect Events.

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Note: You should also create a separate folder to hide Projects.

4.  Press the Command key on the keyboard and double-click to open the Suspect Events folder in a new window.

This makes it easier to move the Events to the new folder.

5.  In the Movies Folder double-click to open the Final Cut Events folder.

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The Final Cut Events folder holds all of the Events that you have created on the Macintosh HD. You will find the same folder at the root, or top level of any media drives that you have created Events on in FCPX.

6. In the Finder, under the Menu Bar, choose Edit > Select All, or press Command – A on the keyboard to select all the Events.

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7.  Drag the Events to the Suspect Events Folder.

Moving the Events out of the Final Cut Events folder will hide them from FCPX. This will help determine if the Events are causing a problem.

8.  In the Finder launch Final Cut Pro and see if the problem persists.

If the problem is gone, then the issue may be with one of the Events. If the problem still persists then something else may be the culprit.

9.  Quit Final Cut Pro.

10.  Drag one of the Events from the Suspect Events Folder back to the Final Cut Events folder.

11.  Launch Final Cut Pro to see if the problem persists.

12.  If the problem is gone, repeat steps 9 to 11 until you find the problem Event.

13.  Repeat steps 4 through 11 to troubleshoot the Final Cut Projects.

Back to Square One

If you have performed all the previous options and the problem is still unresolved then you may be forced to re-install Final Cut Pro. Normally this is the solution of last resort, however some people like to save time and re-install at the beginning. Re-installing Final Cut Pro will not affect your Events and Projects.

1.  In the Finder, open a new Finder Window if none is currently open.

2.  In the Finder Window Sidebar click Applications.

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3.  In the Applications Folder locate Final Cut Pro and drag it to the Trash.

Note: You can also move items to the trash by Right or Control-clicking and choosing Move to Trash, or by selecting the item and pressing Command-Delete on the keyboard.

4.  In the Finder, from the Menu Bar choose Finder >Empty Trash, or press Command – Shift – Delete on the keyboard.

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Note: You might also consider moving the preference, cache and Application Support files to the trash as well, for a more complete Final Cut Pro removal.

5.  In the Finder, from the Menu Bar Choose Apple Menu > App Store . . .

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6. The App Store will load.

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7. In the App Store Window click on the Purchase Tab to display a list of your purchaed applications.

8. In the Apple Store Purchasing Listing locate Final Cut Pro X and click the Install button.

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9. The Mac OS may display a dialog box requesting you authenticate using your administrator credentials in order to re-install the software.

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10.  If required enter your Administrator user name and password and click Install Software.

11.  The App Store Login sheet may drop down requesting that you login to the App Store using your Apple ID to authorize the installation.

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12.  Enter your Apple ID and password and click Sign In.

13.  The App Store will proceed to download and install Final Cut Pro. This could take some time depending on the speed of your Internet connections. You can monitor the progress from the Purchases Tab of the App Store.Once Final Cut Pro is re-installed you can continue.

Note: Some people have had problems where Final Cut Pro did not appear in the Updates section of the App Store after Apple released an update. If this happens to you, the recommended procedure is the delete and re-installl FCPX.

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14. In the Finder launch Final Cut Pro.

15.  Hopefully now all your FCPX problems are gone.

These are some of the preventive and troubleshooting techniques that you can use to help resolve issues that you are having when updating Final Cut Pro to a newer version, but they can also be used to help troubleshoot problems with other software.

Remember, don’t be the first to update, back up your data, wait until you’re done with current projects, and read up about the update before you consider installing it.