A Corrupt Final Cut Pro Project
A Corrupt Final Cut Pro Project
There is really nothing worse than
coming into the editing room, double clicking your project file,
and seeing an ambiguous error message that inevitably means that
you cannot open your Project. Because of the file structure in
FCP, the Project file is everything.
If we lose our media, we can re-digitize
it. If we lose our clips, we can re-create them from the media.
But if we lose our Sequence, we lose all of the work we have
done. Unlike the Avid, there is no access to Bins on the desktop
level in FCP. With Avid, if your project becomes corrupted, you
can still save your Sequence by transporting the Bin that it
lives in into another project. In FCP, all Bins, and thus all
Sequences live inside the Project file itself. If you lose the
project file, you lose everything.
The first lesson to learn essentially
is to BACK UP YOUR PROJECT FILES!! With FCP 3.0 and it's Autosave
Vault, there really is no reason not to. I would also strongly
suggest that you back up your Project file to Zip or another
drive at the end of each work session. But for the occasion where
your last autosave simply wont do, or worse yet, you do not have
a backup of your Project file for some reason, and it becomes
corrupted, I have found a solution that seems to work every time.
There is an as-of-yet undefined
relationship between the FCP Project file, its media, and any
opened sequences during the initial launch of a project. I have
discovered that if your project is corrupted and will not open,
you can take your media offline to solve the problem. Taking
the media offline to enable a corrupt project to launch has worked
for me on a consistent basis. It is only after many occasions
of its proven success that I dare write this article as a solution.
I have found that each time a Final Cut Pro project file has
become corrupted, it is due to a corrupted clip. If the corrupted
clip is in a Sequence that was left open when you quit FCP, then
that Sequence may be the only thing that is corrupted. The Project
might open, but the Sequence wont. In either case when anything
is corrupted, Sequence or Project, this method seems to work.
In the case that you ever need to do this, here is what to do:
Take your media offline. If you have SCSI drives in an external
dock, just turn them off. If you have an (unsupported) external
FireWire drive, just unplug it. If you have internal IDE or SCSI
devices, just rename the Capture Scratch folder, and any Render
At this point, your corrupted project will open and all of your
media will be offline. DO NOT RECONNECT THE MEDIA AT THIS POINT
While in your corrupted project, CLOSE ANY OPENED SEQUENCES.
Then go to the File menu and choose "Save As" to save
a new version of your project.
At this point, you can choose to put your media back online by
undoing whatever method you chose to make it offline and then
launching the NEW version of your project. If your project opens
fine, then the corruption is more than likely in the Sequence
that you closed before doing a Save As. This is by far the most
common Project corruption, the last opened Sequence. I have found
that if you CLOSE ALL SEQUENCES before quitting FCP, you can
lessen the potential for project file corruption significantly.
In the case that your new Project file DOES NOT open successfully
at this point, do the following:
Again take your media offline. And re-launch the project.
Now what you will need to do is re-connect all of your media
in your project to it's new location. DO NOT RECONNECT ALL OF
THE MEDIA AT ONCE, and DO NOT RECONNECT ANY SEQUENCES, ONLY RECONNECT
(At this point, I have not seen
a Render file cause Project or Sequence corruption, but that
is not to say that they wont. It might be a good idea to first
reconnect all of your media first, and the render files after.)
Reconnect each bin in your project separately, quit FCP and re-launch
your project. If after a bin is reconnected the project sill
launches fine, then the corrupted clip is not among those selected.
When you finally reconnect the clip that is corrupt, the Project
will fail to open. Keep track of which bins you have reconnected
to track down the corrupt clip. ONCE YOU HAVE ISOLATED THE CORRUPT
CLIP, DELETE IT FROM THE BROWSER AND RE-IMPORT IT. During this
step, you may also choose to simply delete ALL clips from the
Browser and then re-import ALL of them at once. This method can
potentially save time, but can also potentially be difficult
depending on your skill level with media management in FCP.
After re-importing the clip, quit FCP and re-launch the Project.
If all is well, carry on to the next step. If the Project fails
to open again, delete the media file for the corresponding corrupted
clip and re-digitize it later.
After all clips have been reconnected successfully, or deleted
do to corruption, reconnect your Sequences. If you attempt to
reconnect the Sequences before finding the corrupted clip, you
will corrupt your Sequence.
After all Sequences are reconnected, you have successfully restored
your Project! Delete the old version (the originally corrupted
Of course, in life, nothing is
guaranteed, but this method has worked for me on numerous occasions.
I mentioned earlier that it is a good idea to close all opened
Sequences before quitting a Project. The reason is because CLIPS
are what tend to corrupt a Project, and Final Cut Pro project
will access any opened Sequences before successfully launching.
If a corrupt clip has been used in a Sequence that was left open,
the Final Cut Pro Project will fail to open. If the Sequence
was closed before quitting FCP, then the Project itself will
open, but the Sequence within it will not. In this case, at least
the Project will open, take the media offline, and re-connect
until you find the clip that is corrupt and your Sequence should
be fine too.
Why does a Final Cut Pro project
become corrupt? Well, that is still somewhat of a mystery to
me because there are just too many different circumstances, and
it is not often that someone can re-trace their steps for me
precisely. I can say, that I have seen a project become corrupt
once when copying it from one drive to another and the system
crashed during the process. In that case, both the original Project
file being copied was corrupted, and the copy that it was attempting
to make had failed.
Scott Barbour is a former Avid
Certified Service Representative for both the Windows and the
Macintosh platforms. He is an Avid Certified Instructor and an
Apple Certified Final Cut Pro Instructor and currently teaches
at UCLA, Moviola, and Montana Edit. Among other ventures, Mr.
Barbour co-authored several Apple Certified Final Cut Pro courses,
and works with PlasterCITY
Productions in Hollywood as an Independent Film maker.
copyright © Scott Barbour 2002
This article first appeared on www.kenstone.net and is reprinted here
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