Audio Drift with Capture Now

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Frankie Gonzalez writes:

I was following along with your capture lesson and you said never use capture now, your audio will drift.


I just purchased a new mic and I was testing it out with my camera. While capturing the footage using your method the exact opposite happened.


The audio drifted while using clip. What can I do to fix the problem?


Also I’m getting lots of dropped frames running the footage what can I do.


I have a macbook pro 2.4 GHZ Intel Core Duo and 4 gigs of ram. And external hard drive. I should be cruising along.

Larry replies: Thanks for writing!

Make SURE your scratch disks in FCP are set to your external drive. Dropped frames are caused by a hard disk that’s too slow for what you are recording to it. Often, this indicates your scratch disks (Final Cut Pro > System Settings) are pointing to your boot drive. That won’t work.

Make SURE your camera is recording audio at 48 kHz, also called 16-bit. Sync drift is often caused by the camera recording at the wrong sample rate.

Make sure your external hard drive is NOT attached via USB – that, also, is too slow on the Mac.

Here are some articles that may help further:

UPDATE – May, 2009

Lillian Wang writes:

Read your recent newsletter with interest, in particular about audio drift using capture now. I know it’s a really bad habit to do so, but I have to admit that I often use the “capture now” button to capture from mini-DV tape, out of convenience.


What I’ve discovered is, if you hit play on the deck or camera, and then click the “capture now” button, stuff stays in sync. But if you click on “capture now” first and then hit play on the deck or camera – stuff captures fine, but audio drifts will happen. At least, that’s been my experience!

Larry replies: Thanks, Lillian, for writing. I’ll add this to my collection of tips.


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