FCP X: Performance Preferences

Preferences control the operation of Final Cut Pro X, but, sometimes, figuring out what’s actually going on is harder than it should be.

For instance, take this Playback preference setting. What are we actually selecting and what is affected by it?

NOTE: These settings moved in the 10.1 update to Final Cut. You will now find these options inside the Switch in the top-right corner of the Viewer.

Apple’s Help document is somewhat terse:

Playback Quality: Choose High Quality from this pop-up menu to prioritize high quality, or choose Better Performance to prioritize better performance.

What you are determining with these settings is where the CPU should spend its time.


Select High Quality if you are:

Select Better Performance if you are

The short answer is that Better Performance works fine for most editing situations, except looking at bitmapped images created outside of Final Cut Pro X.

Keep in mind that Final Cut always outputs at the highest quality, regardless of how this preference is set.


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5 Responses to FCP X: Performance Preferences

  1. One ‘gotcha’ to look out for when working with interlaced material in better performance mode is you may not be able to see interlacing issues on you external display such as flipped fields or fields buzzing when speed ramping scaled material (such as interlaced sd clips in an HD timeline and vice-versa)

    If working with interlaced material that is destined for interlaced playback such as broadcast deliverables I strongly recommend using High Quality – or at least watching the final cut in High Quality mode before outputting/exporting.

  2. Thomas Whipp says:

    Had always wondered why the stills in my video projects always looked pathetic prior to final export!
    I just changed the Playback setting to High Quality and Presto! I have gotten rid of my biggest bugbear during editing.
    Thanks Larry! The simplicity that you exude in your explanations always makes me feel inadequate…but in a good way!
    Thomas Whipp

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