FCP X: New Performance Tips

Posted on by Larry

At this week’s Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group meeting, Apple presented the latest features in Final Cut Pro X at the meeting. (It was a nice demo, but no new features were announced.)

However, I did pick up a variety of performance tips that I want to share with you. (These are listed in no particular order.)



Up until recently, I recommended running Final Cut Pro X with OS X 10.6.8 for stability and performance. This evening, I learned that the 10.0.4 and 10.0.5 releases of FCP X included a number of performance enhancements specifically targeted at improving stability in Lion.

Apple tells me that FCP X now runs much more solidly and quickly on Lion. So, if you’ve been avoiding upgrading to Lion because of concerns about FCP X, it may be time to reconsider.


FCP X is designed to run on either 10.6.8 and the latest version of 10.7.x. If you are having problems with Final Cut, make sure you are current.

If you are running Final Cut on Lion, it is especially  important that you are running the latest versions of both Lion and FCP X to get the best results. If you haven’t upgraded Lion or FCP for a while, Apple suggests upgrading.

Although the basic operation of FCP X is the same on OS X 10.6.8 and 10.7.x, there are two features that are Lion-only:


I’ve gotten a lot of mail recently complaining of problems with compound clips and/or large projects. What I learned tonight was that nesting compound clips inside compound clips inside compound clips – in other words, going “deep” – may affect performance.

However, for larger projects, compound clips that aren’t nested inside each other can actually make the system run better. If you are loading lots of clips into the Timeline, Final Cut needs to track each of these clips individually. Instead, if there is a section of the Timeline that you are done editing, select all the clips in that section and convert it to a compound clip using File > New Compound Clip.

This tells Final Cut to treat those clips as a group. This improves memory management and overall performance, especially as projects and clip counts get larger.


Final Cut only allows you to sync one set of audio and video clips at a time. If you have a batch of audio and video clips that all need to be synced, check out Sync-N-Link X for batch processing: itunes.apple.com/us/app/sync-n-link-x/id517599985?mt=12

All-in-all, an interesting evening, with some updated tips that I wanted to share.

As always, let me know what you think.


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5 Responses to FCP X: New Performance Tips

  1. Bo Bo says:

    Id like to see an in depth review of SYNC and Link.
    How about Pural eyes or dual eyes software by Singular


  2. Aaron Brown says:

    Hi Larry,
    I don’t suppose they talked about fixing support for devices connected via iSCSI with FCPX, did they? My Drobo Pro has been rendered useless via iSCSI and has put me back to working with FCP 7 again. More infuriating, is the fact that FCPX does recognise the Drobo during the drive scan at startup, but disappears from the Events Library shortly after. I reported it to Apple, but to no response. A bug fix would be welcome, I’m missing tagging!


  3. Rick W says:

    I recently cut my teeth on my first FCPX after a beautiful long term relationship with my beloved FC7and I must say I was stressing out. It ended up being a 30 min wedding (I hate doing weddings!). So I have all new gear. MB Pro: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512 MB, OS X 10.8.4. I exported and edited natively from XDCAM 1080p files — problem right there for not optimizing maybe? Long story short. I used 2 filters from fx factory over the duration (vignettes, bleach), a multi cam sequence (2 cam and audio), a good amt of slow motion and that’s basically it….

    End result: It was a total dog! 2 sec lag time in clicks and I wasn’t event rendering, even opening my browser to type and email took a lag. When rendering it was almost totally in-operable.

    Possible issues: Was it from riding that XD cam codec the entire time, My graphic card not strong enough, running time length too much? Slow mo and filters maybe? Multicam? All I know is I’m reluctant to start another project if I’m going to end up on a scary island like that again. As of now I’ve just updated the software to FCPX 10.0.9

    Cheers for any clarity and feedback!


    • Larry says:


      Hmmm… The XDCAM codec is a variant of MPEG-2 and somewhat complex. So that would be your chief culprit. However, two second lag times are excessive. Slow-mo should not make a difference, but filters will definitely slow things down.

      Create a test project and optimize your media from XDCAM to ProRes and see if the speed and lag issues go away.


  4. digitalwavemedia says:

    Thanks for the response Larry! Ok, so I just went to do that within the software and unfortunately the ‘Optimize Media’ is greyed and not an option. Strange because from your courses, you mention FCPX would do that when it didn’t feel like it needed to be optimized. The odd thing is, XDCAM – MPEG-2 works in GOP if I’m not mistaken? So I can’t see how FCPX would think that would be an efficient codec to work with. Would you then recommend manually transcoding the media via Quicktime to 422? Happy to do it obviously, but surprised FCPX doesn’t have the solution within itself. (Again, I’m on latest 10.0.9)

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