Replacing Missing Audio Waveforms in Final Cut Pro 7

Posted on by Larry

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

Philip Bast writes:

I’m back with another audio wave question. Occasionally I find audio wave forms won’t register when they should. Hitting option-apple-W simply brings up a series of Xs instead of a soundwave.

I’ve had this occur previously when working in FC Express with videotape, but have recently upgraded to Studio 2 and am now working Hi-Def with P2 cards (Panasonic HVX200). And I hoped that going tapeless would cure this problem, however it has just recurred on this project.

I don’t know if this is a common problem worth addressing in your tip of the day or if it just happens to be my fluky curse. It’s a curse because I find sound waves incredible valuable for precise editing. I should note that the sound wave will show up when I have zoomed in to the max (with about a second or so of frames showing in the timline), and of course with just a second or two in the timeline, you can’t see the forest for the trees. What I normally find useful for fairly proficient editing is about 15-16 seconds in the timeline. That allows me very clean rough cuts, and I only zoom in to a second in the timeline if I really trying to hone an edit.

So, two questions:

1) What causes this?
(Which is obviously less important than …)

2) How do I get my soundwaves back?
(Short of re-inputting my raw files from the P2 cards?)

Larry replies: Yeah, I’ve had this problem from time-to-time, too.

The problem is caused by Final Cut thinking the waveforms already exist when they don’t. So it can’t display what doesn’t exist. We need to force FCP to recalculate the missing waveforms for the clip.

Fixing this problem is not hard, but not documented.

It may not be necessary, but write down the name(s) of the clips with missing waveforms, then quit Final Cut.

Go to the hard drive you are using for your scratch disks. Look for the folder named “Final Cut Pro Documents” — assuming you follow my system of setting up Scratch disks. Open it to reveal a folder named: Waveform Cache Files.

NOTEHere’s an article that talks about my system for setting up Scratch disks.

If you don’t use my system, look for a folder named Waveform Cache Files. Do a search for this file name – if your scratch disks are disorganized you can have several of these on multiple hard disks.

Inside the Waveform Cache Files folder, look for a file that starts with the name of the clip that has the missing waveforms, then delete the file(s).

When Final Cut reopens, it will go to display the cached waveforms for the clip, discover they aren’t there and recreate them.

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7 Responses to Replacing Missing Audio Waveforms in Final Cut Pro 7

  1. Paige says:

    Thanks Larry! You’re a lifesaver!

  2. Brian says:

    Tried all that and even tossed prefs. Still all i get is X’s. Getting a bit frustrated now at this point.

  3. Peri says:

    That’s a great tip. It worked!!!!!! Fantastic.

  4. Dan says:

    Brilliant! I’ve wondered about this for years. Thought it was simply an unfixable flaw. Never again will I have to go without waveforms!

    Thank you.

  5. Mike Simmons says:

    Superb! Thank you very much for this. I’ve just finished an edit where I REALLY needed to be able to see the waveforms and, of course, this was the one that wouldn’t show them to me. Took me a minute to figure out that I had to actually empty the trash, but once I did that all was good. Many many thanks!

  6. Christopher Beaver says:

    Lo these many years later, June 2019, Larry, you identified and fixed the problem I was having. As always, thank you.

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