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.


P.S. For more tips on making the most of Final Cut Pro X, check out my video training: www.larryjordan.biz/fcpx.

6 Responses to FCP X: New Performance Tips

  1. Lee Faulkner says:

    Thanks for the report Larry.

    No way for me to be at these Apple presentations, and this information is valuable stuff!

    Shame Apple didn’t demo the announced upcoming Audio enhancements, I am sooo hoping they will be significant!

  2. Ron says:

    Larry you said: “However, for larger projects, compound clips that aren’t nested inside each other can actually make the system run better.” Didn’t you mean to say “… clips that are nested …” Or am I confused?

    • Larry says:

      A compound clip that is placed inside a project Timeline is nested inside that project. This is OK.

      A compound clip that is placed inside another compound clip which is itself placed into the Timeline is NOT OK.

      A single level compound clip is fine. Compound clips inside other compound clips cause problems.


  3. Ladislav Zamba says:

    “Final Cut needs to track each of these clips individually” … and from my experience it’s slowing performance after every editing action.

    To me it seems like FCPX is tracking all used clips on timeline and is accessing all media files after every edit.

  4. Tommy S says:

    It feels wrong to be using compound clips for preliminary edits before bringing this into an actual project. Is this just me as it feels like a hack?

  5. Craig Seeman says:

    Tommy S, Compound Clips in the Event Browser are a great way to edit segments. Create an empty Compound Clips and build your scene, show open whatever.

    When you’re done, drop them into the project timeline.You can then rearrange them if you like. You can break them apart as well if need be too of course.

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