I am a big fan of Final Cut Pro, and have used it to cut countless projects – including multiple feature films. But like any software, it is prone to crashes and doesn’t always run perfectly. Particularly with anything long form.
My most recent feature film was cut over the course of about 6 months, exclusively using FCP X. All of my footage was transcoded to ProRes 422 HQ in 4K resolution before editing, and initially that made for a very smooth start.
As the project grew larger in scope however, I started to experience more issues. The project file began to crash daily. Then hourly. Eventually, it was happening within 2 – 3 minutes of opening it up.
Ultimately I tried dozens of different tactics to figure out why Final Cut was crashing and how I could solve the issue. I took note of each attempt and decided to share my findings here in this post.
Hopefully this post can serve as a helpful guide for those of you experiencing constant crashing in FCP X and unable to determine why. If that’s the case, try each of the following:
Update Final Cut Pro X
Running an older version of FCP X or macOS can lead to compatibility issues and crashes. Make sure you’re using the latest version of both to ensure optimal performance.
Third-party plugins or effects that are not compatible with your current version of FCPX can often cause crashes. Review your plugins and effects to ensure all are up to date, and update or remove any that may be causing conflicts.
Resetting your preferences often resolves issues with crashing / freezing. Hold down the Option and Command keys while launching FCPX. This will open a window to reset preferences. Click “Reset,” then close the project immediately and re-open it. Note: Any custom settings you made to the UI will revert back to factory settings, but your project itself will not be affected.
Delete The Render Files
Render files can accumulate over time and may cause FCP X to crash due to lack of space or corrupt files. To fix this, navigate to your project’s library, right-click on it, select “Delete Generated Library Files” and click OK. This will free up space and potentially resolve any crashing issues.
Create a New Timeline (Project)
Sometimes, the problem may be isolated to a specific project in FCP X. To test this, create a new timeline (AKA Project) and copy your edits from one to the either. In some cases just moving your clips from an old timeline into a new one will solve the issue.
XML to New FCP X Library
If creating a new timeline doesn’t work, you can try importing your edit into a new Library. Export your current Library as an XML file and import it into a newly created Final Cut Pro Library. This can help bypass potential issues with your existing / older library.
Use Reels To Cut Down The Runtime
Long, complex timelines can strain FCP X’s resources. If you are able to break your project into smaller chunks, Final Cut Pro will be less likely to crash. On a feature film, this is commonly done by using “Reels”, which are 10 – 20 minute chunks of the movie, separated into individual sequences.
Remove Adjustment Layers or Long Clips
I’ve found anecdotally that long clips placed on top of your main edit can cause performance issues. For instance, if you have an adjustment layer that spans a full 90 minute feature film, or a film grain file that does the same, you may run into crashes. Temporarily remove these elements to see if the problem persists.
Check Hard Drive Space
FCP X will not function properly if it’s running on a drive with little to no free space. Check your hard drives and make sure there’s ample room for FCPX to operate. Free up space by deleting unnecessary files or moving them to external storage. You can do the same for any drives that contain project files or other assets being used in the edit.
Move to Another Hard Drive
Even if you have plenty of space on your external drive, it is possible you are working with a faulty hard drive that is causing performance issues in Final Cut Pro X. To test this, copy your entire library and assets to a separate drive and boot the project back up.
Editing video files (especially in 4K and beyond) places a high demand on your computer’s memory. Ensure that your system has enough RAM to handle your editing tasks. If RAM is an issue, consider creating an offline edit using lower-res proxy files. These can be generated directly in FCP X using the “Generate Optimized Media” function.
Other Software Running
Be sure you aren’t running any large scale applications in the background that can interfere with FCPX’s performance. Even something as simple as Adobe Photoshop running at the same time may cause issues on slower computers or older laptops.
Corrupted Media Files
If there are corrupt files anywhere on your hard drive (that have also been imported into your project / library), it’s possible that FCP X will crash when trying to access them. Be sure to manually check any potentially problematic files on your hard drive by opening them in the finder to ensure smooth playback outside of Final Cut Pro.
Final Thoughts: Avoiding Crashes In FCP X
Hopefully this has been helpful to those of you who are experiencing issues in Final Cut Pro. In some cases the issue may exist within your project, your hard drive, or system configuration. By experimenting with each of these potential solutions, you will likely be able to determine the culprit.
It’s also worth noting that Final Cut Pro X (from my experience at least) is among the most reliable NLE’s out there. While it may experience issues with performance from time to time, it seems to happen less frequently than with other editing platforms.
Final Cut Pro X also saves your work automatically with each key stroke you make. So thankfully, even if you are experiencing crashes you are unlikely to lose any substantial amount of work.
If you can think of any other reason why FCP X may crash, leave a comment below! I’ll be sure to update this article over time.
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. Make a feature film today: The No-Budget Feature Film Blueprint
2. Build your network and sharpen your craft in our community: The Backlot
3. Color grade & polish your footage with my post-production tools on: Cinecolor