Jumpy footage in FCP5?
December 12, 2005 12:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to capture some footage into Final Cut Pro 5, and it ain't working. In the words of a certain fly/human, "Help meeeee!"

I'm capturing some footage from a Canon XL1, and it's all playing stuttery. A second or so of footage, then a jump, then another second or so, et cetera. I did the same thing (same computer, same software, same camera) a few weeks ago, and it worked fine. Different project file, but as near as I can tell it's the same settings. Any suggestions?
posted by brundlefly to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Best answer: So it looks fine while you're capturing, but it stutters only on playback?

If it's the latter, there are an infinite number of reasons why you're getting playback stutters. I would check the following first:

1. Make sure your Viewer or Canvas is always set to "Fit to Window" when you're playing footage. If it's zoomed in or out, FCP will tend to skip frames.

2. When you drop the footage into a DV timeline, do you have to render the footage before playing it? If so, you captured with the incorrrect codec.

3. If you don't have to render, does the clip appear in the timeline as a "green bar" clip, or a solid gray bar clip? If it's the former, either a filter has been accidentally added to the clip, or a Motion tab parameter has been accidentally nudged (ie rotation or scale). I've been using FCP for 4 years now, and this silly user error still bites me on the ass, mostly when I have the viewer/Canvas in Image+Wireframe mode, and I accidentally click in the window with the mouse, which can inadvertently nudge the clip. This forces FCP to try and play the clip with a realtime motion effect, which can cause dropped frames if your system is too slow.

When the footage skips, do you not get an FCP warning that pops up that tells you that your system is dropping frames? You should...if not, check your User Preferences.

4. You can also get stuttery playback if you're playing the timeline out through your Firewire out (i.e. to monitor out through your camera, and onto an NTSC monitor), and the Firewire cable isn't connected securely. The crappy 4-pin Firewire connectors on most consumer/prosumer DV cameras are notorious for being rather flaky like that.
posted by melorama at 1:13 AM on December 12, 2005

I'm going with there's 'something else' wrong.

If you 'see' it stutter on capture, that's a red flag.

Once captured, in the viewer, left/right arrow through the footage. Does it 'freeze'? Then it didn't capture all the information.

First test: try a different tape? Happens there too?

How full is your drive?
Is it fast enough?
Is it a firewire drive or the local drive?

While OSX has hot adaptive flie clustering...a very full drive (with large DV files) can lead to fragmentation. Minimum free on a drive is 5%, preferably 10%

Test by Capturing to the local drive.
If it's okay there, it's a data collision on the firewire bus.

But we'll cross that bridge depending on what you report back with.
posted by filmgeek at 4:55 AM on December 12, 2005

Response by poster: melorama writes "1. Make sure your Viewer or Canvas is always set to 'Fit to Window' when you're playing footage. If it's zoomed in or out, FCP will tend to skip frames."

That was it. God, I feel like an idiot!

Thanks for the help!
posted by brundlefly at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2005

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