Solving Dropped Frame Problems

The dropped frames warning message may be the most misunderstood error message in Final Cut Pro. Understanding the causes and likely solutions can make all the difference in solving the issue quickly.

Dropped frames occur when, during either capture or playback, FCP and your Macintosh can't process and deliver the number or size of frames of video per second required by the video standard you are using. FCP expects to display or write a new frame of video at certain time intervals. If the frame does not arrive on time because it was delayed elsewhere within your system, FCP will drop (skip) that frame. Capture or playback either continues with the frame missing or stops with a warning message, depending on your preference settings.

The first question to ask when troubleshooting dropped frames is whether the issue occurs consistently in particular situations, or intermittentlyand whether dropped frames occur during capture or playback.

Dropped Frames at a Glance

Type of Problem


Possible Cause


Intermittent dropped frames during capture or playback

#1: Problem occurs despite correct FCP settings

Hardware does not meet the requirements for your video format

Check hardware system requirements; page 727


#2: Problem occurs despite a fast disk drive and ample storage

Incorrect (or incorrectly configured) software driver for the storage solution

Check software driver and configure it correctly; page 729


#3: Problem occurs after an OS upgrade

Incorrect Mac OS X setup

Configure your Mac operating system correctly; page 730


#4: Problem occurs on some clips that display an orange bar

Incorrect use of Unlimited RT feature

Configure your Unlimited RT settings correctly; page 731

Consistent dropped frames during capture or playback

#1: Problem occurs when a camera or deck is connected to a FireWire drive on the same bus

Congested FireWire bus

Add an additional FireWire bus to your system; page 732


#2: Problem occurs with a new FireWire drive

New drive isn't fast enough or large enough for your video format

Ensure adequate storage capacity and drive speed; page 734

Consistent dropped frames only during capture

#1: Problem occurs at capture even though you can play back the same content from the scratch disk

Wrong storage solution for the job

Use the right storage solution for the job; page 735


#2: Problem occurs after you've captured and deleted lots of footage

Storage drive incorrectly configured or formatted

Configure and format your storage drive correctly; page 736

Consistent dropped frames only during playback

#1: Problem occurs only with one particular clip

Long frame, or duplicated frame, in a clip

Delete long frames; page 738


#2: Dropped frames or picture stuck on a single frame

Scroll bars in Canvas or Viewer window are interfering with playback

Get rid of scroll bars; page 740


#3: Issue occurs at specific clip or location in the sequence

Corrupted clip or media; too many tracks of audio

Re-render media; delete and recapture or replace the clip or media; force an audio mixdown; page 742

Apple Pro Training Series. Optimizing Your Final Cut Pro System. A Technical Guide to Real-World Post-Production
Apple Pro Training Series. Optimizing Your Final Cut Pro System. A Technical Guide to Real-World Post-Production
Year: 2004
Pages: 205 © 2008-2017.
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