Symptom #1: General Error Alert While FCP Is Running
"I get a general error message when I use Print to Video."
A Final Cut Pro general error alert appears when the system, hardware, user, or media asks FCP to do something that the application's code can't perform. It's called general because FCP's code doesn't have a specific error alert identifying the situation.
A general error is the type of problem that does not cause the application to quit or the system to lock up. You still have time to save your work and, ideally, address the problem without having to restart the computer or even relaunch the application.
For example, the error described in the quote could have several causes, including a loose FireWire cable connecting the computer to the camcorder, or two applications simultaneously attempting to claim a FireWire camera or deck as the video output device. In both cases, the problem could be fixed without having to restart the Mac.
When you encounter a general error, first click through the alert and save your work. Next, eliminate user error: review your work and make sure you are asking Final Cut Pro to perform a task it is capable of doing at that stage of the project.
If the error recurs, reset your preferences, and restart the application and project. Then return to where you were before the general error occurred, and see whether the error recurs.
If it the error does recur, determine whether the problem is a clip, a sequence, a render file, or the original media. To do so, look around to see what is going on in the system. Does the error occur when the playhead encounters a specific clip? Does it occur only in the Viewer or the Sequence, or only when encountering the same clip in both? Can the clip in question be viewed in the Viewer but not in the sequence? Has the clip been rendered?
You can eliminate media files as the culprits by taking all your sequence clips offline and then reconnecting and testing them, one by one.
The idea here is that you leave any problem-causing clips offline and leave any benign clips online. When you are finished, you will be able to recapture clips with one keyboard shortcut and checkbox. It should be obvious after a short while if a corrupt file is the root of the problem. If all clips in a sequence produce the same problematic behavior, it's doubtful that they are all corruptin cases of media file corruption, it is rare to find more than one corrupt file.
You can double and even triple the speed of this isolation troubleshooting by using a slight variation of the split half search. You will remember from Lesson 16 that the split half search technique lets you hone in on a single problem file by testing half the files at a time. If you test the first half and find no problems, you can assume that the problem is in the second half.
To apply that method to this situation, select two or three clips to reconnect at a time; then test each one. Reconnecting clips is the slow part; testing usually takes only a second.
Symptom #2: Out-of-memory Error Appears While FCP Is Running
"While playing a sequence, I get a red out-of-memory error in the Canvas."
Out-of-memory errors are widely misunderstood to mean not having enough memory installed to run FCP. That's possible if you've got less than 512 MB of RAM installed. But if you encounter this error on a system with 1 GB of RAM or more, the problem lies elsewhere.
This error message actually means that FCP has run out of memory for the operation it is trying to complete. It's not a common error message, and usually indicates corruption in a sequence, a clip in a sequence, or a render file.
If you get an out-of-memory error message, perform these steps:
When you find the clip that's causing the problem, take a closer look. Does it use third-party filters? Does taking the clip offline eliminate the problem? Is there anything else unique about it, such as being a still image file or a video clip generated by another application?