Symptom #1: FCP Crashes When a Specific Project or Sequence Tries to Load
"My system seems to be working fine for all but one sequence. When I try to load that one sequence, FCP crashes."
Many things can cause unexpected quits. The unexpected quit is actually not an application alert, like the general and out-of-memory errors; it is a system-level error alert that tells you an application has experienced a fatal error. This means FCP has encountered a problem so severe that it can't continue running.
Although it is quite rare, you can encounter an unexpected quit if your project contains corrupt sequences, clips, or render files. If you can launch FCP, but when you load a particular project the application crashes, suspect that the project may contain a corrupt item. Similarly, if you can launch your project, but the application crashes when you try to load a particular sequence, that sequence may be corrupt.
The only way to determine your project contains corrupt files is to make the media related to the project or sequence offline. If you are unable to launch the project at all, force the media offline by disconnecting or by leaving your scratch disk volumes dismounted. When the media is offline, attempt to open the project.
If the project still doesn't open, it may have been irreparably corrupted, and the media is likely not the culprit. If you arrive at this conclusion, it's wise to go into your backups and the Autosave Vault, and find the most recent version that doesn't exhibit the corruption. Duplicate that backed-up file, and begin working again. It's not a good idea to invest a great deal of work in a project that you know is corrupted.
If, on the other hand, the project or sequence does open, your next job is to reconnect the media one file at a time, retesting the project each time, until you find the file that is causing the problem. (Use the steps described in "Symptom #1: General Error Alert While FCP is Running," earlier in this section.) Don't forget to save regularly, because when you find the corrupt file, FCP is likely to crash again, and you'll have to link the nonproblematic clips all over again.
Symptom #2: FCP Crashes Randomly
"I get unexpected quits randomly. They don't seem to be related to any particular project or media I am working with."
If unexpected quits are a chronic problem, incorrect system setup or inadequate system maintenance are the most likely causes. The first thing to do is to evaluate your system and perform thorough maintenance.
Perform routine maintenance.
Repairing permissions and refreshing preferences are two of the most common cures for the quits. Perform routine maintenance every week and manually trash and reset your preferences every couple of months.
Make sure the amount of RAM meets specifications.
Insufficient installed RAM can cause unexpected quits and other errors. Final Cut Pro's minimum amount of required RAM is insufficient if you plan to run many applications in the background.
Use the Autosave Vault.
If it's been a while since you manually backed up, you might need to go into Project Restore when you open FCP. Next, perform a quick Preferences reset, restart FCP, and get back to work.
Test with the new Final Cut Pro preferences.
If the unexpected quits return, you'll have to go a little deeper. Moving your FCP preferences (located in your user library in /Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data) to the Desktop and running FCP will let you determine whether the cause is related to something specific to your real user. Running a copy of your current project with new preferences allows you to isolate whether the problem is with something in your user folder or the project itself.
Check third-party software and hardware.
Has any software or hardware changed in your system recently? Remove all FireWire and USB devices, and run FCP again. If the problem disappears, consider switching out any FireWire or USB cables, because an $8 cable could be at the root of the problem.
Beyond FireWire devices, other factors can cause quits, including conflicting video and audio output devices and drivers, permissions problems on non-Apple-installed files, and directory-level disk errors.
Check the FCP crash log.
You can use the Console utility to view logs (historical records) of application and system activity. This includes log files that may contain information about why or how an application crashed. The system.log file contains general information about system-level activity.
You can also use Console to navigate to the CrashReporter folder in the user's Library/Logs folder to locate the Final Cut Pro.crash.log file.
Although the content of those log listings can seem a little opaque to the average user, the information is gold to Apple Pro Video Support technicians who might be assisting you in troubleshooting.
Test for bad RAM chips.
Faulty RAM is a common cause of unexpected quits in the Mac OS. Particularly if you are running aftermarket RAM chips, you may have introduced a problem into your system. Problems resulting from faulty RAM chips are notoriously intermittent, and just because RAM has worked fine for six months doesn't mean that it can't send your system into a tailspin tomorrow morning.
Checking for bad RAM is an intensive and invasive task. But if no other troubleshooting steps uncover a problem, it's a logical step. Test for faulty RAM by switching it out, stick by stick, running with only one stick at a time (or two, in the case of G5s that require interleaved RAM) until you encounter the quits or other-aberrant behavior. Although the Apple Hardware Test CD that comes with your Macintosh has a utility for testing RAM, it may not catch intermittent errors.
Purchase RAM only from reputable dealersnamely, ones that offer lifetime return and cross-ship guarantees.