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Project Maintenance Tips

Even if you are not forced to reorganize your project's media elements because you have run out of disk space, it's a good idea to streamline a project as you go, especially if you're working on a long, complex project. As your project accumulates clips, sequences, edits, render files, multiple tracks of audio, and effects, more and more of your available RAM is needed just to open the project. At some point, you could experience a drop in Final Cut Express's speed or video playback performance.

To streamline a project in progress:

  1. With the project open in the Browser, choose File > Save All.

    The current version of the project is saved.

  2. Choose File > Save Project As.

    The Save dialog box appears.

  3. Navigate to the folder where you want to store your project file, enter a name for the new project version in the Save As field (Figure 4.33), and then click Save.
    Figure 4.33

    Figure 4.33 Enter a name for the new project version in the Save As field. This version of the project is the one you're going to clean up.

    The new version of your project replaces the older one on the front tab of the Browser window (Figure 4.34).

    Figure 4.34

    Figure 4.34 The new version of your project replaces the old one on the front tab of the Browser window.

  4. Remove all but the most current versions of your sequences and delete any excess clips (Figure 4.35). If you are short of disk space, you could choose to delete the clips' source media files as well, but you don't need to delete the source media files to get the benefits of a streamlined project.
    Figure 4.35

    Figure 4.35 Remove all but the most current versions of your sequences and delete any excess clips. If you need the old versions later, you still have them in the project version you saved in step 1.

  5. In the Finder, navigate to the Render Files and Audio Render Files folders. They're located inside the Final Cut Express Documents folder where your media files are stored. Delete any obsolete render files.
  6. With the new, streamlined project open in the Browser, choose File > Save.
  7. If you streamlined your project to improve Final Cut Express's performance, you'll need to close and then reopen the project to recapture the available RAM and start enjoying improved performance.

Editing in stages

If you are trying to assemble a long project in Final Cut Express on a modest system, you may find that you have much more media than hard drive space to store it on.

The simplest approach to a staged editing process is to edit one sequence at a time, print the sequence to video, clear off the media, and then edit the next sequence.

Here's a checklist for taking a completed sequence offline and preparing your drives for the next sequence:

  • After you have completed a sequence and printed it to tape, make sure you save the project file that contains the final version of your sequence.
  • You should also save a backup copy of the project file on a USB keychain drive, CD, or some other form of removable media.
  • Back up any media elements in your sequence, such as graphics files or digital audio from a CD, that won't be restored in a batch recapturing process.
  • In the Browser, select all the clips and sequences that reference media files you no longer need. Use the method for deleting media files described earlier in this chapter to delete all the media source files you no longer need.
  • The clips and sequences referring to the deleted media files will be marked offline, but the clip data will remain in your completed project file. This clip and sequence data takes up very little room, so you don't need to delete it; you can store it in a single Browser folder.
  • Capture the next batch of media files and start work on your next sequence.

Restoring a sequence

If you find that you need to go back and modify a sequence after you have deleted its underlying media files, you can use the sequence data you saved in the project file to batch recapture your footage and re-create the sequence.

All filters, motion paths, keyframes, transitions, nested sequences, and audio mixing are reconstituted when you batch recapture the media files for a sequence. Your render files will be gone, however, and you'll need to re-render any sequence material that requires them.

To restore a sequence:

  1. Control-click the sequence in the Browser and choose File > Capture Project (Figure 4.37).
    Figure 4.37

    Figure 4.37 In the Browser, Control-click the sequence that you want to restore and choose File > Capture Project.

  2. Follow the steps in "To batch capture selected clips" in Chapter 5 and batch recapture your footage from tape.
  3. Restore to your hard disk any non-DV media elements in your sequence, such as graphics files or digital audio from CD, that won't be restored in the batch-recapturing process.
  4. Follow the steps described in "To reconnect offline files" earlier in this chapter (Figure 4.38) and reconnect any non-DV media elements you restored.
    Figure 4.38

    Figure 4.38 To restore non-DV media elements, follow the steps for reconnecting offline files.

  5. To restore the render files, re-render any sequence material that requires rendering (Figure 4.39).
    Figure 4.39

    Figure 4.39 To restore the render files, you must re-render any sequence material that requires rendering.

Tracking used and unused clips

If you just want to do a little housecleaning in your project's media file folder, it's handy to have an inventory of every clip that's currently being used in a sequence in your project and another list of every element in your project that remains unused. How can you create complete lists of used and unused elements in your project? It's simple. You can use the Find feature to assemble these lists—you can even inventory multiple projects in a single Find operation. Powerful stuff.

To get a complete list of unused clips in a group of sequences:

  1. Open all the projects you want to search.
  2. On each project's tab in the Browser, Command-click to select the sequences you want to include in your search (Figure 4.40).
    Figure 4.40

    Figure 4.40 On each project's tab in the Browser, Command-click to select the sequences you want to include in your search.

  3. Choose Edit > Find; or press Command-F.
  4. In the Find dialog box, configure the options as follows:
    • Choose All Open Projects from the Search pop-up menu.
    • Choose Unused Media from the For pop-up menu and check the box next to In Selected Sequences.
    • Choose Replace Find Results from the Results pop-up menu.
  5. Click Find All (Figure 4.41).
    Figure 4.41

    Figure 4.41 The Find dialog box, configured to find unused clips in selected sequences. Click Find All to perform the search.

    A list of all the clips that remain unused in the sequences you selected is displayed in the Find Results window (Figure 4.42).

    Figure 4.42

    Figure 4.42 A list of clips that are unused in the sequences you searched appears in the Find Results window.

Removing a project from your drives

Final Cut Express doesn't generate separate preview or temporary files when you use the Print to Video function. The only files you need to clean up after a project are the project file, media files, render files, and thumbnail and waveform cache files (Figure 4.43).

Figure 4.43

Figure 4.43 Looking for the Thumbnail and Waveform Cache folders? You'll find the directory path to their disk locations listed on the Scratch Disks tab in the System Settings window.

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