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Finally Cutting Again

I spent a lot of time over the last six or seven days shuffling big files around trying to get Final Cut Pro X working right on my MacBook Pro Retina again. I bought the laptop about a year and a half ago, and I was told it would be ideal for running FCP, and for a long time, it was. But it started running extremely slow over the last few months.

The trouble began after I started running out of storage on my computer. It has a 500 GB flash drive (which should win the Academy Award of computer technology for drastically improving performance of hard drives) and I reached the point where I had so little space left that I started getting error messages. So I went out and bought a couple of terrabyte hard drives and started shuffling files. Off went the Final Cut Projects folder and the Final Cut Events folder, along with all of the associated files.

At first I had no problems, but over time, it started taking longer and longer to mount the external hard drives, import the files, and render movies. Editing became an exercise in futility. The editor started misbehaving, slowing down, and running choppy, refusing to budge when I needed it to jump. I spent long stretches of time staring at the spinning beachball.

A quick search on the internet revealed that I wasn't the only one who was having this problem. Just google "final cut pro running slow" and you'll see plenty of questions and not enough answers. I tried following the advice of those who offered to help, but I never seemed to find the right answer. I plodded ahead as best I could for as long as I could, periodically trying new internet searches with new terms looking for fresh answers.

Yesterday I came across a post that suggested I need a new computer. To be exact, the poster said that to get optimum performance in FCP, you really need 16 GB of RAM. My laptop only has 8 GB, so I hopped online to see what a new Mac with 16 GB would cost. I configured a system and found that the least I could get away with was a $3000 solution. Or I could wait for the new Mac Pro, which would be closer to $5000. I mentally prepared myself to bite the bullet and shell out a few grand.

I wanted to go to the Apple Store to confirm my findings. I braved the Christmas traffic and drove to the mall, walked in the store and found the FCP expert.

Here's one of the many things I love about the Apple corporation. They aren't there to sell you anything in particular; they are there to help you solve problems. I practically waved my credit card under his nose, yet the guy in the blue shirt insisted that my laptop was plenty capable of smoothly running FCP. After a 20-minute conversation with him, I was convinced the solution could be found without dropping a single dime.

I went back home and hopped online, once again seeking solutions. This time I came across a hint that would eventually solve my problem. It was a simple solution that literally took two or three clicks and less than a minute.

After spending hours upon hours looking for it, there it was. Under File in the menu, there's a command called "Move Project." I tried moving my project from the external hard drive to the local hard drive on my computer. That did the trick. Now the program runs just as fast as ever, and I was able to export my movie.

Some of you may be laughing under your breath about my ignorance in the first place, and that's okay. When you are self-taught, as many of us are, you sometimes come across things that can trip you up. But persistence pays, and if you keep seeking solutions you'll eventually find the right one.

I've been programming computers since I was 15 years old, and the Big Lesson that it taught me very early in life is that there will be plenty of opportunities to prove how persistent you want to be. There will be lots of bugs in life, and to resolve them takes time, effort, and mental fortitude. If you give up easily you'll seldom get very far.

And here's the thing. Even if you've been trained in non-linear video editing or in anything else, technology changes so fast that the syntax you learned will soon be a thing of the past. So it pays to learn how to learn new things.

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