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Forums Apple Final Cut Pro X Should I create proxy & optimized media?

  • Should I create proxy & optimized media?

  • Ted Irving

    September 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I have a 2.8ghz QuadCore with 7GB or RAM and a ATI RAdeon HD 5770 with 1024MB of RAM. So, Final Cut X is just running slow on this system which is pretty high above the recommended system you need for it. I know I need to bump up my RAM as high as possible, but if I create proxy media and optimized media from my canon 60D h.264 files, will that eliminate the constant spinning wheel and slow response? Or should I go with using MPEG Streamclip or Compressor and convert all the H.264 footage to Apple Pro Res LT and then import those into FCPX? Final Cut X basically slows the entire machine including using any browser. I’m back to the old days of running only one app at a time. I”m just worried that proxy & optimized media will eat up a lot of space. Some suggestions would be great. Deadlines are coming up fast.

    Ted Irving
    Content Freelancer
    Media Instructor

  • James Cude

    September 4, 2011 at 3:04 am

    ‘Optimized’ converts your original footage into ProRes 422 standard, which is suitable for final outputs and looks as good as your original finals, but stands up to repeated filters/compositing/etc much better.

    ‘Proxy’ transcodes it into ProRes Proxy- which will give you the best performance, take up the least amount of additional space and give you the best performance, but cannot be used for high quality output.

    So your workflow can either be:

    1- Transcode to Optimized and you can then export in full quality when you’re done as is. Upside is you’re working at final quality the whole time. Downside is it will take up the most amount of space. But honestly, it’s worth investing in an extra hard drive, 1 TB is really cheap these days.

    2- Transcode to Proxy. The upside is best performance and least amount of additional hard drive space. The downside is that you can’t really use it for final output because the quality is not sufficient. So you’ll have to toggle the preference from using Proxy to Using Original or Optimized media.

    The advantage to doing this operation within FCP X as opposed to MPEG Streamclip is FCP X will keep track of both the originals and the optimized or proxy media itself and will automatically toggle back and forth between them as you change the playback preference. If you bring in your own transcodes, you won’t have a connection back to the original H.264s. The trade off is of course more hard drive space. But again I think this is all worth it.

  • T. Payton

    September 4, 2011 at 4:42 am


    I have a slightly slower machine but the same graphics card and I have had the spinning beach ball even on proxy footage. I have also played with the fastest macs at the apple store and also has spinning beach balls. From that I would say that some of the issues are inherent with this first version of fcp x.

    Here are a few things I have found to minimize the beachballs:
    – ensure your project is in a fast drive
    – turn off background rendering in preferences
    – turn off waveforms in event browser
    – view the timeline in the “pill mode” ie no audio waveforms or filmstrips

    I also think that handling h264 is really best with a newer iMac i7 for example. But for a Mac Pro I would stick with prores, or optimized as it is named in fcp x. Proxy is fine too but it shouldn’t really be much better than full resolution prores.

    T. Payton
    OneCreative, Albuquerque

  • Robert Bracken

    September 4, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Yep. Turning off the waveforms cut down on the beach balls. Both in the event library and the timeline.

  • Steve Connor

    September 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    What OS are you using?

    “My Name is Steve and I’m an FCPX user”

  • Ted Irving

    September 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I”m using Snow Leapord. I do have a lot of space though; 8TB software RAID backup, another external eSATA RAID box for three drives (3 TB total) and I’m using the internal macpro slots with three drives. a 1TB, a 2TB and a 750gig drive. I’ll be spending more money soon on extra space. I’m considering 10,000 rpm drives, although they can be hard to find and sizes aren’t as large. But definitely 7200rpm. the beachball is annoying so i’ll definitely implement the tweaks all of you suggested. thanks

    Ted Irving
    Content Freelancer
    Media Instructor

  • Aoise Tutty

    May 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Hi there,

    I’m wondering if you can help. I’m currently importing and dealing with a large amount of files for a feature length documentary. i’m new to FCP X so still trying to figure things out.

    At the moment most of my footage is in H264 (5D) – I won’t be workign off a superfast machine so I imagine it’s best to convert the footage to either optimized or proxy (or both??)

    My question is if I was just to convert to proxy and work off that to begin with, then when it comes time to add titles, graphics, etc can I do that easily in the native format and then export that way without causing issues or losing time?

    If I can get away without the huge conversion times for Optimized and also taking up a lot of space, i’d rather try to do that.

    Thank you!


  • T. Payton

    May 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm


    One great thing about the FCP X workflow is you don’t really need to decide now. I would just work with the native files and if you find it being a pit pokey in the event or the timeline, then consider creating proxy or optimized. Optimized are full rez and are of course much larger than h264, while the proxy is just about the same data rate as h264.

    Proxy works EXACTLY like full sized media with the exception of footage with Alpha channels (currently not supported with Proxy). You can set titles, graphics, etc. all in proxy without a problem. Then switch to your full res at any point you wish. When switching to proxy however you have to make sure all your media is converted to proxy, otherwise it will show offline.

    Our shop does a large amount of work with h264 files and we rarely need to transcode. Especially with a single storyline with transitions and one or two layers of titles. One of our assistant editors was having to work on a 2007 iMac with only 4MB of RAM, over the network no less, and the h264 files worked no problem. Occasionally there would be a few clips that had speed changes, etc and were causing slowdowns so we just would optimize those clips (shift F to locate the clip in the browser and the right click to transcode). Once you get into significant compositing or color correction you might find the need to optimized all your used media.

    Hit me up with any other questions.

    T. Payton
    OneCreative, Albuquerque

  • Aoise Tutty

    May 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks so much for your help, i’m a few more days into FCP X now but still coming into trouble. Perhaps a bit of information about my machine first :

    2Ghz Intel Core i7
    16 GB RAM
    AMD Radeo HD 6490M
    Intel HD Graphics 3000
    4 Cores

    Not sure if there is any other information you might need? I’m also running 10.6.8 but now considering that perhaps I should upgrade to Mountain Lion (Will this help with FCP X performance?)

    I’ve managed to scan through all the rushes of the documentary I’m working on and assign keywords without many issues. However I’m now going back to watch through the interviews in more detail and i’m having problems with playback, there seem to be frames dropping every couple of seconds – I’m not sure what this is to do with – perhaps you could shed some light?

    Also I have been working of an external harddrive (2TB) but am now in the process of transferring all the files over to a 4TB harddrive as I think it gives more room for ‘manoeuvre’ i’ve literally just copied and pasted the folders from one hardrive to the next… however not sure this was the best thing to do..

    As I still haven’t created any projects but am just organising rushes, I also wondered what’s he best way of duplicating the work I’ve done without copying full (and large sized) event folders?

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

  • T. Payton

    May 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm


    Why don’t you contact me directly, visit my company website and then send a contact through there. or just use my name without the space and period and email me using my company domain.

    T. Payton
    OneCreative, Albuquerque

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