What I am about to show you is the single most useful toolkit you can have for Final Cut Studio. This is really the “must have” set of tools if you want to ensure that you have a smooth working system. And the thing to have to help you figure out what is wrong.

Here you are, editing away with FCP, or working in Motion… some application in the Final Cut Studio bundle of applications… when the application crashes, or just vanishes. And you try to open it and work again, but it crashes again. Or you try to open a project and it won’t open, or when you hit a certain part of your timeline the application crashes. What is going on? What is causing all this crashing? You don’t know…you are the creative person on the team…or the only person working on a project. But your talents lie in making art…not diagnosing why the software isn’t working. Troubleshooting is a skill, and it will take a bit to develop. But how can you figure out what to do if you don’t know what is wrong?

Digital Rebellion has your back. They have released a great set of tools that not only diagnose the issue, but have several applications that can fix most of the probably causes of the issue. Take that mysterious string of code you get (when the Mac says “Submit crash report to Apple), use one of the tools in the FCS Maintenance Pack and see, in plain English…no tech talk, what the report is saying is the cause of the crash. Once you know that, taking the steps to fix the issue are more apparent.

That’s where it all starts…WHY. Why is FCP crashing? That is the first question that needs answering, so you can now go about fixing things. Can’t fix things without knowing what to fix. The answer to why lies in the “Crash Report.” But who can read that other than Apple engineers or other software code-monkeys? When people have crashes and post their question online, I typically ask for the crash report. Is it because I can read this cryptic code? No…I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it. No, I take the first 5-6 paragraphs of code, copy and paste that into the CRASH REPORTER and see what it says. It might report that there is “corrupt media,” or corrupt preferences, or incompatible media…any number of things. But now you know WHY…and can start to take the steps needed to fix the issue.

If it is corrupt media, Digital Rebellion has you covered. They have the CORRUPT CLIP FINDER to help track down the corrupt media. And then you can use the QT REPAIR tool to see if you can fix the media file. If not, then trash it and recapture or reimport. This has helped me in the past. I tried to send a sequence to Color, but everytime Color tried to open it…import the XML and read the media…it’d crash. Well, I ran the CORRUPT CLIP FINDER, and after about an hour (just longer than my lunch break), it found the offending media. There wasn’t anything apparently bad with the footage, it would open in QT, it would open into FCP. But going to Color it had an issue. QT Repair was able to fix one small glitch, and BOOM, things were working again.

What if your project won’t even open? You don’t have a crash report, and you can’t even get started? Well, then you have PROJECT REPAIR. It will fix projects so that they are openable, and fixes that horrid “Project is unreadable or too new” error that we all hate. It isn’t too new…it just worked YESTERDAY!

What if you get an XML that is version 5…one that only FCP 7 can import, but you are running FCP 6? And the person who sent you the file just flew to the Bahamas for a two week vacation? or they are somehow otherwise unavailable to send you the proper XML type? Well, no problem. XML Repair can convert that XML to any other type, so you can convert it to work with the version of FCP you are running. Or it can fix any number of issues or corrupt XML files.

There are many other tools, and you can read about them all on the web page…see what they do. They range from repair tools to system maintenance. And your system will hum when you maintain it. Like changing oil in your car. Running the FCS HOUSEKEEPER and AUTOSAVE CLEANER can help recover system drive space, and make sure that FCP is in peak running condition. All these things I do manually are handled in these apps. I haven’t used them all, but this is because I do a lot of this stuff manually. And I haven’t had the need to use the other apps to fix things. But, it is very nice to know that if something were to happen, I’d have a toolbelt of apps to help me figure out what is wrong, and help me fix it.

I do want to point out two applications I use the most…the PREFERENCE MANAGER and FCS REMOVER. And how would you like to hear that Apple employees, people who work on Final Cut Studio, use these applications themselves, all the time? Yeah, that inspires confidence in the power of these tools

The Preference Manager is the single most useful application in the bunch. So helpful that Digital Rebellion offers this separately, as a FREE download. Whenever FCP or ANY of the FCS applications aren’t acting like they should…if they are just not working like you expect them to, or they are crashing, the first thing you do is “trash the preferences.” This is the first step that I an other help forum leaders suggest. Because it really does solve about 75% of the problems. But, where are those preferences? How do you know which ones to trash? There are three of them scattered in the system…so why go digging when you can simply press a button and they are gone? yeah, I like that too. BUT, when you trash these preferences, it resets a LOT of settings. Your FAVORITES in the EFFECTS tab are gone, your preferences for how often you Autosave, or how many copies you save, how many tracks of RT audio you have, autorender settings, Easy Setup settings…a whole LIST of settings that you took time setting up, are reset to default. Now you have to take time to redo them. Well, not necessarily. Once you have good preferences, and then set all of these settings, you can BACK THEM UP! Yup…so if they get corrupt, you trash the bad ones, and restore from your good clean backups. And everything is back to normal. Cool beans.

The second application, also available separately and for free, is the FCS REMOVER. This will uninstall any part, or ALL, of the Final Cut Studio package. Now, why would you want to do this? Well, if you want to install a newer version, say FCS2 to FCS 3…it is best not to install on top of an existing copy. You want to install fresh. So you need to remove the previous version, and install the new one. Or if trashing preferences didn’t help, and things are still crashing and messing up, you might need to just start over. Then use this to uninstall, and install fresh.

This will be the best $139 you spend. Because the time you lose trying to figure out what is wrong, or posting on a forum hoping that someone can diagnose the issue at a long distance, will end up costing you more in the long run. How much is an hour of your time worth? PLUS, when you fix things yourself…figure it out on your own…there’s a sense of accomplishment.

And you can do what I do…use the tools to help someone else out and come out looking like some sort of FCP technical guru that knows everything.