Experiences from upgrading to Final Cut 10.1

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The latest version of Final Cut X is now 10.1 and this upgrade have two major improvements:

  1. Much better handling of your media, i.e. projects and events
  2. Faster

There are also a number of new features, but the the two reasons above alone makes the upgrade worthwhile for us.

If you are brave you select Update All and go for a run. This was what I did and I don’t recommend it if you have a larger amount of footage and projects. Why does I say so? Lets start to explain our situation.

My father-in-law has been running Final Cut X for two years now and previously has he been using iMove for making full-length DVD’s from trips around Europe. He uses an 27” iMac with five external FW800 disks, both off-line and on-line. Caveat, he was running Snow-leopard.

I have been using Final Cut X for only a year now, but I have five years of footage of agility and obedience training and competitions with dogs stored on my discs. Most of it was migrated from iMovie and shot on DV-tapes. My computer setup consists of a 13” MacBook Pro with an external thunderbolt disk, an 21.5” iMac with an external FW800 disk and a MacMini with two external firewire disks as a media-server. The iMac and MacBook Pro was both running Mavericks and the server was not yet upgraded from Mountain Lion. A little bit more complex setup that had its implications when upgrading.

Both of us had more than a Terra-byte of videos, photos, sound and other material each on several different disks that not always were on-line.

Using prior version of Final Cut X with large event and project folders was not recommended due to lagging performance when starting Final Cut. Therefore were we both using Event Manager/X on all of our computers.

I should have read others recommendations for the upgrade, i.e http://www.rippletraining.com/fcpx-features.html, but started the upgrade directly before Christmas once the update was available on app-store.

Why you may ask? I just returned from a vacation in Cuba and had a lot of memory cards with me. I also new that my current setup wouldn’t mange all new material performance-wise. The last project had rendering times of more than 24 hours for 75 minutes of HD-video, if not aborting. (With 10.1 the rendering time went down to 12 hours and no aborted rendering jobs that was very common with 10.0.9). My father-in-law hade a similar situation, with footage from two trips and an upcoming dead-line for one of them.

The last backup of each of the three computers with time-machine was OK, so I started with upgrading the portable computer and selected Update All from the menu. It went very well and I could start importing the new material from Cuba and make an initial edit and post the draft version on Vimeo before New Year.

When back in Stockholm after New Year, I started to upgrade my stationary computer and here was were the problems begun. 

Some of the footage was on sparse-bundles on the server, and therefore not found by the Update All command when installing the upgrade. There also was projects with events in hidden folders managed by Event Manager/X. Finally, some music linked to iTunes was not available due to a prior disc-problem and changes in locations.

With these lessons in mind, I went to my father-in-laws house and started to upgrade his computer to Mavericks. First of all, I checked that he had a fresh backup of his systems. His was also running the same applications as I did, so I knew that all other apps should work. After two and a half hour later and a nice dinner during the pause was the systems ready for the upgrade to Final Cut 10.1.

Then we went to Event Manager X and enabled all projects and events. The upgrade went smooth, but there was a lot of missing links. It’s very hard to manage a large amount of footage on several disk, and a corrupt disk a year ago didn’t make it better.

First of all I choose to split the Studio library into a number of smaller libraries to make it easier to handle. This is one of the major benefits with the latest version of Final Cut, be able to have separate libraries for different clients of projects one the same disk.

When doing this at home, I found out that it’s a bug in Final Cut 10.1 when copying or moving several events at a time. More than often than not Final Cut aborted or got a spinning beach boll if trying to move or copy between libraries on the same disk or different disks. 

With this in mind, I moved just one event at a time to a newly created library. The challenge was to identify witch event and which project that belonged to each other, and we had to work together with this. After several evening sessions, we were finally done and all links were in the right places except for one event. He buys new memory cards all the time and saves all footage on the used memory cards as an extra safety measure so this was not a major issue.

Back at my home, I downloaded a backup of the media library, moved each event one by one and relinked files from the backup-copy. Some music is still missing so I have to rip my CD’s again to get the tunes for the family films.

Yes, it was worth the hassle to upgrade, even if became more complex than anticipated.

As in in all fairytales, it was a happy ending. Enjoy some cave diving in Cuba at https://vimeo.com/82989450 and always remember to have a plan B.