Final Cut X Pro on FAT32

August 29th, 2014

Point of reference for anyone using FCPX in an environment where users may not be entirely tech savvy. You need  to format your hard drives to Mac OS Journaled or exFAT.

Final Cut Pro X will allow you to edit projects off of external drives formatted as FAT32. If you are only saving your project to the drive and not importing media, this shouldn’t be an issue.

What many users don’t understand is that FAT32 has a file size limitation of 4GBs.

Most project files are probably safe and can live on a drive like that without issue. But media files from HD cameras tend to be bigger, especially if FCPX is converting them to ProRes422.

Final Cut doesn’t know how to handle Fat32 drives (yet). It tries to copy the data over, but when the file is too big for the drive, it resorts to using an alias. When this happens, the original media disappears into the ether.

The distressing part is that there are currently no warnings, popups, or other feedback for the user. Commands simply do not do what you expect them to do. Leaving the user very confused as to why it isn’t working now when it was working before.

Rule of thumb: always copy project within Final Cut, don’t move it. That way, if things go wrong you can try again.

Easy Fix: To relink media files in a library if the media files still live in another library, just choose “relink” from the file menu and select the location as the other library. (You may want to use the “consolidate” command after the files are relinked so that everything lives on the same drive.)

Neat, even if it seems unsafe: It’s possible to continue to edit in FCPX while a project is copying from one drive to another. This might be one benefit of Apple choosing to auto-save and removing the “save” command from the menu.