last updated 21 Apr. 2002
FCP 1.2.5 settings - PAL

go to...
Quick Index

Basic settings for Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software

This is an old page about those settings that make FCP work - or make you tear your hair when it doesn't.
These settings are for FCP version 1.2.5.
If you have FCP ver. 2  or ver 3.0 this page may not be of relevance
visitors since 6 Jul 2002
FastCounter - bCentral

Basic settings, or, why doesn't my FCP work like it should ?

FCP (Final Cut Pro) was designed as a general purpose editing software which could run with a variety of hardware or even with an off-the-shelf Mac.
Because of this, it is necessary to make settings before you capture video to your hardware. This is so that FCP knows where the video is coming in from and what kind of format it is, and what compression FCP needs to set before storing it to disk.

And, after capturing, before you start editing away with the shots you've captured, you need to create a sequence and make settings for that sequence. These settings need to be exactly the same as the video you've captured. Otherwise, you won't be able to play the edit. The shots themselves will play, but put them together, and nothing moves.

It needs to be said here that many if not most of these settings issues have been taken care of in version 2.0 of FCP.

This settings thing in FCP is the most off-putting part of it and the single factor why my mobile phone bills soar every time someone I know buys FCP.
And unfortunately FCP users need to be careful about settings at that point in time when they're newest to the software. 

Thankfully, as you use FCP for a few weeks, you get used to the settings and it becomes second nature.

And then just when you think you've conquered FCP, setting up effects, and deleting media files gets you.

The Mac itself

If you have a G4, a G4 cube, or a G4 PowerBook, then you've got the right Mac, and you can safely skip to the Mac OS section below.

If you don't have a G4, a G4 cube, or a G4 PowerBook, then here are some conditions...

PowerMac G3 beige - 
Should be 266 MHz or more for analog video and 300 MHz or more for DV.

PowerMac G3 (B & W) -
Any blue and white G3 is cool.

PowerBook G3 - 
Should be 300 MHz or more. Should have MacOS 9.0.4 or later. Apple qualifies only Newer Technology FireWire 2 Go DV and Ratoc FireWire CardBus capture cards for DV capture and layback to tape.

"Earlier" Macs - 
If you've got, or are planning on using a Mac that dates back to before the PowerMac G3, then make sure it's a PCI Mac, like a 9500 or 9600. You can then add a FireWire card to it to be able to get video in and out of FCP. I have run FCP on a 9500/132 with 160 MB RAM and I can tell you - it craaaawls! If you have to use a 9500 or a 9600 get lots of RAM and add a processor upgrade. Also consider digitising on another G4 computer and exporting the files to the 9500 in a smaller size and compressed form for editing.

These "conditions" are not necessarily sacrosanct and some users have used "lesser" Macs for FCP as well.

I'm planning to coax a 9500/132 to run FCP in a few weeks from now.

I've taken some of these "conditions" from Apple's web site.

These Mac requirements assume you are using or are planning on using FCP 1.2.1, or 1.2.5 or 2.0. FCP before 1.2.1 didn't work with PAL, so it won't do anyway. And since I'm from PAL-land, I'm not even talking about it.

MacOS and system settings

MacOS needs to be ...

For FCP 1.2.1 MacOS 8.6 or later. Better to use MacOS 9.0.4. 
PowerBook and iMac users have to use MacOS 9.0.4. 

Also, whether 8.6 or 9.0.4, the MacOS needs to be the International English version. 

For FCP 1.2.5 MacOS 9.0.4 or later. Better to use MacOS 9.1. 
Here too, the MacOS needs to be the International English version.

For FCP 2.0 MacOS 9.1 no more no less. NOT MacOS X. Not yet.
Here too, International English.

For the new QuickSilver Mac G4 you must have MacOS 9.2.1

Conclusion ...
If you haven't done so already, upgrade to MacOS 9.1, for any FCP, any Mac. 

(well, almost)

System settings

First, avoid loading unnecessary software in your FCP Mac. 

Load QuickTime and FCP from the FCP CD and in the order. 

Allocate 120MB to 150 MB to FCP. 
If you don't know what that means, here's how. Find the FCP program. It will be called "Final Cut Pro". Click on it and go to File > Get Info
In the window, set maximum to 150 MB and preferred to 120 MB. Always change the maximum first and then the preferred.


MacOS 8.6 or later means 
MacOS 8.5, MacOS 8.0, etc won't do.

Wherever I've mentioned "International English" version of the MacOS, the French, German, or Japanese version will also do. 

But if you happen to be using the French, German or Japanese MacOS, then you wouldn't be reading this page, right ?

Also, as on date, Mac OS X just won't do for any FCP. 
Even in "Classic" mode. 
X is cool, but doesn't work with FCP. Period. Don't waste your time. 

QuickTime and Firewire

For FCP 1.2.1, 
QuickTime 4.0.3 till QuickTime 4.1.1 - Best to use QT 4.1

and FireWire 2.2.2 till 2.3.3 - Best to use FW 2.4

For FCP 1.2.5 
QuickTime 4.1.2 or 4.1.3. Either will do fine, and there's nothing in between.

FireWire 2.3.3 or Later - Best to use FW 2.4

For FCP 2.0 
QuickTime 5.0 - get the latest 5.0.1

FireWire 2.7 or Later. This gets loaded with MacOS 9.1 and QT 5

QuickTime 5.0 "Public Preview" is a definite no-no. You might have it lying around on a magazine CD. 
Don't touch it. 
Just get the latest QT 5.0.1 from Apple's web site.

Register your QuickTime to make it into QuickTime Pro. The reg. no. is on a sticker in the FCP box. QTPro gives you cool features like export to different formats, extract and delete tracks etc. 

The following sections are about settings in FCP 1.2.5. I began making it into an interactive set of pages where you could see the actual setting screens and you could click on a setting to see my description and recommendation. 

But I figured, that to really use this interactivity, you'd need two computers. One to run FCP and the other to connect to the 'net and read all this stuff.

So I just ditched all that and wrote this long page. You can print it and use it while working on FCP. Low-tech all right, but it works.

I haven't actually printed these pages to see how they look. So if they look ghastly, do let me know.
Capture Settings

Before you can edit in FCP you need to capture some stuff from your camcorder or deck. And it's not just plug and play. You need to make settings here, too.

There are two ways to get to these settings. One is in the Log and capture window. Click on the Capture button in the Preferences section to your right.


Throughout the settings descriptions, where I've mentioned stuff like 
Edit > Preferences > Capture or words separated by the ">" sign, it means you need to go to the menu "Edit" select the option "Preferences" and then the option "Capture". These menu operations have been made green to differentiate then from normal text. So if you see green, go to the menu bar.

The greenies also indicate the exact words you should see in the windows. 


And the other is Edit > Preferences > Capture

Either way you get to the Capture settings section in the Preferences window.

Edit > Preferences > Capture

There is a drop-down box at the top left that says "Offline Quality" or some other thing. If you are working with DV footage taken from the FireWire input, don't bother with this setting. With Analog cards like Targa, CineWave or some other, check with your manual.

Frame size - Select PAL DV (5:4) - Unless you're doing NTSC.


Click on this button to open another window called "Video"

Source section -meaning the drop-down box on the top left says "Source" not "Compression"

This is where you set up parameters for the video you're going to capture.

Digitizer : DV video

Input : DV camera

Format : PAL

with these settings, the video from your camera will play in the window on the right.

Compression section -meaning the drop-down box on the top left says "Compression " not "Source"

Compressor : DV - PAL

Depth : Color

don't bother with the "quality" slider, or the rest. They don't do anything with DV

After you've done with these and clicked on OK, you go back to

Edit > Preferences > Capture window.


Click on this button to open another window called ... not Audio but "Sound" Don't worry, they mean the same thing.

This is where you set up parameters for the audio you're going to capture.

Source section -meaning the drop-down box on the top left says "Source" not "Sample"

Device : DV Audio                 Speaker : On

Input: First 2 channels       Volume: 100 
                                                     doesn't do anything with DV input

                                                   Level :

                                                      "meters" show DV audio level

Sample section -meaning the drop-down box on the top left says "Sample" not "Source"

Rate : 48.000 kHz       
set this to 32.000 kHz if you've recorded at  32 kHz whilst shooting

Size : 16 bits

After you've done with these and clicked on OK, you go back to

Edit > Preferences > Capture window.

There are some more settings here ...

On Dropped Frames :                  Abort              Report

If you select Abort, capture stops whenever frames are dropped. If you select Report FCP reports that frames are dropped and stops capture anyway. 

The best thing to do is to select Abort, do a test capture and see if frames are dropped, and if they aren't, to deselect both. After all, if frames are dropped you'd see them won't you ? Why have a computer nag you about it.

Capture Card Supports Simultaneous Play Through and Capture   Select

Always Turn Off AppleTalk When Capturing   Select, even if you're on a network.


Edit > Preferences > General

Levels of Undo: make it 10 for general editing, 20 when doing effects, and 5 or less when just making dumps to tape or whenever you're not going to be experimenting much. Remember more the undos more the memory used.

List Recent Clips: 10 is fine, but can be increased while editing.

Automatic Save Every: Deselect this. Just get into the habit of saving every 10-15 mins. While capturing and dumping to tape, definitely deselect this. If you have to, set it to 30 mins.

Multi-Frame Trim Size: I like 5.         But set to taste. 

Real-time Audio Mixing: Set to 4. Unless you need more (rhymes well !) This also hogs memory. 

Render Ahead: Deselect. Doesn't help. Just slows everything down.

Still Image Duration: 10 sec is fine. Unless you're importing stills that you plan to use for more than 10 sec.

Preview Pre-roll and Preview Post-roll: Set 5 and 2 sec. This is not preroll during capture, but pre-roll when you press the "Play around current" button.

AutoSyncCompensator for movies: This doesn't affect capture but seems to work for long clips captured with certain cameras. Check if you need it else deselect it.

View External Video Using: Apple FireWire PAL. OK This is the big one. If you select Apple FireWire PAL then you can see whatever you're seeing in the Canvas, through the FireWire cable into your camcorder screen, or in an TV or monitor connected to your camcorder or deck. 
If you set this to "None", you see nothing in the external monitor via camcorder or deck. And ... even if you set it to Apple FireWire PAL it just goes back to none if you start FCP with your camcorder or deck off. 

So if everything's connected nothing's coming. Then look at this setting.


Mirror on desktop during Playback: Select. This is big one no. 2. If you select you'll see video on the Mac monitor and through FireWire. If this is deselected, the picture on the Mac monitor is frozen, and the one through FireWire moves when you play.

Mirror on desktop during Print to Video: Deselect. This opens a window on the Mac monitor that shows whatever is going to tape. Not very useful.

Pen Tools Can Edit Locked Item Overlays: Deselect, unless you can find a use for it.

Show ToolTips: Newcomers Select, old hands deselect.

Linked Selection: Newcomers Select, old hands deselect. Whenever select or cut or trim a video clip, the accompanying audio also gets equally modified. Just can't edit that way.

Snapping: Select when you're moving entire clips around in a sequence and you want them to sit exactly at a cut point. Deselect if you don't. Switch on and off by pressing "N" anytime. (Need not be capital "N")

Fit Full Size: Deselect unless you can find a use for it. What it does is if you import something that's smaller that your full frame size, it will be automatically scaled up to full size for viewing.

Visibility Warning: Newcomers Select, old hands Deselect. This shows a nag screen whenever you switch track visibility after rendering.

Report Drops: Deselect unless you're checking out your system.

Thumbnail Cache (Disk)  : 512 K is fine unless you can find a good reason to increase or decrease it.

Thumbnail Cache (RAM) : 256 K is fine unless you can find a good reason to increase or decrease it.


In these and the rest too, green and italic means a menu item, and just green means what you see in windows and dialog boxes.

"Select" means there's a box where you have to click and a cross appears. Americans call it "Check".
"Deselect" means you click and remove the cross in the box. Americans call this "Uncheck"

And when they pay you, they call that a "Check" too as also the bill in a restaurant.

Edit > Preferences > Device Control

First thing on the top left in this screen.

Enable Device Control: Select. Unless you're capturing with an analog card from a VHS deck or a device that can't be controlled by FCP. Also if you're capturing only audio from the audio in of your Mac you need to deselect this so that FCP doesn't expect to control the device that it is capturing from.

Protocol:Apple FireWire for most DV camcorders or decks. Else select Apple FireWire Basic. If you have a Keyspan Adapter or Stealth Port and an RS-422 cable connected to a Beta or DVCAM deck, select RS-422. If you don't those options don't show up. 

Time Source: DV Time for most DV camcorders or decks. 

Port:For DV this is greyed out and can't be used. 

System:PAL unless you're in NTSC or SECAM land.

Use Deck Search Mechanism: For DV this is greyed out and can't be used.

Pre-roll:3 sec unless the shot you're trying to capture is too close to a time code break or reset. In that case make it 1 sec. 

Post-roll:1 sec. Means how much the tape will continue playing after a clip has been captured.

Timecode Offset: For DV 00:00:00 is fine. For Beta through RS-422 you may have to find out and set this.

Handle Size: Keep this 00:00:00:00 as well. 

Playback Offset: Keep this 00:00:00:00 as well. 



If you are using a DVCAM deck that has a RS-422 port, then better get a Keyspan USB-serial and serial - RS-422 cable and control the deck with RS-422. It works better that way rather than use FireWire to control the deck.
For Betacam this is the only way to control the deck and receive Time Code.

For Betacam Time source should be set to LTC or VITC or LTC+VITC depending on which you want to use.

For DVCAM through RS-422 use LTC


Pre-roll can be set to 2 sec if your deck gives you no problems. For batch capture of hundreds of DV clips this saves time.
So does reducing the Post-roll to 1 sec.


Handle size more than 0   makes things confusing. You can always set handles while capturing anyway.

Playback offset more or less than 0 is needed if you find the deck misses some frames or repeats some frames at the start of each "Edit to Tape".

Edit > Preferences > Sequence Presets


This is where you set the settings for the sequence (the edit) you will be working on. You can make these settings whenever you make a new sequence. These settings have to match exactly the setting of all the video you capture. Else, your sequence will not play.

On the left you see the presets (a set of settings) that come as standard with FCP. You can create your own as well. But if you plan to work with DV, select DV PAL from the list.

If you are planning on working with DV only, you can also click on DV-PAL in the left box and then on the "Set default" button. Also, if you're sure you're not going to need the other presets - like "Targa 640x480 PAL" "~EXPORT Lossless 24 bit" and others, click on them one by one and Delete them - by pressing on the "Delete" button.

here's a box at the bottom that says "Prompt on new sequence". Select this (means click till the cross appears) so FCP will always show this screen whenever you make a new sequence.

On the right is a list of you settings. See if they match your capture settings.

If you are working in DV PAL the box on the right should read

Editing Timebase : 25 fps

Frame size : 720 x 576

Field dominance : Lower (Even)

Pixel Aspect Ratio : PAL - CCIR 601/DV

Compressor : DV - PAL

Millions of Colors (24 bit)

Quality : 100

16-bit 48.000 kHz stereo

There are other lines present but I've omitted them as they are not critical.

Edit > Preferences > Sequence Presets > Sequence Settings > General

If any of the above lines don't tally with the settings you have used for capturing video - in Edit>Preferences>Capture Presets, you can change these by clicking on the setting you need to change in the left box - say, "DV-PAL" and then clicking on Edit.

This takes you to the "Sequence Settings" window where you can make the necessary changes. For working in DV, set "PAL DV (5:4)" "Lower(Even)" and PAL - CCIR 601/DV"

Check the "QuickTime Settings" on the right and click on Video and Audio if you need to make changes. 

Edit > Preferences > Sequence Presets > Preset Editor > General > Video

Set as in Capture settings

Edit > Preferences > Sequence Presets > Preset Editor > General > Audio

Set as in Capture settings

Edit > Preferences > Sequence Presets > Preset Editor > Timeline Options

Here you setup what your timeline looks like. These settings are set to taste.My favourites are ...

Starting Timecode : 01:00:00:00 normally, and set to some other value if I need to "Edit to tape" at a certain point on tape. More on that later.

Track Size : Small

Thumbnail display : None. Uses memory.

Audio track labels : Sequential (A1, A2, A3, A4)

Show filter and motion bars : Yes

Show keyframe overlays : No 

Show Audio waveforms : No

Note that some of these settings can be changes in the timeline window as well with the help of the small buttons at the bottom of the screen.


Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks


This where you set up where your video goes. Very important. For you and FCP to know where things are located. And for you to be able to clean up your disks after a project is complete.

First off, deselect the "Capture Video and Audio to separate files" for DV. I used to work with video and audio to separate files but it got too confusing and I didn't see much of an advantage over "combined" files.

What you do after that depends on how many hard disks you have.

Say you have only one hard disk.

Then you go out and quickly buy another one. A 20 GB costs about Rs 9000 so there's no excuse for working with just one hard disk. FCP works better when you capture to the drive that doesn't have the MacOS and FCP loaded on it.

So then you have two hard disks.

Then in the first line of the Scratch Disks screen select "Video"

In the second line select "Render"

Then on the right press "Set"

In the window that opens, set select the drive that you want your captured video to go to. I usually create a new folder called the project I'm working on and select it as the place for video files to go to.

So also for "Render"

Remember this settings "stays" Means if you open a project ,make this setting, then capture video to a specific folder, then close that project and open another, then in that project too video goes to the folder last set.

So it's a good idea to make these settings every time you open a new project or even switch projects.

Keeps everything organised, and you know what is where.

Just a recap intoclips and QuickTime files or media.

When you capture a shot to hard disk, a QuickTime movie file is created on your hard disk. You don't actually see this file in FCP. You see a "clip" in the browser. The "clip" is not the actual shot or QuickTime movie, but only a graphical representation, a sort of a shortcut to it.
The "clip" in your browser contains information about which tape the shot came from, what is the start and end time code, Audio and Video format etc. And this clip in the browser window takes up very little space on your hard disk.

But the "invisible" QuickTime movie on your hard disk is what contains the actual video and audio. And this is what takes up space. Over 1000 MB for every 5 mins worth of DV tape.

So, if you delete the QuickTime movie in the hard disk (not while running FCP, please) the "clip" in the browser will play as "Media offline". But because the clip contains all the info about where it came from, you can automatically recapture it from your original tape. So deleting QuickTime movies from hard disk is the only way to make space on your hard disks. Don't bother deleting clips in the browser.

Conversely, if you delete a clip in the browser, the QuickTime movie it refers to, will remain and hog disk space. This QuickTime movie is now an "orphan" file.

So, never delete clips without also deleting the QuickTime movies they refer to.


So, in the Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks if you have been very particular to select the right capture folder for the right project always, you can safely delete all files present in that project's capture folder after that project is over and done with. 

Don't bother deleting clips in the project browser window, or even sequences or the whole project for that matter. The QuickTime files outside are where the meat is. 



As of Apr 2002, I've stopped updating this page. There don't seem to be too many people who use FCP 1.2.5 anyway. But this page will be kept here for as long as I feel it can be useful.

If there's something that you didn't quite understand, or if you'd like to see something on this page,  or even if you want to just say thanks to me, do mail me.

go to Quick Index