Aug 21, 2010

Final Cut Pro: How to Fix Media Offline Errors

I was at a fellow filmmakers home today and we had shot several days
worth of footage.

She did the sometimes risky venture of shooting a role of tape,
downloading it to a hard drive, then erasing the tape and shooting
new footage over the top of the old footage. That works great if you
live in a world where problems do not occur, but it is a risk. If
anything happens to your hard drive or it just fails to start up,
decides to get moody, etc., you have no back up tape to rely on.
Now, if you are backing up to two drives on your computer, this a
much better safety precaution.

Well, as luck would have it, we shot a day's worth of footage, got
back to her apartment and her external hard drive (Western Digital)
would not boot up. So the footage she had shot for the past few days
was nowhere to be found, and Final Cut Pro gave the dreaded "red
screen" signs of not being able to show you your footage, even if
you've been editing on it for days, weeks, month. It can't find your
picture, so it has nothing to edit until you find your picture for
yourself and point FCP back to the correct files.

When your Final Cut Pro cannot find your drive, I know of a few
options, and I'm sure there are more to be found on the web by the
real techies, but I'm going to give the solutions that have thus far
worked for me, and that worked for us today.

1. Try rebooting the drive. Unplug the power cable from the
outlet. Wait ten seconds. Plug it back in. Wait about a minute to
see if your computer finds the hard drive and it pops up on in your
Finder window.

2. Try unplugging the firewire cable (if that is what you are using
to connect to the computer) and replugging it in, after about 10
seconds. Again, wait about a minute for your computer to acknowledge
the change.

3. (And this is what worked for us today) Find a different means of
connecting the drive to your computer, which gives your computer a
different way of recognizing the drive. For example, use the USB
connector. We had tried repeatedly to reboot the drive with power
cable changes and unplugging the firewire, but to no avail. When we
used a USB 2.0 cable to connect to the Mac, it recognized it

SUMMARY: Computers are moody. Editors are even moodier. :) When
one connection doesn't work, try another. Your film is not lost.
(Yet -- it's entirely possible that your hard drive had completely
died. Always back up your film projects on multiple drives.) Be
persistent. When all else fails, call Apple or a reputable computer
shop and ask if they can retrieve data from hard drives that are

Always back up to at least two drives. The many hours of footage you
shoot are worth shelling out an extra couple hundred bucks on back up
hard drives.

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