FCP 7: Fixing a General Error

Posted on by Larry

Probably my least favorite error in Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier versions) is a General Error. It has one of the least helpful warning dialogs and is frustratingly difficult to solve. However, I’ve learned that when a General Error occurs it is almost always related to a bad clip, or a bad render file, in your sequence. Maybe not always, but this should be the first place to check.

General Errors most often relate to render problems; either when you are rendering directly during editing, or rendering as part of an export. While there isn’t a fast way to fix this, it can be fixed. Before you attempt to fix a General Error, it doesn’t hurt to reset your system by doing a Safe Boot.

NOTE: Here’s an article that explains how to do a Safe Boot: Trouble-Shoot in Five Steps

THINGS TO CHECK

1. While Final Cut SHOULD be able to work with video of different frame rates, it can often have problems when a clip with a faster frame rate (say, 30 fps) is put into a slower sequence (say, 23.98 fps). Disable clips with different frame rates and see if the General Error goes away when you render.

NOTE: To disable a clip, select it and type Control+B. A clip changes color when it is disabled.

2. It is possible that a specific render file became corrupted. This isn’t your fault, every so often it just happens. Delete all render files and see if the error goes away.

NOTE: To delete all render files associated with a track, turn off the green visibility light, located in the track header on the left of the Timeline, then turn it back on. This is just a quick click – click. If you don’t turn the visibility light back on, all clips in that track become invisible.

3. Sometimes clips downloaded from stock image houses are corrupted during the transfer. Disable any stock shots (select the clip and type Control+B) and re-render.

4. If these first three suggestions don’t work, you will need to get a bit more methodical by rendering your project in sections until you finally isolate the clip(s) that is causing a problem. To render just a portion of your sequence, select roughly 10% of your clips and render. If that works, SAVE YOUR PROJECT, then render the next 10%. (Saving your project allows you keep the render files that you’ve created so far, in the event of a crash.)

NOTE: The easiest way to render a portion of a project is to select the clips you want to render and choose Sequence > Render Selection. Make sure all the render options are checked, as they are in this screen shot.

Repeat this process until you find the section that causes the error. Now, render each clip in that section until you find the offending clip. In almost all cases, you’ll need to remove the clip causing problems and replace it with a new version.

SUMMARY

Solving a General Error problem is possible; it’s just time-consuming. This gives you some tips on where to start.


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70 Responses to FCP 7: Fixing a General Error

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  1. Krista H says:

    Learned something really cool today for my General Error that worked! Open up the Terminal application in your utilities folder for Mac. type the word touch, then a space bar, go to the finder window and drag the folder of clips that are causing errors into the Terminal window, at the end of the string of info, hit the back space bar, then type a forward slash, then a star /*, press enter.

    See below example:
    touch /Volumes/BASE2/MISC/THE_LOCKE_TAPES/INGEST/DSLR/5D to RGB Conversion/042414/CAM_B02/BPM1271/*

    After this is complete, click on FCP and you will see it flashes for a second, as it just refreshed itself.

    What happens is the Terminal program only touches the files, not doing anything to them except updating the date, however FCP thinks something has changed and will refresh the old phantom memory files it is holding onto. Worked like a charm for me and took just seconds.

    Thought I would share! Have a great one 🙂

  2. Babak says:

    Hi Larry,
    Thanks for the tips, but I got to tell you I have tried it but it didn’t work, so I figured if I go back to the same settings (standard windows layouts) it may solve the problem, and it DID. I have to tell you FCP 6 and 7 have this issues that when you customize your windows layout it will gives you error sometime down the road while you are editing, so I changed it back to the standard windows layout CNTRL+U that changes the problem. I thought I should share that with you and whom ever has this issues.

    Be safe out there, I always enjoy your tutorials in Lynda.com and personally enjoy your editing on FCP 7, no matter how difficult it could sometimes be.

    Regards,
    Babak

  3. qaswara says:

    My Apple Id is: doha.id5000@yahoo.com
    My laptop is the Apple MacBook Pro having an Intel Core i7 processor with 8Gb DDR3 1600 MHz RAM and running OS X 10.9.3.

    I bought Final Cut Pro, and since then I started a few projects, and every time I finish a project I click on “share project” then click on any choice the Final Cut Pro screen darkens and the program seems to crash. I even tried to make a text clip that played for only three seconds, and when I clicked on “share project” then “Export File” the same problem arised, the screen darkened and the program crashed.
    When I try to share the project on YouTube the program crashes and an error message appears including the following text: Error rendering 2.
    Since I started using Final Cut Pro, I failed to publish any project.

    • LarryJ says:

      Qaswara:

      Sounds like you have a bad installation of FCP – this crashing is VERY abnormal – or you have bad plugins. Remember, FCP 7 will run on OS X 10.9, but most plug-ins won’t.

      If possible, run FCP 7 on OS X 10.8 or earlier. Also, you may need to uninstall plugins.

      Also, read this trouble-shooting article: http://www.larryjordan.biz/five-step-trouble-shoot/

      Larry

  4. Bryan says:

    Larry, I have been editing my latest independent film for the last six months. Taken three months longer because there’s lots of effects and plug-ins and FCP7 would crash literally every 3 minutes, using up memory. I was just ready to output my movie after six months and a site told me to use the render manager to delete unused renders. Well, it deleted ALL my renders on all sixteen separate files of the film (had to have that many project files because of memory and crashing problems). Now I’ve lost my entire six months work and can’t re-render because the software and plug-ins won’t let me, and many of the plug-in licenses (expensive) like Sapphire have expired. Is there anyway to get my render files back or am I dead in the water. Literally I will be dead in the water because they can’t be re-render because of the FCP 7 issues.
    Thank you.
    Bryan

    • LarryJ says:

      Bryan:

      Sadly, I don’t know any way to get your render files back. Or, even if you could, relinking them would be a nightmare.

      Unless you are running out of disk space, there is no advantage to deleting render file prior to final output and, as you’ve discovered, several good reasons not to.

      Larry

      • Bryan says:

        Larry, thanks so much for getting back to me. Oh well, I guess I will have to start from scratch again. Here’s to another six months of rendering! Bryan

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  6. Zoe says:

    Interestingly, I get the general error when working in my clients edit suite (working from their server), but when I take the same project back to my own suite (working from duplicated rushes on a drive) I no longer get the General Error problem.

  7. Bela Poppé says:

    Hi Larry,

    I guess, I have the most special ‘general error’ in FCP7 during
    exports. I did not find any solution here. So, I have to write my
    problem. I have a 720p footage and the final length on timeline is
    about 143 minutes. It is a long but a very simple footage, no effects,
    no gradings, some fade-in-outs and two titles, nothing special. I’m
    working from an NTFS and an OS X hard-drive too. Some clips seem
    offline but work.

    Raw footage:
    File format: Quick Time MOV
    Frame size: 1280×720
    Frame rate: 25pfs
    Compressor: XDCAM EX 720p25 (35 Mb/s VBR)
    Audio: not important

    Timeline:
    Frame size: 1280×720
    Editing timebase: 25pfs
    Compressor: Apple ProRes 422 HQ
    Video processing: Render in 8-bit YUV
    Audio: not important

    First, I used the same (XDCAM EX 720p25) compressing, I changed it
    later. After every 4-6 hours exports comes the pop-up warning “GENERAL
    ERROR”. I did 6 times exports, always the same warning and only after
    exports!! It is very irritating!!

    Export: (using quick time conversion)
    Video format: MPEG-4
    Data rate: 9000kbits/sec
    Image size: 1280×720
    Audio: not important

    Once, I used “Send To Compressor” way and chose an H.264/MPEG-4 video
    option. After a few hours Compressor created a very large file, it was
    about 40Gbytes. Very interesting ’cause the whole raw footages are
    about 25Gbytes. I can’t do anything with this file, no way to put it
    to a FAT32 hard drive. So, Windows users can’t get that file. I tried
    to compress it. Compressor created a not too good quality file. It
    couldn’t do a better one.

    Where can I find the problem? Please, help!
    Thank you.

    • LarryJ says:

      Bela:

      Let’s do this in separate steps.

      First, if your sequence is set to ProRes 422 HQ, you need to render in 10-bit video – otherwise there’s no real reason to use that codec.

      Second, your goal is to output a master file, which will be HUGE, but high quality. From that you will compress whatever files you need for distribution. Using ProRes 422 HQ for a 143 minute film, I would expect your master file to about about 140 GB in size. Be SURE you have enough room on your hard drive for a file this big.

      Finally, export your movie in segments. Somewhere in there is a piece of bad media – probably toward the end. Set an In and Out in the Timeline for the first third of the movie and export that as File > Export > QuickTime movie.

      If that works, output the next third,

      Then the final third.

      If everything exports correctly, create a new project and combine the three segments into one master file. There is no quality loss in exporting your file this way – ProRes 422 HQ is a really excellent codec.

      If everything doesn’t export correctly, keep exporting smaller and smaller chunks until you find the portion of your film with bad media. At which point you can fix it.

      Larry

  8. Bela Poppé says:

    Dear Larry,

    You were so kind to answer me. Thank you for your advice. Following the instructions, I did it step by step, did not find any bad media. I knew no bad media will be found. I was sure that all clips were okay. I switched timeline 10-bit video render and exported in three separated steps / Export > QuickTime movie /. Three master files were created correctly, a 20-, a 44-, and a 31Gbyte files were made. After I created a new project and combined the three segments into timeline, began to export them. Exporting was the same.

    Export: (using quick time conversion)
    Video format: MPEG-41
    Data rate: 9000kbits/sec
    Image size: 1280×720
    Audio: not important

    After about 4-6 hours work again, in the morning, the usual message was waiting for me: “GENERAL ERROR”
    I was exporting this footage seven times, it is about 35 hours and no final product.

    Now I have a folder with about 140Gbytes footages /including 25Gbytes of raw footages/ and no final product.
    I don’t know what to do. I am close to give up. Coluld you find any other solution?

    Regards,
    Béla

    PS.: Now I cut the edited footage in half and start to export this way. I hope it will work.

    • LarryJ says:

      Bela:

      Change the slightly.

      Build all three segments into a single movie and export as a master file using ProRes 422 HQ.

      Then, use a different program, for example, Compressor, to compress that master file to MPEG-4. Don’t use FCP 7.

      Larry

  9. Bela Poppé says:

    Larry,

    I’ve found the solution!! As I wrote I cut the edited footage in half and began to export in H.264. It worked. Maybe it also would work in one piece. A few days ago I tried to use Compressor but it can compress only 2000kbit/sec if I choose MPEG-4. There is a quality loss this way. I really don’t like MPEG-4 and don’t use it if I need full quality.

    The conclusion is I can use QT/H.264 for this work. I don’t need final brodcast material.

    Thank you for helping me!

    Béla

  10. Rob says:

    Hi, Im having this issue – getting general error right after I export via qt.

    I then notice that the markers are not showing up then either! – I choose DVD SP markers, but none show in the final movie – so, yes, I get “general error”, and also have the full movie.

    the other almost bigger issue is I did see at least one glitch in the video… right into a cross dissolve, but I didn’t have to render that, since the two clips had no filters, and were native to the timelines settings…

    If I choose “all markers” from the export window, I do NOT get the error message, but the glitch is still there!

    it is not there of course, when you watch it in the timeline…. plays back perfectly.

    I do use a blackmagic intensify pro card for monitoring in HD

    • LarryJ says:

      Rob:

      I don’t know enough to diagnose the General Error.

      However, ALL transitions and effects must render before output. If you are getting a glitch in your transition that only appears after you export the file, it means that transition is not rendering properly. Try this:

      * Delete the transition.
      * If possible, trim the edit point by a frame – perhaps a roll trim so you don’t change the timeline duration
      * Apply a new transition
      * Make the duration of the transition a couple frames different from the old transition
      * Select the transition and render it BEFORE exporting
      * See if the Timeline plays smoothly.
      * If so, export the file and see if both the glitch and the General Error go away.

      Larry

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