FCP X: Manage Events and Projects

While I covered this in my Final Cut Pro X training, I realized I haven’t written about how to manage media for Final Cut Pro X.

FCP X is powered by databases: one for Events and one for Projects. As such, it takes a different approach to managing media than any prior version of Final Cut Pro.

Events are collections of media. Projects are the instructions on how that media is to be edited.

Events and Projects can be stored on any attached hard disk. By default, both are stored on your boot disk. However, I recommend against this because the boot disk (the hard drive that holds your Applications folder) is too busy with other work to play media smoothly.

Events are stored in folders inside the Final Cut Events folder. You can have one of these folders on each hard drive attached to your system.

Projects are also stored in folders inside the Final Cut Projects folder. You can have one of these folders on each hard drive attached to your system.

Both these master folders are highlighted in green in the screen shot above.

This screenshot shows two Events stored inside the Final Cut Events folder: Dr. Vint Cerf and Pond 5 images. Each Event is a folder. The Event folder, depending upon how you set your import preferences, will hold a copy of your source media, optimized media, proxy files, analysis results, and, if you are running FCP X 10.0.3 or later, backup files.

Aside from the amount of available storage on your hard disk, there is no limit to the number of Events you can store in the Final Cut Events folder, nor is there a limit on the number of clips stored in each Event.

Here’s a similar example of a Project.  In the Final Cut Projects folder are two projects: 01 Picture in Picture and 06 Timeline Index (fcp1). Both projects are stored in folders. (There is no significance to the numbers in the project name – I use them personally to stay organized.) Each Project folder contains the edit instructions for the project (stored in the CurrentVersion.fcpproject file), along with render files, and other project related files. And, as with Events, if you are running version 10.0.3 or later, backup files.

Aside from the amount of available storage on your hard disk, there is no limit to the number of Projects you can store in the Final Cut Projects folder.

NOTE: FCP X 10.0.3 automatically creates backups of your current Event and Project every 15 minutes. (However, if nothing changed over the last 15 minutes it doesn’t create a new backup file.) In the event that your Project becomes corrupted, FCP X automatically reverts to the backup file the next time you start up Final Cut. So, the worst that happens in the case of a corrupted Project or Event is that you lose 15 minutes of work.

Final Cut is designed to have all your Events and all your Projects online at the same time. However, that can make for a very cluttered Event Library and Project Library. Plus, I don’t necessarily want my clients seeing work that I’m doing for other clients.

The problem is that FCP X does not allow you to hide Events or Projects. However, there’s a very simple workaround.

On each disk that has an Event folder, I create another folder called Final Cut Events Not in Use. On each disk that has a Project folder, I also created a second folder called Final Cut Projects Not in Use. There is no magic in these folder names, they are just easy for me to remember and sort next to their related folder.

Here, for instance, you can see that I have two Events that are active and displayed inside Final Cut, because the are inside the Final Cut Events folder. I also have several Events that are inactive and not displayed in Final Cut, because they are not in the Final Cut Events folder.

To make an Event inactive, I first quit FCP X, then drag the Event folder from the Final Cut Events folder into the Final Cut Events Not in Use folder. When I restart FCP X, only the contents of the Final Cut Events folder are displayed. My inactive Events are not displayed.

To make an inactive Event active, I drag it from the Final Cut Events Not in Use folder into Final Cut Events folder and restart FCP X.

NOTE: FCP X only looks at the contents of the Events or Projects folders during startup, which is why I need to restart the application whenever I move folders around.

Here’s an example of organizing Projects. In this example, I have three active projects, with several inactive projects. When you are done with an Event or a Project or, at least, you don’t want it displayed in the Library, quit FCP X, drag the Projects folder into the Final Cut Projects Not in Use folder and restart FCP X.

Just as with Events, drag an inactive Project folder from Final Cut Projects Not in Use into Final Cut Projects, restart FCP X, and that Project is online and ready to edit.

NOTE: Always drag entire Event or Project folders, never drag the contents of a folder. Because everything in a folder is referenced in the database, moving individual elements breaks the database.


It could be argued that FCP X should provide this functionality in the program. But it doesn’t. On the other hand, dragging folders is not difficult. But it can become cumbersome.

There is a great utility, called Event Manager X, from Intelligent Assistance, that simplifies this entire process. I find this utility so useful that I can’t edit in FCP X without it. I highly recommend it.

Here’s a review that explains this utility in more detail.


Here are the ten key points you need to remember:

  1. FCP X only displays Events that are in the Final Cut Events folder.
  2. FCP X only displays Projects that are in the Final Cut Projects folder.
  3. Every hard drive on your system can have either a Final Cut Events folder, a Final Cut Projects folder, or both stored on it.
  4. When creating a new Event, first select the drive where you want the Event stored in the Event Library, then create the Event.
  5. When creating a new Project, first select the drive where you want the Project stored in the Project Library, then create the Project.
  6. To make an active Event inactive, drag the ENTIRE Event folder out of the Final Cut Events folder.
  7. To make an inactive Event active, drag the ENTIRE Event folder into the Final Cut Events folders.
  8. To make an active Project inactive, drag the ENTIRE Project folder out of the Final Cut Projects folder.
  9. To make an inactive Project active, drag the ENTIRE Project folder into the the Final Cut Projects folder.
  10. Always drag entire folders, NEVER drag individual files within the folder.

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62 Responses to FCP X: Manage Events and Projects

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  1. George says:

    The problem with fcpx is it places this structure that is counter to what file based media managing is all about. It’s kind of like they decided to combine tape workflows and file management. Besides having Events and Projects, they need to also add Sequences. Define a project as what it really is, a combination of sequences, graphics, sound, text, photoshop docs, 3d, etc. And let us organize all those other project elements inside the project folder so that it all exists together. This makes going back and archiving and sourcing back catalog stuff much easier. I feel they tool a couple steps backward to try to male this different without really considering the many different wAys we have learned to organize our projects with all the various types of files and media.

  2. Pingback: Understanding media management in FCPX | Jonny Elwyn - Film Editor

  3. Don Smith says:

    I just went through trial and tribulation because I didn’t trust the ‘Move’ function. I was editing on a very important project when I ran out of disk space on my Mac Pro. No problem, I had another internal drive sitting empty. But because I had a fear that a Move would make an imperfect copy and delete the old copy I did a Finder copy. The story from here is too long to tell, but the short of it is that the project still wanted to render to the full drive and I could not edit. I made sure the original Event and Project were in the ‘Not in Use’ folders and I checked that there was no orphaned media. No help. I then unmounted the full drive and that made FCPX reveal missing media in my projects (and yes, I had associated the projects to the Event on the mostly empty drive). And, without the full drive online, there WAS orphaned media! That’s when I started checking the individual files that I had Finder copied and saw that a few of them didn’t have the right thumbnail like they were corrupted. I sought to replace those individual items (that I now learn from your article will break the database!). Some replaced while others resulted in an alert that they were not the same files. I eventually got everything back to normal and I hope to cover the bald spots soon, but the lessons I learned was to trust the Move operation (i’m told it’s a verified Move), and to always have all the extra elements collected into the Event except the original media, and I say ‘except the original media’ because that can really use up space when it’s copied on the same drive as the original media anyway and I’ll always copy the folder containing the original media to any new drive anyway. Or, is my thinking still faulty?

    • Don:

      I agree. Copying all elements into the Event folder saves a lot of grief.

      If you are optimizing media, which makes a copy of your source media, you don’t need to copy the original media into the Event folder. However, if you are NOT optimizing media then I would recommend copying the original media to your Event folder.

      Yes, this requires more storage, but then you don’t need to worry about lost assets.


      • George 2 says:

        Then why when I attempt to duplicate my event or project with events does the whole thing crash???

        Please help.

        Its says im out of disk space… I have loads of disk space…
        My one event folder is 110 gigs… between 2 ssd drives its crawling to accomplish the transfer… AND I MEAN CRAWL>. my mac pro is a beast 3ghz I7 32 gig of ram… this is rediculous. IF I WAS ABLE TO COPY THE MEDIA A LA CART IT WOULD TAKE 15 mins. it works for an hour then my computer just stops

        I have no sleep mode. no screen saver… I think my next project will be in premier.

  4. What is the purpose of creating an event folder? Nesting events doesn’t seem to work.

    • YOU don’t create the Event folder on your hard drive. FCP X creates it. It uses it to store all original media, optimized media, proxy media, analysis files and the database FCP X uses to track your media.

      You are correct, you can’t create a folder in the Event Library in which to store Events. You CAN do this for Projects, but not events.


  5. Larry, if you control click an event in the event browser, you can create a folder in the event browser but you can’t drag an existing event to the folder. Whats the purpose of that folder?

  6. Chris says:

    Can someone please help me?!?

    I am a student with about a year of video production experience. I have Final Cut X on my 13″ Macbook Pro 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 connected to an Older 30” Cinema Display. Right now I have all my events and projects on connect via Firewire 800 to my 2TB G-Drive. My question: am I managing my media correctly? I have my FCP set to create optimized media (which takes ages) from the H.264 FTG from my Canon 60D. FCP X is so slow all the time and my playback drops frames like crazy. It is usually workable with smaller projects, but when I have alot of media it seems to get slower, and forget multicam, as it is pretty much impossible it is stuttering so badly. I have spend countless hours searching for answers. Is my machine not powerful enough? Do I need to separate my projects and events to separate drives? I’m sure (and hope) it’s something simple and I might feel like an idiot if and when I do get an answer, but I’m young, so I can handle it. Any help is greatly appreciated!!!!

  7. Don Smith says:

    Chris.. MacTracker says your computer has the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics card inside with only 256 MB of SDRAM shared with the main memory. That’s your problem I’m afraid. Only ATI (now AMD?) cards will accelerate FCPX and Motion. I just went through this. My company bought a very nice NVIDIA card for the Mac Pro I work on and I posted a note on CreativeCow about how FCPX was “running like a stubborn mule”. I was guided to replace the NVIDIA GeForce card with an ATI card and the improvement was stunning. With the NVIDIA card simply changing from Safari back to FCPX would take 20 seconds and the spinning pizza of death would appear a couple of times. All clicks took two or three seconds to get a response. Shifting the position of a graphic would lag behind then jump ahead and overshoot. Now, I’m in editing heaven with the ATI card. FCPX and Motion respond like BUTTAH! If I’m right, and I’m confident that I am, you’ll have to get a different laptop. Just keep an eye on what graphics card is inside. For example, FCPX and Motion also run like buttah on my 17″ MacBook Pro 8,1 (Early 2011) because it has an AMD (ATI) Radeon HD 6750M graphics card inside along with the power-saving HD 3000 graphics.

    • Chris says:

      Thank you so much for the info. This is what I feared. Is there any way I could partially remedy the problem? I don’t really have means for a new machine quite yet. Can I replace the card I have? Would using proxy help? Any way that wouldn’t break my bank quite as much? Thanks again.

      • Don Smith says:

        I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do other than to switch to a computer with better graphics that come from ATI (AMD). The graphics hardware is not user replaceable.

  8. Oh Good Lord…

    I am days into a big edit and somehow my timeline got deleted. Poof! The project file claims to be 0:00 in duration. The backup project file is pretty sizable (6.5 MB) compared to some of my others, so I’m hoping somehow it can be restored, but opening it in place of currentVersion doesn’t work. HELP!

    • Frank says:

      Here is the work around, found in Apple Discussions after much furtive Googling.

      Close the project that is corrupted and make sure it is highlighted in the Project Library.
      Go to File/Export XML and save that file (I saved mine to a different drive).
      Re-import that file, generating a new project.
      Close and Restart the FCPX App.
      Open the newly project created via the XML import.
      Everything should be there and working fine.
      5 minutes ago · Like

  9. briant says:

    how do you set up an events folder on an external drive. i don’t have enough space on my computer and am unsure how to set it up so it is accessed from a drive. and if this is even recommended.


    • Brian T:

      Easy. In the Events Library, select the hard drive you want to store the Event on BEFORE creating the event. With the correct hard disk selected, create the Event and all media will end up on the drive you want.

      If you need to move an Event to a different drive, select the Event you want to move then choose File > Move Event.


  10. Jeffrey says:

    I am VERY inexperienced with Final Cut Pro X. I have an iMac with an attached Glyph external drive. I installed FCP X on the Mac drive. How do I tell FCP that I want it to use the Glyph drive for ALL file use by default? Do I have to reinstall the FCP X on the Glyph? I only have one project on the Mac drive and really don’t mind losing it if that will be required to get everything subsequently stored on the Glyph. It would sure be nice if an option were present allowing you to tell FCP what the default drive should be! Thanks so much. I am lost.

    • Jeffrey:

      This is actually very easy. Select the drive you want the Event or Project stored on before you create them.

      So, to put an Event on your Glyph drive, select the Glyph drive in the Event Library then select File > New Event. To put a Project on the Glyph drive, select the Glyph drive in the Project Library, the select File > New Project.

      Simple, once you know how.


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