(This article was first written as an update to my book: Final Cut Pro X – Making the Transition. However, this update was never published.)
[ Updated: July, 2014, with new features from the 10.1.2 FCP X update
Dec. 21, 2014, with the new Locate behavior. ]
One of the biggest frustrations with the initial version of Final Cut Pro was that if you lost the connection with your media, you were out of luck, as you couldn’t reconnect to it. Now, with the 10.0.3 update, you can. Here’s how.
Sigh… You open Final Cut Pro and, suddenly, you’re seeing red in the Event Browser.
Or, you open a project and red indicators glare at you from the Timeline.
These red indicators (which flag clips that are “off-line”) can be caused by:
With the exception of accidentally switching to Proxy files – which you can fix by going back to Preferences > Editing and changing the preference setting back to Original/Optimized media – the rest of these problems can be solved by relinking.
NOTE: The key rule for working with media in Final Cut Pro X is that once you import media, don’t move it or rename it. Let FCP X (or Event Manager X, which is a separate utility) do all your media management.
In the case of moving a folder, quit Final Cut, move the folder back into the Final Cut Events folder and restart FCP. Everything is all good again. The key is to quit FCP X before moving folders.
However, sometimes missing media is caused by renaming folders, turning off a hard disk, deleting the wrong data, or a host of other calamities. In which case, you need to reconnect the links in Final Cut to the correct media. Here’s how.
In either the Event Browser or the Timeline, select the clips that are off-line (red). Then, choose File > Reconnect Project Files. (If the off-line files are in the Event Browser, select the clips and choose File > Reconnect Event Files. This menu is context-sensitive.)
The Relink window appears with the missing clips listed at the top. If you want to reconnect ALL the selected clips, click the All radio button at the top. This is a good choice if you totally messed up reconnecting your clips and want to try again.This will relink both missing and online clips.
Most of the time, though, you’ll want to just click the Missing radio button to just reconnect the clips that are missing.
Unlike FCP 7, which has an automatic search built into the Reconnect dialog, with FCP X you need to find the clips manually. So, click the Locate All button.
Look in the lower third of this window; you may need to stretch it wider to see everything. FCP displays the path and file name of the missing file. This not only shows the file name, but the path of folders that held the clip. For me, looking at this path helps me find exactly the file I need a whole lot easier and faster. Remember, you need to match the missing file exactly, not just indicate the folder it is in.
When you find the missing file, click Choose.
When a missing file is relinked, it is displayed at the bottom of the Relink window. If other missing files are in the same folder, they will all be linked at the same time and displayed in the lower portion of this window.
Click the twirl-down arrow to the left of the number of files found to reveal all linked files.
If you mistakenly linked to the wrong file, select the incorrect file in this list and press Delete. The selected file(s) are disconnected and the unlinked clip goes back up to the top of this window so you can relink it to the correct file.
To minimize files becoming unlinked in the the future, I recommend you check Copy files into Final Cut Events folder. This is a good idea for all linked files. The only downside to copying files is that they take more storage space.
When you have found all missing files, click Relink Files and everything is “all well better” again.
SIDEBAR: POTENTIAL LINK ERROR
Sometimes if you are working with multiple versions of the same media, you may see this error message. It means that the clip you selected for relinking doesn’t match the source clip.
Click OK, and look for the original file. If, for some reason, it no longer exists, you will need to replace the missing clip in the Timeline with a new clip. FCP X won’t allow you to relink clips that don’t match.
UPDATE – July 19, 2014
The 10.1.2 update to Final Cut adds additional robustness to relinking. For example, if you store media in folders within folders, you can now relink media by selecting just the top folder. All missing media contained in folders within that top folder will be relinked, without needing to navigate to them individually.
NOTE: It is always a good idea not to change the file names of media once it has been imported into Final Cut. However, the new symlinks that FCP X uses can often relink media even though the file name has changed.
UPDATE – Dec. 21, 2014
I learned this tip last week from Michael Wood, when I was teaching a Final Cut Pro X class to his team. I don’t know when Apple added this feature to the software, but this is new behavior, at least to me.
As we’ve learned, nothing causes more frustration than the dreaded red Unlinked Media icon. To relink media, select the clips you want to relink in either the Browser or the Timeline and choose File > Relink Files.
This displays the relink dialog. Either select a specific clip to relink and click Locate Selected, or leave everything unselected and click Locate All.
Here’s the cool part. Normally, I never pay attention to the message at the bottom of the file picker screen because, in the past, it simply said the file was missing. Since I already knew that I ignored it.
However, here, it is saying that the file does not exist anywhere in the selected path: “/Volumes/OWC RAID (Fast)/Training Media/Jim Walker Underwater/” Hmm…
But! I know that that file is somewhere on that hard disk, so on the left in the Sidebar, I clicked the name of the hard disk and – poof! – FCP X found the file. I had moved it into a different folder on the same hard disk.
All I need to do is click Continue to relink to the file.
Here you can see the file was successfully relinked. Click the Relink Files button in the lower right corner of this dialog and you are done.
Rather than require us to figure out where the file is, all we need to do now is select the drive or folder that probably contains the file and – if it is there – Final Cut will find it and allow us to link to it. (However, this technique won’t help at all if you’ve deleted the missing file because then it is actually missing.)
Very cool and MUCH faster than navigating to a file manually.
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