FCP 7: Using Media Manager to Get Rid of Unused Media

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the April, 2006, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
UPDATED April 2008. ]

This technique sprang from a request from Reid Kramer, who wrote:

I was wondering if there is an article about using FCP 5’s media manager for consolidating your projects. Basically for getting rid of unused footage to shrink your projects file size.


There have been many posts on 2-pops site about this and there seems to be a problem in FCP 5. Most users have said that it worked fine in FCP 4.5, but now in version 5 it does not work correctly. I have heard one user say that you need to make your sequence or your clips (independent clips).


If you could explain this to me it would be great thanks.

Larry replies: Unlike other features in Final Cut, the Media Manager is not your friend. It is neither intuitive nor stable. My recommendation is to avoid it whenever possible.

Media Manager has not been significantly improved since back before the dawn of time and everyone who uses it has “issues” with it.

For this reason, I recommend not capturing whole tapes, but capturing clips in segments, which makes deleting individual clips easy, without using Media Manager. I also created my Final Cut organizational system (detailed in this article) so that you can easily archive projects and trash media, without ever resorting to using Media Manager.

However, sometimes, Media Manager can’t be avoided. This technique shows you how to remove unused media from your project.

First, though, a huge warning: Deleting unused media from your capture files means that Final Cut will be copying and deleting clips from your hard drive. This process takes a potentially very long time. If you have a power failure, or a crash, your files can be left in such a disorganized state that you are not able to use them.

As Apple’s manual says:

Be extremely careful when choosing the “Use existing” option; the Media Manager deletes each media file as soon as it finishes processing it. Canceling this operation may restore the media file currently being processed, but media files that have already been processed cannot be restored.

With that warning, here’s what Media Manager does.

You select a clip, clips, sequence, or group of sequences to media manage. Using Media Manager to delete unused media will create a new project containing all the clips and/or sequences trimmed to only include the media you are actually using. Then, Media Manager goes into your capture files and permanently deletes media from the media clips stored on your hard disk that is not used in the newly created project.

In other words, if you use the same media in different projects, Final Cut only pays attention to how you are using the media in the sequences you selected. Or, if you use the same media in other sequences in the same project and those sequences were not selected, any media used in those unselected projects will be ignored and deleted.

Here is a specific example. I have created a project that contains two sequences. I want to delete all media that I am not using in either of these sequences.


1. Most importantly, BEFORE starting Media Manager, select the sequence(s) you want to media manage. Here, I’ve created two sequences: Seq – Snowboard Intro and Seq – Snowboard Act 1 and I’ve selected both BEFORE starting Media Manager. This step is critical!



2. Select File > Media Manager. Then select Use existing from the pop-up menu. This tells Final Cut that you want to delete all media that you are NOT using in the two selected sequences.



3. Then, just in case, check Use Handles and give yourself some pad in case you need to trim a shot or add a dissolve. I generally use either 3:00 or 5:00.



4. Duplicate selected items… means that Final Cut will create a new project and put the items you’ve selected into the new Project. This is generally a good idea, that way, your old project remains untouched in case you need to recapture a clip that got deleted by mistake.


Include nonactive multiclip angles means that Final Cut will include clips that are part of a multiclip, whether they are used in the selected items or not. My feeling is that checking this is a good idea if you are using multiclips, because you can’t rebuild a multiclip if there’s a break in timecode in the middle of a clip. If you don’t use multiclips, leave this unchecked.



5. The bar chart at the top indicates how much space you are saving with this procedure. Your numbers will be different. Keep in mind that you are often dealing with hundreds of gigabytes of files. This process will take a long, long time to get everything copied. Don’t be impatient — give your Mac time to work.



6. When you click OK, Final Cut displays a dialog asking you to name your new project and find a place for it to be stored. I always store my Final Cut projects in the FCP Projects folder.



7. This dialog drives me nuts. None of these choices make intuitive sense. So, here’s what they mean, according to the Apple manual:

Additional Items Found dialog: When you use the Media Manager to do a potentially destructive operation, Final Cut Pro checks all currently opened projects to see if there are any other clips that reference the same media. If so, the Additional Items Found dialog appears.


Add: Click this button if you want to tell the Media Manager to consider additional portions of media files referenced by other currently open projects.


Continue: Click this button to continue the Media Manager operation without taking into consideration the additional portions of media found. This may make some clips offline in projects outside the current one.


Abort: Click this button to stop the Media Manager operation (for example, if you want to change your original selection). Decide what you want to do, then click a button.

My recommendation is to err on the side of safety and click Add if this dialog appears.



8. Final Cut then displays one last warning that what you are about to do is not undoable. Click Continue if you are determined to proceed.


9. Final Cut then goes thru all your selected items and removes media. This process can take a while, so it displays a progress thermometer.


10. On my dual G-5, I started timing how long the process would take — except that after it got done processing two clips — about 22 seconds in — Final Cut crashed.


So I tried it again and it crashed again.

Then, I tried again, but clicked Continue rather than Add. Crashed again. (I am using Final Cut Pro 5.0.4 on OS 10.3.9.)

I decided to take this as a sign that I should not use Media Manager to remove unused media from a project.

Others tell me that Media Manager will remove unused media and that this is the correct procedure. However, this just illustrates my bigger point — avoid using Media Manager by capturing smaller clips, rather than relying on Media Manager to remove media once you’ve captured it.

– – –

Update: However, not everyone hates Media Manager. I’ll start with comments from Kees-Jan de Maa:

As you know, [from our conversation in Austin] I enjoy the Media Manager and I guess mainly because it keeps us so organized. We also do 2-3 camera shoots, tapes are running all the time, than capture. so the rough edit and directly use the Media Manager. By that tie we have renamed all clips in the media bin and all is cut down to what I really need. Saves me a lot of space.

Tom Wolsky continues:

[Your comments on Media Manager] may be unfair. I think it’s been improved in every version of the application. There were improvements made in v5 and further fixes in the point updates subsequent to that. One problem I think is that people aren’t getting the results they expect because of how they’re media managing, what they’re choosing to manage, and what settings they’re picking in media manager.


To be honest I would not use the Use Existing function. It’s too dangerous, even more so than a potential power failure. I would use the Copy function if I had the drive space, then dump the other files after I’ve confirmed the media is correct. Or I’d use the move function, and then dump the other files. The important one to make sure you have unchecked is the include master clips outside of selection.

Loren Miller, of KeyGuide™ fame, writes:

I think you are unusually harsh on Media Manager! Trimming may still be problematic but archiving is great.


Using COPY in FCP HD (4.5) , I just safely archived a project– not a sequence, the whole project– to a FW 800 archive drive which had DV, TIFFS, AIFF’s and render media spread out over four different external and internal drives. The collected, archived project preserves all files and plays perfectly.

In fact, I generated a reference movie and burned the final sequence in it to DVD.

Larry replies: Thanks for all your comments.

UPDATE – April 2008

Andrew Kaytor writes:

There’s one hang up in Media manager that I’ve noticed isn’t talked about much and it may be worth noting. If you choose to delete unused media during a manage and don’t have reel numbers assigned to your clips, no media will be trimmed from the media.


I work in a TV Station where everything is ingested to a video server using different software that overlooks reel numbers, so this may be something that only applies to this type of workflow, I was just surprised that when I encountered this problem, I had a hard time finding the solution online.

Larry replies: Andrew, thanks for sending this in. I did not know about this issue.


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2 Responses to FCP 7: Using Media Manager to Get Rid of Unused Media

  1. Neil Sharrow says:

    THANK YOU for including Andrew’s update about reel numbers!!! I may be five years behind, but I’ve been cutting a long form, multi-camera project in FCP Pro 7 and Media Manager keeps ignoring certain clips. It’s been driving me crazy all week. This looks like the answer, at last.

  2. James Leone says:

    Ditto from me on Andrew’s comment about the reel numbers. I knew something simple had to be tweaked to fix the problem because of my success in the past using media manager. Thanks again!!!!

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