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Tip of the Day: Firewire problems with FCP

By Greg Pak
For some time, I’ve been plagued with audio glitches and gray squares of digital breakup during playback on the video monitor attached to one of my Final Cut Pro editing systems. I wasn’t getting the same problems when using the same video files on a different system. So I tried a number of things, including adding RAM, reinstalling software, and attempting to exactly match the software setup of the machine which was working to the machine which wasn’t.
Through a long process of elimination, it occurred to me that the problem might be the Firewire jack on the computer. After all, I wasn’t seeing glitches on my computer screen — only on the monitor which was connected to a deck which was connected to the Firewire jack.
So I installed a Firewire PCI card. And hooked up my deck and Firewire drives to the new Firewire jacks on the PCI card.
And now everything works brilliantly.
What makes me very happy is that I’d been fretting that the problem was that the computer (a G3 B&W upgraded to a 450MHz G4) just wasn’t fast enough to handle OS 10.2.3 and FCP 3.0.4. But now all is well and I don’t have to contemplate scrounging up a couple of grand for a new computer.


  • 1
    Pim Hawinkels
    2003/04/04 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    He greg, are we talking about the same dropouts? mine are just one frame, they happen occasionally (about three or four times in a 30-minute piece)But on different places. Also when you look very hard, the video also stoppes for that frame. And the grey blocks sometimes occur three or four times on a day, and other days not at all….These problems never happened in os 9.2.2, but there i had a sync-problem after printing to tape… sometimes…
    Is it maybe worth a try to use the other firewire bus on my dual 500, or are they connected to the same problem?
    And oh yeah ,someone suggested to switch decks… -Mine is a sony dsr-11
    I couldn’t test that yet, because i’m still editing and not ready to write back to tape.
    thanx in advance, Pim!

  • 2
    2003/04/05 - 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Pim. Thanks for posting!
    I don’t know if we had the same dropouts or not… The gray blocks for a frame at a time sound the same. But I don’t recall a sense that my video stopped the way you describe…
    I don’t know the technical nature of how the firewire bus is attached in the computer, but I’d say it’s always worth trying the other jack to see if it makes a difference.
    I thought it might have been my deck, too, but I got the same problem with a DSR-11 and a GDV-300.
    It might be worth restarting in OS 9.2.2 briefly to see if you’re still free from dropouts there. If you ARE getting dropouts there, I’d guess it’s a hardware problem of some sort.
    One of the big things that made me realize it was my firewire jack was that I saw glitches on the video monitor but not on my computer monitor – i.e., I only saw glitches in the monitor which used a signal which had to travel through the firewire jack.
    Are you seeing glitches on your computer monitor as well? If so, you might be having the same problem as I did and a firewire PCI card might help.
    But if you’re getting glitches or stutters in both places and the system works glitch-free in OS 9.2.2, it’s probably a software issue — maybe try more RAM, ’cause OS X likes more RAM…
    Let us know how it goes!

  • 3
    Pim Hawinkels
    2003/04/07 - 4:51 am | Permalink

    he greg, i already have 1 gig of ram, so that can’t be it, The grey blocks sometimes come up and stay there flickering until i click the desktop , and then click fcp again, so that the computer reconnects to the dvcam deck again. This works for me ,as far as the grey blocks… The audio dropouts nevertheless, make me sitting behind the mac for almost another day everytime i have to broadcast. It’s just a case of waiting and hoping that they are not there or not noticable. You can imagine that it’s very frustrating to see that there is a audio dropout at 18 minutes, when the project is about 19 minutes. I have to start all over again then.
    Some guys told me to switch decks, but i didn’t have the time to check that. In os 9.2.2 i don’t have the dropouts, but i doubt if the sound is in sync then. My computer is a dual 500, and i do use one fw drive. but not using it makes no difference. And off course i don’t want to buy fcp 4, because everything will start all over with the problems, i guess.
    thanx again

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