Final Cut Pro: Why do I have to render footage in my time line?

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FCP TIP: Why is there a red line when I drop my video clip on to the time line of Final Cut Pro? or Why do i have to render footage in my time line?

Update: If you are working on FCP 7.0.3 or higher, you can set your sequence settings by dropping in your media on to the timeline. It will ask you if you want to change the sequence settings to match your footage. Say yes and it will match the format perfectly with no rendering. Also FCP doesnt like mp3 audio, export your track to an .aiff in itunes.

Here is a small detail tip that will save you time from rendering in FCP. To every question there is an answer in the video world, it’s never “just because” or “maybe it’s you.” When you drop your media in to your time line and it comes in with a red line on top that means your time line has different setting to your video format. To fix this you can right click on your media either in the time line or in your browser ben.

Redline on FCP Timeline 1
Red line on FCP Timeline 1

Now you can see all the information that your clip has.

Redline on FCP Timeline 2
Red line on FCP Timeline 2

Write down the settings or remember them. Go in to the sequences settings (command zero) or sequences>settings.

Fix Redline in FCP Timeline 3
Red line in FCP Timeline 3

There you can change all the clips settings to match your media on the time line.

Fix Red Line in FCP Timeline 4
Fix Red Line in FCP Time line 4

Now you media matches with your sequences.

Fix Red Line in FCP Timeline 5
Fix Red Line in FCP Time line 5

Don’t waste time rendering your media in the wrong time line settings. It’s annoying. And only Rookies do that.

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Author: Moniemuse

I love being creative, it helps me process life and my thoughts. I make YouTube videos about my record collection and music. Thanks for visiting my site and hope to hear from you.

78 thoughts on “Final Cut Pro: Why do I have to render footage in my time line?”

  1. Oh Good. “only rookies do that”, but i thought FCP was supposed to be a real-time system, monica? Atleast now I know who to call when I run into problems in the middle of the night. forget…. “”

  2. Monica! This is brilliant! I’m your blog’s biggest fan! Keep em coming! I can’t believe I was the one who told you to set up a blog… now you have this amazing blog and I STILL havent even STARTED setting up my own! hahaha!

  3. Hi Monica. These posts are really cool. Seeing as you are an FCP guru, i’d like to ask you about this problem ive been having…
    Im trying to edit from thousands of still photos. The thing is when i bring them into the time line the first 230 come in ‘green-lined’ and the rest ‘red-lined’. I tried to bring them in in smaller groups, but still needed to be rendered. All the photos where taken from the same Iphone camera and are the same format. Any ideas?

    1. That is a lot of photos. If you have after effects you can select all your images and drop them in a comp and set the duration to how long you want the images to appear. Were you able to find a way in FCP?

  4. I was so excited to find this solution but I followed the instructions and it didn’t work 😦 The next time I added a transition I had to render it again. So frustrating. I’m using some raw video from a class that someone else shot on their camera and gave to us in a file. Any ideas about what I could be doing wrong? Thank you for your help. Our teacher’s assistant just told us that having to render constantly was just part of the program. i knew that couldn’t be true, who would use a product like that. Just wish I could get mine to work..

    1. It’s true, some rendering is still required…but if from the moment you drop the footage on your timeline and the red bar appears, that means you have to match up your sequence settings with your footage. If you mix different formats of footage that will also require rendering. You have to pick one format. Adding a transition doesn’t normally need rendering, but if your footage has effects on it then it will require it. Hope this helps.

  5. well as i am a rookie i was wondering; “what is going on with the freaking beep”
    thank you for letting me know.

    1. The audio has to be rendered when you have lots of layers of audio laying on each other, or the wrong format (don’t use .mp3 create an .aiff through itunes ). Select all (command a) and render (command R).

  6. Hi there Monica. I too was extremely pleased to find this solution, and i followed all instructions and the red render bar didnt disappear. Am i doing something wrong? My clips are HDV quality but the FCP is 4 or 5, so quite an old version. Is my computer too slow for this?

  7. You you could change the blog subject Final Cut Pro: Why do I have to render footage in my time line? // PICS + VIDS to something more suited for your subject you create. I liked the blog post nevertheless.

  8. Hi Monica,

    Your explanations are really clear and useful.

    I am sharing a computer (and Final Cut) with others and ever since they started using it, all the by-default settings changed. ( I found your blog searching for what to do with footage that needs to be rendered.) I think I found a solution for all my problems expect that in the canevas (and other window I’m not sure what it’s called in English), the view zone is too small, with a large grey band above and below the image and black on both sides. In my other videos, my zoom is set at 66%, but now I can’t set it at that size. (It’s set to make a widescreen video and I’m working with old VHS tapes) I would just like for my view zone to have the exact same size as my actual video. Do you know what I should do?



  9. Hi Monica, I hope that you can help me. I have an issue when adding gopro footage onto my fcp timeline. I have searched everywhere to get a solution to be able to use the 60fps to create true slow mo by conforming in cinema tools but the rendering time is crazy. So far I have converted the h.264 files to apple intermediate codec (all forums suggest converting to proress but my mpeg doesn’t have the option). Then comes the problem, I import the clips and add to the timeline and straight away the red render line appears. So I can render each clip and then conform with cinema tools but it takes so long. Is this because the files are still at 60fps. If so is there a quik way to rather do this as I don’t want to use slow mo on all clips, just on some as I go along. Any help will be much appreciated.

    1. I had the same problem, I tried to mix different frame rates. Sorry to say if you want to mix 60fps slow mode on to a 30fps timeline, you’ll have to do the render. For me it wasn’t worth it, so I never filmed in 60fps again. Try using after effects for your slow mode footage, exporting it as 30 fps, and importing it. Maybe that will work. Let us know what works best for you. Ill let you know if I come across any better solutions.

    2. Another way, is (you still have to render but its not as long) put your 60fps on a different sequences and then export that clip to 30fps. I just did it and it worked fine, but then again my computer is really fast. wish you luck!

  10. Hi Monica, what if I already starting editing and the media and sequence doesn’t match? If I create a new project and then sequence I would have to redo the project. Is there anyway of fixing it now or is it too late? Thanks so much.

    1. Do you mean that the format of your media doesn’t match your sequences settings? After you set the sequences settings to the correct format, You can put your curser over your footage and match frame (select clip, press F) replacing each clip on your time lime. Do that for each clip.

  11. Hi Monica,
    Thanks for your post. I am working with DSLR video in FCP 5, and I have already done what you suggested to get the sequence to match the clips. This works well for the video, but whenever I try to add a still image I get the dreaded red line. I’ve tried changing the file type and size (to match the frame size of the video), but no luck. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you,

    1. When mixing different formats, you’ll have to render. What you can do is create your photo part in another sequences and when you have the animations worked out, then drop it in the main sequences.

      1. Hello again.
        I was able to render files before, but now when ever I try to render- in this case transitions and a title page, I get the message “codec error” and am not able to render. Please help. Thank you!

      2. Did you log and capture your DSLR footage in FCP? If not then you may need to change the format of the codec using mpeg stream clip. FCP uses apple pro res 422 (HQ). Hope this helps.

  12. hey monica! i really love your tutorials and blogs and this tutorial helps a lot. but i do have one question. whenever i export my video to share and when i play it back the parts that have transitions and/or texts are always messed up, it just gets choppy and starts skipping. do you have an answer. please and thank you!

  13. Hi Monica,
    I copied a title template over from an xdcam project into and appleprores 422 project – I then proceeded to do all the subtitles…and now all my titles need to render! Anyway I can change the settings of my text to match that of the clip? I just assumed, like in avid, the title will match the sequence…arg!
    Thank you

  14. Hi Monica, can you help me?I can’t play back clips from my timeline and I’ve already tried your suggestions above. Problem is I don’t know how to do the settings. My movies were taken with a fuji finepix z20 and by all accounts they are mpeg-4, 640×480, 29.98fps, 32bit. No problems in iMovie, but now I want to try something more advanced. Trouble is I don’t know which settings (easy setup and sequence) they correspond with on Final Cut Express. Ive been working on FCE for days and getting nowhere! Cheers, Carol in Australia. (Ps I need to finalise any movie I might hopefully finish in Pal so that it will play on my DVD player).

      1. This is what I did, yet FCE still won’t let me play back and only wants to render as soon as I put the converted file into the tImeline:

        Mpeg Steamclip 1.9.2>export to Quicktime>Compression Apple DV-PAL Frame Size 720×576>Make Movie.

        FCE 4.0.1>Easy Setup>Format Pal>Use DV-Pal

        Do you know what I might be doing wrong?

        Cheers, Carol.

  15. I’ve done the following, yet FCE still won’t play back and asks to render as soon as I place a clip on the timeline. These are the settings I used:

    MPEG Steamclip 1.9.2>export to Quicktime>Compression, Apple DV-Pal Frame Size>720×576(DV-Pal)>Make movie

    FCE 4.0.1>Easy Setup>Format, Pal>Use, DV Pal

    Do you know what I might be doing wrong?

    Cheers, Carol.

  16. I’ve just taken over somebody else’s project in FCP 7.0.3 and his audio is a hodge-podge of different formats and it’s KILLING ME that every move I make I have to rerender the whole dang thing. Is there a way to batch convert all the audio that was used in a project to AIF or WAV without losing the links? I’m an Avid guy, so this whole having to render thing is completely new to me. Thanks a million in advance, I hope you can help.

    Chris Conlee

    1. Hi Chris,
      First I feel your pain about getting someone’s messed up file! Don’t fear, there is a way.
      You can select all your audio, right click and “Send to: Soundtrack Pro Audio Multitrack Project” , FCP will create another sequence for you with the audio that you will be editing. You can adjust and correct your audio in Soundtrack pro. You should be able to save it to a new format and replace the audio or maybe it might update for you once its saved. If that doesn’t work, maybe look for a tutorial on Soundtrack pro. If anything you can do a save as on the audio in Soundtrack pro, change the format, than replace the file in FCP with “Reconnect media”.

  17. hey monica my i did the exact setting of clip to my time line but since the clip is h.264 clip it was not showing play back and instead giving me a red screen with general error, i googeled the cause, the answer was to put the timeline to prores422 setting I did that but its taking very long to render is there any other way to avoid rendering so that i can atleast edit and then i dont mind rendering the whole final edit time line

    1. getting a green frame is bad haha either you don’t have the correct codec or your footage maybe damaged. But lets say its just your timeline settings. You can drag and drop the correct format file on to a new sequence. Let FCP figure out the settings, then bring your new clips in to FCP timeline. This may be a bad idea if your project has lots of layers. What I do is press F on each clip to match the frame edit and then bring it into my new sequence. Hope this helps.

  18. Hi Monica, Thank you so much for giving up in site and tips on FCP. I have so many sources of footage, been in the biz 30+ years so I still have tape, betaMax, 3/4, blah, blah, blah.

    My for ever question with apple is what fricking format is best to work with across the board? I hate that I have to render anything, but I have surcome to the fact I will always have to.

    So my question is in over management of footage and projects and sticking to ONE format. I now have a iPhone 4S and love that you can shoot HD on the spot. I use FilmicPro App (Great program btw) to shoot. It locks in the iris, focus like a spot meter (photography). That has many options.

    FilmicPro App Settings:
    My Settings for iPhone FilmicPro App>> 1920×1080, 50mbps, Audio 48 kHz.

    So I get that the footage has to ‘Match” but there are many element to ‘match’ audio/video/mega pixels, frame size blah, blah, blah. What is most important to avoid having to render? Frame size, frame rate, pixel depth? I know sound will render quite quick.

    MPEG Streamclip / FCP Sequence Stettings:
    I have personally come to the conclusion to use “MPEG Streamclip” to render all my footage to work with “Apple Pro Res 422″ 48 mHz 1920×1080″ Then doing the same in FCP as my sequence. (I didn’t put in a ‘frame rate’ apple suggested I just let it figure it out).

    I have a major History project of mixing mediums. Some I have to send out. I’m thinking I will have them take my bataCam etc. to do that same. Apple Pro Res 422” 48 mHz accept that it will be the 3″4 aspect ratio.

    So what are the critical elements that take the longest in rendering? I suspect it’s the ‘frame rate’ seams the most logical.

    Thank you soooo much. (PS Do you have a facebook fan page, I want to be your fan.) -Stacy

      1. And before you answer I’m suspecting my Bit rate options are 12.0, 24.0, 32.0 extreme 50.00) Is that the frame rate? My video camera is HV40 Camera and I think you have 24 /30 / 60? (also have a canon XL1) Nothing matches? None of the options match.

    1. what you can do is get all your footage, do a batch export list in mpegstream clip and export them to the same format. It will take a while, so maybe let it go though the night.

  19. I’ve landed here after quite a bit of googling, and I’m (perhaps clutching at straws!) hoping that Monica or another contributor here will be able to help. Thanks in advance for all suggestions.

    I’ve got some screen recordings that I’ve done using QuickTime 10, and I’d like to edit them in Final Cut Pro (I have v6.0.6). I’m disappointed but unfortunately no longer surprised that FCP can’t just work with the files in the format that they are in without having to render everything all the time, but I can’t find a suitable format to convert them to to solve the problem.

    Previously I’ve used VisualHub to convert footage to .dv files, which FCP seems to like. This still works, and I can crop a video, move it off-centre, etc. without having to render. However, there’s too much loss in quality, so the screencasts are all fuzzy.

    I’ve tried using Compressor to convert to ProRes 422 and to Apple Intermediate Codec, but as soon as I do the slightest edit in FCP, I have to render. 😦

    I’ve tried using QuickTime itself to export as “720p”, but with the same result.

    I’ll never get the last two days back, but could someone suggest something to calm my nerves?! Thank you all in advance.

      1. Hi Monica, and thanks for your prompt reply and your suggestion. The thing is, I’ve got Mpeg Stream Clip (and VideoMonkey, and VisualHub, and ffmpeg!) but I’m at a loss to know what format with which settings to convert these files *to* so that I’ll be able to manipulate the clips in FCP without continually stopping to render.

        If you or anyone else has had success with Screen Recordings made with QuickTime, I’d love a step by step guide.

        An alternative solution for me, of course, would be to buy a dedicated screencasting application, of which there are several around, but when I’ve already shelled out for FCP which ought to be more than capable of doing the editing part if only I could find the right file format, I’d be really disappointed to have to spend money again for another video editing package just for this project. 😦

        Thanks again in advance for any helpful suggestions.

      2. To help any future visitors to this blog post trying to solve the same problem — I solved it, at least for me. The problem was the non-standard resolution I was using (1440×900, screencasting my full laptop screen). As soon as I started recording the screencast clips at 1280×720, using ProRes 422, FCP started cooperating and was happy to manipulate the video clips as it should. (FWIW I used iShowU from, but other packages will no doubt do the job too).

        That’s two weeks of fiddling and failure that I’ll never get back, but hey, I’m making progress now!

    1. oh no, black boards on the side are never good. It sounds like you have an aspect ratio problem. check your settings on your footage. if you are in FCP than check mark the “anamorphic” in your bens or convert the file to the format of your other footage or it can match perfectly.

  20. Hi Monica,

    I have read all the comments and tried everything! Every time i make the smallest change to a clip i have to re-render. I am working on transitions at the moment, so it’s really irritating to constantly re-render. I have triple checked that all the settings match but am unsure what to do next. Any advice? Thanks!

    1. What format is your footage? Did you capture it inside Final Cut Pro? Have you mixed different types of footage together? Do you have a ton of effects? A vignette overlay? Sometimes these things can cause you to render. The best thing to do is edit your cut and once you like it then add all the effects at the end. In that way you can walk around and let it render while you sleep.

      1. The footage is .mov file – 23.98 fps, 1280×720, H.264, 24 MB/sec. My sequence settings are the same, but maybe I changed them too late? Thanks – good idea to do all the effects at the end and render all at once. Just annoying when making tiny adjustments and I’m not able to see the effect. Thanks!

      2. Thanks Monica! I have had to have a few days off but will check this out next time and hope it works.

    1. Hi. I’m working with .DV footage from my Z5U recording unit. The settings are actually the exact same settings as what you have pictured above. I’m using FCP 6. This is not fixing my problem of the render red bar. Could it be a problem with another setting?

      1. check your frame rate. it has to be 29.97. Its hard to know the problem w out seeing it. Your codec should be NTSC if you are working with DV.

  21. Hi Monica,
    I go through this each time i try and use fcp. I am using fcp 3, with a Panasonic AG-DVX100B. My timeline properties and Sequence properties look IDENTICAL to your screenshot above, but the clips STILL have a redline above them. I’ve tried EasySetup, no help. Can you suggest anything else i might look for? Thanks! Russ

    1. What are your footage settings? Frame rate must be 29.97 and mixing different types of ftg will make you render. What is your audio? Lots of overlay audio will make you render. No mp3 but only use wav or aiff.

      1. Hi Monica, this was supposed to be a quick edit of my son’s pre-k graduation. All the footage is from one camera, 29.97 framerate, audio from the camera’s mic at 48Khz 16-bit, only audio used, no other video or audio overlays.No mp3 either.

        I’ve wondered if either creating a new sequence, and dragging those clips over and/or opening a new/project/sequence and pulling a new set of the clips from the camera.

        btw, while i am editing i don’t have the camera plugged in via firewire, that should matter right?

        Thank you very much,

      2. You can give that a try, check your frame size. Should be 720×480 if its old dv. As long as all your footage is captured and on your stationary hard drive, unplugging your camera is okay.
        Let me know what works. Also keep in mind effect may cause you to render too.

  22. Hey Monica! Thanks for your blog and helpful tips.

    But do the clips have to be at the same Vid Rate? So, if my Sequence Settings are at 29.97fps, does that mean all my clips have to be at 29.97? Or if my Sequence Settings are at 59.94fps, can my clips be equivalent or below 59.94fps? If that makes any sense, please reply!

    1. Yeah fcp doesn’t mix frame rates w out rendering, even then your final product will have to export at one frame rate. I avoid mixing frame rates because it gives me so much problems.

  23. Hey there
    I have a problem in my fcp 7 is whenever I place any audio in 5th layer it asks for render and whenever i add a keyframe it asks whole timeline to render its so annoying please help( I am working on wav format not mp3)

  24. Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy
    reading through your blog posts. Can you recommend any other
    blogs/websites/forums that go over the same topics?

    Thank you!

  25. Thanks for this post. When I put my first clip in the timeline, fcp 7 asked if I wanted to ‘change the sequence settings to match your footage’ and I said yes. However, every new clip still needs to be rendered for playback when I drag it to the timeline. Frustrating, but not a huge deal since the entire group of clips will only be about 6 min long.

    Using your article I double checked the settings to see if something is off. The only difference is the audio depth is 32-bit and the highest I can select in fcp 7 is 24. The raw video was given to me as an mp4. These are the settings:
    1920×1080 HDTV 1080i (16:9)
    Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square
    Field Dom: Upper (odd)
    Editing Timebase: 29.97
    Compressor H.264

    Ideas as to why I would still need to render? I also have the sequence set to unlimited RT.

    Like I said, I can deal with having to render the clips, but the I can’t deal with the subtitles. I created a subtitle template. While creating it the red line indicated I needed to render it, so I did. Then I dragged it up into bin to use as a template I kept the version just rendered. However, when I drag the outline text template to the window then to the timeline it shows it needs to be rendered again! gerrrrr. I am totally unable to preview the subtitle without rendering. Basically I can’t watch the playback to see if the subtitle matches the audio. This is so frustrating. I can’t keep having to render after each half a sentence! Gerrrr. This can’t be normal.

    Ideas as to what could be messed up?

    Thanks a million!

    1. Is your footage mp4 still? Be sure it’s a .mov. Delete your audio to test if it still requires you to render. Turn off your field dom – none. Figure out your final out put. You might not want the same settings of your original footage. As for subtitles, if you have many text layers it will need to render. Try the text mode instead of subtitle feature.

  26. I’m trying to export a 62 minute sequence from FCP 7 to quicktime movie and it won’t let me. It keeps saying error: out of memory when I’m not.

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