Final Cut Pro Library Too Big? - Here's How To Reduce It

Start by addressing the large size of your Final Cut Pro library by deleting unnecessary generated files and managing events selectively. If space remains an issue, consider relocating your library to a different drive, ensuring Final Cut Pro can still track the original footage.

September 30, 2023
Final Cut Pro Library Too Big? - Here's How To Reduce It
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Why Is FCPX Library So Large?

When working in Final Cut Pro, you might notice that your library size is becoming too large. For instance, if you're storing raw footage on an external SSD and also keeping the library there, the size can balloon quickly. Transcoding media, say from h.264 to AppleProRes, and editing the video can further increase the size. If you ever receive a warning that your storage space is running out, it's a clear sign that your FCPX library file (.fcpbundle) might be taking up a significant portion of your drive. In the case described in the article, the library was a whopping 720.86 GB, occupying about 3/4 of a 1TB drive. Now that you understand the issue, here are some of the main other reasons as to why your library might be getting overweight!

  • Amount of Media and Data: The size of the library is determined by the amount of media and data stored in the bundle. Video, in particular, can take up a lot of drive space.
  • Stabilization: Using the Image Stabilization function in Final Cut Pro can generate large analysis files that aren't automatically deleted.
  • Background Rendering: If "Background render" is switched on in the preferences, FCP X could be automatically replacing deleted files.
  • Transcoding: Transcoding media, for instance from h.264 to AppleProRes, can increase the size of the library.

How Do I Reduce The Size Of My Final Cut Pro Library?

Here's what the pro's do when dealing with their oversized FCPX library:

Step 1: Understanding the Library Size

Locating the Library Size:

Open Final Cut Pro and look at the left sidebar. Here, you'll find your libraries listed. Hover over a library, and you'll see its size. If it's too big, guess what? It's time to dive in and clean it up.

Step 2: Dealing with Generated Files

Clearing Generated Files:

  1. In the left sidebar, right-click on the library that's too large.
  2. From the dropdown menu, select "Delete Generated Library Files."
  3. A new window will pop up. Here, you can choose to delete render files, optimized media, and proxy media. For our purpose, select all these options and hit "OK."

By the way, if you've done this and the size remains large, it's likely due to the actual media and data stored. No worries, we'll tackle that next.

Step 3: Image Stabilization Files

Understanding Stabilization:

When you stabilize a shaky clip, Final Cut Pro analyzes it and creates large analysis files. Believe me, these can eat up a lot of space.

How to Address This:

  1. In the timeline, click on a clip you've applied stabilization to.
  2. In the right inspector panel, under the "Video" tab, you'll find the stabilization option. If it's checked, that means stabilization is applied.
  3. Uncheck it to remove stabilization. This action will prompt Final Cut Pro to ask if you want to delete the analysis files. Click "Delete."

Step 4: Background Rendering

What's Background Rendering?:

In a nutshell, it's a feature that automatically processes and renders your clips in the background as you work. It's great for smooth playback, but it can generate extra files.

Turning Off Background Rendering:

  1. Go to the top menu and select "Final Cut Pro."
  2. From the dropdown, choose "Preferences."
  3. In the new window, under the "Playback" tab, you'll see an option for "Background Render." If it's checked, uncheck it.

Step 5: Transcoding Media

The Basics of Transcoding:

When you import media, you have the option to transcode it to different formats. This can be useful, but it can also duplicate files, taking up more space. So, let's look into this.

Managing Transcoded Media:

  1. In the left sidebar, right-click on your library.
  2. Choose "Reveal in Finder."
  3. This will open the library bundle. Here, you'll see folders like "Transcoded Media." If you see large files here that you don't need, you can delete them. But be cautious; only delete if you're sure you don't need them.

Step 6: Render Files Cleanup

Navigating to Render Files:

  1. Right-click on your FCP project library in the left sidebar.
  2. Choose "Show Package Contents."
  3. Navigate to "Render Files" > "High Quality Media."

Here, you'll see all the render files. If you're sure you don't need them, go ahead and delete them. But, always ensure you have a backup before deleting anything.

Step 7: Deleting Generated Files

How to Delete Generated Files:

  1. Open Final Cut Pro and look at the left sidebar where your libraries are listed.
  2. Right-click on the library that's too large.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select "Delete Generated Library Files."
  4. A new window will appear. Here, you should check all the boxes and choose to delete "All render files."

By doing this, you can reclaim hundreds of GBs of space. Seriously, it's that effective.

Step 8: Managing Events Within Libraries

Understanding Events and Libraries:

In Final Cut Pro, events are like folders within your library. If you've been adding multiple events to one library, it can contribute to the size issue. But guess what? You can manage which events you delete generated files from.

How to Manage Events:

  1. In the left sidebar of Final Cut Pro, click on an event instead of the entire library.
  2. Now, when you go to the "Delete Generated Files" option, it will be specific to that event.

This way, you can be selective about which events you're cleaning up, giving you more control over the process.

Step 9: Relocating the Library

Considering Library Location:

If your library is too large for your current drive, you might ponder if it should be on a different drive. The idea here is to ensure that Final Cut Pro doesn't lose track of where the original footage is.

How to Move the Library:

  1. In Final Cut Pro, right-click on the library you want to move.
  2. Choose "Reveal in Finder."
  3. This action will show you the library file in Finder. From here, you can copy the library to a new location or drive.
  4. Once copied, open the library from its new location in Final Cut Pro to ensure everything is working correctly.

Can You Compress A Final Cut Pro Library?

Yes, you can compress a Final Cut Pro (FCP) library, but there are important considerations to keep in mind. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Step 1: Backup Your Library

Before making any changes or compressions, always create a backup of your FCP library. This ensures that you have a fallback option in case anything goes wrong.

Step 2: Clean Up Your Library

Before compressing, it's a good idea to clean up your library:

  1. Delete Unused Media: In FCP, you can remove any media that's not being used in your projects.
  2. Delete Render Files: FCP creates render files for smoother playback. If you're done with editing, you can delete these files. They will be recreated if needed later.
  3. Delete Generated Files: This includes optimized and proxy media. If you're not using them, they can be deleted.

Step 3: Compress the Library

  1. Close Final Cut Pro: Ensure FCP is closed before you proceed.
  2. Locate the Library in Finder: Navigate to where your FCP library is stored.
  3. Compress the Library: Right-click on the library and select "Compress [library name]." This will create a .zip file of your library.

Step 4: Store or Transfer the Compressed Library

You can now store the compressed library as a backup or transfer it to another location or drive. Remember, you'll need to unzip the library before using it in FCP again.

Important Considerations:

  • Performance: Compressing and decompressing libraries can be time-consuming, especially for large libraries. Ensure you have ample time and resources.
  • Space: While the compressed library will take up less space, you'll temporarily need enough storage for both the original and compressed versions during the compression process.
  • Integrity: Always check the integrity of the compressed library, especially if transferring it to another location or drive. You want to ensure no data is lost or corrupted.