This clip (V1, clip properties) are not supported by FCE (Express). FCE does not support Uncompressed 4:2:2 video, 24fps, 1280x960 frame size. FCE also does not support MP3 audio. All of this would cause problems in FCE.
Also, it will help to see your Sequence properties (control-click the name of the Seqence in the FCE Browser, then select Item Properties).
You also mentioned FCP-X. Are you using both FCE and FCP-X?
I am using Final Cut Express 4.0.1 only. I have created video projects before in this application using an MP3 as my audio track. I have also used video clips of 1280 x 720 at 24 fps before without the problem I'm having now. What I am doing differently is creating mov files using MPEG streamclip from still photos that were shot on my still camera for a time lapse effect. I am trying to make a FCX project with these time lapse mov files but maybe they are too large? Below are my sequence properties.
FCE does not support 24fps in any mode ... that doesn't mean you couldn't have imported 24fps video ... just that the results in FCE will be unpredictable. Ditto regarding MP3s.
FCE is designed to work with QuickTime/DV and QuickTime/Apple Intermediate Codec video. (All HDV and AVCHD video is transcoded to QT/AIC during Log & Transfer from the camcorder.) It supports standard def NTSC 29.97fps, PAL 25fps and high def 720p25/30 and 1080i50/60. No progressive modes, no 24fps. FCE is also designed to use AIFF, 16-bit (aka 48KHz) stereo audio files. Anything else needs to be rendered, and the results could be anywhere between ok and unusable.
I can see from the snapshot of your sequence settings that you are trying to use 1280x960/24fps/Uncompressed 4:2:2 video in a DV NTSC sequence. That would explain why you are having problems.
I'd suggest a little experiment: Using MPEG Streamclip, export a short segment to QuickTime/Apple Intermediate Codec using a 1920x1080 frame size (HDTV 1080i) and make sure Interlaced Scaling is checked. Then in FCE select the AVCHD Apple Intermediate Codec 1080i60 easy setup, create a new sequence and import the file you just creating using MPEG Streamclip. See if that works any better.
Originally I chose 1280x960 because I'm using a 4:3 format. I used the 1920x1080 frame size as you suggested but it stretches my image horizontally when I export to an Apple Intmediate Codec file. I did not choose a frame rate. Still, I imported several files created this way and inserted them in a new sequence in FCE. I have an mp3 file that is about 5 min long playing as the sound track. It is locked so when I insert video files I don't lose the audio track below. I put the video files into the timeline (total about 2 minutes) and rendered them. When I hit the spacebar to play the sequence, it took about 50 seconds of waiting before the sequence would play. I tried again in various spots in the timeline and each time I hit the spacebar to play, I had to wait 15 - 45 seconds before the sequence would play. I have never had such delays with other projects.
This is the first time I have tried to use time lapse movies in FCE using jpg files from my Nikon D7000 DSLR through streamclip. It seems that the movies play with no problems on their own. It's only when I try to use them in FCE that there are these long delays when starting to play.
Originally I chose 1280x960 because I'm using a 4:3 format.
Ok, that explains things better. If you want 4:3 aspect ratio in FCE then you need to use the DV NTSC easy setup. That would also mean that in MPEG Streamclip you will need to convert your stream of photos to QuickTime - Apple DV/DVCPRO NTSC compression and select 720x480 (DV-NTSC) frame size ... NOT 1280x960, and NOT Apple Intermediate Codec.
I have an mp3 file that is about 5 min long playing as the sound track. It is locked so when I insert video files I don't lose the audio track below. I put the video files into the timeline (total about 2 minutes) and rendered them. When I hit the spacebar to play the sequence, it took about 50 seconds of waiting before the sequence would play.
Try taking this MP3 out of your sequence and see if the delay in playback goes away. (Or experiment with a new sequence that has just the video clip by itself.) I know you said MP3's worked before, but FCE has never supported MP3's very well and lots of people have had problems with them. FCE prefers AIFF, 16-bit (aka 48KHz) stereo audio. It's worth finding out if the MP3 is causing the problem.
I upgraded my OS from Leopard to Snow Leopard a few months ago.
I just noticed this line in your original post. Did the problems with FCE just show up after you upgraded to Snow Leopard? The reason for asking is that the Pro Apps (including FCE) often have problems after an OS upgrade. The cure is to uninstall and reinstall the application.
I've used the DV NTSC easy set up as recommended. In Streamclip I used QuickTime - Apple DV/DVCPRO NTSC compression and select 720x480 (DV-NTSC) frame size. My video is 4:3 so I chose 640x480 to prevent stretching of the image. In sound, I selected none. I created 5 video clips this way and imported them into FCE.
I was able to insert and edit in my timeline normally with no delays including the mp3 sound track. Then after about an hour of editing, the playback delays started up again. I've noticed recently this has happened before. It's like there is some accumalative effect that only let's me have an hour of editing without playback delays. Then it seems whenever I go back to that sequence later on the next day or two, I start out with playback delays and cannot edit normally again.
I also tried deleting the sound track from the timeline but there was no improvement. I still had playback delays of the video timeline of 20 - 60 seconds.
I've never unistalled and reinstalled an OS so it's a little scary for me. What happens when I uninstall Snow Leopard? Will I still have control with my previous OS Leopard? I have a lot of applications that require a minimum of Snow Leopard.
I had some upgrades to my MacPro a few months ago at the Mac Store. They cloned my 320 GB boot drive in Bay 1 with all my applications to a new 1 TB drive and made that my boot drive with applications. The 1 TB was put in Bay 1 and the old 320 GB drive was put in Bay 3 without deleting the contents. They also upgraded my OS to Snow Leopard. I have still not deleted the contents of the older 320 drive. Could there be a problem with a duplication of applications such as FCE on these two drives? When I click on the FCE icon on my task bar to open it, which version is being opened? The bay 1 version or the bay 3 version? Should I uninstall all applications of the older drive if I already have them on the new boot drive?
I've never unistalled and reinstalled an OS so it's a little scary for me.
I suggested uninstalling/reinstalling Final Cut Express, not the OS!
When I click on the FCE icon on my task bar to open it, which version is being opened?
Probably the one on your 1TB drive, but to be sure, you can always just open your /Applications folder on the 1TB drive and double-click the FCE application to start FCE.
Could there be a problem with a duplication of applications such as FCE on these two drives?
Highly unlikely. The system looks for applications in the /Applications folder on your startup drive, which is now your 1TB drive.
My video is 4:3 so I chose 640x480 to prevent stretching of the image.
No, you need to choose 720x480 (DV-NTSC) frame size. This is the standard 4:3 DV frame size. 640x480 is a computer monitor resolution. 720x480 is the actual, standard def, DV (television) frame size. It is 4:3. The 720 line height includes something called "overscan" which you never actually see. The image you see will be 4:3. FCE is not designed for 640x480 frame size ... do you have to render these clips after you put them in your DV-NTSC sequence?
Then after about an hour of editing, the playback delays started up again.
Well, that's bizarre, I must admit. Kinda has me stumped, except for the possibility that FCE may need to be uninstalled/reinstalled.
I replaced the mp3 audio with an AIFF 16 bit audio track and that eliminated the "pops" I was getting in the sound track.
I uninstalled FCE and reinstalled it. I then opened the project and sequence I was working on before. I began editing, inserting clips, moving them in the time line and rendering with no problems with delays. Then after about an hour or more of editing the delays started again. Every time I hit the space bar to play I have to wait at least 30 seconds for playing to begin anywhere in the the timeline. Everything is rendered but I have to watch the color wheel spin before my project will play. I tried closing FCE and reopening it but nothing changed.
Alchroma - I have an unrelated question and don't know how to ask you directly other than to post it here (you seem to be an expert):
My FCE won't show a live preview in the canvas, just an old saved version, regardless of what I do in the timeline or slug viewer. What am I doing wrong? I've never seen this before.
I apologize for not knowing how else to present this question directly to you, and apologize to R. Riedlinger as well.