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Question: Copy vs. Reference Files in FCP

What is the general guidelines when setting your preferences for coping files into your FCP library vs. leaving them as referenced files. I know that coping them will increase the size of the library where having them as a reference keeps the file smaller.


My intent is to create a library for each years worth of work with my photos/videos kept in the same location on my internal hard drive. Therefore, I don't see the need for duplicating and using up valuable space on my MacBook Pro. After the year is closed, I can close and archive the FCP library. I would only need to use the archived library should there be changes needed to the projects and am concerned that using references vs. copies my cause future unforeseen issues.


Any guidance from the experienced community members is greatly appreciated.


Thank you!


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If the media is already on the drive, you can "leave in place" to avoid duplicating and making huge libraries, which will also help with performance.

Keep in mind though that since the library will not contain the media, when you copy it somewhere else the media may become offline. That should be no problem, but something you must be aware. As long as the original media does not get lost it can always be relinked, which is fine.

Putting the media inside the library, on the other hand, makes it self-contained, so media should never become offline.


One other important thing concerning space: most of the space in a library can be from optimized media, proxy media and render files. I suggest you do not transcode to optimized or proxy on import. Probably FCP X can work just fine with the original media. Also, go to preferences and turn OFF "background render".

When you are done with a library, it is a good idea to clean it up before copying it off to an archive drive.

For this, File->Delete Generated Library Files, and check all the options.

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Nov 16, 2017 9:05 AM in response to kdcattran In response to kdcattran

If the media is already on the drive, you can "leave in place" to avoid duplicating and making huge libraries, which will also help with performance.

Keep in mind though that since the library will not contain the media, when you copy it somewhere else the media may become offline. That should be no problem, but something you must be aware. As long as the original media does not get lost it can always be relinked, which is fine.

Putting the media inside the library, on the other hand, makes it self-contained, so media should never become offline.


One other important thing concerning space: most of the space in a library can be from optimized media, proxy media and render files. I suggest you do not transcode to optimized or proxy on import. Probably FCP X can work just fine with the original media. Also, go to preferences and turn OFF "background render".

When you are done with a library, it is a good idea to clean it up before copying it off to an archive drive.

For this, File->Delete Generated Library Files, and check all the options.

Nov 16, 2017 9:05 AM

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Question: Copy vs. Reference Files in FCP