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Chapter 4. Projects, Sequences, and Clips > Reconnecting Offline Files

Reconnecting Offline Files

In Final Cut Express, the links between your clips and sequences in the Browser and the underlying media source files on disk are based on the media file’s name and location. If you rename the source media files used in a project or sequence, you’ll be greeted with the Offline Files window full of clips marked “missing” the next time you open your project. Don’t panic. You can reconnect clips to media on your disk using the Reconnect Media command.

It’s important to understand how Final Cut Express’s protocols governing clip versions affect the reconnection process. Starting in FCE 2, sequence clips by default are affiliated with a master clip in the Browser. The offline/online status of the master clip and all affiliated clips is linked; make any one affiliated clip offline, and all its affiliated clips are taken offline automatically. Fortunately, the same principle applies to relinking. Remember, however, that any independent clips in your sequence are considered separate copies of the clips in the Browser. If an independent clip is used in a sequence, the sequence copy and the Browser copy must be reconnected separately. This is a little tricky, because the sequence icon in the Browser doesn’t display the red diagonal offline indicator to warn you that it contains offline clips. Selecting the sequence when you are reconnecting allows you to locate files for all offline clips in the sequence.

Tip

  • You can use Final Cut Express’s Find function to search for all the offline clips and sequences in a project (search the Offline Yes/No column for Yes) and then select and reconnect the offline clips and sequences right in the Find Results window.


FCE Protocol: Broken Links

How did your clips get thrown offline? Here’s a list of things you might have done that severed the link between your FCE project and its source media files:

  • You renamed your source media files.

  • You renamed the folder containing your source media files.

  • You moved your source media files to another disk.

  • You deleted your source media on disk.

FCE is actually pretty good at tracking the “unofficial” relocation of source media folders (try it sometime), but forcing FCE to do so is not recommended procedure.


To reconnect offline files:

1.
Select the file or files to be reconnected (Figure 4.22). You can select a clip or sequence in the Browser or clips in an open sequence in the Timeline.

Figure 4.22. Select the clip you want to reconnect to its source media file.


2.
Do one of the following:

  • Choose File > Reconnect Media.

  • Control-click the clip or sequence; then choose Reconnect Media from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.23).

    Figure 4.23. Control-click the clip; then choose Reconnect Media from the shortcut menu.


3.
In the Reconnect Options dialog box, Offline, Online, or Render file options may be available, depending on your current file selection. Check the box for each type of file you want to reconnect; then click OK (Figure 4.24).

Figure 4.24. In the Reconnect Options window, check the box for each type of file you want to reconnect; then click OK.


Final Cut Express searches your media drives for the first file in your selection. If FCE successfully locates the source media file for your first offline clip, the Reconnect dialog box appears with that source file listed in the file window (Figure 4.25). If FCE cannot locate the first source media file, a prompt at the top of the window displays the name of the clip and the first file you should locate.

Figure 4.25. Final Cut Express searches your media drives for the first file in your selection and then opens the Reconnect dialog box with that source file displayed in the file window. Files that don’t match are dimmed. You may have to scroll down through the list to see your file.


4.
Do any of the following:

  • Select a file type from the Show pop-up menu to limit the file list display to the selected file type.

  • Check Matched Name Only to highlight only an exactly matching name in the file list display and dim all nonmatching names. Disable this feature to have access to a complete list of the folder’s contents.

  • Select a drive or folder to search from the Search pop-up menu. Click the Next Volume button to move to the next media drive.

  • Check Reconnect All Files in Relative Path to automatically reconnect any other clips in the sequence that are associated with files in the same folder. You must reconnect the first file manually by clicking Choose.

  • Click Skip File to bypass the clip currently displayed in the File Name prompt.

  • Click Skip Remaining Files to bypass all remaining clips that can’t be located automatically.

  • Click Choose to reconnect the clip and its source media (Figure 4.26).

    Figure 4.26. Click Choose to reconnect the file to the clip.


5.
The dialog box closes and then reopens, and the File Name prompt indicates the next file to locate. Continue until the dialog box closes.

Tip

  • The File Name prompt area in the Reconnect dialog box is often too small to display the full directory path for the clip you’re searching for. When you search for many clips with similar names, the partial display is pretty useless. You can see the full directory path name for your stray clip by stretching the Reconnect dialog box horizontally (Figure 4.27). Stretching the dialog box doesn’t widen the columns in this window, but if you pause the pointer over a name, FCE will display a tooltip with the full name of the file.

    Figure 4.27. You can stretch the Reconnect dialog box horizontally to display the full directory path to the location of your files.


Reconnecting Online Files

The Reconnect Media feature offers an option to reconnect online as well as offline files. Reconnecting missing or offline clips is the most common use of the Reconnect Media command, but you could have occasion to reconnect online files, too—for example, when you want to replace the media in a clip you’ve used in a sequence with a revised version of the same media element or with another element entirely.

If you do want to relink a clip in your sequence to an entirely different source media file, the new source file must be at least long enough to cover the current marked duration of the clip you’re relinking it to. If your new source file is too short, you’ll see an error message.


Using the Offline Files window to reconnect

Final Cut Express displays the Offline Files window to alert you that media files have gone missing since the last time you saved a project. Any time you open a project or switch back to FCE from the Finder, Final Cut Express rechecks the status of your media files. If FCE detects missing files, the Offline Files window appears automatically to alert you and offer you options for restoring order to your FCE project.

To reconnect using the Offline Files window:

1.
Final Cut Express displays the Offline Files window (Figure 4.28), which lists all media files missing from the current project and their most recent hard disk location. This list could include:

  • Missing source media files

    Figure 4.28. The Offline Files window contains a list of all media files missing from the current project and their most recent hard disk location.

  • Render files lost because they reference a missing media file

  • QuickTime reference movies made invalid by a missing media file

  • A segment of a spanned media file

2.
Do any of the following:

  • Use the Forget Files buttons (Figure 4.29) if you want to change the status of all the files listed from “missing” to “offline” and remove them from this list of missing files. If you don’t use the Forget Files option, Final Cut Express will continue to post alerts about missing media each time you launch the project, until you reconnect the media and clips or make the clips offline.

    Figure 4.29. Use the Forget Files buttons to change the status of the files listed in the window from “missing” to “offline” and remove them from this list of missing files.


  • Click the Movie button to change the status of all the source media files in the list from “missing” to “offline.” All clips referencing these files will be marked as offline clips in your project, but you can still relink the files later.

  • Click the Render button to remove all of the render files from this list. If you choose to forget render files, you won’t have the opportunity to reconnect them later.

3.
To finish the process, choose one of the following options:

  • Click the Reconnect button (Figure 4.30) to access the Reconnect Media feature, and then try to locate and reconnect the missing files. The Reconnect Media operation is described earlier in this chapter.

    Figure 4.30. Click the Reconnect button to access the Reconnect Media feature and try to locate and reconnect the missing files.


  • Click OK to exit the Offline Files window and leave all the files remaining in the list classified as missing or invalid. The next time you launch this project, FCE will display the Offline Files window again, and you can choose to reconnect or to take files offline at that time.

FCE Protocol: Offline vs. Missing Clips

Missing clips and offline clips look the same in the Browser, Viewer, Timeline, and Canvas.

What’s the difference?

Offline clips are listed as offline in your project’s item tracking data, so Final Cut Express doesn’t look for them the next time you open that project.

Missing clips are listed as online in your project’s item tracking data, but FCE can’t find the clips’ underlying media files. FCE will search for missing files each time you open a project until you reconnect the files or make them official offline files by clicking Forget in the Offline Files window.


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