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FCP Quick Tip: Save Time By Setting Final Cut Pro to Auto Render

Danny Greer

One lesser known feature in Final Cut Pro is the ability to set timelines to automatically render when the application is left idle for a set period of time.  In this Final Cut Pro Tutorial we’ll learn how to utilize this feature to make our time in the edit bay more productive!

Auto Render settings can be adjusted in the User Preferences window.

I’m constantly getting pulled away from my edit bay — a knock on the door, an unexpected phone call, another cup of coffee (and another, and another).  Sometimes when I jump up from my desk I simply forget to render out the current sequences that I’m working on.  With the computer sitting idle, this can be an unfortunate loss of render time.  Luckily, Final Cut Pro has “got your back” and can initiate a render even when you forget to.

  1. To adjust the auto render settings to up to the Menu Bar and choose Final Cut Pro > User Preferences.
  2. FCP’s default for auto render is 45 minutes.  On the bottom right change “Start Render after ___ minutes” to 10 minutes.
  3. As good practice, I like to set Render to Open Sequences.
  4. I leave Render RT segments checked.
  5. Click OK.

The auto render feature in FCP works similarly to what we’re used to seeing with computer screen savers.  Set a countdown duration and the auto save function will kick in once the application has been idle for that set time (when it doesn’t detect mouse clicks or keyboard presses).

Note, one great feature of FCP’s auto render is that it initializes when the application is idle, not the computer.  Therefore, you can open up another application and leave FCP in the background.  So, type up an email, work on a script, build your graphics in After Effects… with FCP sitting idle in the background, the auto render will still kick in when it reaches the set time.

Although this isn’t actually background rendering (rendering while working concurrently in FCP), it is a nice feature to save time in post.  Look for true background rendering in Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, to be released later this summer.  I personally previewed the background rendering capability of FCP X at the April 2011 Supermeet and was blown away by it’s efficiency!