How do I increase render speed on FCE? I have several overlaid HD video tracks, and it is SLOW.

EDIT: I am on a MBP 13", 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3. The render disk is an external USB drive.

EDIT: I found out that FCP has a feature that allow you to only render video to a certain quality (or bit rate...something like that). Does FCE have a feature that does this same thing?

EDIT: Oh, and...if I upgrade to FCE 4, will rendering be faster?

EDIT: I am on FCE 4.

  • So, is this perhaps to do a "draft" render so you can view the video and see what changes to make, and in the end you will render in the standard way for the final product? – GEdgar Aug 24 '11 at 15:35
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    Can you tell if you are CPU bound or io bound? Open activity monitor and see what read/write speeds you get copying a rendered file from the internal to the external. Quit all apps except FC and report what portion free+inactive RAM is of the total. – bmike Aug 24 '11 at 22:46
  • @bmike I will let you know when I export something. – daviesgeek Aug 25 '11 at 19:51

I imagine the USB disk is probably a source of the bottleneck. Try using a Firewire 800 disk.


Adding RAM is usually the cheapest way to improve speed. I went from 4 GB to 12 GB in my iMac and FCPX improved dramatically.

Also I recently upgraded from a USB Drobo (1st Gen) to a Firewire 800 Drobo (2nd or 3rd Gen) and my disk speeds increased a lot.

A few other quick things: Make sure you're not running any other apps when FCE is running. And you should run a utility like Onyx or Applejack to clear up any file permissions issues or other cruft that comes from running a modern OS.

  • Ok, I am not exactly looking to buy anything else, but it's a good tip. Thanks! – daviesgeek Aug 24 '11 at 22:44
  • I wouldn't bother with onyx/applejack or permissions as they cause pass/fail issues, not speed issues. We need to know your ram summary to tell if RAM is constrained. – bmike Aug 24 '11 at 22:48

What version of FCE are you running? It sounds like it's less than version 4. If you're running anything less than version 3.5, it's a PowerPC version, and thus is running a lot slower than it would be if you ran v3.5 or higher, which is Intel-native. Can't guarantee this is your problem, but it's what I would check first.

  • Although my post says 3.5, I am now running 4, and it still has some problems. – daviesgeek Aug 24 '11 at 17:22
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    Edit that, p'haps? – please delete me Aug 24 '11 at 18:02

Ok, so after much research, I finally found out that the reason it was taking so long to export was because I was exporting from the external drive to the external drive. I fixed the problem by exporting from the external drive to the internal drive. I am also probably going to switch to a Firewire 800 drive.


Convert all footage to The Apple Intermediate Codec ( AIC )first before importing. Makes a big difference in rendering time. Use MPEG Streamclip to convert

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