Last night I spent nearly the entire evening hyperventilating. My hard drive, with the entirety of Wicked Funny 2, was crashing. The evening began as most weekdays do - I arrived home around 8pm, had dinner, then sat down to spend the next 3 hours editing. My first task was to convert some video files from 60fps to 24fps, but when I opened the drive, and started dragging around the files, I became very nervous. The drive was making a very loud clicking sound every 3 seconds, as if it was struggling and grinding through its 4TB of content.
Recognizing that this was bad, I immediately began sorting through the contents of the drive to make sure everything was backed up. I had been gradually uploading the raw interview footage to Amazon Glacier, but as its name might suggest, the uploading process was painfully slow, and at this point I had only uploaded about half of the footage. Other footage had been backed up on multiple smaller drives, so I started scrambling to make sure that I hadn’t forgotten anything.
As I scrambled to copy files before the drive died for good, I began noticing that occasionally I’d open a folder on this sinking ship, and it would have 30GB of contents, then I’d leave and come back and it would be empty. Files were literally disappearing before my eyes! This is when the true hyperventilation began.
This whole time I still had the Final Cut Pro project file open, and as I moved around source files on the hard drive, the files on the FCP timeline would become disconnected (which is to be expected). But when I would attempt to reconnect them, FCP couldn’t see the contents of folders. When applications aren’t functioning correctly, the old standby is quit and reopen. So I exited FCP, but when I tried to reopen the project file, I received the error: “This file is unreadable or is from a newer version of FCP”. The project file was corrupted!! This is when true panic set in. I believed I had all the original footage, but the project file was what contained all of the actual editing work. I would essentially be starting from scratch, needing to rebuild everything that I had labored over the past 8 months. But wait, there are auto-save files on the main computer, not on the external crashing hard drive! So I find them, and double click to open them in the application…same error….
At this point I want to throw up. How did the hard drive corrupt files on the main computer? I decided to eject the drive, and shut down everything. This was scary, because I knew that the drive may not turn on again at all. I let the computer and drive sit, powered off, for 5 minutes. I have no idea if this helps anything at all; I was more delaying the inevitable for myself.
So 5 minutes pass I powered back up. The drive appeared on the desktop, but immediately I received another error: “Could not repair this drive. You may still read and copy files, but not save.” So my drive was officially the sinking ship I had suspected, and I had to get those files into lifeboats. But I already knew this. The issue was the project file.
I tried multiple autosave files but no luck. I sank further into despair. But then suddenly, one works! I’ve only lost a week of editing!!
It was now midnight, and I’ve closed FCP again and was sorting through other drives, locating other versions of back ups and files. I decide to try slightly newer autosave project files, to see if there’s a more recent version that I can work from, once I collect all the source footage. But none of the newer autosaves work. So I return to the file that had been able to open an hour before… and it fails. I got the same error as the others! But it had worked before?! I was intensely confused and frustrated.
As a last ditch effort, I copied the 28MB of project file to a thumb drive and bring it to my laptop. I don’t need to be able to edit now, since none of the source files are connected, I just need to be able to open the file without an error.
And it works. I’m able to open the project file on my laptop. Was my whole Final Cut Pro application on my desktop corrupted? I’ll try uninstalling it and reinstalling, but until then, I’ll work off my laptop.
So at 1:30am I ordered a new 4TB external hard drive from Amazon with expedited shipping. It was $360 I hadn’t intended on spending, but once it’s here, I can hopefully get the documentary editing back up and running, with just a few days lost, and hopefully no lost footage. Please send positive vibes my way.
And back up your shit, people.