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compressor_icon.gifAfter we upgraded some of our classroom machines to Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6), an old problem reared its head when we tried to use Compressor to render H.264 video.  When we would submit jobs directly from FCP using the Share -> Using Compressor option in Final Cut Studio 3, the Compressor jobs would fail with "Quicktime Error -120."  And once one job failed, all the jobs that came after would fail too.

Asking around the office, nobody could say for sure what Error -120 stood for – but one of our old-timers did suggest a fix.  Simply pick "Reset Background Processing" from the Compressor application menu, and Compressor will flush out any old flotsam from its background rendering pipeline.

After the jump, a little bit about what Reset Background Processing does ...


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In basic terms, Compressor offloads its compression jobs to a background distributed rendering engine called QMaster.  Incidentally, this engine can also power background rendering for Maya and Shake if you want it to.  The catch is that, even though you may only be using your local workstation to render your video, QMaster still goes through the motions of setting up shared folders and job lists and chunking out the render for distribution.

Normally, this just means that Compressor is insanely easy to set up for a distributed render.  Unfortunately, it also introduces an awful lot of moving parts to the render process.  Any of these is prone to break – and, in our experience so far with Snow Leopard (10.6.2), Apple still hasn't quite worked all the kinks out of the Compressor render pipeline.

So if you're a heavy Final Cut Studio user, you might want to put off your Snow Leopard upgrade until the next round of system updates – and if you're already upgraded, get used to using that "Reset Background Processing" function with some frequency.  Because, as we all know, things wait to break until you're right on deadline.
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