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Screen shot 2011-07-14 at 3.35.31 PM.pngSometimes, Compressor jobs will fail with a cryptic "3X Crash Service Down" error.  Anecdotally, we've seen this happen most often with MPEG-2 compression jobs, but that may just be because our students frequently use Compressor to target DVDs.  Either way, we've never yet had to go farther than two troubleshooting steps to resolve the problem:

  • First, make sure that you're only logged in to one local account.  A Mac OS feature called Fast User Switching allows you to be running as multiple users at the same time.  This can be convenient, but it also interferes with Compressor's encoding engine.  Often, our students can resolve the 3X Crash Service Down error by logging out of all other users and resubmitting their Compressor jobs.
  • If that isn't enough to solve the problem, reset Compressor's encoding services.  From the Compressor menu, choose "Reset Background Processing." compressor-reset.pngIn the Reset Background Processing dialog box, click "Reset and cancel jobs."  Then, re-submit the job that generated the error message.

Apple Compressor will allow you to set the poster frame of whatever you are running thru Compressor. A poster frame is the frame that is displayed when your movie is viewed in the Finder. This can be very useful when trying to identify one video that looks like another, or starts with a fade up from black.


To set the poster frame, in the Preview window move the playhead to the frame that is to become the poster frame. Next go to the Modify Marker Settings pop up menu in the Preview window, and select Set poster frame. That’s all there is to it. 

One thing to keep in mind is that when in Column view in the Finder the poster frame will display in the tiny icon in front of the file name, but not in the Preview when the icon is selected.
Here is a great tutorial that shows how to create a Droplet in Apple Compressor:

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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compressor_icon.pngUsing Apple Compressor to convert Final Cut outputs to various formats is a very efficient way to compress and encode. Learning to use Apple Compressor boils down to simply applying a setting and a destination to whatever you have in the Batch Window, & submit. If you want to make adjustments to the attributes of a setting, you can duplicate the setting, which will place a copy of in the Custom folder. Once a setting is in the Custom folder, you can make adjustments to the attributes of the setting in the Inspector. Default settings cannot be adjusted until they have been duplicated into the Custom folder.

You can simplify the Compressor function, by creating what are called Droplets. Droplets are a way to automate Compressor settings. Once a droplet is created, you will not even have to launch Compressor. You can simply drag your Quicktime movie onto the Droplet, and allow the Droplet to initiate Compressor to process the movie to a preset Setting and Destination. To create a Droplet, you need to select a Setting, and click the Save Selection as Droplet button. Next you will need to name the Droplet, choose where the droplet will exist, & choose where the Droplet will place the processed media.

multiple_output_compressor.gifIf you duplicate a Settings Folder, the folder and the settings within it will appear in the Custom Settings folder, and the duplicated folder can be added to. Take for example if you were to duplicate both the DVD: Best Quality 90 minutes settings folder, & the H. 264 for Apple TV, & H.264 for iPod settings. You could add the H.264 settings to the DVD: Best Quality settings folder, and then create a droplet of that folder. Anything placed onto that droplet would be processed to all four of the settings in the folder. This makes your most used setting combinations very easy to use.

Be sure to check out this video tutorial creating a droplet in Apple Compressor
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