Monthly Archives: December 2009

Slim down Final Cut Studio’s Media Content using HFS Compression

A full installation of Final Cut Studio 3 with all media content (for Motion, DVD Studio Pro, and Soundtrack Pro Loops) takes up around 40-50 GB of hard drive space.
How about regaining 5-10 GB of precious by enabling HFS compression for these folders? Since HFS compression is completely transparent, there are no adverse effects to expect (other than browsing the content libraries being almost unnoticeably slower).

To start, you’ll need a command-line tool called afsctool which can compress (and, amongst other features, decompress) folders using HFS compression. The command you’ll need to run is e.g. sudo afsctool -c -l -k -v -i -9 /Library/Application\ Support/Final\ Cut\ Studio. This compresses all files the given folder using the highest possible compression, verifies its results, prints out the names of files it is unable to compress, and outputs statistics once it’s done.

Some of the folders I compressed:
/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Studio/ (contains Motion and DVD Studio Pro templates): 22.5% compression savings
/Library/Application Support/LiveType/ (contains Motion’s LiveType fonts): 11.4% compression savings
/Library/Application Support/GarageBand/ (contains GarageBand’s  instruments and learning-to-play stuff): 14.3% compression savings
/Library/Application Support/iDVD/ (contains iDVD’s themes): 19.5% compression savings
/Library/Audio/Apple Loops/ (contains GarageBand’s and Soundtrack Pro’s loops): 4.1%
/Library/Audio/Impulse Responses/ (contains  Soundtrack Pro’s impulse response data): 41.3% compression savings

Looking at the compression savings: everything that contains high-quality video can be compressed by around 20%, while audio which is already heavily compressed only yields around 5%. The most amazing result though are the 40% by which the Impulse Responsed were compressed – apparently, these are uncompressed AIFF audio files and thus ideal for compression.

Obviously, your mileage may vary and I’m not responsible if you compress too much and break your system (I’m sure there is a reason why Apple didn’t compress all system files). However, compressing the iLife and Final Cut Studio media content appears safe, I haven’t noticed any unwanted side-effects and it seems well worth trying if you’d like to regain a few gigabytes.