Why am I getting an "XML Translation was aborted due to critical error" message in Final Cut Pro?

If you've been trying to import an XML file generated by InqScribe into Final Cut Pro (FCP), and get this error during the import process, "XML Translation was aborted due to a critical error." there are usually two culprits:

1. Your timecodes are not in sync.

2. You have bad ASCII characters in your transcript. -- Sometimes as you're typing you might inadvertently hit the Ctrl key while typing a letter, inserting a character that is not valid XML.  FCP chokes on this when it tries to import.  

Curly quotes in particular can cause problems in FCP.  Even though some XML validators will ignore them, curly quotes like “ ” ‘ ’ will cause XML errors.  Replace them with straight quotes: " '.  

Here are some suggestions on resolving this problem:

1. Try “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie…”

If you have timecode errors in your transcript, you may have problems importing into FCP. Use InqScribe’s “Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie…” feature (in the “File” menu) to test your subtitles. If there are timecodes that are repeated or out of order, the Save Subtitled QuickTime Movie feature will generate a report for you. Fix the timecodes and try saving the subtitled movie again until InqScribe doesn’t report any errors, then do your FCP XML export again.

2. Use TextWrangler to Zap the Gremlins

If your issue is bad ASCII characters, you can used a text tool like TextWrangler (it's free) to find and replace the bad characters.  (BBEdit will work too if you have it).

a. Download TextWrangler from http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/

b. Install it and start it.

c. Open your bad XML file (e.g. "export.xml") in TextWrangler

[d. It might help to select the "T" icon next to the pencil in the toolbar and select "Soft Wrap Text"]

e. From the menu bar, select Text -> Zap Gremlins...

f. Select the "Replace with •" radio button -- this will mark the zapped item so you can fix it in your transcript.  (Leave the "Non-ASCII characters", "Control characters", and "Null (ASCII 0) characters" checked).

g. Click "Zap" -- Unfortunately TextWrangler does not give you a message about how many gremlins were zapped.

h. Select Search -> Find... and type Option-8 to enter the bullet (•) character in the find field.

i. Check the "Wrap around" box to make sure you search the whole document.

j. Click "Next".

k. If TextWrangler finds the text, it will select it for you.  (If it doesn't find it, you'll get a "Not Found" message -- in which case there were no bad characters.  If you're still having trouble, please try Step #3 below).

l. The character is most likely wrapped in a <value></value> tag along with other text from your transcript.  For example, if TextWrangler found a gremlin in this line:

<value>Help me Obiwan Kenobi, you•re my only hope. </value>

...the bad character is the apostrophe in "you're".

m. Open InqScribe

n. Open your problem transcript

o. Select Edit -> Find and search for your text (e.g. I might search for "hope"). 

p. Delete the (usually invisible) bad character along with the characters around it (just to make sure).  For example, I would delete the whole word "you're" just to make sure I get the character, and then retype the whole word.

You can then save your transcript, re-export it to XML, and then try importing again into FCP.

3. Check your Console for the error

If TextWrangler doesn't help, or you just prefer to see the actual import error, you can use Apple's Console log viewer application to see the error.

a. After you see the error in FCP, go to Applications:Utilities: and start the "Console" app.

b. After it starts, click on the "All Messages" item at the top of the sidebar.  (If there are too many lines, you can also look in "system.log".

c. Look for lines like this (you can search on "FinalCutPro", no spaces)

Aug 20 21:04:11 MyMac [0x0-0x90090].com.apple.FinalCutPro[48359]: Entity: line 1: parser error : PCDATA invalid Char value 6
Aug 20 21:04:11 MyMac [0x0-0x90090].com.apple.FinalCutPro[48359]: Help me Obiwan Kenobi, you're my only hope.  
Aug 20 21:04:11 MyMac [0x0-0x90090].com.apple.FinalCutPro[48359]:                           ^

The caret (^) is pointing to the character with the problem.  In this example, it's the apostrophe in "you're".

d. The easiest solution is to find the line in InqScribe, delete it, and retype it by hand.

Then re-export to XML, and re-import into FCP.

4. Send Us Sample Files

Finally, if you’re still stumped, send us some sample files and we’ll see what we can do. Here’s what we need to see:

  • The original InqScribe transcript (e.g. sample.inqscr).
  • The file you exported from FCP and want to use as a template (e.g. fromFCP.xml).
  • The FCP XML file InqScribe exported using the two files shown above.
  • A screenshot of any errors you see.
  • A screenshot of your FPC project with the problem files.
  • A screenshot of your InqScribe transcript (scrolled to the first line, ideally)

It would also help if you could describe what happens when you try to import the file into FCP and where the process is breaking down.

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