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Chapter 4. Preparing Your Clips

Chapter 4. Preparing Your Clips

Modern media is a postmodern thing. Seems like every time you switch on the TV, there's a new Toyota SUV driving down the Yellow Brick Road, or Fred Astaire is fondling a Palm Pilot. Even if the project you're cutting was all shot at the same time, you've still got to track title art, transitions, and credits, as well as successive versions of your edits.

Enter the modern science of asset management. Media professionals have spent countless hours and many thousands of dollars on the best schemes to track the flood of media snippets that come together to form a film, video, or multimedia project. This expenditure of time and effort usually comes just after they have spent hours and dollars searching for (and then reshooting) a bit of lost footage. The introduction of computers into the film/video production process has brought the whole media world around to a computer-centric asset management system.

This chapter introduces Final Cut Pro's system of organizing your wonderland of little bits of media, so when the time comes to get it all together, it's already together. You'll get an overview of Final Cut Pro's organizing frameworks—projects and sequences—and a listing of Final Cut Pro's media types. You'll be introduced to the Browser and the Viewer, the two program windows you'll use to review your source material in preparation for editing:

  • The Browser is equipped to offer you powerful tools to track and organize your stuff.

  • The Viewer is your monitor to view, audition, mark, and apply effects to a clip.

This chapter deals with the Browser in detail; the next chapter covers the Viewer. You'll need a working knowledge of both of these windows to prepare your material for editing, so you might want to take a look at Chapter 5, “Introducing the Viewer,” before you jump in and try to drive this thing.

FCP Protocol: Clips and Sequences

A clip is the basic unit of media in Final Cut Pro.

A clip can be a movie, still image, nested sequence, generator, or audio file.

A clip is a reference to the actual media file stored on your hard disk. But a clip can also reference material that is not currently online. If you delete the original media file, the clip will still appear in the Browser and Timeline, but you won't see the frames and you won't be able to play it.

When you apply special effects and perform edits on clips, you are not affecting the media file on disk.

Using Clips in Sequences

When you insert a clip from a project into a sequence, the clip is copied into the sequence. The copy of the clip you placed in the sequence refers directly back to the actual media file on the disk and is not a reference to the clip in the project file.

This protocol is important to understand because it affects how and where you should make changes to your clips. So let's lay out the rules:

  • You can open a clip from the Browser (outside a sequence) or from the Timeline (within a sequence).

  • If you make changes to a clip in the Browser and then insert the clip into a sequence, the clip that is placed in the sequence includes the changes that have been made in the Browser.

  • Any changes you make to a clip from within a sequence are not made to the clip in the Browser.

  • After you've inserted a clip into a sequence, any further changes you make to that clip from the Browser will not be reflected in any sequence where the clip is used.

  • Clips that appear in multiple sequences are independent of one another. Changes to one will not affect the others.

  • If you want to make further revisions to a clip that's already in a sequence, open the clip from the Timeline and then make the changes.

  • If you want to make changes to a clip and have the changes show up in all the sequences in which that clip is used, open the clip from the Browser and make the changes. Then reinsert the revised clip into each sequence in which you want the updated clip to appear.

  • Final Cut Pro identifies clips that have been opened from the Timeline by displaying two lines of dots in the Scrubber bar. No dots appear in the Scrubber bar of clips that have been opened from the Browser.

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