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Chapter 4. Editing Source Clips > Master Clips and Clip Instances

Master Clips and Clip Instances

Before Premiere 5, whenever you used a clip in the timeline more than once, every use was listed separately in the project. In the current version of Premiere, a clip is listed only once, no matter how many times you use it.

The original clip is called a master clip, and each time you use it, you create a new instance of the master clip. Clip instances are also referred to as program clips. It’s useful to understand the distinction between master clips and program clips.

As you know, loading a master clip in the source view makes its name appear in the source-view pull-down menu, and all the frames of the footage are available for playback (Figure 4.33). When you load a clip from the timeline, on the other hand, its name appears in the source-view pull-down menu with a number. The number indicates the clip’s position in the timeline and reveals that you’re viewing a particular instance of the clip (Figure 4.34). In the source view, you can play only the frames of an instance that actually appear in the program.

Figure 4.33. A master clip appears in the source view with its original name and full duration.

Figure 4.34. A program clip, or clip instance, is loaded from the program in the timeline. Its position in the timeline is added to its name, and its duration reflects its current length in the program.

In the source view, you can change the edit marks to shorten a clip instance but not lengthen it. A simple command allows you to load the clip instance’s related master clip, however. Alternatively, you can adjust the clip directly in the timeline or by using trim mode (see “Finding the Match Frame,” in Chapter 7). These practical implications will become clearer as you gain more editing experience. For now, you just need to know the basic difference between master clips and individual clip instances.

Although clip instances can be manipulated independently, they still refer to a corresponding master clip. If you delete a master clip, you also delete its instances.


  • Because their names can be so similar, clip instances can be difficult to distinguish from one another in the source-view pull-down menu. If you do want to change a clip in the timeline by using source view controls, make sure that you are viewing the correct instance. If you’re unsure which one is correct, double-click the instance in the timeline to reload it into the source view.

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