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About Clips

Final Cut Pro has always used clip types—audio, video, graphic, and generated—to identify clips that reference different types of source media. FCP uses a different class of clip types—subclip, merged clip, and sequence—to identify clips that reference a portion of another clip (like a subclip) or multiple clips (like merged clips and sequences).

FCP 4 has added three new clip types—master, affiliate, and independent—to identify clips that are linked by shared properties (like master and affiliate clips) or clips whose properties and behavior are independent of other clips (like independent clips). The new clip type classifications and behavior are designed to ease media management by automatically updating all affiliated clips when you make a change to a shared property on any of the individual affiliates anywhere in the project. The master/affiliate clips' shared properties are all related to media management; clip properties that remain independent—In and Out points, markers, and applied effects—are all modified during the normal course of editing and must remain independent in each clip copy you use.

Here's an example: You have a master clip in the Browser, and you edit it into your sequence. An affiliate copy of that master clip appears in the sequence. Rename the affiliate copy, and the name of its master clip is also renamed. Change the reel name of the master clip, and the reel name of the affiliate clip in the sequence reflects the same change.

The master/affiliate clip-handling scheme keeps your clip duplicates in sync, which can simplify your life when you're media-managing certain types of projects. Projects best suited to master/affiliate clip handling are well logged, with discrete clips that you don't plan on subdividing much.

If your preferred editing method is to capture large chunks of media and then subdivide and rename the clips post-capture, consider converting your master clips to independent-type clips before you start dicing them up. It could save you from the headache and confusion of converting (and tracking) each clip's type separately. For more information on clip affiliation protocols, see “About Clip Affiliations” in Vol. I, Chapter 9, of Apple's Final Cut Pro 4 User's Manual.

Here's a rundown of FCP's clip types:

Format-based clip types

  • Audio, Video, and Graphics clip: These clip types are determined by the type of source media the clip is referencing.

  • Generated clip: Create a generated clip by opening a generator from the Viewer's Generators pop-up menu. Generated clips are created as master-type clips. For more information, see Chapter 17, “Titles and Generators.”

Relationship-based clip types

  • Master clip (Figure 4.51): Any clip that can generate affiliate clip copies is a master clip. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create one.

    Table 4.1. FCP Clip Type Relationships
    TYPEMASTER?HOW TO CREATEBEHAVIOR
    Master clipyesCapture new video or audio.

    Import video or audio.

    Create a subclip.

    Create a freeze-frame.

    Create a merged clip.

    Drag a merged clip from the sequence back to the Browser.

    Import an EDL or batch list.

    Use the Duplicate as New Master clip command.

    Use Modify > Make Master Clip on an affiliate or independent sequence clip.

    Delete an affiliate's master clip. Affiliate clips in the Browser are converted to master clips.
    Synchronizes clip name, reel name, source timecode, labels, subclip limits, and online/offline state with all affiliate clips.

    Does not synchronize markers, In and Out points, applied effects, or motion properties.

    Master clips appear only in the Browser.
    Affiliate clipnoEdit a master clip into a sequence.

    Duplicate a clip in the Browser or in a sequence.

    Copy and paste a clip in the Browser or in a sequence.

    Drag a sequence clip back into the Browser.
    Synchronizes clip name, reel name, source timecode, subclip limits, and online/offline state with all affiliated clips and the master clip.

    Does not synchronize markers, In and Out points, applied effects, or motion properties.

    Affiliate clips can appear in the Browser or Timeline.
    Independent clipnoDelete an affiliate's master clip.

    Use the Make Independent Clip command on a sequence clip.

    Copy a sequence from Project A to Project B; sequence clips become independent in Project B.

    Edit a clip opened outside the project directly into a sequence.

    Open a FCP 3 project in FCP 4; all project clips will be independent.
    Maintains independent clip name, reel name, source timecode, remove subclip limits, online/offline state, markers, In and Out points, and applied effects or motion properties. Independent clips appear only in the Timeline, except when a pre-FCP 4 project is opened.


    Figure 4.51. It's not easy to identify master, affiliate, and independent clips in the FCP interface. Master clips are easiest to spot; a checkmark in the Master Clip column identifies a master clip in the Browser and on the Logging tab of the clip's Item Properties window. Master clips never appear in a sequence.

  • Affiliate clip (Figure 4.52): An affiliate clip is a copy of a master clip that is created by inserting the master clip into a sequence or duplicating the master clip in the Browser. Copies of affiliate clips remain linked to their master clip originals; the linked relationship extends to the clip name, reel name, source timecode, labels, subclip limits, and online/offline state of all affiliate clips. Change one of these shared properties in any one of the affiliated clips, and the change will appear in all the affiliated clips. Markers, In and Out points, and applied effects or motion properties remain independent in master/affiliate clips. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create an affiliate clip.

    Figure 4.52. Affiliate clips have no checkmark in the Browser's Master Clip column. In a sequence, the only way to identify an affiliate clip is to open the clip's shortcut menu. If the Make Independent Clip command is available and not dimmed, the clip is an affiliate clip.

  • Independent clip (Figure 4.53): Each copy of an independent clip refers directly back to its source media and does not synchronize clip naming or any other properties with any other independent clip copy. All clips in pre-FCP 4 projects are independent clips. See Table 4.1 for a complete list of ways to create an independent clip.

    Figure 4.53. In a sequence, you can identify an independent clip by opening the clip's shortcut menu. If the Make Independent Clip command is dimmed, the clip is already an independent clip. Independent clips appear in the Browser only when you open a pre-FCP 4 project file.

  • Merged clip: Create a merged clip by combining video and audio from separate sources into a single clip. Merged clips are always created as master-type clips. For more information, see “Working with Merged Clips,” later in this chapter.

  • Subclip: Subclips are shorter clips you create from a section of a longer master clip. A subclip is always created as a new master-type clip, with no affiliate relationship to the clip it was created from. For information on subclips, see Chapter 8, “Working with Clips in the Viewer.”

FCP Protocol: Clips and Sequences

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

A clip can represent 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 its 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.

Before FCP 4, all clips were governed by the same clip-handling protocols. FCP 4 uses three clip types: master, affiliate, and independent. Master and affiliate clips use one set of behavior protocols; independent clip behavior is governed by a different set of rules.

Using Master and Affiliate Clips in Sequences

When you insert a master clip from a project into a sequence, FCP inserts a copy of the master clip, known as an affiliate clip. That affiliate copy in the sequence shares certain properties with the master clip but maintains independent control over other properties.

This protocol is important to understand because it affects how and where you should make changes to master/affiliate clips, and it illuminates what's different about independent clip behavior. So, let's lay out the rules.

When you modify a master or affiliate clip's name, reel name, source timecode, or labels; remove its subclip limits; or change its online/offline state:

  • The change you make is applied to all affiliated clips in the project. It doesn't matter if you make the change to the master clip or its affiliate—the result is the same.

  • Master and affiliate clips' shared property behavior only applies within a single project; your changes will not be applied to other projects.

When you apply markers, In and Out points, effects, or motion properties to a master clip or its affiliate clip copy:

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

  • If you make changes to the clip in the Browser and then insert that clip into a sequence, the clip copy 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.

Using Independent Clips in Sequences

When you convert an affiliate-type sequence clip to an independent-type clip, that independent clip refers directly back to the source media file on the disk, and any clip property can be modified independently from any master or affiliate clip referencing the same source media file.

Because each independent clip copy maintains independent control over all its properties, the same rules that apply to the In and Out points of master and affiliate clips (listed above) apply to all properties of independent clips.


To duplicate a Browser clip as a new master clip

Select the clip in the Browser, and then do one of the following:

  • Control-click the clip, and then choose Duplicate as New Master Clip from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.54).

    Figure 4.54. Control-click the Browser clip, and then choose Duplicate as New Master Clip from the clip's shortcut menu.


  • Choose Modify > Duplicate as New Master Clip.

The duplicate of the clip appears as a new master clip in the Browser (Figure 4.55).

Figure 4.55. The duplicate master clip appears in the Browser.


To convert an independent or affiliate clip into a master clip

Select the clip in the Browser, and then do one of the following:

  • Control-click the clip, then choose Make Master Clip from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.56).

    Figure 4.56. Choose Make Master Clip from the clip's shortcut menu.


  • Choose Modify > Make Master Clip.

✓ Tips

  • After you're done hacking, renaming, and subdividing, and the independent clips in your sequence finally settle down enough to get hitched, you can create master clips for every sequence clip simply by selecting the entire contents of the sequence and dragging it to the Browser. Your independent sequence clips become affiliates of the newly created master clips in the Browser.

  • Create a duplicate master clip for a sequence clip by pressing Option as you drag the sequence clip out of the Timeline, and then adding the Command key as you drop the clip in the Browser (Figure 4.57). “Voilà!” is so overused these days, but still….

    Figure 4.57. A special pointer (with an M for master) appears when both the Command and Option keys are held down, alerting you that you're creating a duplicate master clip.


To locate an affiliate clip's master clip

  • Select the affiliate clip in the Timeline or Browser, then choose View > Reveal Master Clip.

    The master clip is revealed in the Browser.

To make a sequence clip independent

  • In the Timeline, Control-click the sequence clip, then choose Make Independent Clip from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.58).

    Figure 4.58. Choosing Make Independent Clip from the sequence clip's shortcut menu converts an affiliate-type clip to an independent-type clip.


The affiliate sequence clip is converted to an independent-type clip.

To make all clips in a sequence independent

  • Select the sequence icon in the Browser, then choose Make Sequence Clips Independent from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.59).

    Figure 4.59. Control-click a sequence's icon in the Browser and choose Make Sequence Clips Independent, and you convert all the clips in that sequence to independent clips with a single command.


To break an affiliate clip's relationship with its master

Do one of the following:

  • In the Browser, delete the master clip associated with that affiliate clip.

  • Copy the sequence containing the affiliate clip into another project.

  • In the Timeline, use the Make Independent Clip command to convert the affiliate clip into an independent clip.

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