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Chapter 4. Projects, Sequences, and Clips > Working with Multiple Sequences

Working with Multiple Sequences

In Final Cut Express, you can edit a sequence into another sequence in the same way you would a clip: Drag the entire sequence from the Browser to another open sequence in the Timeline or Canvas. Alternatively, you can drag the sequence from the Browser and drop it on the Viewer’s image area and then edit it into your open sequence as you would a clip.

Unlike clips, nested sequences are actually pointers or references to the original sequence, not copies. You can nest a sequence in multiple projects; then, if you change the original sequence, all the projects in which that sequence is nested will be updated.

Assembling multiple sequences into a master sequence is useful for a number of purposes, from reusing a previously edited and rendered segment such as a logo or a credit sequence to assembling a final master sequence from shorter segments produced by multiple editors.

Nesting and Sequences: A Glossary

What’s the difference between a nested sequence and a sub-sequence? Here’s a short glossary of terms related to nesting sequences as used in this book.

  • Main sequence: A sequence containing one or more nested sequences. Sometimes referred to as a parent sequence.

  • Nested sequence: Any sequence that has been nested within another sequence. Sometimes referred to as a child sequence. A nested sequence can range from a clip on a single track to an entire sequence. What designates a sequence as nested is its placement in a parent sequence. The word nest can also be used as a verb, as in “nest a sequence,” which refers to editing all or a portion of an existing sequence into another sequence.

  • Sub-sequence: Can be used interchangeably with the term nested sequence. Nested sequences function as sub-sequences in their parent sequences.


Creating nested sequences

You can select a group of sequence clips or a portion of a Final Cut Express sequence and convert that selection to a self-contained sub-sequence. There’s no simple “Nest Items” command—that’s reserved for Final Cut Pro users—but you can achieve the same effect with a little more trouble by cutting and pasting your selected clips into a new, empty sequence that you place in the clips’ former location in the master sequence.

Converting a group of clips to a nested sequence has several advantages:

  • Nesting a group of clips can simplify the process of moving them around within a sequence or placing them in another sequence.

  • Converting a series of edited clips into a single nested sequence allows you to create a single motion path for the nested sequence rather than having to create a separate motion path for each clip.

  • Nesting a group of clips allows you to apply and adjust a single copy of a filter to a series of clips, rather than having to apply and adjust filters for each individual clip.

  • You can nest clips that are stacked on multiple tracks (such as layered title elements) and animate them as a single sub-sequence.

  • You can nest a clip containing an element you want to blur. By increasing the frame size when you nest, you can create a roomier bounding box that will accommodate the larger size of your blurred element.

  • Nested sequences can help preserve your render files—most render files associated with the nested sequence are preserved within the nested sequence, even if you move it around or change its duration. For more information on nested sequences and rendering protocol, see “Using nested sequences to preserve render files” in Chapter 18.

  • In a sequence with multiple effects applied, nesting a clip can force a change in the rendering order.

Copying and pasting from sequence to sequence

Moving selected clips into a new, separate sequence is the first step in nesting a selection of clips inside your master sequence. Moving material from sequence to sequence is easy; simply copy (or cut) material from one sequence and paste it into another sequence. You can copy and paste the entire contents of a sequence, or you can select a single clip.

Copying and pasting between sequences is governed by the same rules that govern copy and paste within the same sequence: When you paste, the clips paste themselves into the destination sequence on the same tracks you cut them from unless you make a change to the Auto Select controls of the destination sequence after you cut (or copy) but before you paste. If you do, then the Auto Select controls determine the track destination of pasted tracks. Clips will be pasted starting at the lowest-numbered Auto Select–enabled track.

To copy and paste clips between sequences:

1.
In the Timeline, select the clips you want to copy into the destination sequence (Figure 4.58) and then do one of the following:

  • To copy the selected clips, press Command-C.

    Figure 4.58. In the Timeline, select the clips you want to cut or copy. In this example, the selected clips are on Tracks V1, V2, and V3.


  • To cut the selected clips, press Command-X.

2.
In the destination sequence, position the playhead where you want to paste the clips; then press Command-V.

The clips are pasted into your destination sequence according to the protocols described above (Figure 4.59).

Figure 4.59. Press Command-V to paste the sequence tracks into your destination sequence. As long as you make no change to the Auto Select controls between cutting and pasting commands, the pasted clips are assigned to the same tracks they occupied in the source sequence. In this example, Auto Select control settings have been overridden and the clips are pasted into the destination sequence on Tracks V1, V2, and V3.


Tip

  • You can also select and then Option-drag items from one sequence to another.


Editing a sequence into another sequence

You can use sequences as source clips and edit them into another sequence. Your source clip sequence could be a preexisting sequence you drag into the Viewer or Timeline from the Browser, or it could be a nested sequence located inside a parent sequence in the Timeline. Opening a sequence in the Viewer is not quite as easy as opening a clip. Once you’ve loaded a sequence into the Viewer, however, you can edit it into a sequence just as you would a clip.

If you need more information on how to perform edits in Final Cut Express, see Chapter 9, “Basic Editing.”

To load a sequence into the Viewer:

In the Browser, select the sequence you want to edit into your main sequence; then do one of the following:

  • Choose View > Sequence.

  • Drag the sequence’s icon from the Browser and drop it on the image area in the Viewer window (Figure 4.60).

    Figure 4.60. To open a sequence in the Viewer, drag the sequence’s icon from the Browser and drop it on the image area in the Viewer window.


Your edited sequence opens in the Viewer, ready to be used as source media (Figure 4.61). If the sequence you select is open in the Timeline and the Canvas, it closes automatically when you load it into the Viewer.

Figure 4.61. Your edited sequence opens in the Viewer window. You can edit the sequence into an open sequence in the Timeline, just as you would a clip.


To load a nested sub-sequence into the Viewer:

In the Timeline, do one of the following:

  • Control-click the nested sequence and then choose Open in Viewer from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.62).

    Figure 4.62. In the Timeline, Control-click the nested sequence and then choose Open in Viewer from the shortcut menu.


  • Double-click the nested sequence while holding down the Option key.

Your nested sequence opens in the Viewer window, ready to be used as a source clip.

Tips

  • When you load a nested sequence from the Timeline and edit it back into your main sequence, you are creating a duplicate of the nested sequence—an independent copy of the original sequence that will not reflect changes you make to the original. If you want all copies of your nested sequence to update when you make changes, use the Browser version of your nested sequence as your source clip instead.

  • All nested audio appears as stereo pairs on two tracks, even if the sub-sequence contains only a single channel of audio.


Making changes to a nested sequence

You can open a nested sequence and add, remove, or trim clips. When you return to your main sequence, you’ll see that the duration of the nested sequence has been adjusted to reflect your changes. Clips to the right of the nested sequence will be rippled to accommodate the change to your nested sequence duration. You’ll still need to open the nested sequence to make changes to the clips inside.

To make changes to a nested sequence:

Do one of the following:

  • In the main sequence in the Timeline, double-click the nested sequence (Figure 4.63).

    Figure 4.63. In the main sequence in the Timeline, double-click the nested sequence.


  • In the Browser, double-click the icon for the nested sequence.

    The nested sequence opens as the front tab of the Timeline (Figure 4.64). If you opened the nested sequence from inside the main sequence, the main sequence is still open on the rear tab (Figure 4.65).

    Figure 4.64. The nested sequence opens as the front tab of the Timeline.


    Figure 4.65. The main sequence is still open on the rear tab of the Timeline.


To “un-nest” a sequence:

  • There’s no “Un-nest” command in Final Cut Express. If you want to replace a nested sequence that you have placed in your main sequence with the clips contained in that nest, you should first open the nest in the Timeline and then copy the clips from the open nest and paste them back over the nested sequence’s original location in the main sequence. For more information, see “Copying and pasting from sequence to sequence” earlier in this chapter.

FCE Protocol: Updating Nested Sequences

When you insert a clip from the Browser into a sequence, the clip is copied into the sequence. The copy of the clip you placed in the sequence refers directly to the actual media file on the disk and is not a reference to the clip in the project file. Changes you make to the sequence version of the clip will not be reflected in the Browser version.

Nested sequences update globally

The protocol governing sequence versions is different, and it is also central to understanding Final Cut Express. Unlike clips, sequences nested inside another sequence are actually pointers, or references, to the original sequence, not copies. If you make changes to a sequence after you’ve edited it into a number of other master sequences, any changes you make to the original will be reflected every place you have used it. You’ll need to make a duplicate of the sequence and make changes to the copy if you want to avoid a global update.

For example, you could create a standard credit sequence and edit that sequence into every program in your series. If your credits require any last-minute changes, you can make the changes in the original sequence, and all the projects in which that sequence is nested will be updated.

But duplicate sequences are independent copies

Keep a close watch on nested sequences that you’re using in multiple locations.

Multiple nested copies of the same sequence point to the original sequence IF (that’s a big if) you always use the original Browser version of your sequence as your source when you nest the sequence in multiple locations.

If you duplicate the original sequence in the Browser, the duplicate sequence you create is an independent copy of the original sequence that will not reflect changes you make to the original. Duping a sequence is a good way to preserve render files, but it’s bad news if you want to nest an identical sequence in multiple locations and take advantage of the global updating feature.

Copying and pasting a nested sequence to multiple locations within the master sequence in the Timeline produces the same result: independent duplicates of the original that don’t update.

If you need to place multiple copies of a nested sequence you created in the Timeline, always use the Browser version of your nested sequence (it appeared when you performed the Nest Items command) to place the sequence in multiple locations.


Assembling Nested Sequences with Transitions

Building your program as a series of separate sequences and then assembling your sequence “scenes” into a final master sequence is a common post-production strategy. If you want to use transitions to join your scenes together, you’ll need to allow extra media handles at the start and end of your nested sequences. When you’re ready to assemble your master sequence, load each sub-sequence into the Viewer. Mark the frames you want to appear as the center point of your scene-to-scene transition as the sub-sequence’s In and Out points before you edit them into the final master sequence (Figure 4.66).

Figure 4.66. If you want to use a transition to join two sub-sequences, mark In and Out points that allow handles on your sub-sequences, to establish the extra frames your transition will require.



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