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What’s a Sequence?

A sequence is an edited assembly of audio and video clips. Sequences are the middle level of the Final Cut Express organizing framework. A sequence is always part of a project, and you can have multiple sequences in a project. Sequences can be exported independently as movies or clips, but they can’t be saved separately from a project.

Once you’ve assembled a sequence, that sequence can be manipulated as if it were a single clip. You can open a sequence and play it in the Viewer, mark In and Out points, and insert all or part of that sequence into another sequence, just as if it were a clip. Inserting a sequence into another sequence creates what’s known as a nested sequence. (See “Working with Multiple Sequences” later in this chapter.)

Creating a new sequence

A new project created in FCE automatically generates a new, untitled sequence in your default sequence format.

Note that you probably won’t need to change Sequence presets unless you change your audio or video input device. Final Cut Express selects an Easy Setup with your default preset based on setup information you supplied when you installed the program. See “How to Choose an Easy Setup” in Chapter 3.

To add a new sequence to the current project:

Choose File > New > Sequence; or press Command-N.

A new sequence with a default, highlighted name appears at the top level of the current folder (Figure 4.48).

Figure 4.48. A new sequence with a default, highlighted name appears in the current folder.

Type a new name for the sequence to rename it (Figure 4.49).

Figure 4.49. Type a new name for the sequence.

To open a sequence for editing:

Do one of the following:

  • Double-click the sequence in the Browser (Figure 4.50).

    Figure 4.50. Double-click the sequence’s icon in the Browser to open it for editing.

  • Control-click the sequence’s icon; then choose Open Timeline from the shortcut menu.

  • Select the sequence; then choose View > Sequence in Editor.

    The sequence opens in both the Canvas and the Timeline (Figure 4.51).

    Figure 4.51. The sequence opens in the Canvas and the Timeline.

Time Stamp for Sequences

The Last Modified column in the Browser makes it easy to find the most recently revised version of your sequence—a real lifesaver when you’re returning to a project after a long absence.

To duplicate a sequence:

Select the sequence in the Browser (Figure 4.52).

Figure 4.52. Select the sequence in the Browser.

Choose Edit > Duplicate (Figure 4.53); or press Option-D.

Figure 4.53. Choose Edit > Duplicate.

In the Browser, rename the sequence copy with a unique name (Figure 4.54).

Figure 4.54. Rename the sequence copy.


  • The copy procedure described here is a convenient way to “safety copy” a version of a sequence and associated media files after a long rendering process. With a safety copy of the rendered sequence, you can feel free to experiment with changes that could cause a re-render, because any changes you make to the duplicate sequence will not affect the original sequence or its render files.

To copy a sequence from one project to another:

Select the sequence in the Browser.

Choose File > Copy; or press Command-C.

Open the second project and select its tab in the Browser.

Choose File > Paste; or press Command-V.

The sequence now appears in both projects. The two copies of the sequence reference the same source media files on disk, but you’ll need to re-render any previously rendered sequence material in the new project location.


  • You can also create a copy of a sequence by dragging it from a project window and dropping it on the destination project’s Browser tab.

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