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Tutorial: Using Compound Clips in Apple Final Cut Pro X

Working with compound clips in FCP X is similar to nesting sequences in Final Cut Pro 7. Once you understand how it works, and how changes to compound clips can ripple across projects, it's a powerful feature that you'll find yourself using more and more.

Editing a Compound Clip

You can step into this compound clip by either single-clicking the icon highlighted in Figure 5 (below), which helps denote whether it's a compound clip or not. Other (non-compound) clips in the timeline don’t have that.

Figure 5. The compound clip-identifying icon.

You can also double-click anywhere on the compound clip to open it up for editing, which again shows you that your edit is fully intact in here.

Making the Compound Clip Easy to Access in the Event Library

Now another thing to keep in mind is when you make a compound clip it also makes a source compound clip in your Event Library. So there's another piece of media, just like making a multi-clip when you do multicam editing.

Sometimes it's not easy to find. You might have a million clips in here already. If it’s not visible, you can do a search by Narrative Opening and find it. In this case, it ended up under Camera 02 (Figure 6, below).

Figure 6. Locating the Narrative Opening compound clip by searching in the Event Library.

You can make your compound clips easier to find by making a new Smart Collection. Click this magnifying glass icon in the search box in the Event Library (Figure 7, below), which brings up a dialog box (Figure 8, below Figure 7). Deselect the Text check box (which is selected by default), click the + sign to open the pull-down, and choose Clip Type, because it allows you to search for compound clips, as shown in Figure 9 (below Figure 8).

Figure 7. Click this icon to launch the dialog box shown below.

Figure 8. Searching by Clip Type in the Filter dialog.

Figure 9. Choosing Compound Clips as Clip Type.

So basically what we're doing is creating a Smart Collection so that any time a clip that meets this criteria is a compound clip, it'll populate this smart collection. Click New Smart Collection (bottom-right corner of Figure 9, above), and back in the Event Library you’ll see a little page icon with a gear. That's a Smart Collection folder, and it's for our compound clips, we're going to name it accordingly (Figure 10, below).

Figure 10. Our new Compound Clips Smart Collection.

So now anytime we make a new compound clip we no longer have to hunt for it; it's automatically going to populate in the Smart Collection. This is one good uses for Smart Collections that I use all the time.

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