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Comprehending Compound Clips in Final Cut Pro X
Ben Balser on Thu, January 17th 6 comments
If you're fairly new to Final Cut Pro X, you might be wondering what exactly compound clips are... wonder no longer! Ben Balser breaks it down for you here.

With Final Cut Pro X, we work with clip 'types' and 'timelines'. One of the most often used clip types is the basic Compound Clip. Sync Clips and Multicam Clips are flavors of Compound Clips, but those have a specific function. In this article, I'll go through the motions of using a generic Compound Clip (referred to as a 'CC') and how it can be advantageous.

Project Setup 

I'll use Command-0 to open the Project Library, Command-N to create a new Project. For this example I will leave everything in the Project configuration window to defaults, select an appropriate default Event, then click OK. Then I'll use select that default Event in the Event Library (Shift-Command-1).

Figure 1

Compound Clips In The Browser

In my Event Browser, I'll make sure everything is deselected. Then use Option-G to create a new CC. To access this empty CC I just created, I can simply double-click it and it opens in a timeline.

Alternatively if I highlight one or more clips in the Browser, and use Option-G, I will get a CC with those selected clips inside of the new CC. Again, double-click to open in to a timeline for editing only that CC.

Figure 2

Organizing Compound Clips

In the Browser, I can click the magnifying glass icon in the search field at the top right of the Browser. Clicking the plus icon at the top right of the custom search window, I will add 'Clip Type', set it to 'Compound', and turn off the default Text search criteria. By clicking the 'New Smart Collection' button, and naming that new smart collection in the Event Library 'CC's', I now have all of my CCs in one place I can get to them quickly and easily.

Figure 3

Compound Clips In The Timeline

I will go back to that empty Project I created at the beginning of this article, and drop a few video clips into it. In the timeline I can select several clips and use Option-G to create a new CC. This new CC will have a Parent added to the default Event.

To edit this CC, I can simply just double-click it. An important behavior to know: select the second clip in my new timeline CC and use Shift-Delete to remove it and leave a Gap Clip. Back in the Project and in the Browser, you'll see this edit reflected as a blank space in the CC.

This is new in 10.0.6 that the original Parent CC (Browser copy) and all of the Children (copies in timelines) are hard linked. Make changes in one, they all update in realtime to reflect that.

Figure 4

Creating New Parents

This is also new to 10.0.6, I can select a CC in the timeline, go to the Clip menu, select 'Reference New Parent Clip'. This creates a copy of the original Parent in the Browser, with the word 'copy' appended to the original name. This new copy is initially identical to the original, but is now independent of the original. It is its own original. Since it is a CC, it will also show up in our Smart Collection I created earlier. This is a very important process to remember as it is very handy on many occasions such as wanting different versions of the same basic CC.

Figure 5

Auditioning Compound Clips

One final Thing we can do with CCs is create Auditions. In the timeline I can select my CC, then in the Browser select another CC, then go to the Clip menu, to Audition, and select Add To Audition. The CC in the timeline is now an Audition CC. With it selected I can use 'Y' to open the Audition window for it. Very handy and easy!

Figure 6


CCs allow for many possibilities such as applying filters or keyframes to several video or audio clips all at one time. With the enhanced Compound Clip behaviors, Final Cut Pro X is shaping up to be a very powerful, yet deceivingly easy and fast NLE to work with. Being aware of how different clip types work is key.

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Comments (6)

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  • Nadutuo
    Just what the doctor ordered today. I was struggling on a project to be able to do these things efficiently and here it was! Thanks for the clear concise nature of this tutorial. Love the little things as well as the big picture example. Thanks!
    • 5 years ago
    • By: Nadutuo
  • Arnie
    Ben. Just switching to x from 7. Where can I go to get some instructions to select, name, and collect takes from interview segments. i.e I have an interview that is 5 minutes long. Within the interview there are 6 pieces that I'd like to pick and put into a folder with a two or three word label that tells me what it is. In 7 I simply make a folder and then pull sub-clips, name them and put them in the folder for later editing. Can't seem to find a simple way to do that in x. Any recommendations. I could just have brain freeze but I've been through Wohl's tutorial, Wolsky, and Jordan and no one seemd to address this. Ajay
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Arnie
  • BenB
    Actually they do. In the Event Browser, review your clip. Make a range around the segment you want to sub-clip. Command-K and type in your keywords (what you'd name a folder for sub-clips in 7), hit enter, done. Now you access only that segment when you look at that Keyword Collection. Much faster and easier than in 7, more flexible.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: BenB
  • Arnie
    Thanks Ben. The keyword is like the name of a select in a bin/folder? That sounds easy to do. So with this project I have three main interviewees. What you're describing then is to pick selects, name the person and the comment as a keyword. But I wouldn't be able to make a separate bin/folder for them and then put the selects in their bin/folder. I'll go in and put your process into practice and go from there! Arnie
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Arnie
  • Arnie
    Ben, I get it. You're the first person who's been able to describe the process as it relates to the more familiar FCP7. So thanks for taking the time. I find the editing easier than the organizing in X but I'll get used to it. Arnie
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Arnie
  • BenB
    That's our job here a! As for comments, I'd use the Comment field for each individual clip, not as a Keyword. You can access it in the Browser in List view, or in the Inspector's Info tab.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: BenB
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