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The Default Event In FCP X

One very important element in FCP X beginners need to be aware of is the Default Event. FCP X is timeline based, even individual clips have their own timeilne we can work in. So when we start to work with Compound Clips and Projects, what happens when we import music and stills? This is where the Default Event makes things very organized and easy to find.

Step 1 - Timeline Setup

The most important place to be aware of the default event is when we first create a project or compound clip. Either in an Event looking at its contents in the Browser, or in a Timeline, we can go to the File menu, to the New Compound Clip option, or use the Option-G shortcut to create a new compound clip. We’re immediately presented with a window to configure our Compound clip. By default, it will conform its frame size and rate to the first element dropped into the timeline, if it’s a video clip. But we can use the Custom buttons to allow us to set it up as we wish. The “Default Event” selection is missing in this window and I’ll come back to that point in just a moment.

Compound clip configuration window

Creating a new project timeline presents us with a project configuration window in which the same options are available. But when creating a project, the window actually shows a setting for the Default Event. With a compound clip (or plain clip) the default event is the event the compound clip was created in. That’s pretty obvious. But in a Project, we can pull media assets from any event. Thus, we are prompted to manually select the default event.

Creating a new project timeline

Step 2 - Adding Content

Now in my Project timeline, I’ll pull some music clips and photos from the Media Browser windows. Going directly from a media browser window, or from a Finder window to add media to your timeline, a copy is automatically made in your default event.

Media browser

Step 3 - Finding Added Content

By simply selecting one of the media assets we added to the timeline directly (bypassing the Import windows) we can use Shift-F or right-click and select Reveal In Event Browser. This will open up the correct Event, which will be the “Default Event” for that timeline, then FCP X shows us the original asset there in the Browser. It will also have the section we’re using in the Timeline highlighted as a range.

Reveal in Event Browser

Step 4 - Organizing Added Content

Now that we’ve added photos, music, and such to our timeline, we’ve located it in the default event, we can organize it. We can make that used range a favorite, reject it, give it a keyword, or select all of the like items we’ve added (i.e. all of the photos I just added from my Aperture library via the Photo browser) using a Smart Search and creating a smart collection of them.

Creating a smart collection


I’ve had many students contact me asking why their Events are filling up and growing larger on their hard drive. My first response is to ask, “Have you been adding content via one of the media browsers, or drag-and-drop from a Finder window directly to a timeline?” Most of the time the answer is yes and we’ve found the culprit. So be aware that you are creating new physical copies of those assets when you drop them directly into a timeline. Furthermore, that those asset copies go into the timeline’s default event. And to go one step further, if you create a Compound Clip inside of an Event, its render files are stored inside that event’s Render folder. Just so you know where the excess storage is going to.

Ben Balser

Ben Balser | Articles by this author

Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University, and after retiring from a 20+ year IT career, now produces, consults, teaches, and rents equipment for media production as a full time job. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he ran the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP user group for 8 years, taught post-production at Louisiana State University and has lead their annual teen filmmaking bootcamp. He teaches currently for AATC facilities across the USA and for The Orchard Solutions. He has consulted for higher education, government, broadcast and private production facilities.


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