FCP X: This Cool Workaround Creates Multiple Sequences

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the July, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


One of the limitations of FCP X is that it only allows one sequence per project. While Apple argues that we can create an unlimited number of projects by duplicating an existing project, I find this to be awkward.

Here’s a simple workaround you can create that may do the trick. (Thanks, by the way, to Pond5 for supplying the clips I use in this demo.)

The Primary Storyline is the main “track” in FCP X. Think of it as V1/A1/A2 in FCP 7. By default, all your edits go to the Primary Storyline.

Then, we can “connect” to the Primary Storyline additional clips, collections of clips, called Connected Storylines, or Compound clips (which we used to call “Nests” in FCP 7).

It’s these Compound clips that hold the solution.

We can use Compound clips as independent sequences and add them to as many different projects as we want. For instance, we could use this technique to create a show open we want to share between projects.

Here’s how.

1. Select a couple of clips in the Event Browser that you want to add to the Compound clip. Don’t worry, yet, about setting ins or outs. Just select the clips.

2. Select File > New Compound Clip (Option+G).

3. Give your new sequence a name – I used Seq 1: Dancing and, like FCP 7, the Event Browser displays clips in alphabetical order.

4. Important note: Unless you change a setting, FCP X creates all your audio as a surround mix. This is unnecessary, and not controlled by a preference. I make a point to change Audio and Render Properties to Custom and set the Audio Channels to Stereo. Saves file space and stress.

5. Double-click the compound clip in the Event Browser to load it into the Timeline.  It opens like any project, except that it is stored in the Event Browser, not the Project Library. Edit, adjust, and trim clips until you are happy.

By first creating the Compound Clip in the Event Browser, you are able to access it from any project. And, because it acts just like a project, you can use this for building sequences – such as complete scenes – that you can incorporate later into other projects.

This includes adding audio and titles, if you so choose.

6. To add this compound clip into your main project, open your main project into the Timeline, place your playhead where you want the compound sequence to go, and click the Insert Edit button (or type W).

You can add Compound clips as part of the primary storyline, or as a connected clip. Either way, this is a fast, simple way to create multiple sequences which you can then add into your main movie.


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24 Responses to FCP X: This Cool Workaround Creates Multiple Sequences

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  1. Glen Pearcy says:

    Larry: This seems overly complicated to me. Why is this not a simpler and sufficient solution: In the Project Library simply create a folder with the name of your project. Then, when you want to create a new sequence (while saving the existing one), duplicate the existing sequence, rename it (Cut 1, Cut 2, whatever), and place both within that folder. A simple workaround that preserves the ability (supposedly missing, but I think not) to duplicate sequences in FCP X.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Duplicating projects certainly works, if all you want to do is create a backup of a project. it just takes more disk space.

      The benefits to using compound clips are:

      • It doesn’t require any more disk space each time you reuse it.
      * You can apply filters to the entire compound clip, which you can’t do to a project
      * You can use them for repeating elements in a project – like an open
      * You can embed them in another project

      I like the flexibility that compound clips provide.


  2. Don Smith says:

    If you create a compound clip in the Event Browser and then use it multiple times in various timelines, but need to change it within just one of those timelines, are you changing an independent instance or are you changing that compound clip in every other timeline as well that uses that same CC from the Event Browser?

  3. Larry Jordan says:


    I just did a quick test.

    If you add the same compound clip from the Event Browser to multiple projects, and change the compound clip in one project it is NOT changed in any other occurrence.

    Very cool.


    • Don Smith says:

      It is indeed very cool. But then it made me wonder why. Now that I’m in front of FCPX, it appears (note that I say ‘appears’ since I could be wrong) that the difference lies in whether you double-click the compound clip you created in the Event Browser or double-click on the same compound clip from the storyline. FCPX knows that the copy in the storyline is an instance. It strikes me as being no different as using an effect. Once an effect is in the timeline, any changes there does not affect the original effect in the Effects Library, although you can certainly change the original by opening it in Motion. Now, if only you could work the other way and create the perfect compound clip in the storyline and save it to the Event Browser for later use. Maybe in the update due RSN. After all, working in the storyline often inspires the Compound Clip first. It’s rare (for me anyway) that I know in advance what I need in a Compound Clip and create it in the Event Browser.

    • Eric Beels says:

      Hey Don:

      I agree there should be a way to send a compound clip to the event browser. Although could work, too (though it’s a work-a-round) is to select the clips you want in your compound clip and just copy and paste them into an empty compound clip that you’d create inside the event browser. Yeah, it’s a few extra steps then clicking on a button that says “Send Compound Clip to Event Browser” but until that’s implemented good ol’ copy/paste should work.

  4. Larry Jordan says:

    All good thoughts – thanks.


  5. robertdee says:

    Fantastic tip. Like a lot with FCPX, it was under my nose but I didn’t realise it. This is a much neater way of working for me than the project route (which is a memory hog both in hard drive space and ram) . As I understand it, I can create a compound clip which is for all intents and purposes a sequence within the project, duplicate it and make changes as I go along and there’s less hogging on the open projects issue. I would imagine that this would also allow batch exporting as you could drop your final compound clip sequences into a single project timeline, assign them different roles and export them separately.

    • Larry Jordan says:


      Batch export, to me, means creating multiple export files at once. That is not possible currently.

      As for assigning Roles to different compound clips, that might work, but each Role would need to be unique.


      • Adam says:

        Hi Larry, thanks for the article. Questions upfront, detail later:
        1.Can you let me know how to get a compound clip into the event browser.
        2. Can you create a new project based on a compound clip (currently have to copy and paste into new projects)

        I came across this looking for a way to batch export compound clips…that doesnt seem possible, ok find FCPX. I would like to get compound clips in the event browser (seems like no know else is having an issue with this…does it automatically) or better yet create a new project based on a compound clip so I can then just send to compressor and encode a batch overnight (rather than cutting and pasting into new projects.

        A couple other related questions, just throwing them out there:
        3. I use media from other events, when I do the source media is NOT copied over to my “original media” in the current project in which I am working on. This creates archival issues as well as HD sharing issues. Is there a workaround?
        4. Is there any way to maintain the folder structure while importing media (workaround is to create a folder within the event folder and then import as reference media rather than copy the media.
        5. If I imported as reference media but now want all the source media to be in my original media folder for archival purposes, is there an easy solution (instead of reconnecting one folder at a time)??

        Thanks Larry

  6. robertdee says:

    Just did a test by setting up a master role as” Batches” and subroles as “Batch 1”, “Batch 2”, etc then assigning a subrole to each compound clip in the master project timeline laid on top of each other then exporting roles separately – it would work if all your compound clips were the same duration but otherwise, it leaves black at the end. I guess I’m trying to crowbar roles into something they aren’t designed to do.

  7. Evan says:

    I just stumbled upon this topic… I’m late to the discussion I know..

    but from what i’ve experienced, there isn’t a way to export just a compound clip. Am I wrong? I tried doing the same thing so I didn’t have to create multiple projects. So I created several compound clips then tried exporting them individually. When I went back and viewed the exported files, they were identical. All separate copies of the primary timeline.

    Is there something I missed?

  8. Frank Dima says:

    Hi Larry –

    The lack of multiple sequences and the convoluted project / event / organizational design in FCP X were the two main reasons why I switched to Avid. Thanks for this post. But it still sounds way to convoluted to me. Two viewer windows rather than one and multi-sequences are MUST HAVES – as far as I see it. We’ll see what happens in future updates. Keep up the great work.

  9. Daniel says:

    Hi Larry
    I was just wondering : How big CAN a compound clip be ? Is there a limit ? I mean can we built a whole project as a compound clip ? ( you know, a compound clip for Act1, another for Act2 etc) . Can it be 10 minutes long or just a few minutes ? Is it “robuste” or just some kind of small container that brakes if you load it too heavily ?

  10. Kika says:

    Is it possible to use multiple projects to create a movie? I have created an intro, part 1 etc to end of movie each being a separate project. Now I would like to drop them on a timeline to create the full movie. I did this for the ease of editing and changing ideas as I went along on each chapter. No I donʻt know what Iʻm doing but now I cannot figure out how to make the movie with all these parts. lol, help… Thanks in advance.

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