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Working with Multiple Sequences

In Final Cut Express, you can edit a sequence into another sequence in the same way you would a clip: Drag the entire sequence from the Browser to another open sequence in the Timeline or Canvas. Alternatively, you can drag the sequence from the Browser and drop it on the Viewer's image area and then edit it into your open sequence as you would a clip.

Unlike clips, nested sequences are actually pointers or references to the original sequence, not copies. You can nest a sequence in multiple projects; then, if you change the original sequence, all the projects in which that sequence is nested will be updated.

Assembling multiple sequences into a master sequence is useful for a number of purposes, from reusing a previously edited and rendered segment such as a logo or a credit sequence to assembling a final master sequence from shorter segments produced by multiple editors.

Creating nested sequences

You can select a group of sequence clips or a portion of a Final Cut Express sequence and convert that selection to a self-contained sub-sequence. There's no simple "Nest Items" command—that's reserved for Final Cut Pro users—but you can achieve the same effect with a little more trouble by cutting and pasting your selected clips into a new, empty sequence that you place in the clips' former location in the master sequence.

Converting a group of clips to a nested sequence has several advantages:

  • Nesting a group of clips can simplify the process of moving them around within a sequence or placing them in another sequence.
  • Converting a series of edited clips into a single nested sequence allows you to create a single motion path for the nested sequence rather than having to create a separate motion path for each clip.
  • Nesting a group of clips allows you to apply and adjust a single copy of a filter to a series of clips, rather than having to apply and adjust filters for each individual clip.
  • You can nest clips that are stacked on multiple tracks (such as layered title elements) and animate them as a single sub-sequence.
  • You can nest a clip containing an element you want to blur. By increasing the frame size when you nest, you can create a roomier bounding box that will accommodate the larger size of your blurred element.
  • Nested sequences can help preserve your render files—most render files associated with the nested sequence are preserved within the nested sequence, even if you move it around or change its duration. For more information on nested sequences and rendering protocol, see "Using nested sequences to preserve render files" in Chapter 18.
  • In a sequence with multiple effects applied, nesting a clip can force a change in the rendering order.

Copying and pasting from sequence to sequence

Moving selected clips into a new, separate sequence is the first step in nesting a selection of clips inside your master sequence. Moving material from sequence to sequence is easy; simply copy (or cut) material from one sequence and paste it into another sequence. You can copy and paste the entire contents of a sequence, or you can select a single clip.

Copying and pasting between sequences is governed by the same rules that govern copy and paste within the same sequence: When you paste, the clips paste themselves into the destination sequence on the same tracks you cut them from unless you make a change to the Auto Select controls of the destination sequence after you cut (or copy) but before you paste. If you do, then the Auto Select controls determine the track destination of pasted tracks. Clips will be pasted starting at the lowest-numbered Auto Select–enabled track.

To copy and paste clips between sequences:

  1. In the Timeline, select the clips you want to copy into the destination sequence (Figure 4.58) and then do one of the following:
    • To copy the selected clips, press Command-C.
    • To cut the selected clips, press Command-X.
    Figure 4.58

    Figure 4.58 In the Timeline, select the clips you want to cut or copy. In this example, the selected clips are on Tracks V1, V2, and V3.

  2. In the destination sequence, position the playhead where you want to paste the clips; then press Command-V.

    The clips are pasted into your destination sequence according to the protocols described above (Figure 4.59).

    Figure 4.59

    Figure 4.59 Press Command-V to paste the sequence tracks into your destination sequence. As long as you make no change to the Auto Select controls between cutting and pasting commands, the pasted clips are assigned to the same tracks they occupied in the source sequence. In this example, Auto Select control settings have been overridden and the clips are pasted into the destination sequence on Tracks V1, V2, and V3.

Editing a sequence into another sequence

You can use sequences as source clips and edit them into another sequence. Your source clip sequence could be a preexisting sequence you drag into the Viewer or Timeline from the Browser, or it could be a nested sequence located inside a parent sequence in the Timeline. Opening a sequence in the Viewer is not quite as easy as opening a clip. Once you've loaded a sequence into the Viewer, however, you can edit it into a sequence just as you would a clip.

If you need more information on how to perform edits in Final Cut Express, see Chapter 9, "Basic Editing."

To load a sequence into the Viewer:

In the Browser, select the sequence you want to edit into your main sequence; then do one of the following:

  • Choose View > Sequence.
  • Drag the sequence's icon from the Browser and drop it on the image area in the Viewer window (Figure 4.60).
    Figure 4.60

    Figure 4.60 To open a sequence in the Viewer, drag the sequence's icon from the Browser and drop it on the image area in the Viewer window.

Your edited sequence opens in the Viewer, ready to be used as source media (Figure 4.61). If the sequence you select is open in the Timeline and the Canvas, it closes automatically when you load it into the Viewer.

Figure 4.61

Figure 4.61 Your edited sequence opens in the Viewer window. You can edit the sequence into an open sequence in the Timeline, just as you would a clip.

To load a nested sub-sequence into the Viewer:

In the Timeline, do one of the following:

  • Control-click the nested sequence and then choose Open in Viewer from the shortcut menu (Figure 4.62).
    Figure 4.62

    Figure 4.62 In the Timeline, Control-click the nested sequence and then choose Open in Viewer from the shortcut menu.

  • Double-click the nested sequence while holding down the Option key.

Your nested sequence opens in the Viewer window, ready to be used as a source clip.

Making changes to a nested sequence

You can open a nested sequence and add, remove, or trim clips. When you return to your main sequence, you'll see that the duration of the nested sequence has been adjusted to reflect your changes. Clips to the right of the nested sequence will be rippled to accommodate the change to your nested sequence duration. You'll still need to open the nested sequence to make changes to the clips inside.

To make changes to a nested sequence:

Do one of the following:

  • In the main sequence in the Timeline, double-click the nested sequence (Figure 4.63).
    Figure 4.63

    Figure 4.63 In the main sequence in the Timeline, double-click the nested sequence.

  • In the Browser, double-click the icon for the nested sequence.

    The nested sequence opens as the front tab of the Timeline (Figure 4.64). If you opened the nested sequence from inside the main sequence, the main sequence is still open on the rear tab (Figure 4.65).

    Figure 4.64

    Figure 4.64 The nested sequence opens as the front tab of the Timeline.

    Figure 4.65

    Figure 4.65 The main sequence is still open on the rear tab of the Timeline.

To "un-nest" a sequence:

  • There's no "Un-nest" command in Final Cut Express. If you want to replace a nested sequence that you have placed in your main sequence with the clips contained in that nest, you should first open the nest in the Timeline and then copy the clips from the open nest and paste them back over the nested sequence's original location in the main sequence. For more information, see "Copying and pasting from sequence to sequence" earlier in this chapter.
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