Nesting Sequences

Final Cut Pro allows you to treat sequences as clips. You can open sequences in the Viewer and set In and Out points, and you can even edit sequences into other sequences. Putting one sequence inside another is called nesting a sequence. The sequence inside another sequence is the nested sequence. The sequence that contains the nested sequence is sometimes called the parent sequence.

Nested sequences can be used in the same way as clips. You can add audio and video filters to them, set their opacity and level overlays in the Timeline, work with their audio in the Audio tab of the Viewer, and adjust their motion parameters in the Motion tab of the Viewer.

Note: A sequence can’t be edited into itself.

When Do You Nest Sequences?

Nesting sequences is useful in various situations:

  • You can edit a movie using multiple sequences; for example, you can create a sequence for each scene. You can then place all of the sequences, in order, into a master sequence and output to tape or export a QuickTime movie.

  • You can also use nested sequences to reduce the amount of rendering when working with effects. You can place all of the effects-intensive audio or video sections of your program into separate sequences, and render them. When you then nest these sequences into your main program sequence, you can change the In and Out points of the nested sequences without having to rerender all of the clips inside of them.

  • Another reason to nest sequences is to control the rendering order of effects used in your project. This is useful for motion graphics work. You can apply filters to clips inside a nested sequence, and then apply additional effects to the nested sequence itself.

Pros and Cons of Nested Sequences

Before you start using nested sequences in your project, it’s important to understand some of the advantages and disadvantages of working with them. If you decide you don’t want to nest a sequence, you can still edit content from one sequence to another. For more information, see Editing the Content of One Sequence into Another Without Nesting It.

  • Nesting allows you to reuse an entire sequence of clips over and over. You can change a nested sequence and the changes are reflected everywhere.

  • Multiple levels of sequence nesting can take a while to display, since they require additional processing.

  • If you are exporting an EDL, nested sequences may generate confusing timecode numbers and reel names.

  • If you are exporting an OMF file, nested sequences will be mixed together and exported as a single audio media file.

  • Nested sequences make media management more complicated.

How Many Audio Items Does a Nested Sequence Have?

When you nest one sequence inside of another, the nested sequence has only one video item, regardless of how many video tracks it has in its own Timeline window. However, the number of audio items that are nested is equal to the number of audio output channels specified in the Audio Outputs tab of the Sequence Settings window for the nested sequence.

For example, if sequence A uses a single pair of stereo audio outputs, editing it into sequence B results in a nested clip with one video and two audio items.

However, if sequence A has six audio outputs assigned in its sequence settings, editing it into sequence B results in a nested sequence with one video and six audio items. This is true regardless of how the audio tracks are assigned to audio output channels in the nested sequence. For example, if you only have two audio tracks in the Timeline of the nested sequence, and they are assigned to audio output channels 1 and 2, the nested sequence still has six audio items when edited into another sequence.

Nesting a Sequence Inside Another Sequence

You can edit the contents of a sequence, render it, and then edit that sequence into another sequence. This section explains the various ways you can nest a sequence into another sequence.

To nest a sequence that is open in the Viewer
  1. Open the sequence you want to nest in the Viewer by doing one of the following:

  2. Drag the sequence from the Browser to the Viewer.

  3. Hold down the Option key, then double-click a sequence in the Browser (this opens it in its own Viewer window).

  4. Control-click the sequence, then choose Open in Viewer from the shortcut menu.

  5. In the Viewer, set In and Out points for the source sequence.

    This lets you nest all or just a part of the sequence.

  6. Edit the sequence into another sequence in the Timeline as you would a clip.

To nest a sequence by dragging it into another sequence
  • Drag the sequence from the Browser or Viewer to another sequence in the Timeline, as you would a clip.

To copy and paste a sequence into another sequence
  1. In the Browser, copy the sequence by doing one of the following:

    • Select a sequence in the Browser, then choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

    • Control-click a sequence in the Browser, then choose Copy from the shortcut menu.

  2. In the Canvas or Timeline, open the destination sequence, then move the playhead to the location where you want to paste the nested sequence.

  3. Specify the destination tracks where you want the nested sequence to go.

  4. Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

    The selected sequence is now nested, or placed, into the second sequence.

You can reveal a nested sequence in the Browser by selecting the nested sequence in the Timeline.

To reveal a nested sequence in the Browser
  1. Select the nested sequence in the Timeline.

  2. Choose View > Reveal Master Clip.

Making a Section of Clips into a Nested Sequence

Instead of adding a nested sequence, you can also turn an existing range of clips in a sequence into a nested sequence using the Nest Items command.

To create a nested sequence using the Nest Items command
  1. In the Timeline, select a range of clip items that you want to replace with a nested sequence.

    Note: If the clip items are linked, any items that are linked to those items in the Timeline are also selected.

    Figure. Timeline window showing mutliple clps selected.
  2. Choose Sequence > Nest Item(s) (or press Option-C).

  3. In the Nest Items dialog, enter a name for the new sequence into which the selected items will be placed.

    Figure. Nest Items dialog showing showing the Name field.
  4. Choose a width and height (frame size) for the new sequence that will be created to contain the selected clips.

    You should usually use the default settings provided, since these match the sequence that your new sequence will be nested inside.

  5. To move all effects, markers, and audio levels associated with the selected clips into the new sequence, select the Keep Effects, Markers, and Audio Levels with Clip checkbox.

  6. To render all of the audio in the new sequence, select the Mixdown Audio checkbox.

    This minimizes the audio processing requirements for the nested sequence. For more information on the real-time audio rendering capabilities of Final Cut Pro, see Rendering and Video Processing Settings.

  7. Click OK.

    All the items you selected are placed in a new sequence, and the new sequence replaces the selected items in the Timeline.

    Figure. Timeline window showing a nested sequence replaces selected clips.

Tip: If you change your mind, the nesting operation can easily be undone using the Undo command.

About Changing the Duration of Nested Sequences

When you first nest a sequence into another sequence (sometimes known as the parent sequence), changes in the original nested sequence that affect its duration are reflected in the parent sequence. For example, if you shorten a clip in the original nested sequence, the overall sequence duration changes. As a result, the duration of the nested sequence within the parent sequence is also shortened, and the subsequent clips in the parent sequence are rippled to compensate for the shorter nested sequence.

This is quite helpful, since otherwise you’d end up with gaps in your parent sequence whenever you change the length of one of your nested sequences. This is convenient when each of your movie scenes is in a separate sequence. After you’ve edited all your scenes together, if you decide to reedit any of the scene sequences, the changes you make will automatically ripple items in the entire master sequence.

For example, suppose sequence B, which has a duration of 10 seconds, is nested inside another sequence, with more clips appearing to the right of it.

Figure. Timeline window showing a nested sequence.

You open sequence B and add two more clips to the end of it, extending its duration from 10 to 15 seconds. Once you’ve done this, all of the clips in the parent sequence that are to the right of the nested sequence B are automatically rippled 5 seconds to the right to accommodate the lengthening of the nested sequence B.

Figure. Timeline window showing that adding clips to a nested sequence ripples the parent sequence.

Important: If you modify a nested sequence duration in a parent sequence, or if you specifically set In and Out points in a sequence before you nest it into a parent sequence, the nested sequence may no longer ripple clips in the parent sequence when you adjust content in the nested sequence.