Learning About the Different Types of Clips

There are several kinds of clips in Final Cut Pro. You can distinguish among some clip types, such as still images and audio, because of their unique icons. However, the icons for other clip types are almost identical and yet the clips behave differently depending on where they are located (such as Browser clips versus sequence clips).

Types of Clips

The following terms describe the various clips you work with in Final Cut Pro:

  • Video clip: A clip containing a video item. This kind of clip may also contain audio items.
  • Audio clip: A clip containing only audio items.
  • Sequence clip: A clip that has been edited into a sequence. Clips in a sequence are made of individual video and audio clip items, which may or may not be linked together while you edit. When a sequence clip is opened in the Viewer, the scrubber bar displays sprocket holes so you know you are working on a clip from a sequence.
  • Clip item: Clips edited into a sequence are distributed to individual tracks as clip items. For example, when you edit a clip with one video and two audio items into the Timeline, the sequence contains one video clip item and two audio clip items, each on a separate track. Since these clip items came from the same clip in the Browser, they are automatically linked together. Linking clip items together keeps them in sync while you edit.
  • Master clip: When you log, capture, or import a media file into Final Cut Pro, a master clip is created. Master clips exist exclusively in the Browser, and they are used to manage and reconnect multiple instances of the same footage used throughout your project. Master clips have a number of clip properties that are shared among any copies (referred to as affiliates) of the clip. This allows you to reconnect or change the properties of many affiliate clips at once by changing the properties in the master clip or just one of the affiliate clips. For more information, see Working with Master and Affiliate Clips.
  • Affiliate clip: Any clip derived from a master clip in the Browser. Each time you edit a clip into a sequence, Final Cut Pro creates a new instance of that clip, called an affiliate clip because it shares properties with its master clip. This new sequence clip gets most of its properties from the master clip.
  • Subclip: A clip created to represent a limited portion of a media file. By artificially limiting the duration of a media file, a subclip allows you to work with smaller sections of a media file. These subclip limits can be removed at any time so you can work with the whole clip. For example, if an original media file is 10 minutes long, the Browser clip is also 10 minutes long. You can make a 1-minute subclip and work with the subclip as if the media were only 1 minute long. For more information, see Creating Subclips.
  • Subclip Parent: A clip from which a subclip has been made. Final Cut Pro provides commands that allow you to quickly view the subclip parent of a clip in a sequence. For more information, see Creating Subclips.
  • Merged clip: A clip that refers to more than one media file at once. A merged clip can refer to one video file and up to 24 separate audio files. You need to merge a video clip with audio clips if you record picture and sound to separate devices during production. For more information, see Merging Clips from Dual System Video and Audio.
  • Multiclip: Multiple clips synced together, in parallel, within a single clip. The main reason to use a multiclip is to edit multicamera footage in real time. You can sync together any footage you want in a multiclip, not just different camera angles. For instance, when making a music video, you could sync three different performances of the band playing and cut between them on the beat.

About Offline Clips

If a media file is modified, moved, or deleted, the Final Cut Pro clip that connects to that media file can no longer find it. In this case, the clip’s media file is said to be offline. The clip itself is described as an offline clip.

An offline clip has a red slash through its icon in the Browser or its file in the Timeline. To view an offline clip properly in your project, you must capture the clip again or, if the clip’s media file is already on your disk, reconnect the clip to the corresponding source file at the new location on disk.

Figure. Viewer and Browser windows showing offline media.

For information on reconnecting offline clips, see Reconnecting Clips and Offline Media.

A clip is considered offline when:

  • The clip’s Source property is incorrect (when there is no media file at the file path in the Source property): This happens when a media file is modified, moved, or deleted, the modification date of the media file is changed, or the scratch disk becomes unavailable.
  • The clip’s Source property is empty: You can intentionally make clips offline by choosing Modify > Make Offline, or you can create a new offline clip by choosing File > New > Offline Clip. Final Cut Pro doesn’t warn you about offline clips whose Source property is empty, because there is no media file path to check.

Sequences as Clips

Sequences are special containers for clips arranged in chronological order. However, in some cases, sequences can also be treated as clips. For example, you can check the Item Properties of a sequence just as you can for a clip, and information about the sequence shows up in the Item Property columns in the Browser. You can also edit sequences into other sequences. This is called nesting a sequence. For more information, see Nesting Sequences.