The Building Blocks of Projects

Media files, clips, and sequences are the elements that provide the main foundation for your work in Final Cut Pro. You use projects and bins to organize these elements in your program.

What Are Media Files?

Media files are the raw materials you use to create your movie. A media file is a video, audio, or graphics file on your hard disk that contains footage captured from videotape or originally created on your computer. Since media files—especially video files—tend to be quite large, projects that use a lot of footage require one or more high-capacity hard disks.

Many media files contain multiple tracks. For example, a typical DV media file has a video track, audio track, and timecode track. In a Final Cut Pro sequence, you can work with these media tracks together or separately.

Before you can edit in Final Cut Pro, you need to capture media files from a video deck or camcorder to your hard disk. For more information about capturing media files, see Overview of Capturing Tape-Based Media.

What Are Clips?

Once you have media files on your hard disk, you need a way of working with them in Final Cut Pro. A clip is the most fundamental object in Final Cut Pro. Clips represent your media, but they are not the media files themselves. A clip points to, or connects to, a video, audio, or graphics media file on your hard disk. (For more information on the relationship between media files and clips, see About the Connection Between Clips and Media Files.)

Figure. Diagram showing relationship between clips and media files.

Clips allow you to easily cut, trim, rearrange, and sort your media without manipulating it directly. You manage and organize your clips in the Browser. The three kinds of clips you’ll see most often are video, audio, and graphics clips, but there are other kinds of clips that can be stored within a project, such as a generator clip (a clip whose media is generated within Final Cut Pro). You can also subdivide a clip into separate pieces, called subclips, to further organize your footage.

What Are Sequences?

A sequence is a container for editing clips together in chronological order. The editing process involves deciding which video and audio clip items to put in your sequence, what order the clips should go in, and how long each clip should be. Sequences are created in the Browser. To edit clips into a sequence, you open a sequence in the Timeline from the Browser.

Figure. Diagram showing relationship between a sequence, clips, and media files.

A sequence contains one or more video and audio tracks, which are empty when first created. When you edit a clip into a sequence, you copy the clip’s individual clip items to the sequence. For example, if you drag a clip that contains one video and two audio tracks to the Timeline, a video clip item is placed in a video track in the Timeline, and two audio clip items are placed in two audio tracks. In a sequence, you can move any clip item to any track, allowing you to arrange the contents of your media files however you want.

What Are Projects?

A project contains all of the clips and sequences you use while editing your movie. Once you create or open a project, it appears as a tab in the Browser. There’s no limit to the number of items, including clips and sequences, that can be stored in your project in the Browser.

A project file acts as a sort of database for tracking the aspects of your edited movie:

  • Video, audio, and still image clips

  • Comments, descriptions, and log notes for all your clips

  • Sequences of edited clips

  • Motion and filter parameters

  • Audio mixing levels

  • Bins, or folders within a project in the Browser, for organizing elements such as clips and sequences

    Figure. Diagram showing clip views of a video clip, audio clip, still image, and sequence.

To start working in Final Cut Pro, you must have a project open in the Browser. For more information, see Browser Basics. You can have multiple projects open at the same time, each represented by its own tab in the Browser.

Note: A project does not contain any media at all, which keeps it small and portable. Even though project files refer to your media files, the media is not actually stored in the project. By separating the structure of your project from the associated media, your project can easily be archived or transferred to another computer, and it can be opened even if none of the media files can be located. Compared to media files, project files are relatively small and portable. You can make regular backup copies of your project without filling your hard disk.

What Are Bins?

A bin is a folder within a project that can contain clips and sequences, as well as other items used in your project, such as transitions and effects. You use bins to organize these elements, sort them, add comments, rename items, and so on. Bins help you to design a logical structure for your projects, making your clips easier to manage.

Figure. Diagram showing relationship of bins and clips.

You can create separate bins for organizing clips by movie scene, source tape, or any other category. You can organize bins hierarchically and open them in their own windows. You can even put bins inside other bins. There is no limit to the number of bins you can have in your project, or the number of items you can store in each bin.

Bins exist only in project files. Changes you make to the contents of a bin, such as deleting, moving, and renaming clips or renaming the bin itself, have no effect on the original media files stored on your computer’s hard disk. If you delete a clip from a bin, the clip’s media file is not deleted from the hard disk. Likewise, creating a new bin does not create a new folder on your hard disk.