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Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?

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Tim Wilde
Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 17, 2013 at 2:02:05 am

I mistakenly dragged a clip from the Event Library into the timeline, then continued from there adding clips, transitions, audio, and generally editing an entire video. Somehow this created a "project" inside of an event clip, leaving the formal Project empty. When I later run FCPX to work on the Project, the timeline is empty, but all I need to do to recover it is drag the aforementioned clip to the Timeline. Then the complete editing job -- the "project" -- is ready to continue with.

Is there a way to convert this so the Project is normal instead of this weird hybrid beastie I've created?

Note that if when I first open the project I merely select the hybrid clip and press E only the original single clip is added to the timeline. The only way to recover the complete project in the timeline is to drag the hybrid beastie clip to the timeline or right-click and select Open in Timeline.


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Justin Mrkva
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 17, 2013 at 2:05:41 am

Select the combined clip (called a "Compound Clip") in the timeline, then select "Clips" -> "Break Apart Clip Items" from the menubar. You should be good to go from there.

EDIT: Actually, since you "edited" an event clip instead of creating a new Compound Clip, I'm not sure Compound Clip is exactly the right term here, but I did test it and it does in fact break apart like a normal compound clip. What you might want to do (just to clean up) is then open the clip you created in the timeline again and delete all the extra changes, which will recover the original event clip. Be careful that you're working in the right area of course. Backups are never a bad thing. :)


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Tim Wilde
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 17, 2013 at 5:15:29 am

Thank you for replying, Justin, but I don't think what I've got is a "compound clip" in this case. It's a fully editable and manipulatable project consisting of multiple clips (and tracks if this were any other editor), transitions, audio tracks, etc. If I "Select All" and then go to the Clip menu, "Break apart clip items" is greyed out because there's nothing to break apart; all the elements are separate just as they would be in any project.

My problem is that when I exit FCPX and later reopen the project it's empty. I was told this is because the "project" was built upon a clip in the event browser, so that's where it's stored.

I'd like to convert this screwy project-in-a-clip to a real bona fide Project.

Surely I'm not the first person to mistakenly add a clip to the timeline by dragging it there or using "Open in Timeline". My mistake is easily repeated:

1. create a new project and name it "test"
2. select a clip in the event browser
3. right-click and select "Open in Timeline"
4. cut the clip somewhere and insert a transition there
5. select another clip in the event browser and drag it to the timeline.
6. insert a transition at that cut point
... at this point you have a mini project. You could do a lot more as I did but this will suffice for demonstration purposes.
7. exit FCPX
8. reopen FCPX.
9. find the newly created "test" project in the Project Library. It'll be a blank gray line.
10. open it and indeed the timeline will be empty
11. look in the event browser for the clip you started with. It may be under a new date.
12. right-click on it and select "Open in Timeline". Your mini test project will open in the timeline.

THAT's what I accidentally did. It all seems to hinge on my having used "open in timeline" instead of any other method of moving the first clip of the project to the timeline.

So what I'm wondering is: can I convert this to a "real" project, one that will behave like any other project?


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Bret Williams
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 17, 2013 at 5:31:44 am

The "test" project you created is not being used or touched in any way. Open in timeline means open the clip in IT'S timeline. A completely different timeline from the project. It's not a project at all. All clips in the event can be opened in a timeline. You can do lots with that concept. Add color fx, resync audio, delete audio/video, and even edit as you discovered.

Open your clip in timeline mode as you normally do. Select all. Copy. Then go back to the test project and paste.

Then quit opening clips in timeline mode and editing within them. You'll notice that when you open a clip in timeline, that the name of the clip is clearly stated at the top of the timeline, as well as it's path. Event Name>Clip Name. If you were to click the back arrow right to the left of that, you'd likely navigate back to the test project.

And no, you're not the first to do this.


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Justin Mrkva
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 17, 2013 at 6:46:17 am

To clarify - take the clip you created (the one that contains your edits) and put it in your project timeline. Then, break that clip apart. It'll expand the components in place and you'll end up with the individual clips placed within your project timeline.

Before you do that, make sure to trim the clip ends out to their limits; I'm not sure what happens if you break it apart before doing that. It might cut some of it off.

So together in sequence:
1. Go to project timeline
2. Add clip to timeline (E)
3. Select clip in timeline (don't open it, just select it)
4. Drag ends left and right as far as they'll go
5. Clip -> Break Apart Clip Items


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Craig Alan
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 19, 2013 at 2:42:35 am

Justin and Bret,

I have never made this mistake but just wanted to comment that your explanations are crystal and help me understand the point of "open in timeline". (It should be worded "open in a new timeline") As well as how to recoup from an accidental mess.

A clip can actually become whatever you like. If I follow fully, it replaces the saving timelines in the browser the way you could with Fcp legacy as well as making modifications such as color correction, setting in and out points - sub-clips as it were. Granted you can also just create new projects and duping them as you go but I miss sub clips and creating short sequences of my project that I can paste into the larger project. This feature kind of does both. Yes?

Does the original clip remain in the browser and the new clip have its own name? Or are these destructive changes?
If so I could dupe the clip before opening in time line.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Justin Mrkva
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 19, 2013 at 4:21:49 am

I'd call them "semi-destructive" in that you're modifying the original clip using non-destructive methods, but modifying the original clip nonetheless. The better usage pattern would probably be to leave the original clips intact and create a new compound clip for sequences you want to reuse. There are various techniques for working with compound clips that I won't bother to explain here (I believe it was in the MacBreak Studio podcast if you want to take a look at it) that allow you to reuse the clips and make changes that propagate to all projects you use the clip in, but also allow you to lock in changes to a specific project so it remains as is without changing. It's kind of complicated and hard to explain without examples.

I would personally limit modifications to event clips to things that are correctional in nature, like configuring audio channels, removing noise, fixing color casts, etc. - but of course there are a lot of methods. Do what works. :)


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Bret Williams
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Aug 21, 2013 at 7:03:44 am

[Craig Alan] " (It should be worded "open in a new timeline") As well as how to recoup from an accidental mess."

No it should be worded "open in IT's timeline." Every clip IS a timeline. And 99.9% of the time there is no need to open in timeline. I'd say leave it alone. It's not a normal method of working in FCP X. It can have it's uses, like possibly adding color correction beforehand. But that's not a normal workflow anyway. Changes don't ripple down like a compound clip. IOW, if you did an edit or color correction on a clip in the event, it wouldn't change any instances of that clip you've already placed into a sequence.

If you desire to have a sequence exist in the event, then create compound clip in the event. But there are downsides to that too.


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Sarah Abbott
Re: Project inside a clip.... can I dig out of this hole?
on Sep 27, 2015 at 5:53:44 am

Hi there,

I'm quite new to FCPX and I have also ended up with the problem of a project inside a clip.

After discovering my project was empty (but before working out it was very weirdly living inside a single clip!) I tried to restore it by importing a previously saved XML file.

Now I'm in a proper mess....I'm still not sure how this problem happened in the first place (What is it I probably did wrong??) I don't know which version of the project is meant to be the 'real' one, AND worst of all, now every time I try to open any of the projects FCP quits (tells me I have to quit or lose saved work due to my hard drive being full, which it is not).

Arrrh! Any suggestions for improving the situation?


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