Compound Clips as Projects in FCPX – My Response


Earlier this year I wrote about a radical workflow idea for Final Cut Pro X where you do away with the use of Projects altogether and instead use compound clips. The most common response I hear with regards to this is method is “What if Apple changes the way compound clips work and that messes up all of your projects?” It was recently asked in a comment on this blog, and I even heard that concern brought up on an episode of “Final Cut Grill.”

It’s an understandable concern. When compound clips were first released, if you made a change to a compound clip in a project, that change only existed in that project. The original compound clip would remain untouched. Then in one of the subsequent version releases, the way compound clips worked changed. Making a change to a compound clip anywhere in a project or event would reverberate throughout all incidences of when that clip is used. You now have to duplicate the clip if you want to make changes and not affect other projects where that compound clip is used. There are pros and cons to that methodology. But nonetheless, because of that change, some FCPX users are wary of adopting the “compound clips in lieu of Projects” workflow.

But here is my take on that concern:

Patience Begets Peace

I never EVER update mission critical software until it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t update my OS, my iOS, my editing software or any other major program I use to work. I think that’s a practice all professionals should take.  We saw a lot of videographers going ballistic when FCPX first came out because, like many creatives, they upgraded right away then had to deal with the aftermath of all the areas where FCPX was not quite ready for prime time.

It’s silly (IMHO) to update your OS or editing program the minute the new release is updated. When I do upgrade, it’s only after the bugs and issues have been worked out and I know how those bugs and/or issues will affect my work. If Apple radically changed compound clips I would know that before upgrading. So it’s not like I’m going to lose a bunch of work when an update is released. And by that time, all the projects I’ve used them on would be already delivered and archived any way. So moving forward I would work however necessary based on the new version.

Lastly, if the change was that radical and I found it necessary, I could always go back and then take the final versions of any compound clips and drop it in a project before upgrading FCPX, then upgrade later.

Not Worried

Frankly, I just don’t believe a feature as prominent as Compound Clips will change so radically that it would render all the previous uses of it null and void. Even the last major change I referenced above didn’t retroactively change past projects you worked on. It was more an issue of how you used compound clips moving forward. And on the off-chance they DID make the change that radical, I refer you back to my previous point.

Bottomline, you have to work in a way that suits you. I like the ease, speed, simplicity, less drive space used, and flexibility provided when I use compound clips in lieu of Projects. The ongoing benefits I get from that are worth the minute chance that compound clips will change so radically.

2 thoughts on “Compound Clips as Projects in FCPX – My Response

  1. Ron,

    I was a guest on Chris Fenwick’s podcast and he told me about your worklfow and this is all I use now. You are so right, you have to work with a way that suits YOU. And guess, what Apple may change some things again, but it’s up to use to read the fine print and as creatives not upgrade immediately.

    I have a machine where I do all my early upgrades, but I have no mission critical client work attached to it.

    Thanks for your great blog and I am doing a video tutorial on my site about compound clips and will trackback/link back to your blog.

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