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Old May 29th, 2009, 11:27 PM   #1
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Noob question re: the concept of FCP Sequences

I'm just converting over from Media 100 to FCP and I'm kinda puzzled by the concept of a Sequence in FCP -- sure, I realize that it's a sequential series of clips and that it can also be viewed as a "container" for these clips.

I also understand that when you first create a new project there is a default "Sequence 1" in the browser. and the Timeline shows a tab marked "Sequence 1". However, when you import clips and create the sequential series of clips on the Timeline, all of these show up above and below the "Sequence 1" in the Browser window.

What puzzles me (as a computer scientist) is that the "container" appears to be be existing at the same level as its contents, which does not quite fit the hierarchical model I had -- in OS X or Windows it would be like opening a subdirectory and seeing the subdirectory inside itself.

I suspect the conceptual problem is entirely of my own making, but I'd much appreciate it if someone could set me straight on the mental model they use for thinking of a Sequence.

Thanks in advance
Andy
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Old May 30th, 2009, 02:18 AM   #2
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Conceptually, the sequence isn't a container or folder - it's a sub-assembly

The model is based on physical film: FCP Bins (folders) are analogues of the physical bins in which sections of film were (are) hung. Clips are little sections of film. Sequences are sections of film spliced together. Once spliced, they are simply longer clips.

The FCP model is designed to be an analogue of the physical one, so conceptually, when you edit clips into a sequence, you aren't putting them into a folder, but sticking them together. Once stuck together, they're a single unit.

I think you're possibly being led astray by your comp sci brain. You know that at the low-level software level, folders, bins, sequences are all being treated essentially the same.

That's my way of seeing anyway. Hope it helps.


There's some interesting thinking to be done about how you'd handle all this if you weren't trying to emulate the physical film editing process. It's done this way because industry pros understand it, grew up with it, and thus found the transition very easy (read Walter Murch for interesting comments on the transition).

But if you had to invent the whole process from scratch, maybe it would look very different.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 03:41 AM   #3
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Having been a long-time Media 100 user myself, I think I can add a bit of helpful perspective. The timeline in Media 100 is very similar to the FCP sequence. But, FCP sequences are more flexible.

You can have multiple sequences, each with unique characteristics in a given project in FCP.

You can nest one FCP sequence inside another. It's not unlike "multiclips" in Media 100, but with more encapsulation. A 4:3 sequence maintains its aspect ratio when placed inside a 16:9 sequence in FCP (and vice-versa). This means you can more readily incorporate video footage from an older era with newer material - the 4:3 sequence is automatically letterboxed.

All sequences in FCP are able to be set to any codec that's available in QuickTime. When I abandoned Media 100 in 2005, that wasn't the case with Media 100, where the timeline was locked to its own codec.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Gordon View Post
Conceptually, the sequence isn't a container or folder - it's a sub-assembly

The model is based on physical film: FCP Bins (folders) are analogues of the physical bins in which sections of film were (are) hung. Clips are little sections of film. Sequences are sections of film spliced together. Once spliced, they are simply longer clips.

The FCP model is designed to be an analogue of the physical one, so conceptually, when you edit clips into a sequence, you aren't putting them into a folder, but sticking them together. Once stuck together, they're a single unit.
Thanks, Nick. That is helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Gordon View Post
I think you're possibly being led astray by your comp sci brain. You know that at the low-level software level, folders, bins, sequences are all being treated essentially the same.
I am *sure* I'm being led astray by the comp sci brain. :)

I had the model that the clips in the Browser were somehow related to the contents of some Sequence in the Browser and that does not appear to be true -- you can move a Sequence from another project into the current project. The new sequence will show in the Browser, but none of the associated clips do -- thus illustrating the folly of thinking of a Sequence as a simple container traveling in close formation with the clips it contains.

From what you say, a Sequence is best thought of as a reference to a specific Timeline and nothing more. Behind the screens, and in programming terms, I suspect that a Sequence is a container class for a series of references to clips -- and only in that sense is it a "container."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Gordon View Post
That's my way of seeing anyway. Hope it helps.
It does help. Thanks.


There's some interesting thinking to be done about how you'd handle all this if you weren't trying to emulate the physical film editing process. It's done this way because industry pros understand it, grew up with it, and thus found the transition very easy (read Walter Murch for interesting comments on the transition).

But if you had to invent the whole process from scratch, maybe it would look very different.[/QUOTE]

Isn't that the way! We're still typing on QWERTY keyboards original designed to slow our typing down so that more than one typewriter hammer didn't jam in the gate.

It's not survival of the fittest, but it is survival of the minimum cost to change -- hence the film editors metaphor, with the twist that what were physical entities have now become logical entities -- e.g. nesting sequences is best done logically, I suspect.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.
(And say hi to the concrete cows!)

Regards
Andy
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
Having been a long-time Media 100 user myself, I think I can add a bit of helpful perspective. The timeline in Media 100 is very similar to the FCP sequence. But, FCP sequences are more flexible.

You can have multiple sequences, each with unique characteristics in a given project in FCP.

You can nest one FCP sequence inside another. It's not unlike "multiclips" in Media 100, but with more encapsulation. A 4:3 sequence maintains its aspect ratio when placed inside a 16:9 sequence in FCP (and vice-versa). This means you can more readily incorporate video footage from an older era with newer material - the 4:3 sequence is automatically letterboxed.

All sequences in FCP are able to be set to any codec that's available in QuickTime. When I abandoned Media 100 in 2005, that wasn't the case with Media 100, where the timeline was locked to its own codec.
Thanks, Eric. Now I have a much better understanding given your Media 100 back pointers.
Much appreciated.

Regards
Andy
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Johnson-Laird View Post

What puzzles me (as a computer scientist) is that the "container" appears to be be existing at the same level as its contents, which does not quite fit the hierarchical model I had -- in OS X or Windows it would be like opening a subdirectory and seeing the subdirectory inside itself.
Yes, exactly! I'm glad I'm no the only one who feels this way. I had a maor hang-up about this until I learned about nesting sequences and using additional sequences for color grading and effects.

I started out working in only one sequence and did all my editing there. As I started to learn other skill, having the ability to have additional sequences became indespensible and my mind learned to "ignore" the fact that the file structure doesn't look like what I've come to expect from other applications.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Andy Johnson-Laird View Post
Thanks, Nick. That is helpful.
Glad it made sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Johnson-Laird View Post

From what you say, a Sequence is best thought of as a reference to a specific Timeline and nothing more. Behind the screens, and in programming terms, I suspect that a Sequence is a container class for a series of references to clips -- and only in that sense is it a "container."
At root, a sequence is some XML with a list of organised pointers to the clips, transitions and whatnot. So it makes sense that you can copy the list of pointers to another project. When you render, the software goes and copies whatever's been referenced and makes a movie out of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Johnson-Laird View Post

Thanks for taking the time to reply.
(And say hi to the concrete cows!)
They said hi back :-). And you're welcome. To date, I've taken a lot more than I've been able to give to these discussions, so it's nice to be able to help once in a while.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 06:27 PM   #8
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This is one of those things that still gets me.

So sequence = timeline?

If have a given project open, isn't sequence 1 whatever's in that project's timeline?

Obviously I still don't get it.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 07:40 PM   #9
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So sequence = timeline?
Basically, that is correct. The hair gets split depending on nuanced context, but generally speaking the terms are interchangeable.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 07:52 PM   #10
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So you can have multiple timelines still tied to the same project?
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Old May 31st, 2009, 12:21 AM   #11
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So you can have multiple timelines still tied to the same project?
That is also correct. In fact, I often have multiple sequences in a project. Perfect for versioning cuts, as an example.

When you are working on a sequence in Final Cut, you are seeing it in two places: the Canvas is the visual representation and the Timeline is the logical representation. Where the playhead is in the canvas will always be the same as where the playhead is in the timeline because the two are really one.

To get a little more nuanced, the timeline is really a part of the sequence, not the whole. But, people who aren't editors often say "timeline" when they really mean "sequence" because they don't really understand the nuance, and honestly it usually isn't a big deal.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 12:51 AM   #12
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I guess that's what's blowing my mind. I'm used to VEgas where it's one timeline per project. If you see another timeline, it means you have Two instances of Vegas open. Or at least this was the case with version 6, the last one I had. If they've changed it, then congrats to Vegas.

Futher complicating the matter with FCP is that you can also have multiple projects open simultaneously, right? So you can have different timelines resulting from that too.
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