Tutorial: Import Clips vs. Import Clip Ranges in Final Cut Pro X

By Larry Jordan

There’s a lot of confusion about when we can “import” a clip vs. a portion of a clip (called a clip “range”) into Final Cut Pro X. This thought was brought to mind this week with an email that Jerry Serra sent. He wrote:

I just learned how to import portions of the above type clips into Final Cut. My previous work flow was to copy only the mov files on the memory card to an external RAID drive, then import into Final Cut Pro X from the external drive. With this work flow I had to import the entire clip and then select the portions I wanted. Now I copy the entire DCIM folder from the memory card to the external raid drive. Now, when I import into Final Cut I can select the portion(s) of each clip that I want to final cut.

Not sure this approach is well known but thought I would share with you.


First, I want to define “import,” because, to quote The Princess Bride, this “may not mean what you think it means.”

When you choose Leave files in place in the Media Import window and import a file, Final Cut Pro X only stores the file name and path that points to that file. It doesn’t copy the media, move the media or add the media file itself in any way into the Library.

This is directly analogous to the card catalog in a public library. FCP X simply copies the reference card in the card catalog. The book itself remains on the shelf and doesn’t move.

NOTE: To be truthful, along with storing the location of the file, FCP X also imports a ton of metadata about the file and creates thumbnails of both the image and audio waveform data. But the source file itself is untouched and unmoved.

However, when you choose Copy to library in the Media Import window and import a file, FCP X will copy (not move) the source file from wherever it is into a specific folder inside the Library itself.

NOTE: In the Finder, a Final Cut Pro X Library is actually a “super-bundle,” a special folder that acts like it is a single file.

Copying files into the Library is ALWAYS recommended when you are importing directly from a connected camera or camera card, because if you don’t, when that card is disconnected from the computer, you lose access to all of the data stored on it.

NOTE: As a Best Practice, I strongly recommend that you copy the ENTIRE camera card to its own folder on your locally attached storage (as Jerry discovered and wrote about). Don’t pick and choose folders, copy everything. This is really important. Then, import media from the folder on your hard disk.

One folder per camera card. Never put the data from two cards in the same folder, the new data will erase the old data.


The big benefit to Leave files in place is that you are not duplicating media, which reduces your storage requirements.

Read the rest of Larry’s Final Cut Pro X Import tutorial here.


About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.