Larry Jordan: Create Compound Clip Transitions in Final Cut Pro X

By Larry Jordan

(This article was suggested by Fairlie Arrow.)

Fairlie writes: “I always have issues with adding fades and other transitions between compound clips in FCPX, especially at the heads, not so much the tails. I understand that you go into the CC and stretch the media when available, however it never seems to work at the head of the CC and i know there’s enough extra media, but the message comes up saying ‘not enough media, will shorten the clips’.”

Yeah, this is a problem because when Final Cut creates a compound clip, it ignores all media not contained inside the clip and locks the duration of the compound clip to the media you have selected for it.


A compound clip “can contain video and audio clip components, clips, and other compound clips. Effectively, each compound clip can be considered a mini project, with its own distinct project properties. Compound clips function just like other clips: you can add them to your project, trim them, retime them, and add effects and transitions. Icons appear on compound clips in the browser and the timeline.” (Final Cut Pro X Help.)

In FCP 7, we called compound clips “nests” – a collection of clips grouped together and treated a single clip.

Here’s a simple example. I have two clips stacked with an effect applied to the top clip. The duration of each clip is six seconds, with handles at the beginning and end of each clip. (You can’t see the handles, but I made sure that it is there.)

NOTE: Compound clips can contain any number of elements, all of which can vary in duration and layer. I’m just keeping this simple for the purposes of this tutorial.

For this example, I created two sets of clips, each runs six seconds with handles. (Again, there is no significance to the duration.)

To create a compound clip, select the clips you want to group, then either choose File > New > Compound Clip or type Option + G.

I now have two compound clips, each containing two separate clips. Note the compound clip icon and file name in the top right corner of each clip.

Since I have plenty of handles for each clip, if I add a transition – such as a dissolve – it should work perfectly.

Except… it doesn’t. The reason is that when the compound clips were created, it “locked” the duration of the compound clip to the duration of the selected media, not the total media available. In other words, it made all the handles disappear.

When you ask FCP X to “Create Transition” what it does it place the transition at the start of the compound clip, thus shortening the compound clip by the duration of the transition.



Read the rest of Larry Jordan’s article here.

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