Final Cut Pro X Babbling

Why Did Apple Rename Everything in FCP X?!?


Since the launch of FCP X, one of the questions that keeps getting asked, over and over and over again, is this: “Why did Apple change the names of everything? We’ve used ‘Project’, ‘Bin’, and ‘Sequence’ forever! It’s stupid!”  But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t stupid at all. Now, I’m not Apple, so this is all just conjecture, but I’d like to bore you with my thoughts about the name changes.

Library vs. “Project”

This one is easy.  Apple named things in FCP X  correctly, we’re all just used to referring to stuff incorrectly. 🙂  “Library” is defined as “a collection of films, recorded music, genetic material, etc., organized systematically…”. AndProject” is defined as “an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a particular aim”. In X, I use the contents of Libraries to create my Project. Sounds right to me. Moving on…

Event vs “Bin”

First of all, “Bin” is a stupid name for what is just a folder in NLE’s like FCP 7 and Premiere. A bin is a different beast in Media Composer, but it’s still a silly name in the digital age. Without a history lesson, it’s unlikely anyone under the age of 40 knows why they’re called bins. And people in the UK probably wonder why you’d want to put all your media and cuts into something with the same name as the garbage can. Good for Apple for changing it.

Editorializing aside, an Event is very much like a Bin in Media Composer. Your MC Project (Library) contains Bins (Events) you create in which you organize your media, cuts etc. You can’t open multiple Projects (Libraries) in MC, and you can’t have hierarchical folders in Avid Bins, but they’re functionally pretty much the same.

Though you can only have one Project at a time open in MC you can share entire Bins from one Project into another. In FCP X, with multiple Libraries open, you can move or copy entire Events to other Libraries. Same deal in FCP 7, since you can open multiple “Projects” you can copy entire “Bins” between them. In Premiere you can import sequences or entire Projects, but you can’t share a complete bin (folder) into another Project. If you could share FCP X Events between multiple users, they’d behave almost exactly like MC bins. Hmmmm.

In any case, “Event” is defined as “something that happens or is regarded as happening;
occurrence,”  so I think it’s a good name. If you’re cutting a feature, each event might contain a scene. But going further, an FCP X Event is much more powerful than a flat MC Bin or a folder of folders as in 7 or Premiere. Using Keyword Collections, Smart Collections, Favorites/Rejects and Folders, what can quickly become an unmanageable mess of tabs and open “bins’ and stacked windows in other NLE’s, can be very nicely contained in a single occurrence in X. An Event. 🙂

Projects vs. “Sequence”

This bit is a little more long winded and I’ll refer to anything you can see in the browser as an “object”… In FCP X pretty much every media object in a container (mov, mp4, aiff, wav, etc.) can be opened to get at what’s inside. Individual components within these objects can also be opened up in the app. Like Russian Dolls, you can keep opening things up to reveal components of components etc.

In other NLE’s, the object which you open to assemble your cut is generally called a sequence or a timeline. You have media – master clips etc. – which you cut into a “sequence timeline” to create whatever it is you’re cutting. This is true in FCP X as well. The place in which you cut video and audio clips together is called The Timeline.

However, there’s a fairly significant difference between FCP X and other NLE’s. In X, pretty much any wrapped media object you import – video, A/V clip or audio –  can be opened from the browser in it’s own timeline. You’re not limited to opening objects the NLE creates.

In most NLE’s you can open NLE created objects (“Sequences”,  Nested Clips, and Multicam Clips) in the Timeline. That’s it. In FCP X there are multiple types of timelines. Like any NLE, empty FCP X Timelines can be created by the program (Projects, Compound Clips, Multicam Clips). But in X, many other media objects can be opened in their own Timelines. You’re not limited to just cutting things into empty or existing timelines.

You can select an A/V Clip in your browser, open it in it’s own timeline, and edit it’s components. You can open an Audio Clip in it’s own timeline and edit it. You can open a Project in it’s own timeline and edit it. You can open a Compound Clip (similar to a nested clip) in it’s own timeline, etc.

These aren’t timelines containing media, they’re the selected media objects viewed in their own timelines.
Edits made here will change the objects in the Browser. Click to view full size and make sense of it.

Because of this, you need a way to identify the type of timeline, or sequence, in which you are editing whatever you are creating. Whether it’s a commercial, a feature, or a cat video for YouTube, It’s the “Project” you are working on. Yes, it’s different than the word Avid made up 26 years ago, but so what? Project makes sense.

If you think about it, “sequence” is just another name for “timeline” right? And a “timeline” is the place you construct something, not the the thing you’re constructing. You don’t “write a piece of paper”, you write a Story on a piece of paper. You don’t “paint a canvas”, you paint a Picture on a canvas. And you don’t “cut a sequence”… You cut a Project in a sequence (timeline).

So, when I work in FCP X, I am creating a “Project” in a timeline using “Collections” of media organized in “Events” contained within a “Library“. Seems pretty logical to me.