Versioning; Duplicate VS Snapshot

Versioning; Duplicate VS Snapshot

When working with timelines, namely Project timelines, we can version them in two ways. Either simply make a Duplicate, or make a Snapshot. What is the difference, why would you use one or the other, and how would those workflows operate? In this blog entry I'll clarify it for you. I have two simple statements at the end of this post to help you remember everything.

NOTE; images of specific windows described will be coming soon.

Creating A Duplicate
Use Command-D, or right-click it in the Browser and select "Duplicate Project".
This makes an exact duplicate, it is very literal, and the new copy has the original title, with a number added to the end, so you can keep track of which was made first, second, etc.

Creating A Snapshot
Use Shift-Command-D, or right-click it in the Browser and select "Duplicate Project as Snapshot".
This also makes an exact duplicate, there is a secret behind it which I'll reveal in a moment. The new copy has the original title, with the word "Snapshot", along with the time and date the Snapshot was created appended to the name.

Parents & Children
This is important to understand before going further, FCPX's parent/child relationships. When you create a Compound Clip or a Multicam Clip, a "Parent" original is created in the Browser, and any copies you put in any other timeline are directly linked to that Browser original. The copy you edit into a timeline is called the "Child". There is a hard link between the two. Make a change in one, all other copies, in any other timelines anywhere, all change along with it. Change the parent, all children reflect the exact same change. Change a child, all other children and the parent reflect the exact same change.

If I have a copy of a Compound Clip or a Multicam Clip in a timeline, and I want to alter it in some way, but NOT effect any other copy anywhere, I can to create a new Parent. I select that Compound or Multicam in my timeline, then go to the Clip menu, and select "Reference New Parent Clip". A new copy of that Compound or Multicam is created in the Browser, with a number appended to the original name, and now that copy in my timeline is hard linked to the new Parent in the Browser.

The Magic Of Snapshots
So what is different, besides how the new copy is named? Ah, that is part of a Snapshot's secret magic! Well, not so secret, but it is sort of magical. It all has to do specifically with Parent Compound Clips and Parent Multicam Clips and their Children. When you create a Snapshot, the hard link between the Child Compound or Child Multicam inside that Project, is SEVERED! No new copy is made of the Parent in the Browser. That child clip in the new Snapshot is now an Orphan. It is all on its own, with no hard links to anything anywhere. Make changes to it, nothing else anywhere is effected. Change the original Parent or one of the other children, the Orphan is left alone, unchanged. That's it, that's all there is to it, very simple.

Proper workflow for versioning is that you work on your original Project timeline, always. When you make a Duplicate or a Snapshot, those are your backups, your saved versions. You keep working on the original. Don't touch the Duplicate or Snapshot unless you need to make changes in that specific version of your Project timeline. Very simple.

I know a lot of users get caught up in what they used to do in FCP 7, which was incorrect back then, and is incorrect now. Even back in the old version 7 days, the system was designed so your duplicate was your backed up version, the version frozen in time, and you keep working on the original. Now, you could very well leave the original alone, then work on the duplicate. But then you have to rename stuff, you have to double click the new Duplicate or Snapshot to open it in the Timeline pane, etc. You're creating extra work that is totally unnecessary and a waste of time.

The Duplicates and Snapshots have information automatically appended to their names to help you know when they were created, in what order, so you can keep working in the original. They do not automatically open into the Timeline pane, because you should just keep working in the original. So what if it is called the "original version"? You just made a copy of it! It doesn't matter, keep with the original, keep it simple, keep working fast and clear.

I hope this clarifies this issue about Duplicates, Snapshots, and how this versioning workflow in FCPX works fast, easily, efficiently, and cleanly.
- Duplicate when you don't need to cut the hard links between Compound Clips and Multicam Clips, and/or when a simply number appended to the original name helps keep track of that version.
- Snapshot when you do need to cut those hard links, and/or would like a time stamp appended to the original name showing when you made that version, to easily refer back to at a later time.

Here is a link to the online FCPX user manual about this subject.