Organize Timelines with Nesting in Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro January 29, 2020 5 min read

Nesting in Premiere Pro is very simple, and this tutorial will teach you all the basics of nesting. Using nested sequences in editing workflows, however, is the creative part. There are many practical and organizational benefits to nesting, so check out the workflow tips to start taking advantage of it in your edits. Let’s dive in!

Part 1: What is Nesting & Why Should You Use it

It’s easier to perform a task on a single instance than repeat the same task on multiple instances. Combining the multiple instances within a container and then performing the task just once is not only more organized, it’s also more efficient. This is the basic theory of nesting in Premiere Pro, and understanding it in this way will help you identify when to use nesting in your editing workflow.

More technically, nesting in Premiere Pro reduces multiple clips into a single “clip” in the timeline. Both video and audio clips can be nested together, whether they’re side-by-side or stacked on different tracks. 

However, it’s important to distinguish that nesting creates a new sequence in your project. Nested sequences allow editors to edit or add effects to all the clips in the sequence. Nested sequences can live inside other sequences, and can also contain other nested sequences inside them (a nest within a nest within a nest, etc.). 

In fact, the term “nested sequence” is a little oxymoronic because all sequences contain “nested” clips. The term “nested sequences” is most often used to denote sequences that originated in another sequence using the nest command. So, how is that done?

Part 2: How to Nest Clips in Premiere Pro CC

When a nested sequence is created, it will have the same specifications (resolution, frame rate, etc.) as the current sequence. It will begin at the first frame of the first selected clip in the timeline and end on the last one. It won’t be linked to the parent sequence, and the timecode won’t correlate like a sub-sequence. 

Note: Nesting high-resolution media (larger than your sequence resolution) will rasterize your footage. Scaling up the nested sequence will pixelate the image. Consider this before nesting your clips.

Step 1: Select Clips

  1. In the timeline, identify the clips you want to nest. (Be strategic about this step. Think about the final result and work backward. Try to develop consistent criteria for nesting. This will improve your timeline organization. See Part 3 for specific examples.)
  2. Select clips by clicking and dragging the selection box around them. Or, hold shift while clicking on clips. Be careful not to accidentally select something that should not be nested!

Step 2: Nest Clips

  1. Right-click on any selected clip in the timeline and choose Nest
  2. Name your nested sequence following whatever naming convention you use. In general, the more descriptive and specific the name, the better. Don’t forget to organize your new nested sequence in the Project panel.
  3. The nested sequence will replace the selected clips in the timeline.
  4. If you make a mistake with your clip selection, you can easily undo the nest by pressing Command or Control + Z.

Note: The video thumbnail will show the top-most video clip or highest video track number in the nested sequence. Audio waveforms, on the other hand, will show the top-most audio clip or the lowest audio track number.

Part 3: Working with Nests in Premiere Pro

1. Editing Clips in a Nested Sequence

Follow these steps if you need to make changes to clips inside a nested sequence.

  1. In the timeline, double-click the nested sequence to open or “step inside” the sequence in a new timeline.
  2. Alternatively, in the Project panel, select the sequence, right-click, and choose Open in Timeline.
  3. Make edits to your clips, such as trim or replace clips, add color, and any other effects. 
  4. Any changes to the clips inside the nested sequence will automatically update all instances of the sequence in other timelines.

2. Duration of Nested Sequences

Here’s how to manage the timing of content inside nested sequences.

  1. Shortening or lengthening the clips in the nested sequence will affect the total duration of the nested sequence. You may have to adjust clips in the parent sequence around the nested sequence to accommodate these changes. For example, if diagonal lines appear on the end of a nested sequence, that means there is no media, and the sequence should be trimmed down to avoid seeing empty black space.
  2. Use sequence markers (not to be confused with clip markers) to mark important events or edit points inside the nested sequence. These will appear as clip markers on the nested sequence in the parent sequence. Now you can use the markers to line up and snap to events in the nested sequence.
  3. Nesting will remove transitions added to the beginning of the first clip and the end of the last. Unfortunately, Premiere Pro doesn’t allow you to set head and tail frames when nesting, so you have to do it manually. To restore the transition, step inside the nested sequence, extend the header of the first clip, and the tail of the last clip. Then go back to the parent sequence and reposition and trim the nested sequence (or click on the Slip Tool or use keyboard shortcut Y) to make sure there are overlapping frames for the transition.

3. Editing from a Nested Sequence

You can make insert and overwrite edits from a nested sequence using the Source Monitor. 

  1. In the Project panel, right-click the sequence and choose Open in Source Monitor. Or, drag the sequence into the Source Monitor.
  2. Use the Source Monitor to set in and out points, and perform insert and overwrite edits like you would in any 3 or 4-point editing workflow.
  3. Additionally, you can click the wrench icon in the Source Monitor and choose Open Sequence in Timeline. The nested sequence will open in a timeline and be linked with the Source Monitor, as indicated by the red playhead. Now you can make insert and overwrite edits from the nested sequence timeline to another open timeline. This is the foundation of the pancake timeline workflow.

4. Un-Nesting a Sequence

Sometimes you may want to “un-nest” the clips in your sequence. Premiere Pro doesn’t have an un-nest button; however, you can drag a sequence into the timeline as un-nested clips.

  1. Toggle the Insert or overwrite sequences as nests or individual clips button, which can be found near the top left of the timeline panel, under the timecode. This button is sometimes referred to as the “nest or not” button.
  2. When the button is blue, sequences will be edited in nests. When it’s white, you can drag sequences from the Project panel or edit them from the Source Monitor into the timeline as individual clips.
  3. If you want to un-nest a sequence already edited in your timeline, a quick way to do this is Match Frame the sequence by selecting it and pressing F to load it in the Source Monitor. The in and out points will be preserved.
  4. With the “nest or not” button toggled white, overwrite the sequence with the individual clips. If you tap F twice, Premiere Pro will Match Frame to the clip inside the nested sequence.

Note: Make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite other clips in your timeline, for example, on other tracks.

We hope this tutorial has helped you learn the power of nesting in Premiere Pro. While nesting seems straightforward, the decisions you make can help you stay better organized as you work on your video edits!