Roundtrip Workflow in Resolve and the F55

Davinciresolve

I am a huge fan of roundtrip workflows using Davinci Resolve and various NLE softwares! For one, when shooting 4K on the F55 in XAVC and especially RAW the files can be massive but often reduced to a very small fraction of the originals which then can easily be given to an editor, producer, etc.. as either dailies and for editing purposes.

Later once the edit is made only a very small XML file needs to be emailed back to me so that I can import the edit and begin the grading process in Davinci Resolve. The great thing about the F55 is it can record simultaneous proxies in MPEG HD quality while recording 4K XAVC or 4K RAW, however I’ve written two separate guides on transcoding footage from the F5/F55 using FCP X and Davinci Resolve which you might find useful if using a different camera.

In a nutshell the entire roundtrip workflow process goes like this:

Shoot 

Shoot 4K and record either simultaneous proxy, or later in post create your own proxy files from the 4k XAVC files using the batch process in Resolve. It is painless. One advantage of using Resolve to do it is you can get ProRes files with instead of Sony MPG and Davinci will fully preserve the timecode which is needed for later. I’ve written two separate guides on transcoding footage from the F5/F55 using FCP X and Davinci Resolve which you might find useful.

Edit

Have your editor or edit yourself using the proxies in Premiere or FCP X. Mac or PC it doesn’t matter. Export the edit to an XML file using “Export for Final Cut Pro” from the file menu. If you use Premiere you still use “Export for Final Cut Pro” from the menu, it doesn’t matter as long as you have the XML file.

Grade 

Import this XML file into Davinci resolve from the Import panel. File -> Import XML -> then browse to your XML. Then UNCHECK the box “automatically import source clips”.  You do not want to import the proxies, you will want to relink the XML edit to the original 4K files. Davinci may do this automatically if you’re lucky but if not then you can relink them yourself. For a step by step guide see below:

Step by Step Guide to importing XML

From your NLE software export your edit to XML and save this file.

round-trip-exportXML-FCPX

I use this workflow using Premiere CS6 and FCP X without any issues. See the tips section at the end of this post.

Drag your media clips to the media pool:

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Go to the EDIT panel and create a new timeline by right clicking right below the Timelines box and select “Create New Timeline”.

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When prompted leave the checkbox checked for “Empty Timeline” since we want a timeline with the edit we will be importing.

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Note: If you do not check the “Empty Timeline” box then all your clips from the media pool will automatically go onto your timeline.

From the File Menu select “Import XML” and browse to the XML file you exported from your NLE.

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In the LOAD XML box be sure to uncheck “Automatically import source clips into media pool” because 1.) you already have the clips in the media pool and 2.) you do not want to import the proxies anyway – you want to relink the edit to the original 4K MXF files instead.

Once Davinci Resolve finishes the import of the XML file you will see the imported edit on the timeline.

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Now you can go to the COLOR panel in Davinci Resolve and begin grading the clips according to the edit.

When you are ready to export your graded footage you’ll go to the DELIVERY panel in Davinci Resolve where you can export the timeline.

 

Couple of important notes:

It’s important that whatever software you do use to create the proxy files from the 4K original that you do not mess up the timecode. I gave beautiful proxies to an editor once and they lagged on his machine so he decided to re-encoded them using QuickTime with a more lossy setting and in that process all of the timecode was reset. After completing his edit and sending me the XML file I was unable to relink the clips because all of the timecode was gone.

Once the grading is finished in Davinci you will have to export them as high quality in the format of your choice and relink them back in the NLE. You can do this a few different ways; one is to use the software to RELINK to the new graded footage by using a clip replacement or similar function. Another way (if I’m using Premiere) is to simply rename the folder of the graded clips to the same folder that the proxies were located in. Premiere is not that intelligent enough to know that the source clips were replaced and it saves you from having to play around with re-linking. (which to be honest is very easy anyway in Premiere)

Last note is you may have to adjust your project settings if originally you were editing HD resolution proxies and then switching to 2k or 4k, etc…

 

  1. Jason BrooksJason Brooks01-07-2015

    Hi Dennis,

    Firstly, many thanks for your wonderful blog posts – I find they strike an excellent balance between readability and the all-important technical detail that is so often lacking on the net in general.

    I found this post very interesting and informative, as I have been using Resolve more and more frequently on my higher-end projects over the past year. I have been mostly grading footage shot using a Magic-Lantern raw-enabled 5Dmk3, not the most amazing camera, but pretty capable in fact when used carefully. I’m also planning to get an FS-7 this spring and so would like to familiarise myself with log shooting and post workflow, hence finding and appreciating your site.

    One question I have relates to the final stage in your workflow. I’m curious as to why you export your graded files as individual clips and then re-link in your NLE. Why not simply export your deliverable directly from Resolve? Although this method would completely ‘lock’ your edit post-grading, it would circumvent the need to re-connect and potentially re-scale your timeline in the NLE.

    Any thoughts?

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg01-07-2015

      Hello Jason and thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoy my many posts and find there is good balance in them.

      You can definitely export your final render directly from Resolve, providing of course that you did not use any functionality from your NLE that Resolve would have trouble recognizing. For example titles, sometimes certain transition effects, and definitely some of the filters or 3rd party plugins you might use to fix or adjust clips. The other reason I like to provide individual clips is that I do not truncate them according to how they were used in the edit but rather I provide the entire clip length so that it allows the editor (and/or creative decision makers) some flexibility in tightening up or changing the edit. Of course this does not work in all cases for example if you used power windows and did not animate them beyond the original edit points. In some cases if I use power windows I will add a bit of my own padding before and past the actual edit points since it’s really not much more trouble to do so.

      Hopefully my answer makes sense. It definitely requires more time to render and will increase hard disk space usage, but the hope is to save some time later on incase decisions end up changing. Conversely if the edit is 100% locked then I might not chose this method.

  2. OlegOleg02-18-2016

    Hi Dennis
    Thanks for a great post. got one question for youand hope you can help me figure out my dilemma. I am working on a piece where we use same video clips over and over and in the time line. of course different parts of the clip. Some time you need to apply different nodes to each section on the same clip as the ligting changed or you are going after a speacial look for that frame.
    When I follow your workflow the clips got rendered are shorter than original and Premiere creates ‘danger stripes’ in the timeline.

    Do you know a workaround for that? or Am i doing something something wrong?
    Thanks

    Oleg

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg02-26-2016

      Hello Oleg, thanks for checking out my website. For your situation I would create multiple versions of that clip in the edit panel and later when on the delivery tab make sure you are rendering as individual clips. Then go back in NLE and relink them manually. If you are looking for a more complete and proper roundtrip workflow then you need to have separate clips in your NLE before export even though technically it is the same clip. It’s the filename that the systems use when doing roundtrip workflow, so separate clips addresses that issue. Hope this helps!

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