Sony F55 - SMOKE - RESOLVE
We are conforming our feature shot primarily on the Sony F55 in Smoke, kicking out DPX files with an EDL, opening in Resolve and giving over that final Resolve project to the color house. Every part of that workflow works fine. However, we are running into one problem that we would like to figure out and see if it really is a big deal.
Smoke and Resolve both interpret the color of the raw Sony F55 files differently. If we bring a Sony mxf file into Smoke, render out a DPX 10bit sequence, and bring that DPX back into smoke. The DPX and Sony file look identical. Similarly, if we do the same process in Resolve: bring the master Sony file into the Media hub, render out a DPX and bring it back into Resolve, they look identical.
However! If we render a DPX from Smoke, bring it into Resolve, then compare the Smoke DPX to the master Sony file in Resolve, they do not match. If we switch the clip attributes of the master Sony file from Auto to Video inside Resolve, then it matches the DPX from Smoke.
So these are my questions:
1. Do we need to interpret the master Sony files differently in Smoke somehow? If so how do we do that? The only thing I have seemed to find is adding a LUT editor in Connect Effects. I would prefer not to do that because adding an effect seems like the wrong option.
2. Is this a non-issue for color correction? Meaning, is this something we don't have to worry about at all because the colorist will still be able to access all the data.
Help would be much appreciated.
I use Smoke and Resolve together day in and day out as a colorist/finisher, and let me start by saying how much I appreciate you testing this workflow before giving it over to your colorist!
I have only done one project with the F55, most of my work is done with Red or Alexa (both raw and ProRes). I think I can help, but I have a couple of questions...
1 - what's your finish resolution and bit depth? 2k, 10 bit DPX?
2 - is that the format you are building your timeline and rendering out of in Smoke?
3 - have you cached the F55 media in Smoke?
4 - have you considered reversing the workflow - grading with the SONY RAW in Resolve, and rendering out DPX from there to send to Smoke for final FX and finish?
5 - how far do you want to push things in the grade? Is it just balancing and normalizing? Is everything decently exposed, etc.?
Here's why I'm asking...
If you shot raw F55, and then create 10 bit DPX from Smoke, you're negating any of the benefits of shooting raw - having access to all of that raw data during the color grade, which can really be helpful for recovering blown out highlights, or shadow details, or major mood shifts (color temperature, contrast, etc.) I see this in the Alexa camera, which can shoot both raw or ProRes. If I'm not doing any major repairs or drastic changes, the 10bit ProRes files are fine, but there have been times when I really needed to dig into the raw data and re-interpret the ISO or white balance, for example. If you are doing that in Smoke on a global basis, you're baking all of that into the DPX, and if your highlights are clipped out, they will not be recoverable.
But if for whatever reason you must conform in Smoke and send files to Resolve (and there are plenty of good reasons why this could be the case), it will still probably be fine to do it that way.
The one project I did with the F55 - I did not like the way Smoke handled the raw data at all. The Pre-Processing tab had very little access to the metadata (no ISO, white balance, etc.) , and I found Resolve handled it much better - full controls to all of the camera metadata. (I was trying to do this whole project in Smoke, but about 10% of it was F55, and I wound up grading those shots in Resolve and sending back to Smoke.)
But the fact that if you can change the settings in Resolve from Auto to Video creates a matching frame, then it's probably pretty close - you're probably needing to change a "headroom" setting in Smoke - probably in the Pre-Processing tab. (You can see the same thing when sending ProRes to Resolve - include YUV headroom will match Resolve's RGB levels, and no headroom will match Resolve's 709 levels. Resolve is pretty smart about knowing which to use when, but
Anyway - back in Smoke... either at the MediaHub "Format Specific Options" (or from the timeline PreProcessing tab), I recall there being a bunch of options for color interpretation - ACES, etc - look for a "with/without headroom" setting. (If you're media is already cached to 10bit DPX, you won't have that option anymore.)
Most importantly - have you asked your colorist and shown him the DPX's out of Smoke? If you can simply interpret them as Video in Resolve, and it all looks good, you're probably fine (but be aware that you might be losing a little bit of information in the compressed "Video" range - this MAY cause banding in gradient skies, etc. if pushed very far).
And finally, this could be very painful, but I'll toss it out as an option... (this is all theoretical - I've never actually done it this way...)
You could do the conform in Smoke at 16-bit fp (floating point), and instead of rendering out DPX, render out 16bit fp EXRs for Resolve. This would not be exactly the same as the raw F55 in Resolve, as the camera metadata will get baked in inside Smoke, but the 16bit FP means you'll have much great latitude to push the grade, and that whites that are clipped out could be recovered, etc... (I say it's painful, because every single thing you do in this workflow will be much slower - as it's a lot more processor intensive for both Smoke and resolve (and your raids).
Good luck! Happy to help with further questions if you have them.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply! It was really helpful and I am pretty sure I am now on the right track. To answer your questions first:
1. 2k, 10bit DPX will be the deliverable to color and will become the masters. One thing I misspoke on was saying that we are using RAW F55 files. We are actually using the XAVC codec which is 10 bit.
2. The timeline is 2K and I am rendering out at that resolution.
3. I am currently not caching any of the clips.
4. Because of how our deal is setup with the post-house, we have to deliver a Resolve Project to them that is already completely conformed.
5. The grade won't be pushed very far. It is definitely going to primarily be balancing.
6. Something I forgot to say is, I am using Smoke 2015 for Mac instead of Linux.
After changing the setting in Pre-Processing to "Include YUV headroom," render out a DPX 10bit, bring into Resolve, and compare the F55 MXF file, they match completely. Now, my question is, how do I apply this setting to all the clips instead of having to go into the editor for each clip? I wasn't able to find a setting that would default this when bringing in the AAF.
[EDIT] I figured it out! In the format specific options when importing the AAF, I didn't see that I needed to switch the drop down menu to be MXF. After switching to the correct format, I was able to access the Image settings and apply Include YUV Headroom to all clips in the timeline.
Glad to have helped! Good luck with the finish!