When do you colour grade?
So I'm a self taught editor and as a result of learning things as I go, I don't necessarily do things in the right order.
I've recently finished filming a short and am now at the editing stage. This is the first time I've ever used 4k so I'm learning quite a bit (I can't just bang the footage in FCP and off I go..)
So I need some help...my trouble is colour grading...
I've just switched over to Avid so I'm learning about buttons and stuff but one thing I found is that Avid (or my mac - I'm not sure which) couldn't handle the 4k XAVC footage (filmed on sony fs7) ...so I converted the footage to proxy files...which I will then swap back to the original 4k files when I'm done with the edit... (Is this called the offline edit?)
Then once I've made my final edit in avid I want to colour grade in Divinci lite ...and here is my big question....do I grade the 4k files or the proxy files? The 4k files are in XAVC format so it makes my life kinda hard haha but is this what I'm supposed to be grading? Or, do I grade the proxy files and then some how link them back in to avid and swap the colour graded footage back to the 4K footage... I'm totally lost...
I read somewhere about XML files...and have really stayed away from all of that ... but actually really would like to know what they are and what they are used for..so if someone could explain that would be awesome...would XML files help me or I've heard Avid uses AAF?
In my previous early editing days, I'd export the footage and maybe import into After effects, colour correct and then export again the final video...but i have a feeling this is so totally wrong because then I am loosing video quality and also can not grade individual clips...so yeah I'm kinda stuck haha
THANKS! p.s. if I've gone wrong anywhere please let me know...I want to get this process right and all the terminology :)
[Hollie Cooper] "do I grade the 4k files or the proxy files?"
The 4K files. Because that is what you'll be using to finish...not the Proxy files. You color correct when you are locked...the cut is done and no further changes will be done. And you'll color correct the full res files.
[Hollie Cooper] "The 4k files are in XAVC format so it makes my life kinda hard haha but is this what I'm supposed to be grading?"
[Hollie Cooper] "would XML files help me or I've heard Avid uses AAF?"
XML is for Adobe Premiere and FCP. Avid uses AAF. You use this if you want to link back to the files in Avid. But since only the most recent version of Avid can read 4K files, typically the final export is done in Resolve.
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Just to add context to Shane's response for you --
Consider what you're trying to accomplish when you're color grading. Your 4K media has a ton of color information so you can push your correction and grade exactly where you want. If you were to grade proxy material, you don't have all that information in the media. And yeah, all but the recent version of Media Composer don't support 4K, so you have to have a pretty linear workflow to jump from proxy to 4K. But otherwise if you aren't doing this offline to online workflow, I know plenty of people that grade in Media Composer as they go. Depends on the project and your needs.
You mentioned exporting a timeline to After Effects and then exporting from there after you color grade. Nowadays this isn't a process you need to do between dynamic link and Premiere's fairly robust color features. However, I wanted to mention I worked on a show that basically had this workflow. Exported a ProRes file and brought it into Resolve, used scene cut detect to add the cuts back, then exported a ProRes file from there. I can't remember exactly what it is, but I've been told that you can go through like 8 iterations of ProRes exports before you have any discernible quality loss. Just figured I would mention your workflow wasn't exactly far off. You just have to know why you're doing it AND make the right choices -- like the codec -- along the way.
And XML is an extensible markup language, which is a fancy way of saying it's a bunch of code you can use to fit the specifications of whatever data you're working with. I've worked with it on web stuff for website design, but in video it works as an interchange language. If you open up an xml document you've exported from FCP in a text editor, you'll see it's basically a description of your sequence, with tags like and . You can move your work from one app to another, or you can use it for a number of other things. Like one time a client asked me to change the font color of all my lower thirds on a project that was like 4 hours long so I exported XML files, opened the document in a text editor, and did a find/replace command to change all the instances of one color to another. But like Shane said, you'll use AAF in the Avid environment, which is another interchange format.
Thanks kylee and Shane, this has been a big help!
And I'm glad to know I'm on the right tracks.
So if could just clarify:
I need to grade the 4k footage because this has all the information.
However, how do you propose I get the 4k footage into resolve? What format do you export from avid to then colour in resolve? Silly question maybe but I know some formats and codecs are better for certain things, like the final export.
And then once I've colour graded I need to do a final export from resolve. What do you suggest this should be? (Mov?/mp4 - or does that depend on where I am hosting the video?)
Can't tell you how interesting and helpful this has been, thanks! And Kylee, very good to know about Proress and the loss of quality :)
[Hollie Cooper] "However, how do you propose I get the 4k footage into resolve? What format do you export from avid to then colour in resolve? Silly question maybe but I know some formats and codecs are better for certain things, like the final export. "
Are you familiar with DaVinci Resolve Lite? If not, I recommend finding some tutorials that covers the basics to get you up and running (importing footage is a pretty basic step).
TRAINING OPTIONS (and there are many others):
If you're already familiar with importing media into Resolve Lite, import the 4K XAVC footage like any normal footage, but know that playback is probably going to rough. I find XAVC a tough format to deal with, overall.
Go into your Resolve settings under "Master Project Settings ->Conform Options" and check "Assist using reel names from the: Source Clip Filename".
From Avid, export an AAF of your final edit (I export picture only since I add my final audio mix after color). Import the AAF into Resolve and on import tell it to relink to camera originals (those are the 4K XAVC files you already imported). It should relink to the 4K and you're ready to grade.
[Hollie Cooper] "And then once I've colour graded I need to do a final export from resolve. What do you suggest this should be? (Mov?/mp4 - or does that depend on where I am hosting the video?) "
What are your final deliverables? If you have true 4K footage and you're using Resolve Lite you won't be able to export a 4K master (Resolve Lite maxes out at UHD). If your final deliverable is 1080p you have two options. Render new Avid media and a new AAF so your edit comes back into Avid as individual clips, or you can render a flattened Quicktime.
If you think there may be last minute edit adjustments I recommend exporting to Avid .mxf media at the highest bit rate, with decent handles (24 - 48 frames are my normal ranges).
NOTE: This media will need to be rendered to your Avid MediaFiles/MXF/X folder where X is any number (I liked to start with at least the number 10, then increment up from there if additional grading revisions come in).
Resolve will automatically generate a new AAF when it finishes rendering (it will be in the folder you rendered the .mxf media to), which you would import into Avid. Verify that it imports correctly and matches the original edit, add back any additional titles/graphics/effects that might have been lost in the roundtrip, add your final audio mix and export to your final deliverables.
If the edit is locked and you think it will stay that way it's much easier to render out a flattened Quicktime. If you have your final audio master you can add that in Resolve and probably render a master file directly from there. It entirely depends on your final deliverable.
If your final deliverable is for the web then I recommend mastering a flattened Quicktime (from Resolve or Avid, whichever you add the final audio mix in) at the highest DNxHD bitrate for your material (for example, 175x for 1080p 23.976 material, or 220x for 1080p 29.97, etc...), or a ProRes422HQ or ProRes444 file. Then use that to make your final web file (likely an mp4).