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DaVinci Isn't Just for Color Correction, It Can Also 'Resolve' Your Metadata Issues

Blackmagic DaVinci ResolveNowadays, we equate ‘DaVinci’ with the powerful color correction software Resolve. It can be easy to forget DaVinci’s hardware-based origins, just as it can be easy to forget Media Composer’s origins as the dedicated machine editors used to call “The Avid.” Even in their software forms, these systems retain media matching abilities that were vital in the stand-alone NLE days — control of metadata. Resolve is no exception, even though we think of it primarily, even exclusively, as a grading tool. Scott Freeman, online editor of the USA series Suits and Covert Affairs, has recently taken the time to illustrate Resolve’s muscular metadata abilities. His workflow reminds us that such abilities are still quite useful today – when teaming up with Avid and otherwise.

Scott Freeman has experience from the “old school” of post production. He is wise in the ways of hardcore media management, round-tripping and conforming, and devising workflows. As such, Freeman wants you to know that in terms of metadata manipulation, DaVinci Resolve is also hardcore — more so than you might expect, depending on your background. He recently shared on CreativeCOW the following — abridged with my emphases:


I’m the online editor for Suits since the pilot and Covert since Season 2. What makes it a fascinating position is that it’s 100 percent file-based, which provided me with a fun dilemma to solve. When Blackmagic Design released Resolve, I realized how I could use it to solve my dilemma. Some people might think it’s strange for an online editor to use Resolve, but it does much more than color correction so I decided to use it to pull my shots. What took me five days now takes me 11 minutes. I dove into using Resolve v.7 in March 2011 on Suits and Covert Affairs and haven’t looked back.

His original dilemma? Figuring out how to conform both ALEXA and RED footage for both shows (Suits and Covert Affairs respectively) in one fluid stroke of workflow. To start, Freeman looked to how he may have solved such a problem with tried-and-true, traditional, or older-school workflows — for media such as film, tape, and Panasonic P2:

I decided I wanted a way to use the existing Tape Name metadata populated in the offline clips to pull the camera sources without using the modify command on the camera sources to establish a link.

Classic metadata such as Tape Name could provide the solution, but in a way create its own dilemma to solve: you sometimes have to get a little — manual with such classic metadata. The trick was figuring out how to minimize manual input — individually resetting Tape Names can’t be fun, and more importantly costs time.

Freeman describes the process of modifying sources (for a 600 to 1000-edit episode) as “a laborious and risky task,” which amounts to a lot of clicking in Avid. His solution was Resolve:

Resolve solved the tape name issue with its rich configurations. The system is so flexible that with these configurations you can let your media matching dreams come true instantly. I set-up the DaVinci Resolve to view the camera sources with the exact Avid tape name, thus a media match. I then use the EDL Reel ID’s by right clicking on a folder on a drive and choosing from the contextual menu Add Folder and Subfolders Based on EDLs into Media Pool.

The specific benefits go on, but there’s really no way to fit it all here without detrimental over-simplification — Freeman’s writeup is extensive for sure (in a good way). I’m slowly learning Resolve myself and have recently become aware of some of its incredibly useful, single-click metadata assignment abilities. If you’re an Avid-user, avid workflower in general, or simply want to know more about the slightly unexpected ways you can use Resolve for media management, be sure to check out his full post.

Where does Resolve fit into your workflows? How does Scott’s process change the way you may use Resolve in the future?

Link: Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman — CreativeCOW

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  • Yeah this article is way over my head. What’s an online editor?

    • I think offline editing is when an editor creates the timeline with proxy footage, not linked to the original or raw files. Once the timeline is finalized, they switch it to online editing, which switches the proxy files to the original raw files. This edit will also include the color corrected and VFX video files.

      I believe the point of offline/online editing is so you can have an editor creating the timeline, a compositor doing VFX work, and a color corrector doing their thing all at the same time. Online editing then brings them all together and makes any final tweaks it might need. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong though!

      • I think that’s mostly right. I do want to learn this more clearly too and get a solid understanding.
        I don’t think the colorist would work at the same time as the editor though, since they would likely end up spending time grading shots that don’t even get used. There are so many workflows that it confuses me as to which one is most suitable for what situation. I often see people using Resolve directly after ingest to create proxies for the offline editor and then reconnect to the original media using and EDL from the editor.
        With powerful computers I think the line is blurring between offline/online editing. I assume offline specifically means using proxies (is that right?), so with a computer that can playback original footage in realtime I would think it’s best to just edit online all the time.
        Also, conforming and EDLs confuse the heck out of me, but I haven’t gotten to that chapter in the Resolve manual yet!

        • You’re right when you say the colorist doesn’t work on shots that aren’t used. What I should have said is that everything applies AFTER offline editing, not during it. That way you know what shots you need to colorize and do VFX for.

          Offline editing, or more specifically proxy files, still have their use though. You don’t want to edit with the raw files because something might go wrong. I think offline/online will still be used, but proxy files will stop being downsized versions of the raw files. Instead they’ll just be copies, that way you aren’t using the original files when you just setting up a timeline for others to use.

    • haha rocket science for me to.
      :(

  • It is all so easy that is seems complex. A current offline editorial topology will have from 4-19 shared non-linear Avid editing workstations, and if one is lucky and does not have to use the single field standard definition Avid M (M for multicam) resolution, then you get the fun of HD with a quad-split of 4 bluray players at a time playing back the footage watching all the angles. (blurays are about 35 Megabits per second) . This is what the Avid calls DNxHD36 the 36 stands for 36 Megabits per second. So that would account for a 4 camera shoot. – This is low quality, plus will have window burn metadata like timecode/ filename/ embedded tape name or in the film days: key numbers with the ABXCD frame/timecode displaying field 1 and or field 2 on the screen.

    In an online I want to replace this low quality window-burned proxy essence with uncompressed MXF files that look amazing. If I was digitizing from tape. I would simply have the Avid tell me what tape to put in the Avid. I would still have to give the vault a tape pull list that was an EDL or just a print out of a bin showing the tape sources that made the cut. The vault would have to gather all of those tapes and put them on a cart for me to digitize. Now a days, I use that same EDL that I would give the tape vault but I use the Resolve with that EDL to simply find all of the RED, ALEXA, GoPro, 5D, 7D, Phantom, files on the hard drive and make them ready for me to use on the Avid Symphony. This would be called using Avid offline sequence metadata exported as embedded sources in an EDL and then extracted to link to Resolve mediapool essence.

    Scott freeman

  • With Avid there are several reasons that people for years have been using the “Tape” name column as the linking method to link metadata to essence. Plus, currently I have only seen third party applications render out Avid .mxf files with embedded”Tape” name. (Currently, I do not know of any Third party program that can export an Avid .mxf file with embed “Source File” column metadata). This Avid “Tape” name column can be assigned to clips in many different ways. Plus, the “Tape” name metadata can be embedded and read in Avid .mxf files. When one wants to have the Avid simply replace a .mxf file with another .mxf file then using embedded “Tape” name metadata in the .mxf file is fast and solid.

    I have been using the current metadata provided by the Avid offline sequence, exporting that metadata via AAF/EDL to a Resolve Timeline and this links to the camera masters.

    The Avid by default does not currently extract the embedded “Tape” name from files or give any newly imported AMA file “Tape” name metadata.

    Why are there proxies with window-burn being used in offline editorial?

    I am a firm believer that this is just a sign of the times. Drive Space versus the amount of footage shot. A 42 minute show can have endless terabytes of high quality masters to choose from before the edit is locked. Sustained 100 – 500 Megabytes per second read/write bandwidth to support a bunch of Editors and Assistant Editors working at once with multiple camera angles playing it all back at the same time is one main reason.

    Scott Freeman

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