How to Edit Your Amazing Magic Lantern 14-Bit RAW Video on the Worst Computer Ever
When I started playing around with Magic Lantern RAW video, two things came to mind: First, a camera called the “5D” was once again the nucleus of a low-budget cinematographic revolution — this time thanks to the Magic Lantern team; Second, how was I ever going to be able to edit what I’d shot? I’ve learned a lot since then, and it turns out an offline/online, proxy-based workflow is not only possible, but powerful. Check out the process that I’ve been using to round-trip Magic Lantern RAW between Adobe Premiere CC and DaVinci Resolve Lite below.
Offline/Online Workflow for Magic Lantern RAW, Adobe Premiere, & DaVinci Resolve
As a brief recap: ‘offline’ refers to any time you are not working directly with original camera negatives, but instead on lower-quality duplicates, and ‘online’ refers to when you’re working with those originals. The reason the video is specific to Magic Lantern RAW vs. CinemaDNG in general has to do with the lack of metadata input (you could also use the tutorial for Blackmagic or Digital Bolex RAW if you wanted). This tutorial uses Apple Automator, Rarevision RAWMagic 1.0 beta (pre-App Store), DaVinci Resolve 9 Lite, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC:
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For those who need a Cliff’s Notes version, the two steps that are most important occur in Resolve at the 1) pre-proxy export and the 2) Premiere-to-Resolve (“CC SEND”) XML import stages. Here are highlighted crops of those steps (click for full resolution versions):
Certain tools such as raw2dng and Ginger HDR now offer a more direct route in many ways, but may not offer the strength, flexibility, and speed that this approach can provide. That’s the three-way tug-of-war. The most efficient post-production route depends on what you’re doing, and what you’re doing it with. That said, the benefits of this workflow are common enough to any offline/online process, basically amounting to the following:
- Creatives working on less powerful machines may find it trying to work with CinemaDNG natively (though we know that situation is going to improve for Premiere in October with GPU acceleration). If real-time debayering is beyond the means of your machine, this process, or one like it, gives you the best of both worlds. It allows you to cut fluidly and save the full-res RAW for when you really want it (like during color correction).
- Offline can also mean remote. Proxies can go where your full-res media may not be able to go: On a laptop, on a bus-powered drive, on Google Drive, on a plane. If your editor is not you and lives across the country, they only need the proxies to assemble a cut. Again, you still get to build your color grade from 14-bit uncompressed RAW either way.
- You decide the compromise in your offline between speed and fidelity. Develop individual CDNGs to your heart’s content for your proxies, or batch decode into Rec. 709 and use that as a rough ‘one light’ look, workprint-style. If 709 in ProRes Proxy is too disheartening or depressing for you to look at while you cut, export your offline files in 422 HQ. It’s all up to you.
- Bringing graded clips (as opposed to exporting one big file out of Resolve) back into your NLE makes it easy to fix specifics if anything needs a change — without having to re-export the whole project all over again.
Want to read a little more from an expert who works with the ‘grown-up’ version of workflows like this? Suits & Covert Affairs Online Editor Scott Freeman stopped by our comments section a few weeks ago. You can check out his thoughts here.
File Names vs. Folder Names (vs. Reel Names)
You may have noticed an inconsistency in some of my proxy file names in either the Premiere media browser or timeline — this inconsistency is illustrated below (click for full image):
Essentially, this happened because I was figuring this workflow out as I was shooting. Before I had the realization that I could rename .RAWs prior to using RAWMagic, I was renaming already-converted CinemaDNG folder names. This meant that Resolve named clips based on original ML RAW file names, but still created unique reel names for those clips. So it still works — I just find it less confusing to rename right at the original .RAW source. Speaking of which…
You Probably Don’t Have to Rename Anything
But I have been, and I still do. Why? If reel names are the only thing holding my offline/online connection together, I feel much better knowing I’ve insured myself against problematic duplicate names by implementing absolute control over what those reel names are. Your needs may find this step redundant, but ‘redundant’ is usually safer. In fact, I came across this post in the ML forums quite recently, from user Tony Mac:
I’m running into an issue when using multiple cameras shooting RAW and RawMagic to convert the files to CinemaDNG, I end up with files shot by different cameras with the same file name. For example I might have a clip named M30-1649 from two cameras. This causes issues when Resolve tires to relink the media from an XML.
Unlikely as it may be, this illustrates a real-world complication stemming from native ML-generated file names. The suggestions so far entail renaming files, and renaming .RAWs specifically (I think that’s the best solution Tony!)
References & Citations
Since I started making this video, I’ve seen references to this process pop up everywhere from Vimeo, to the ML forums, to nofilmschool comments. I didn’t devise or discover this workflow, but I did want to demonstrate my own little take on it. As I mention in the video, it would have taken considerably longer to figure out what worked for us (and what works at all) without the following material by Dave Thomas and Jesse Borkowski:
I Want Your Workflow (and I want it Now :)
Obviously I like this workflow, and it works for me, but I’m biased. Whether your own Magic Lantern RAW workflow is similar to, or completely different from mine, I want to know what it is! The state of constant flux in which ML exists can be both exciting and frustrating (sometimes simultaneously), but with this comes ever-expanding flexibility in post production. Be sure to let us know your workflow below — apps, plugins, you name it. And thanks for watching!