In Part One we looked at the basics and how to set up Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve. In Part Two we looked at the workspace and how the typical workflow is structured.

In this part we’ll deal with the import and conform workflow within DaVinci Resolve.

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Supported file formats for import

Video

DaVinci Resolve is one of the few applications on the planet that can take anything you throw at it. There are three kinds of  ‘video things’ you can import:

  • Video and Image sequences
  • Stills
  • EDLs/XMLs/AAFs

The supported video codecs and containers can be found in this PDF file. As you can see, there is hardly anything Resolve doesn’t support. It is completely geared towards any kind of workflow, be it cinema-based, television-based or internet-based. Two codecs that aren’t supported unless they are wrapped in MOV containers are:

  • AVCHD
  • P2

Resolve also imports most kinds of still formats, including DPX, TIFF, OpenEXR, etc. Resolve does not support CR2 or NEF RAW files from Canon or Nikon.

Finally, Resolve can also import audio files in WAV, AIFF, etc.

EDLs

Resolve supports the standard CMX 3600 EDL format. It reinterprets all transitions as cross dissolves, so when working with EDLs one must try to avoid complicated timelines, effects and filters.

Resolve also supports the DEDL format supported by Smoke or Flame.

XMLs

Resolve fully supports both FCP7/Premiere Pro XML and  FCP-X XML formats.

AAFs

Resolve supports the AAF format for round-tripping with Avid Media Composer or Premiere Pro. However, it does not support all codecs supported by AMC, even though they might be supported by Resolve directly! For a detailed overview of which codecs can be AMA-linked and consolidated, check out page 185 of the manual.

The simple solution to handle mismatched and incompatible media is to transcode to DNxHD, which Resolve fully supports.
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Importing footage into DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve can be used to either:

  • Create Dailies, Proxies or Intermediary codecs, or
  • Color grade locked edits

To do the former, you import either file-based codecs or capture via camera directly. Since the latter option has both feet in the grave, I’ll ignore it. To import file-based codecs:

  • Find the file in the Library panel.
  • Double click your clip or Right-click and select ‘Add into Media Pool.’
  • The clip is added to your Media Pool.
  • You can also import entire directors or a range of clips into the Media Pool.

To import RAW files you will first need to decide how they are debayered (demosaiced). For that you go to the Project Settings and select ‘Camera Raw’:

You can set the defaults on how you want to treat each supported RAW format. Resolve supports debayering up to 16-bit, which is as good as it gets currently.

Once you’ve imported your clips, you can:

  • Log them.
  • Apply LUTs, gamma curves or whatever.
  • Color grade if you must.
  • Export for further use.

You can also change clip attributes on the fly. To cut a long story short, you can do anything and everything to get the clip to ‘agree’ with your project settings.

Resolve gives you a lot of control over your import process, and it is beyond the scope of this article to go into them all, especially when the manual does a stellar job of explaining each workflow.

Once you import your media, you can view metadata regarding it in the Metadata panel. You can also edit metadata (not all file formats allow editing metadata). If the option is available, you will be able to edit it.

What about audio? You can import separate audio files and link them via:

  • Timecode – they are synced automatically.
  • If no timecode exists, you’ll need to manually sync your audio. Then you can link your video and audio so they don’t drift out of sync again.

The newcomer is not encouraged to try every one of these import settings, simply because it is overwhelming. Unless you have experience with multiple workflows, some of these features and options will not even make sense. I suggest finding exactly what you’re interested in right now, learning to make that work well, and then sticking to it.
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Importing sequences into Resolve

Even though Resolve is being used more and more as a dailies-creation and on-set ingest tool, its primary function is color correction. The basic workflow for this is:

  • Lock your edit in an NLE.
  • Export an EDL, XML or AAF.
  • Import the EDL, XML or AAF (plural, if you have multiple timelines to import).
  • If the media is in the same directory, Resolve will link to them automatically. Sometimes you need a bit of a push – this is normal.
  • Color correct your timeline and export them from Resolve, or
  • Export an EDL, XML or AAF.
  • Round-trip back into the NLE for further post production.

Resolve does everything possible to ensure you can work with sequences and timelines from various NLEs. It tries to be platform agnostic, but it comes at the price of complexity. There are too many possibilities, permutations and combinations. The wrong way to learn Resolve is to try to understand all of them!

To keep things simple, I recommend the following learning method:

  • Start with a basic edit and try to work with EDLs. You’ll soon see the limitations.
  • If you’re working with FCP or Premiere Pro, start working with XML. This works a lot better.
  • If you’re working with Avid, use AAF.

The manual clearly details steps you can take with each NLE to prepare to export your EDL/AAF/XML. These go into minute detail, and should be your first stop to finding your workflow. If you follow the instructions correctly there’s no reason why a perfect round-tripping workflow cannot be obtained.

Sure, there will always be ‘snags’, but by grounding yourself in correct practices, you will have the knowledge to deal with them. If you haven’t trained yourself the right way, these snags become career-threatening roadblocks.

In the conform page, you go to File > Import AAF, EDL, XML..., and you get this:

As you can see, TXT files aren’t supported, but everything else is. I’ve tested all these formats with success, but my ‘projects’ have been rudimentary at best. I have no reason to doubt Resolve will deliver even with complex timelines and projects. It was designed to deal with complexity!

Every timeline is listed in the Timeline view. You can import multiple versions of the same project for comparison and review. There is no need to close one project to open another. The most important timeline is the Master timeline (though not always necessary), which is a timeline with every clip imported in the Media pool. This is handy to organize media for creation of dailies or proxies. In this timeline, any logged points will be ignored, and each clip will be shown whole.

Last but not least, you can edit your timelines from within Resolve. It’s not a full-fledged editor, but it has all the basic tools so you don’t have to feel ‘iffy’ with it. It’s better than iMovie but not as fluid as FCP-X. Generally, one wouldn’t count editing as one of the tasks under conforming, but DaVinci Resolve does. In its view, you do whatever you have to do, short of color correction, in the Conform page.

Then you move on.

In Part Four we’ll look at exporting workflows for Resolve.

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4 replies on “DaVinci Resolve Crash Course for Beginners (Part Three): Importing Footage”

  1. I think that it is important for video editors to be able to have sites and programs available to them so that they can create videos that they want and need for fun and for work. You mention that there are a lot of different steps in making a video look the way you want it and it seems like it would be fun to be able to create something that is entirely your own. Photography and videography are some of my favorite things and I love how individualistic, unique, and expressive you can be with them.

  2. MP4 import work…… in 12.5 but if you use windows 7 then you need update…. Just google it.

    1. According to Davinci Resolve’s offcial site, Resolve does not support MP4 files, or any compressed audio file formats. To fix the problem, the easy workaround is to transcode MP4 to a more editing-friendly format, such a DaVinci Resolve’s DNxHD codec.

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