How to Round-trip from Final Cut Pro X to DaVinci Resolve (Part Four): Round-tripping

In Parts One, Two and Three we looked at how to export a project or timeline from Final Cut Pro X to Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve. In this part we’ll look at the reverse, and learn how Resolve handles exporting back to FCP-X for finishing or whatever.

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Which effects are returned to FCP-X?

As we saw in Three, effects from FCP-X not supported by Resolve are saved internally. When it is time to export your project back as an XML, Resolve will put them back in their places.

This is what happens to each effect:

Color Corrections Rendered
Composite Modes Sent Back
Alpha Channels N/A
Transitions Sent Back
Opacity Settings Sent Back
Position, Scale, Rotation Sent Back
Linear Speed Effects Sent Back
Variable Speed Effects Sent Back
Long Duration Still Images N/A
Freeze Frames N/A

As you can see, even if Resolve can see some effects like Scaling, transitions, ramping, etc., they are never baked in when exporting an XML. Rendering a master from Resolve is a different matter, though.

The only effect that is not sent back is color corrections, which is why you’re using Resolve in the first place. But if the color corrections aren’t written into XML, how are they transported back to FCP-X? Let’s see.

Resolve to FCP-X workflows

As mentioned in the DaVinci Resolve Crash Course, you could do two things with DaVinci Resolve:

  • Create dailies, proxies or intermediaries
  • Color correct

Here’s a full round-tripping workflow:

  • Use Resolve to ingest your footage on set (E.g., while working with RAW footage, log footage, etc.) and export LUTs and high quality intermediaries like Prores HQ or 422, etc.
  • Import your footage in FCP-X and edit until you’re satisfied. Export an XML.
  • Import the XML into Resolve and color correct your footage. Export an XML.
  • Import the XML into FCP-X to finish or add effects, titles etc., and prepare your master from there. Or, export an XML for more color corrections…
  • Ad nauseum.

The true potential of a round-tripping workflow is realized when you can start with either software, and end with either software.

Exporting from FCP-X to DaVinci Resolve

To export your color corrected project back to Resolve, you will need to do two things:

  • Export an XML, just like you did with FCP-X.
  • Render color corrected clips, because these aren’t ‘sent back’.

Thankfully, both of these steps can be done together.

To understand basic exporting (delivering) in Resolve, read Part Four of the DaVinci Resolve Crash Course.

Go to the Delivery page.

In the Render Settings, under ‘Presets‘, choose Final Cut Pro XML Round-Trip:

Resolve to FCP-X Round-trip

The Preset automatically selects or deselects your options:

  • Render timeline as is set to ‘Individual Source Clips’.
  • Preserve is locked to ‘Source Directory Levels’.
  • Under ‘Output Settings’, Render each clip with a unique filename is checked.

DaVinci Resolve will create new clips to replace the original clips. The new clips will have the color grades baked in. The effects don’t get baked in.

To select and export the entire timeline:

  • Go to the ‘compressed timeline’ and right click on a clip.
  • Choose ‘Select All‘.
  • Click Add Job after you’ve selected the output folder.
  • Click Start Render.

Each clip is rendered individually to the selected folder. Resolve also creates a new XML document saved in the same folder. That’s all there is.

Notes:

  • If you don’t want to render the entire timeline, you can select just one clip, or a range of clips by marking in and out points.
  • You can also pick and choose clips based on their labels or tags by clicking the Q at the bottom right-hand corner.
  • You can choose which grade versions to export for each clip individually.

All you have to do is fire up FCP-X, and go to File > Import > XML…. Select the newly created XML. Lo and behold your project is ready to be re-edited or finished in FCP-X.

Going ‘back’ to FCP-X is easier because you’re only baking in color correction, and there aren’t any effects involved. You can also export extra handles in clips if you want to give the editor a little leeway for transitions, etc.

Creating dailies, proxies or intermediaries for editing

You can use Resolve at the beginning of your workflow, as I’ve shown above. Here, you’re probably only concerned about one or more of these options:

  • Creating LUTs or quick on-set grades.
  • Rendering dailies for the crew.
  • Rendering proxies for offline editing, or
  • Rendering intermediary high quality media in Prores for online editing.

At this stage, the clips aren’t in any edited order. It is up to the Data Wrangler or D.I.T to figure out how to handle folders, metadata, tagging and so on. Resolve is quite capable of handling this job on a basic level, though it strains your computer as the Media Pool grows. You must remember that it is, after all, a supreme color correction application first and foremost. With today’s fast computers and laptops, though, you could use Resolve without issues if you work smart. Just don’t dump everything in one place!

To render or transcode, in the Delivery page, you can select Export to Final Cut Pro as a preset.

The Render clip with unique filename option is greyed out. You want to keep the same names in case you want to come back in the future for color correction. Chances are that you will. Having the exact same names ensures you don’t have to import your original footage again, and conforming is a breeze.

This is the essence of good round-tripping – good file naming and media organization. If you think your workflow through, trace it out on paper, and then test it before going out to production, your problems will be limited. If you’re looking for instant gratification, you’re going to be slammed.

I hope this guide has given you enough confidence to tackle round-tripping workflows, and working with XML in general. The key is to not get frustrated. There’s always a workaround, even if you screw up big time.

Suffer now, and you’ll do well. Read the whole manual. If you don’t, you’ll be like every other lazy noob who thought Resolve was a child’s toy. It’s not a kitten, it’s a tiger; you don’t want to find out the difference while you’re getting eaten. It needs its space.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.

One reply on “How to Round-trip from Final Cut Pro X to DaVinci Resolve (Part Four): Round-tripping”

  1. Hello,

    I am looking to have metadata roundtripping between Resolve & FCPX.
    Particularly fields like Keywords, Scene, Shot, Take, Track 1 (for audio), …

    It doesn’t seem to carry over when exporting clips from the dailies sorted in Resolve.

    Do you have any suggestions to make this work?

    Cheers

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