How to Round-trip from Final Cut Pro X to DaVinci Resolve (Part Three): Dealing with Changes

In Parts One and Two we looked at how frame rate and file type mismatches create avoidable problems while moving projects or timelines from Final Cut Pro X to Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve.

In this part we’ll look at which effects are ported over, and how to deal with re-edits in FCP-X after you have begun working in DaVinci Resolve.

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Which effects are supported while moving from FCP-X to Resolve?

The following effects are supported from FCP-X to Resolve:

Color Corrections Yes
Composite Modes Yes
Multiple Tracks Yes
Transitions Yes
Opacity Settings Yes
Position, Scale, Rotation Yes
Linear Speed Effects Yes
Variable Speed Effects Yes
Long Duration Still Images No
Freeze Frames No
Nested Sequences No
Linked Clip Audio Yes
Mixed Frame Rates Yes

Even if the list talks about color corrections being supported, in practice I have found that it is unreliable. Sometimes the clips don’t have any color correction at all. All things considered, I would say it is counterproductive to color correct a clip in FCP-X and then take it to Resolve.

To make sure your color grades are ported; when you import the XML, make sure you check ‘Use Color Information‘.

To apply rotation, scaling and position information, you need to check ‘Use Sizing Information‘:

Resolve Sizing Color

Transitions are supported. As we have already seen, mixed frame rates and variable speed effects are supported to a certain extent.

It is important to note that still images aren’t supported, and they don’t show up at all in Resolve, even as black clips. If you have still images in your timelines, it is a good idea to import them into the Media Pool in Resolve and conform them from there.

For a detailed overview on which effects are supported, refer to page 155 of the Resolve manual.

What happens to clips that have unsupported effects? Are they lost on import? Not really. According to Blackmagic Design:

However, the majority of unsupported effects are preserved internally, and are reinserted into exported XML or AAF files so that those effects will reappear in your NLE once the project is reimported.

All is not lost!

Handling re-edits in FCP-X

What if you have transferred your timeline or project via XML into Resolve, but for some reason need to re-edit your footage? It happens all the time. The larger the project, the greater the chances of re-edits. Do you have to redo everything from scratch?

Of course not.

With DaVinci Resolve, you can grade one timeline, and if you need to import a new XML of a re-edited version of the same project, you just import that into a new timeline…and your grades are applied automatically. How does this work?

There are two things happening here.

Automatic Linking

By default, the same clip, used multiple times on a timeline (like clips of two people talking, cutting back and forth between the same take/clip), will be automatically linked to each other. When you’re in the Color page, you will see a red icon next to the clips, like this:

Resolve Automatic Linking

A grade applied to one ‘snippet’ will apply automatically to all the snippets of the same clip in the timeline. Who has time to copy-paste, right? This is how it should be.

Remote and Local Versions

Every time you grade a clip, you are creating a ‘Version’ of that grade. Want to stop and try something new? Sure, you can. Just create a new Version and go. By default, each version of your grade is labelled ‘Version 1’, ‘Version 2’ and so on. You can change these names if you like.

Resolve Remote Local Versions

As you can see in the above image, there are two kinds of grade-versions:

  • Local version
  • Remote version

By default, your grades are ‘Remote’ versions. The reason why they are called so is because these grades are shared by the clips across all timelines. You apply a grade (Version 1, let’s say), and the clip in any timeline in Resolve will get the ‘Version 1 treatment’. Choose ‘Version 2’, and voila! The grade changes to Version 2 across all timelines.

See how this could be useful? What if you imported a new XML version of the re-edited project from FCP-X into Resolve? Your grades are automatically applied, all the Remote versions!

Here are the basic steps:

  • Save your grades as Remote Versions when you know re-edits are possible.
  • Export the new FCP-X XML and make sure you create appropriate names to remember your versions.
  • Import the XML and create an appropriate name for the timeline so you know which version of the edit this is.
  • Uncheck ‘Automatically Import Source Clips into Media Pool‘ (image below). Your source clips are already in your Media Pool. If you’ve used new clips in your edit, you might want to import them separately. It is important to keep the Media Pool as lean as possible.
  • Your remote grades are applied automatically.

Resolve Import Media Clips

By now you might have guessed what a ‘Local’ version is, then. It is a grade that is only applied to the clip in one timeline, and will not be automatically applied to other timelines.

To select a local grade version, you could right click the clip and choose one of two things:

  • Use this Timeline Grade – all clips will now use local versions. If there are no local versions for some clips, they will appear ungraded.
  • Copy Master Timeline Grades – to copy the remote version of each clip to a local version.

At any time in your grading session, you can choose whether to use Local grades, Remote grades or even to copy a Remote grade to a Local grade, and so on. To know more about how this works, read Chapter 7 in the Resolve manual.

By now you should have a solid understanding of how a Final Cut Pro X to DaVinci Resolve workflow happens, and how you can keep your conforms trouble free. In Part Four, we’ll look at how you can bring back timelines from Resolve to FCP-X.

After all, this is what round-tripping is all about, right?

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