The Sony Vegas Pro to Resolve Round-tripping Workflow (Part Two): Back to Vegas Pro

In Part One we looked at how to get a project from Sony Vegas Pro into Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve. In this part we’ll go the other way, and back.

Resolve is a color grading application, and its tools and effects cannot be transferred back to Vegas Pro. For this reason, rendering your final color corrected sequence is a necessity.

The question is, which codec do you render to ?

Which codec does Vegas Pro like best?

Vegas can’t work with Prores on a PC. If you’re following the DNxHD/Cineform codec workflow I’ve outlined in Part One then it stands to reason to continue using it.

However, I for one don’t see the point of going to Resolve to grade a project in 10-bit video, when you can do the same in Sony Vegas Pro:

  • It has enough color grading tools for most people’s professional needs.
  • It works in 32-bit space, just like Resolve.
  • It has full support for monitoring your video in 10-bit.

 
However, if you need specialized tools within Resolve, like power windows, etc., then that’s another thing. If you just need a top-class basic color grade, then Vegas Pro can pull it off. In this case, I don’t recommend using Resolve (from Vegas Pro) for:

  • H.264/AVCHD workflows
  • DNxHD/Cineform workflows

 
Continuing with our workflow, let’s assume you are using DNxHD/Cineform for 1080p video and TIFF/DPX for higher resolution video.

If you are going to re-edit, you’ll need to reference your source footage in Vegas Pro again. This footage is unlikely to have been graded in Resolve using the above workflow. Would you know beforehand which clips to transcode and grade? Of course not. If you’re going to re-edit, the smart thing to do is transcode all of your footage before you edit a single frame, as mentioned in Part One.

This way, you’ll save time having to regrade clips, because you will already have graded similar clips (most likely scenario) in Resolve, so it won’t take a lot of time to redo a few clips.

Exporting back from Resolve to Sony Vegas Pro

There are two things that can happen in Resolve. Either you re-edit your clips or you don’t. Here’s what Blackmagic Design has to say:

If you don’t make editing changes: Then you have the option to have DaVinci Resolve use the Avid AAF file that you originally imported to generate an updated one. This preserves audio and all other unsupported effects from the original AAF file, so that they reappear when you export a new AAF back to Media Composer. If you use this option, you need to make sure the original AAF file you import remains in the same location.

If you do make editing changes: Then you need to use the “Generate New AAF” command to export an AAF of the reedited timeline from Resolve back to Media Composer. This newly generated AAF file will not include audio, nor will it include any effects that are not supported by Resolve.

Ideally, you’d want to master from Resolve, and then finish in Sony Vegas Pro with audio, etc. Sometimes, it is more convenient (especially with 1080p or broadcast projects) to round-trip from Resolve to Vegas Pro.

For a DNxHD workflow, go to the Deliver view and select the Avid AAF Round-trip preset. You will need to render your grades of course, and the choice of codecs (all MXF) are:

  • DNxHD – the best option
  • Uncompressed 8-bit and 10-bit
  • XDCAM MPEG2

 
Resolve 10 Screenshot Deliver

Check ‘Render each clip with unique filename’. Set the ‘Set to Video or Data level’ field to Auto. The AAF file is automatically exported.

If you’re using a Cineform workflow, choose Quicktime and Cineform (if the codec is installed on your system) and export an AAF separately.

Why render with a unique file name instead of overwriting clips?

If you are a full-time editor you’ll be familiar with this scenario: Client asks for a re-grade, and you do as you’re told. A few days later, he looks at your timeline (during the inevitable re-edit) and says: “This clip looks a bit weird, can I see the old one?”

Two choices. You can fire up Resolve, go to the clip, hope you’ve saved the former grade (you haven’t, have you?), and then show it to him. “But I want to see it played back on the re-edited timeline”.

Oops. Or, you could have saved the file separately, and have a well-thought-out folder system for each project. You click File > Import > That Folder > Clip, and pop it above the timeline and voila!

Always save your iterations, it’s a great habit to have. You can delete them after you’ve been paid.

Starting from Resolve and then going to Vegas Pro

What if you’re shooting RAW, let’s say CinemaDNG, and want to start in Resolve. Do you transcode all of your footage? Of course you do, unless you magically know which ones you’re going to use.

If you have clearly marked your takes, you will find it easier to separate the wheat from the chaff. Resolve 10 includes an edit tab so you can put together scenes within it for a loose edit, and then export those clips (with or without handles, as you prefer) to:

  • Proxy format
  • Online format

 
In either case, DNxHD works best, as do Quicktime codecs. Proxies must contain the same filename, while transcodes should ideally be appended with a suffix or prefix so you can compare clips easily in your file browser.

You could export AAF sequences at this point but Vegas imports each AAF sequence on its own set of tracks. If you are on a long-form video project (like a feature or documentary), your Vegas timeline will start to look like After Effects. Better to leave the editing till Vegas Pro, and start from scratch.

All in all, the Sony Vegas Pro to DaVinci Resolve workflow works because of AAF, and it can get the job done. I hope this brief overview has explained the basics so you can start exploring the round-tripping workflow between these two applications.