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ARRI Alexa dailies workflow with DaVinci Resolve 12

I've been working on a feature film shot on the ARRI Alexa and Alexa Mini and had to come up with a workflow for syncing and rendering out dailies. DaVinci Resolve 12 proved useful because all of the prep work could be done in one application all at once, with the added bonus of being able to roundtrip again after picture lock.

Step 1: Offloading

I used our very own Auto Transfer tool to offload the memory cards to two hard drives at once with checksum authentication to ensure the copies were identical to the source files. The media files were then backed up to LTO tape at the end of the day.

Step 2: Organize and sync clips

In Resolve 12, create a new project, then go to File > Project Settings and switch off Use local version for new clips in timeline from the Color page. This will be important later on.



Then bring the video and audio files into your Media Pool and organize them in whatever manner makes sense to you. I chose to create bins for each scene (be careful what names you choose for the bins).

On this particular movie no audio was shot in-camera so the only way to automatically sync audio and video is by timecode. Select the video and audio files in your bin, right-click and choose Auto-sync Audio Based on Timecode.



In theory this is all you should need to do to get perfect sync, but in practice timecode can drift or it may be set incorrectly (or not at all) in the camera or sound recorder.

An additional reason for splitting things into bins is because if you are shooting time-of-day timecode, you may have multiple clips with the same timecode that could confuse Resolve and cause it to sync clips up to audio from a different scene.

In the event that the audio is not synced correctly, open the video in the viewer, scrub to the exact frame that the slate hits on and write down the timecode for that frame. Then open up the audio file and stop it on the exact frame that you hear the clap of the slate (in a lot of cases this will be an obvious short spike in the waveform towards the beginning of the file). Then right-click the audio file in the Media Pool and select Clip Attributes. In the Timecode pane, enter the timecode from the video you noted down earlier. Then repeat the earlier step of selecting the video and audio files, right-clicking and choosing Auto-sync Audio Based On Timecode again.

(If you can't hear the slate, go to the Audio pane of Clip Attributes and make sure your extra audio channels aren't muted.)


This will modify the timecode of the audio file so it can then be matched up automatically. You may be wondering why automatic matching is so important when you could just manually sync clips in a sequence. There is an important reason for this that will be clear later on.

Now select all the video clips then right-click and select Create Timeline Using Selected Clips.

Step 3: Grading

Open the timeline then switch to the Color tab and grade the clips as you normally would.

Step 4: Render

In the Deliver tab, choose the Individual source clips option under Render timeline as and Use source filename under Save as. This will export each clip in the sequence as an individual movie file with the same  filename as its original source file - this is important to make it easy to reconnect back to the high-res source files later. Because these are offline clips we're rendering as ProRes Proxy to keep file sizes small but keeping the resolution the same as the source files.



This is why it was necessary to auto-sync the clips in the earlier step. I could find no way to manually sync audio clips and then link the audio back to the original source file. That synchronization will only exist in the sequence itself and is ignored if you choose the Individual Source Clips option.

Mark in and out points on the timeline at the bottom of the Deliver page to make sure it's going to render out all of the clips, then click Add to Queue. It's easiest to queue up lots of sequences and render them all out in one go.

Step 5: Edit

Import the rendered proxy files into the NLE of your choice and edit.

Step 6: Roundtripping back to Resolve

After editorial, export an XML from your NLE and reimport back into your Resolve project. (With Avid you need to export an AAF and things become a bit more complicated but this is covered in the user manual.)

On the Load XML dialog, deselect Automatically import clips into media pool (because they already exist in the media pool) and deselect Use color information if you edited in FCPX. Then click Ok.

Resolve should present you with a timeline from your NLE, however often things will not translate fully and need to be fixed. A great way to do this is to render out the full sequence from your NLE and then navigate to it in the media pool's browser. Right-click the file and select Add as Offline Reference Clip. Then right-click the timeline in the media pool window and select Timelines > Link Offline Reference Clip and choose the clip you just added.

Switch to the Edit pane and click the icon that looks like a filmstrip underneath the left-hand viewer. Choose Offline and Resolve will show the file you rendered from your NLE. You can then scrub through or play your timeline and it will show the reference clip alongside the corresponding frame of your timeline so you can compare them.

If any clips are offline you can right-click the timeline in the browser and select Timelines > Reconform from Bin(s), then select the bins with your source media. If the clips still won't reconnect, select the relevant clip in the media pool then right-click the offline clip in the timeline and choose Force Conform with Selected Media Pool Clip.

(At this point you may want to media-manage the timeline onto another drive to save disk space but I opted not to.)

Now go to the Color tab. If you don't see the grades you did previously, select all of the clips (you may need to click the Clips button at the top to see them) then right-click and choose Use Remote Grades (you may need to right-click again and choose Update All Thumbnails to see the changes).

Because you switched off local grades by default at the start of the project your grades were remote, which means they will stick across different timelines and if you adjust the grade of a clip, any other copies of it on your timeline (and throughout the project) will also be updated. In some cases this may not be desired, so you can right-click and choose Copy Remote Grades to Local so that your changes only apply to that specific instance of the clip.

Step 7: Sending back to the NLE

After grading you'll probably need to send it back to your NLE again for titling and syncing with the finished audio. You can do this one of two ways: export each clip individually like in Step 4 and then reconnect in your NLE (media managing before doing so will help a lot) or render out a single QuickTime file of the entire timeline. If you don't expect many editorial changes at this point the latter is simpler, which is what I opted for.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 1 2016 to Tutorials, Color Grading, Video Editing
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Pro Maintenance Tools 2.1.7 - DaVinci Resolve plugin management and improved FCPX support

Pro Maintenance Tools 2.1.7 is a minor update to our suite of maintenance and troubleshooting tools for video professionals.

OS X 10.8 or higher required

Pro Maintenance Tools now requires OS X 10.8 or higher to run. For users on OS X 10.6 or 10.7, older versions are available here.

OpenFX plugin management

Plugin Manager can now install, remove, enable, and disable OpenFX plugins used by tools like DaVinci Resolve and Nuke.

Improved FCPX integration

We've also improved FCPX integration with all of our tools including Corrupt Clip Finder.

Other changes

  • Plugin Manager - Performance improvements
  • Media Salvage - Batch set settings if multiple files are selected
  • Updated Crash Analyzer definitions
  • Various other bug fixes and tweaks

Pro Maintenance Tools is an invaluable toolset to help working video professionals get up and running again quickly in the event of a problem. To find out more, see the feature overview, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 27 2016 to DR News, Front Page News, Pro Maintenance Tools
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Pro Media Tools 1.4.3 - set QT track names, export edit points as still images and run scripts upon render

Pro Media Tools 1.4.3 is a significant update to our suite of media management tools with some great new features for video professionals.

OS X 10.8 or higher required

Pro Media Tools now requires a minimum of OS X 10.8. If you are running a version lower than this, you can access older versions here.

Set QuickTime movie track names

You can now specify track names in QT Edit, allowing you to give a user-friendly description of the track's contents, such as "M&E" or "French language dialogue". These descriptions will show up in the Movie Properties pane of QuickTime Player 7 and any app configured to support them. We will be adding support to CinePlay soon.

Export edit points as still images

Edit Detector can now export full-size still images of the frame at each detected edit point, which are useful for creating thumbnails or adding to spreadsheets.

Run script upon render

Render Watcher can now run an AppleScript, Bash or Swift script, or alternatively an application, upon successful render. This is useful for connecting with other services such as Slack.

Other changes

 

  • QT Edit - Improved support for importing FCPX markers
  • QT Edit - Fixed an issue that could cause timecode to run at a faster rate than the movie's frame rate
  • Render Watcher - Improved support for Compressor droplets

Pro Media Tools is an essential toolkit for media professionals. To find out more, view the feature list, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial.

 

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 19 2016 to Front Page News, DR News, Pro Media Tools
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Introducing our new online store

Today we are launching our new online store to streamline and simplify the payment experience.

You now have more choices with regards to billing and we've simplified the process of purchasing products like CinePlay which are linked to a Digital Rebellion account.

Furthermore, the new store provides us with a lot more flexibility and paves the way for new products later in 2016. This is just the beginning and we will be adding new features to the store as the year progresses.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 14 2016 to DR News, Front Page News
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2015 - Year in Review

2016 is now upon us so here's a look back at the past twelve months.

New products

CinePlay for Apple TV -  Play Kollaborate cloud videos directly on your TV.

(Note: It's not possible to link directly to Apple TV apps so we'd recommend searching for "cineplay" on the App Store to find it.)

Kollaborate Today extension - View what's new in your project at a glance directly from your desktop.

Kollaborate Folder Watcher - Automatically upload files to the cloud when copied to a particular folder on your hard drive.

Major updates

Pro Media Tools 1.4 - Major Auto Transfer overhaul with faster camera memory card offloading and embeddable metadata.


CinePlay 1.3 for Mac - We improved our professional Mac media player with audio waveforms, audio scrubbing and BWF timecode support.

We also released CinePlay 1.2 earlier in the year with support for playing back image sequences and drawing annotations directly over a video.



Pro Maintenance Tools 2.1 - Our suite of maintenance and repair tools received a Plugin Manager crash tester overhaul, improved FCPX repair capabilities and improved Avid and Adobe CC support.

Pro Versioner 2.1 - Improved support for backing up FCPX projects.

Cut Notes 2.4 for iPad - Enhance your note-taking workflow by sharing custom note button profiles between iPads.

CinePlay 1.5 for iOS - View media file metadata and approve/reject files stored on Kollaborate.

Video Space Calculator 1.2 for iOS - Our video storage calculator received a UI refresh and support for additional codecs.


In total we released over 100 updates for our apps.

Cloud enhancements

As well as increasing subscriber storage space three times, we made the following improvements to our Kollaborate cloud platform:

  • Simplified team management
  • Full-screen commenting
  • Compare revision notes
  • Drag and drop uploading
  • Additional permissions
  • Additional statistics for shared links
  • Save / restore playback position
  • Simplified file sharing
  • Python scripting of Kollaborate Server
  • Project alerts
  • Import markers from FCP 7 / FCPX XML
  • Larger thumbnails
  • Kollaborate Encoder - Automatically transcode media files uploaded to Kollaborate Server
  • Toggle email alerts
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Archived projects are now locked to prevent changes
  • Kollaborate Server admin area overhaul
  • Comments now appear as markers under the video
  • Comments can be sorted and filtered
  • Comments can be exported according to color, author or favorite status
  • Simplified task management
  • Nudge users to remind them to view a file
  • Manually set video thumbnails
  • Improved playback navigation controls
  • Import users from another project
  • Revisions can now be made accessible in shared links
  • File statuses can be batch-edited from the Files page
  • Previously-entered settings are now remembered when sharing a link and exporting comments
  • Files can be filtered by type or status
  • Duration is now shown on the Files page
  • Search for team members on the Team page
  • Annotations now appear automatically when clicking a comment
  • And many more

Stats

Our most-downloaded app was FCS Remover but our most-used app was Post Haste. Our most popular paid tool was Pro Maintenance Tools. Our most popular iOS app was Video Space Calculator. The number of subscribers and daily logins for Kollaborate doubled.

We also performed a complete redesign of our website from scratch, which allowed us to streamline our customer service and make it easier to find information you need. We're currently working on additional features that will make their way to the site in the next few weeks.

The most popular blog posts in 2015 were:

What's next

2016 will be a big year for us with brand new products, major updates to our existing ones and expansions to additional platforms outside OS X and iOS. You can keep up to date with new products, features and tips by subscribing to this blog, following us on Twitter or Facebook or by subscribing to our mailing list.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 2 2016 to DR News, Front Page News
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Introducing Kollaborate Folder Watcher

Today we launched Kollaborate Folder Watcher, a free tool to automatically upload files to the Kollaborate cloud platform from your desktop.

Choose a folder on your system to watch for modifications - you can watch multiple folders and link them to different projects, or even to different departments or subfolders within a project. You can also set various preferences such as choosing between automatically converting all videos to playable copies or uploading the files as-is.

The app works on OS X 10.8 and higher but users running OS X 10.10 and above benefit from Finder integration. This allows you to see color-coded file statuses (green = uploaded, orange = upload in progress, red = error, no icon = not queued for upload) and adds right-click options such as manually uploading files within a watch folder and viewing an uploaded file in your web browser.

Kollaborate is a cloud workflow platform to make sharing files and working with colleagues easy. To find out more, check out the quick overview, view the feature list or try the 15-day free trial.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Dec 8 2015 to Kollaborate, DR News, Front Page News
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CinePlay 1.3 for Mac - audio waveforms, scrubbing and BWF timecode

We've just launched CinePlay 1.3 for Mac, a major new update to our professional media player.

Audio waveforms

CinePlay now dynamically displays waveforms for locally-stored audio files.

Audio scrubbing

Hear the current audio sample under the playhead as you drag it or navigate with the keyboard shortcuts. This can be disabled in preferences if desired.

Several timecode tweaks

  • Timecode is now detected in WAV audio files with BWF headers
  • Set the default timecode frame rate / format for audio files in preferences. Audio files are measured in samples, not frames, so setting this parameter manually allows you to match markers with the audio file when imported into your NLE.
  • Changes to how drop-frame timecode is calculated, which fixes a couple of edge-cases where it was incorrect.

Other changes

  • Markers can be exported to DVD Studio Pro chapter lists
  • Overlay windows are now hidden when full screen or switching to another movie
  • Full screen playback UI no longer auto-hides if the mouse is hovering over it
  • Fixed an issue that could cause the UI to not appear in full screen
  • Improved playback performance

CinePlay is a powerful playback and note-taking tool for video professionals. To find out more, see the feature list, read the user manual, watch the overview video or download the free 15-day trial. Kollaborate customers get cloud functionality in CinePlay free of charge.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 19 2015 to Front Page News, DR News, Utilities
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Kollaborate Server 1.4 - Team overhaul, full-screen commenting, compare revision notes and more

We've just released Kollaborate Server 1.4 and Kollaborate Encoder 1.0.2, which offer major new features that customers can use in-house on their own servers and storage.

Team overhaul

Inviting users to a project is now quicker and simpler. Add as many email addresses as you like, then setup positions and email preferences and invite them to the project in one step.

You can also duplicate users into another department without having to re-invite them.

Full-screen commenting

Hover over the right-hand side of the video in full screen to view comments, add new ones and annotate the image.

Compare revision notes

View comments from previous revisions to check that your notes on the previous cut have been addressed in the new one.

Drag and drop uploading

Easily upload files to Kollaborate by dropping them directly into a department or folder from your operating system.

Other changes

We've improved the color accuracy of Kollaborate Encoder and made several changes to improve reliability and performance.

We've also made some major architectural changes to Kollaborate Server to prepare it for PHP 7. We're not declaring it fully compatible yet but this is the largest change we needed to make and we will continue to make smaller changes in future versions to improve compatibility. It's likely that we will make PHP 7 the minimum requirement once we're fully compatible.

Kollaborate is a cloud workflow platform designed to help you work better with colleagues and clients. Upload files to the cloud, have them reviewed by others and then export their notes back to your editing application.

Kollaborate Server gives you all of those features in-house on your own servers and storage. To find out more, view the feature list or sign up for the free no-obligation 15-day cloud trial (no credit card needed). Trials of Kollaborate Server are available on request.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 13 2015 to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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Introducing CinePlay for Apple TV

We're pleased to announce the launch of CinePlay for Apple TV, a free cloud video player for the fourth-generation Apple TV.



CinePlay allows you to browse projects and files on Kollaborate and play them back directly on your TV, complete with timecode and multi-speed seeking.


This means you can now watch Kollaborate videos in a comfortable setting that more closely mimics the final viewing environment of your end-users.

CinePlay is available free of charge on the App Store inside the Apple TV.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 5 2015 to DR News, Front Page News, Kollaborate
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OS X 10.6 support to be phased out

We will soon be phasing out support for OS X 10.6 in all of our products. While some of our customers are still on this older operating system, Apple's new annual rapid-release schedule means supporting 10.6 requires us to support five operating systems simultaneously and prevents us from using newer technologies that would benefit the majority of our users on more recent versions of OS X.

Over the next few months we will slowly phase out OS X 10.6 and 10.7 support and require a minimum of OS X 10.8, starting with apps that interface with Kollaborate first.

Older OS X 10.6 versions of our apps will still be available for download from the relevant software's page in our Support section.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Nov 2 2015 to Front Page News, DR News, Kollaborate
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