A round trip workflow is one in which you begin and end your project in your NLE, and use a dedicated grading and finishing tool (DaVinci Resolve in our case) in the middle.
This lets you start with “offline” and end with “online” quality compressed media that won’t kill your system, and still have all the advantages of RAW where it counts most.
Offline and Online
In the past, a NLE was a “offline” only tool, meaning it was limited in it’s ability to handle high bandwidth, high color bit-depth “online” media. This was the reason for the separation between “offline” and “online” editing. This is no longer the case and if you grade the camera RAW files in Resolve and output your color graded media in a high quality “online” codec at 10-bit color depth, you can easily bring that back into your NLE for final packaging, titling etc where you will again have real-time playback and make your final outputs from there.
The advantage of shooting RAW with the Blackmagic Design cameras (or any true digital cinema camera) is total uncompromised image control. You’re recording pure, untouched, uncompressed image sensor data and leaving all of the interpretation that decides how your image actually looks for post production later on.
That’s huge and shouldn’t be taken lightly… it really is a massive advantage that can set the visual quality and artistic aesthetic of your work apart. The best thing of all is that Blackmagic Design doesn’t charge a premium for their premium workflow cameras, not only that, they give you DaVinci Resolve for free.
I want to break down what you need to know, and make it as easy as possible, even for those of you without the latest and greatest computer hardware.
RAW workflow can be intimidating and unwieldy for the uninitiated. I’ve been dealing with RAW workflow since 2007 with the early Red One cameras both on set and in post production, that’s pre-CUDA, and in 2007 computer hardware was not what it is today.
One thing I’ve learned in all these years and come to love about RAW when designing workflows is that it’s most always more flexible than you think. There’s always more than one way to do things, more than one solution, and ways to make it work with what you’ve got.
It’s important to be open to new tools, new methods and not close yourself into a particular software or way of working with moving images. There’s a solution to every problem, it just takes logic, patience and knowing the tools.
As far as I am concerned, the best workflow choice is one that involves the absolute minimum format conversions, minimum imports and exports between different software, and the fastest, easiest turnaround.
The bottom line is that means working natively with the camera RAW media from start to finish.
The real power of DaVinci Resolve is no longer just color, and is still undiscovered by most post-production professionals. Resolve is by far the easiest all in one RAW workflow solution to work with media from any digital cinema camera from start to finish.
With media management, a fully featured NLE (Non-Linear Editor), the world’s best color grading toolset and flexible output, you don’t need to go outside of Resolve at all.
However, working with camera RAW files natively requires two key things that you may not have; high bandwidth (speed) media storage and GPU power. Heavy duty files require heavy duty computer hardware.
So, what options are there if you don’t have a fast internal or external RAID to work from? Or you don’t quite have the kind of GPU power required for real-time DaVinci Resolve performance?
Over a short series of posts I’m going to take you step by step through three possible offline/online workflows that will make it easier to edit on older or less capable computer hardware.
Of course you’ll still need at least a minimally capable system when it comes to running Resolve for grading, but as long as Resolve will run, and has enough GPU memory to work in your desired timeline resolution and process your grades, it is possible to grade a conformed RAW sequence shot by shot without real-time playback. Inconvenient it may be, but not impossible. The simple fact is you may have no choice when it comes down to it if you are limited by your hardware but that’s no reason to ditch a high-end professional RAW finish altogether.
So follow along and learn how to create compressed proxy media from your CinemaDNG RAW files and manage seamless Round Trip offline / online editing in Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro with a native RAW conform for grading in DaVinci Resolve.