Exporting for Color Grading
1. Export a reference file.
Export a file from your current timeline, (preferably with timecode, but it’s not required). It doesn’t have to be full quality; this file will serve as a reference in case we need to check if anything is out of place later.
2. Prepare your timeline for export.
We’re basically going to flatten your timeline into 3 or 4 tracks. Before you begin, your timeline might look something like this:
Duplicate your timeline. Label it “For Color” or something similar.
On the new timeline, flatten all your multicam clips.
Flatten all your B-roll into V1. If you have footage that cannot be brought into V1 because it’s overlaid over other footage to create an effect, leave it on the second video track.
Unlink and delete audio. You can create an audio mixdown and replace it here if you want. I did, and it helps to sync the audio mix and graphics later. You can also pull this audio from the reference video you made earlier.
Delete or disable your graphics layer.
Remove any effects you might have on your clips, especially if you have any basic Lumetri Color grades. Our color grading software, Resolve, struggles to read some of Premiere’s transitions (it can read cross dissolves), warp stabilization, and other video effects.
If you have stabilization on your clips that you want to keep, you will need to bake in the effect before exporting, or make a note (with timecode) of the clip and we can stabilize it in Resolve. If you decide to bake in the effect, please make sure that the re-incoded clip is as close to its raw form as possible to ensure maximum grading capacity.
If you run into issues or are unsure of anything, please reach out to us and we can answer your questions or help you troubleshoot!
You can either export to XML or AAF once you’re at this stage.
Exporting to XML (our preferred format)
File → Export → Final Cut Pro XML
Even though it says Final Cut Pro, it will still export a timeline that works for Resolve.
Exporting to AAF
File → Export → AAF
Make sure your AAF Export Settings look like this:
4. Package the project.
Exporting a timeline like we did means that Resolve is referencing the exact same footage that you’ve been editing. This means that simply sending us the XML or AAF is not enough. We’ll also need all of the footage included in the timeline.
Most clients will send us a drive with all of their footage, their Premiere project, and XML files we exported in Step 3. This way, if we need to re-export or reference the Premiere project, it’s easy for us to do so.
That said, if your project is bigger than your drive, and you only want to send us the clips included in your timeline, here’s what you can do.
Go to: File → Project Manager.
Select the first option: “Collect Files and Copy to New Location.”
Here’s what the dialogue box should look like.
You can select “Calculate” at the bottom of the window to see how much space the footage will take up.
One last thing: In order to get our project settings and color management of your image as accurate as possible, it’s important to know a few things about your footage.
Please tell us (either in a text file on the drive or in an email):
Which camera you shot on
Which log/color profile you used
What Gamma you shot in
If you shot on multiple different cameras, it’s good to know that. For example, our footage information might look like this:
Sony FX6 & FX3
Knowing this information helps us better understand and process your image as your camera(s) intended us to!
If you’ve got graphics and/or are also having your film’s audio mixed with us, keep reading. Otherwise, box up your project drive and send it off!
To keep things simple, we’re going to create a single graphic overlay video.
Turn off all underlying video layers but keep the graphics layer visible.
Export. File → Export → Media
File Name: Something like “Project Name_Graphics”
Preset: Apple ProRes 444 with Alpha
Pop this file on the hard drive you’re sending to us. Doesn’t matter much where, as long as we can find it. If you’re also having your film’s audio mixed with us, keep reading. Otherwise, box up the drive and send it off!
Exporting for Audio Mixing
1. Prepare your timeline for export.
Organize your audio tracks into three groups of tracks:
Interviews. IMPORTANT: Each speaker/interviewee should be on their own audio track.
Nat-sound and b-roll audio. You don’t need to separate all of these sounds into their own tracks, you can leave them however you have them.
Please leave any adjustments, fades, gain changes, etc. on the clips.
Your audio tracks should end up looking something like this:
2. Export an AAF.
File → Export → AAF
Use these settings:
If you exported an AAF for color as well as sound, make sure each one is labelled accordingly as the settings are different.
Sending the Drive
Ship the drive or drop it off to us at:
ATTN: [Colorist and/or Audio Engineer]
3700 Woodland Drive, Suite 100
Anchorage, AK 99508
Make sure to include any cords or cables and a good return address for when we’re done with the project.
If you’re having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out. The most important thing is to make sure the timeline is organized; taking the time to get everything organized before diving into color grading and audio mixing will save you – and us – from headaches down the road. It’s so worth taking the time to do!
Looking for something else? Here’s some other resources you might find useful.
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