Advanced Finishing Techniques – Dealing with Picture-In-Picture Effects

March 9, 2016

How do you color correct Picture-In-Picture effects in DaVinci Resolve, when all you have is a single rendered movie of the entire timeline?


Series
Advanced Finishing Techniques: Part 2

How to Deal With Picture-In-Picture Effects from Self-Contained Quicktimes

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the challenge of working in DaVinci Resolve with a non-standard, super-large frame size (being used for permanent display). You learned how I prefer to have two operating settings; one for when I’m color grading and one for when I’m rendering.

In Part 2, you’ll learn how I tackled another challenge of this project – which dealt with round-tripping between Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

DaVinci Resolve gives you two options when moving projects between a Non-Linear Editor and Resolve. You can use XMLs to move timelines between different software or you can render the timeline out of the NLE as a single movie file and use Resolve’s Scene Cut Detection workflow to ‘automagically’ cut down the single movie into individual shots.

In this project, XML is NOT an option – and neither is Resolve’s Scene Cut Detection workflow

I ran into two problems when building the color correction workflow for this job:

  • One, the Premiere Pro timeline was much too complex and had too many resizes for an XML workflow: I could be sure that all the shots would link back up inside Resolve but there was almost no chance that upon re-export from Resolve into Premiere that anymore 80% of the resizes would be correct. That would leave much too much work for either me or the editor to have to double-check and fix.
  • Two, there were dozens and dozens of Picture-in-Picture effects that would break Resolve’s automatic Scene Cut Detector: Just by watching down the locked picture I knew, without a doubt, I’d spend more time cleaning up the Scene Cut Detector than it would take to just rebuild the timeline (and the Picture-in-Picture effects) by hand. Manually.

You’ll learn how to easily deal with Picture-In-Picture effects within a ‘Flat Movie Roundtrip’ workflow using the Edit Page

This isn’t the first time that we’ve tackled this subject on Mixing Light. A few years ago, Robbie showed you how to do precisely this type of thing using the crop tools inside a node on the Color Page. But since that time, DaVinci Resolve’s Edit Page has matured – and I much MUCH prefer doing these operations in the Edit Page. Why?

  • First, some of the PIP effects in this project were very complex, with one set of PIPs wiping into another set: The resultant node tree would have required much too much management and not been intuitive to understand when it came time for revisions.
  • Second, building this in the Edit Page in the manner I’m showing is extremely visual: It’s easy to tell what shot you’re working on just by looking at the timeline. You can also tell when that shot ends and the hierarchy of the composites… knowing which shot is a layer above another shot.
  • Third, following this workflow lets you figure the precise Shot Count: And knowing your Shot Count is an essential color grading time management tool.
Coming Up in Part 3

On a job like this, you’re almost certainly guaranteed to have revisions. And that’s precisely what happened. I had shots swapped out and crops change positions on me (often several times across several rounds of revisions). In an XML workflow, that’s pretty easy to deal with. In a roundtrip workflow, it can be very easy or it can blow up in your face. You’ll learn what I did to keep the revisions from blowing up in my face and how I modified my workflow depending on the nature of the revision.

-pi

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Comments

7 thoughts on “Advanced Finishing Techniques – Dealing with Picture-In-Picture Effects”

  1. Would it have been easier to have editor use project management to copy all the used clips along with the new project pointing to them and just grade the clips without a edit then the editor could just replace the footage in his timeline?

    1. Maybe. I did think about having the editor run Premiere through a consolidate. But two potential pitfalls that are tough to diagnose before actually executing that workflow:

      1. The XML may still be crud and all the PIP effects may need to be re-created by hand anyway (so I can grade in context). Also, there were shots running through After Effects as Direct Link and I’m not sure how Premiere Pro handles that consolidate.

      2. Speed of turnaround was a BIG concern, so I needed to be able to FTP the final ProRes444 immediately after rendering. I wasn’t handing back individual shots.

      I did think about your workflow – but too many unknowns and not enough time on the first one to test the workflow. And once I had done the conform as you see in this Insight for the first short film, I figured the prep time on their end versus the prep time on my end would be about the same… and they were anxious to keep their prep time to the absolute minimum. So I bit the bullet and did it this way.

      1. With the considerate option you would ignore any xml and just grade the shots as individuals. The editor may have to pre-bake a VFX shot but not always since the footage would be replaced in premier.

        I get why you chose this strategy, one pitfall with it is you may be working on clipped footage base on the editor’s grade or LUT applied. So you would miss out on the latitude of say a R3d. It would be nice to have the budget to do a quick color pass on all the clips and create proxies for editorial

        1. A pitfall of all flat file workflows is the lost data from RAW footage. But I worked with the editor to make sure he removed all the color effects and he put any RAW shots where I wanted them. They did deliver an .r3d to me on a shot where we did an extreme correction (high noon > warm, nostalgic sunset). So you always have that option, when necessary.

          The problem with grading shots individually on a job like this… the 3-ups. I wanted to see the shots in context of each other, as well as how the next set of shots would transition on. Remember, this thing is getting blown up as a large format exhibition—mismatches would be obvious. So it was important that I see the shots against each, as the editor intended.

          But on many jobs, grading the Master Timeline works just fine. The key is to be flexible and have back-up plans to your back-up plans. I always want to be the ‘Yes Guy’. I’ll get it done and done well, within the boundaries set by the client. And I want to impose as little as possible on the rest of the post-production team, since for many people they still don’t ‘get’ what we do and I want to minimize excuses for them to decide working with me isn’t worth the effort.

          That’s why I think it’s important that Resolve users master the flat file workflow… it’s the ultimate backup plan.

  2. Wow! Very neat workflow. Makes me feel more confident when requesting a “flat” source file. Look forward to Pt 3

    On a related subject, do you find yourself using this flatten file workflow more often than a traditional conform (relink to camera original media via XMLAAF) in general or mainly for specific reasons such as w this project?

    1. I prefer relinking to camera originals. But it’s more expensive for the client due to the manual ‘don’t trust, always verify’ approach that I take when conforming XMLs.

      If they have the budget and the time, I’ll generally recommend XMLs.

      But I’d say the past 12 months, a ton of projects have found it way easier and more efficient to go the flat file route. The nice bit… it takes the uncertainty out of the XML roundtrips. I *know* for a fact, with a flat file, my footage is precisely what the editor has. But there’s still tedium in massaging the Scene Cut dialog box and then adding in dissolves, fades and (in this job) all the PIP stuff.

  3. Pretty much every weekly reality show I know goes with flattened files purely for speed and efficiency. There’s a time and a place where this can work. Split screens, quad-splits, and all that stuff can be a nightmare no matter what. I’ve had cases where the 5 minutes of FX took more time to correct than the entire show — but I get that conforming it would have taken even longer.

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