Working Color-Managed In A Flat File Workflow

August 10, 2021

Learn how to tag a single clip with multiple 'input color spaces' in DaVinci Resolve when executing a 'flat file'/preconformed workflow.


If you’re color grading in DaVinci Resolve but your clients are editing in another software then you may be following a common workflow, often referred to as the ‘Flat File Workflow’. Here on Mixing Light, we’ve been talking about this workflow since the website was founded in 2013. If you’re unfamiliar with this approach for moving from an NLE to DaVinci Resolve, this early series on ‘preconformed’ workflows will get you up to speed.

The question I recently faced on a series I was grading:

How can I execute project-level color management in a preconformed/flat file workflow?

The crux of the problem is this: In flat file workflows, every shot references a single, common video file in Resolve’s Media Pool. A single clip can only have a single color space input transformed assigned to it. If your flat file has shots from multiple cameras recording in multiple gamma/gamut profiles, what then?

In this Insight, learn how to assign multiple color space input settings to a single video clip.

At first, this may seem nonsensical if you’ve set up a color-managed project. The key in the workflow I share in this video is to combine a typical XML export from the NLE with EDLs for each camera profile in the timeline. Then, in Resolve, you use the EDLs for each camera to ‘Split and add to Media Pool’ and the overall XML to rebuild the entire timeline.

There are a few tips in this video on how the editor should organize the timeline they send the colorist. There are also a few tips that I found useful when importing these assets to make assigning the input color space transforms painless.

Comments? Questions? Observations?

Please, use the comments below to share your thoughts on this workflow. I have a suspicion this approach may generate more questions than answers. I’ll be happy to flesh out anything in here you’d like to see explained in more detail.

Member Content

Sorry... the rest of this content is for members only. You'll need to login or Join Now to continue (we hope you do!).

Need more information about our memberships? Click to learn more.

Membership options
Member Login

Are you using our app? For the best experience, please login using the app's launch screen


Homepage Forums Working Color-Managed In A Flat File Workflow

Page 2 of 2

  • Pat Inhofer

    I’m not entirely sure in your workflow, Troy, if you can assign varied Input Color Spaces to your shots on V2 sourcing from the single common flattened .mov? Or are you doing node-based color management (which makes total sense for what you’re describing)?

  • A very interesting approach to a problem I’ll be facing very soon.

    Would you not consider taking the hassle of your editor and just to the whole process your self? Not taking into account if you have dissolves for example.

    Would you go about doing this exact workflow even if your editor is working in Resolve? Or would you approach this differently if that was the case?

    • Patrick Inhofer

      Pétur – Here’s my thinking: No one knows the timeline I’m inheriting better than the editor. Since it’s a flat-file workflow, I don’t have access to the original camera files (that’s the whole point), so I can’t double-check camera cards, etc, if anything is unclear about a shot’s provenience.

      Plus, when we’re executing the flat-file workflow, it’s almost always related to the budget. Everyone involved would like their colorist to work off the camera originals – but a proper conform is a time-consuming process, especially since we’re moving between NLEs. On any timeline more than a couple of minutes long, there will be several hours of the colorist’s time related to matching the two timelines.

      Alternatively, the editor is going to spend an hour so prepping the timeline – but in most cases, the colorist’s hourly rate is much higher than the editor’s hourly rate.

      So when you break it all down, there’s both a monetary reason to have the editor do it and a workflow/familiarity reason for the editor to do it.

      IF the project were edited in Resolve – then I’d absolutely push to get a mirror of the hard drives and just relink within Resolve and work on the camera originals.

      Make sense?

Page 2 of 2

Log in to reply.

1,000+ Tutorials to Explore

Get full access to our entire library of over 1,100+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Test Drive!