Exploring XML Conform Options in DaVinci Resolve

Exploring XML Conform Options in DaVinci Resolve

December 7, 2016

Importing XMLs into DaVinci Resolve can be frustrating. Sometimes, a change in Resolve's 'Conform Options' settings can save the day (or not).


Series

Conforming Giants Part 4

Trying Alternative XML Import Workflows

All full-featured color grading apps have one thing in common: They give you many different ways to accomplish the same goal. The path you choose is based on what you’re most comfortable with. But sometimes, one path is obviously more superior than another. But to find the superior path you must walk down each path, separately. Then you stand back, evaluate the results and proceed forward. Importing an XML into DaVinci Resolve is frequently one of those ‘walk-down-each-path-before-deciding-which-path-is-best’ routines. As we conform In The Shadow of Giants, we explore several Conform Options in Project Settings that have a big impact on the XML we’re importing.

Importing XMLs is more an art than a science

Do you think there is a precision in this? Think again. In an age of digital files, there isn’t enough metadata embedded in our digital files for an app like Resolve to sort out one clip from another. Often, Resolve is making an educated guess about which clip goes where. And if Resolve starts guessing, things get wonky.

The XML import of In The Shadow of Giants is wonky.

In this Insight, upon initial import, we’re noticing all sorts of problems with wrong clips, frame resizing, etc. When I see this type of thing happen, what’s the first thing I do? I try again, but with different Conform Options in DaVinci Resolve’s Project Settings. We tell Resolve to infer additional information about the timeline being imported and how to match the timeline up with the clips in the Media Pool. And when I say ‘infer’ – really, we are telling Resolve to make intelligent guesses. We’re having Resolve either create new metadata or look for alternate metadata to help the import process.

By changing the Conform Options, we’re changing the rules for matching clips to the incoming timeline.

Sometimes, a simple change to the Conform Options fixes all our problems – instantly! Other times, it creates whole new sets of problems. At those times our decision becomes… which set of problems do we want to solve? We get to choose between two problem imports.

If changing Conform Options doesn’t work—then change how you populate the Media Pool

It’s strange – but over the years I’ve found some versions of DaVinci Resolve work best when you add all the footage into the Media Pool before the XML import. Other versions of DaVinci Resolve hate a pre-populated Media Pool and prefers to populate the Media Pool via the XML Import dialog box. More recently, Resolve is agnostic—either way works as frequently as it fails.

But as you’ll see in this Insight, with a problem import I still take a few moments and let the XML Import dialog box populate the Media Pool. It’s an easy troubleshooting step that mysteriously solves many problems.

As you watch this Insight, keep in mind this Insight is longer than it actually takes to execute

Conforming is a pain. And sometimes it can take all day. But the step of the process you see here usually doesn’t take more than 5 – 10 minutes. I’m just taking time to talk you through it and help you understand my reasoning. This way, when you run into a troublesome conform, you’ll have a series of A-B-C steps you can follow, too.

Enjoy!

-pi

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Comments

18 thoughts on “Exploring XML Conform Options in DaVinci Resolve”

  1. Very helpful series.

    One thing I like to do with the reference track is to change the composite mode of the reference clip to ‘difference’. If the reference is a perfect match that should result in a solid black output. If there are any differences they will show up as ghosting. It’s a lot faster to spot that then any other opacity/crop technique. At least for the initial survey.

    Lastly, I’m wondering if using other formats than XML between Premiere and Resolve are more up to date? I know AAF is supported by both, but have tried recently if that yields to better results.

    1. Jan – 100%!

      I LOVE the Difference mode. I don’t like using it when it’s a long timeline and the Conform is my first opportunity to watch the ‘locked’ picture. With Difference you just see a black screen. If I don’t know the job, then the Conform serves double-duty, allowing me to learn the content as well as verify the XML import.

      I’ll go over the Difference mode in this series, thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Regarding AAF exports – I find they rarely are more reliable since they contain less information about our timelines than most XML formats. AAF is fine for straight-cuts and dissolves timelines. But if the XML fails on import, the AAF will likely fail since the metadata that AAF defines is much more restrictive. Still – as a troubleshooting step I’ve tried AAF exports (but they’ve yet been able to solve a problem for me that existed in the XML export).

    1. 100% correct! I may add some VO into this Insight, saying such since it comes across as a little cavalier as I watch this back with fresh eyes.

      At the start of every job I make a *very big point* of always asking the editor if they have ANY multi-track effects I need to know about? If the answer is yes, then I go shot-by-shot when simplifying the timeline – verifying that there isn’t a multi-track effect I’m about to blow away.

      In ‘Giants’, the editor specifically said, as I was dong the original conform, “Sorry, I forgot to remove the video tracks for the soundbites on Track 1. You can delete all of those.”

      Of course, I never trust that the editor hasn’t forgotten – so we’ll catch this problem in the next Insight as we verify the timeline against the Offline Reference movie.

      1. It would be nice if the “Edit Index” view had an indicator that flagged any clips that have been adjusted in the inspector at all. That way when conforming there would be an easy way to jump to the clips that need special consideration.

  2. I agree with Greg, watch those transparencies on track 2 they have bitten me more than once.

    Further, I don’t understand why I am liking this series so much.
    I’ve had my fair share of difficult conformes and am so glad they occur less these days. And jet, I really enjoy watching Patrick problem solve his way out of this one.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to make your client understand the difficulties of conform?
    I notice that most of my clients (even editors) don’t understand that conform takes time and has to be done with care.
    They act as if it might be a problem with Resolve or even me, and that it should just work.

    Also, @Patrick, have you moved away from working with the offline reference clip completely?
    If so, can you tell me a little about that decision?

    1. There’s a German word for enjoying watching the suffering of others – especially if you’ve suffered the same 🙂 I can’t spell it so I wont try – but here’s the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude

      When I quote a job, I always quote the Conform separately from the Grade. When I quote a full day for Conform and a full day for Delivery on a 2-hour timeline… this really motivates the client to have their editor do most of the work of getting whipping the timeline into shape for me.

      Once a client understands the cost of the Conform, they can make the choice to switch to the easier flat-file ‘baked’ workflow or this more complicated individual shot ‘unique filenames with handles’ workflow.

      RE: Offline Reference – I still use it. But not during the conform. You’ll see why as we wrap this up in a few Insights from now (I’ve got two more Insights on this topic recorded and at least one more after that).

      1. Thanks Patrick,

        I’ll be sure to emphasize the conform phase more when I quote a new project. And I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the next parts.

        As to the Schadenfreude; (we have a similar word in Dutch)
        I’d like you to know that I do not soo much take pleasure in your suffering, but feel comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one to get into these situations.

        Anyway, Thank you for sharing!

  3. i am curious why you stopped working with the reference movie function. i do love it and use it all the time. and why didn’t you use the use reel name from filename option but startet all over again? isn’t it a better starting place to have certain clips clearly offline? (because the file isn’t found!).

    but else, yes, a little bit of schadenfreude sweetens the day 🙂

    1. As you’ll see soon enough – I haven’t stopped working with the ‘Add As Reference Movie’ command. I just use it later in the pipeline. At the end of this series I’ll cover odds and ends from these comments… including a bigger discussion on this topic as well as effectively using the ‘Difference’ mode when conforming.

  4. Hi Patrick

    I tend to do Premiere to Resolve conforms all the time and my method is to prep what I can in Premiere first before going into Resolve. So I just duplicate the offline timeline and make a Resolve prep copy. From there I flatten the timeline to V1 (leaving any transparencies on V2 if they are there). I also put my Offline ref movie in my prep timeline, that way it carries across with the xml and I don’t need to add it later. I have noticed that resizing issues can many times be due to editors using “Scale to frame size” rather than “Set to frame size” in Prem. I’m enjoying this series.

    1. Jon – Thanks for that ‘Scale to Frame Size’ vs ‘Set to Frame Size’ Tip! That may make it’s own Insight once I’ve explored it a bit more!

      Yes, I always try to have the editor do ALL this work (although I don’t ask them to put the Ref Movie in, since I’m already having them do enough work). They know the material. They know what elements can be dropped to V1 and what needs to stay on multiple tracks. They don’t have to make guesses about anything, since no one knows the job better than they do.

      In this case, Mike did follow my instructions – but forgot to delete the extraneous V1 stuff. And when working with outside clients, this happens all the time. No matter how explicit or well written your instructions – steps get skipped or overlooked. Especially since they frequently don’t know the ‘why’ of what we’re asking. To them, it looks like ‘busy work’.

      1. Patrick – Sure I get your point about about all that and Its cool to see how you can get around issues in Resolve, when needs must. Yes the frame size thing can be annoying, I think in the scale to frame size option, there are some hidden values going on and so when you make the xml it doesn’t carry across and causes issues. I did some tests on Jpegs in Prem where there was a move/ creep on them. If set to frame size is used that move should carry across in the xml. When in resolve you might find that the jpeg (with move) is not filling the frame, but if you go to the inspector in resolve and choose crop in the in the retime and scaling tab it seems to fix the intended scaling that was done in the offline.

  5. Hi Patrick,
    Thanks very much for this conforming series; it’s very helpful!

    If I have FCP7 installed on my machine (and someday the Mac OS du jour doesn’t end up breaking it, which someday it will), can a Premiere XML be washed through FCP7 in order to make a difference in the XML language coming into Resolve? Or is it a case of garbage in/garbage out?

    1. David – Sorry I missed this question of yours… FCP 7 generally doesn’t improve the translation into Resolve, not anymore. There was time, a few years ago when I would have answered differently. But today, Resolve is as good as parsing the FCP XML language as FCP itself. In fact better, since Resolve can translate to and from the FCP and FCPX XML languages… something neither of those apps can do.

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