Finishing Challenges, Part 1

These days, I’ve worked with remote colorists to get projects finished. For various reasons, the workflow has gotten a little more complicated.

In the past, it was easy to send a drive with footage to a colorist via messenger or courier. I’d send either the selected original footage clips with an XML or all the footage and let the XML parse out what was needed by the colorist. Yes, that can still happen, but with tight schedules, sometimes it’s hard to make that happen on a timely basis.

The other option is to send the footage electronically. This can be a bit of a problem because I work with directors who never say cut. I’m lucky in that I have fiber with fast upload and download speeds, but not everyone has a fast connection like that. As a result, sending a 300 GB file—or several 300 GB files—isn’t always successful.

Instead, I have to send trimmed files. Since most of my work is spot length work, it doesn’t take much time to create these new files. The important thing is that what I send to color and what I get back can be placed in the edit without a lot of hassle. This means the filenames and, more importantly, the timecodes have to match.

I could just send a strung-together movie of all the takes used in the edit. That way nothing gets confused. That sounds like an easy solution, but most workflows for grading and finishing are more shot-based. There’s a lot of extra work involved in trying to turn a single movie file into separate shots so the grade can happen.

In addition, outputting for finish might be confusing if a colorist tries to output a single file. And there’s the issue of having some extra graded frames on the heads and tails of each shot in order to make tweaks during finishing.

Next time, I’ll talk about my fairly simple process for creating files for color grading.