Using Offline Reference Clips in Resolve

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

Using offline clips is important when establishing yourself as a serious colorist. Learn how in this DaVinci Resolve Tutorial.

Developing an ability to match shots quickly is of tantamount importance when first learning to grade. However, managing technical details before your clients arrive is  just as important.

These are the parts of the job that your clients aren’t concerned about, because they’re only interested in making the image look its best. Using offline clips from the editorial department is extremely crucial for a session.

Your worst-case scenario is a client who knows the timeline better than you do. You don’t want them calling out a shot you’re grading as wrong. It’s the easiest and fastest way to lose credibility, and the client will question everything else in the session from that point on.

Now that I’ve sufficiently scared you, let’s take a look at how to work with offline clips and how they can be used throughout the session.

What are Offline Clips?

First, a bit of terminology. In this context, the term “offline” describes a reference movie file from an offline nonlinear editorial (NLE) system like Premiere or Final Cut Pro. Over the last few years, NLEs have become sophisticated enough to function as online tools for many workflows, so the term has become a bit of a misnomer for some.

Think of the terms “offline” and “rough cut” as synonymous. For those working in a commercial environment, however, it’s customary to use a high-end finishing system to design effects, handle versioning and titling, and otherwise assist in outputting the final online picture.

Offline clips are usually a single Quicktime file of the EDL, XML or AAF you’ll be grading. The clip doesn’t have to have all the effects and filters taken off to be useful, and they can contain reference audio as well. Since the file is a reference clip, it also doesn’t function like normal media that can be added to the Media Pool.

You can add the reference clip as a piece of media as well, but you can’t have a reference file and a media file that points to the same media in the same folder. To get around this, create another folder in your Media Pool and call it something like “Reference.” You can keep yourself organized by keeping all of the references there, with your media at the root Master folder.

You can then add your offline media clip to the end of the sequence to play for clients or grab reference stills as needed.

Bringing in the Offline Clip

In the Media tab, navigate to where your reference picture is in the Browser and right-click on it to bring up the shot’s options. Select Add as Offline Reference Clip. When the clip is brought in, you’ll see it has a sort of transparency grid icon next to it, which is how offline clips are denoted.

Navigate to your reference, right-click, and choose “Add as Offline Reference Clip”:

Add as Offline Reference Clip - DaVinci Resolve

The grid icon denotes an offline reference clip:

Grid Icon - DaVinci Resolve

Once you have the reference clip loaded, load your EDL, XML or AAF as usual inside the Edit tab. Right-click on the imported timeline, choose Link Offline Reference Clipand select your rough cut.

Right-click and link the proper reference to your sequence:

Linking Reference - DaVinci Resolve

Next, select the first icon underneath the left monitor, conveniently looking like the grid icon we noticed earlier, and scrub through your timeline shot by shot to check that your offline file matches the imported timeline. If each cut point is just a few frames off from what it should be, you can slip the reference cut in the box next to the zoom percentage.

Read the rest of the article on PremiumBeat’s blog.

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