Why do we have to conform?

When you want to send a timeline built in an editing software to a different software for color grading you have to do a conform. The conform is the process of recreating the original timeline with the right timing, cuts, content, transitions and gaps in the destination software to be able to do the color grading in context.

There are two main ways to transfer an edit from an editing software to a color grading software. The first one is the “source conform” in which we export a interchange file that contains the cut, FX, tracks, sources INs and OUTs information of the source footage that will then be replace in the right order in the color grading software. WIth this method, original footage is sent independently and enable the use of handles.

The second way to do a conform is by exporting a self-contained movie from the editing software and cut it back by hand or with a cut list in the color grading software.

Which conform solution is suitable for my project ?

Both solution have theirs pros and cons and could prove be more efficient for specific production and post-production workflows. Let’s compare them and see which one is more appropriate for your project.

The source media or “full” conform

The full conform is usually done when the edit is done with media that have a lower quality or resolution than the source media. In that case, going back to the original media will give the colorist a lot more range to work with.

However, there are a couple downsides to the full conform:

  • You have to copy all of the media used in the timeline. That can require a lot of disk space
  • You have to copy all of the original media needed to reconnect in the conformed timeline
  • You have export reference movies with timecode burn-in as a reference
  • Some prosumer cameras (like the Sony A7S) can’t be automatically reconnected in Resolve because of timecode issues. This greatly increases time needed to conform the project.
  • Some cameras without timecode support (most of Canon DSLRs, GoPro…) often have to be conformed by hand because of redundant timecode and file name. This greatly increases time needed to conform the project.

But it is the only way to do it if you want to:

  • Use special transitions with mattes, shapes or morph
  • Recreate timewarps in online editing
  • Have a lot of Picture-in-picture effects
  • Use proprietary plugins and FX created in the editing software have handles on clips to be able to adjust by a couple frames at online.

The “Self-Contained” conform

The self-contained conform is used when the edit is done with media with equal or better codec than the source media. Using this method, transitions are baked-in and timing is locked.

However this workflow will save you a lot of conform time as:

  • All the media will be exactly where they were in the offline edit
  • There is no need for timecode/reel name conform

Some downsides are that:

  • You won’t be able to get handles to move clips around in online
  • Effects rendered in the editing software like retimings, reframes and resizes are baked-in

So this is really a question of quality and flexibility VS conform time. If your want to use the “self-contained” workflow please follow these instructions. If you think your production would benefit from a full conform workflow please refer to the appropriate procedure or contact your CineGround representative.

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