There are two fundamental ways to bring media into Avid, and which one you should use depends on which program you intend to finish in. If you’re finishing in Avid or Baselight via Avid, then the AMA workflow is recommended, as it ensures you get a good relink and don’t lose any metadata. If you’re intending to finish anywhere else, then using a third party program is recommended, as it’s generally a faster and more reliable transcode than doing it in Avid, does not interfere with the relink (when properly executed), does not take over your system so you can continue to work in Avid while transcoding, and of course allows better options for doing dailies colour correction.

This workflow will use Black Magic’s amazing DaVinci Resolve to create master clips that are brought directly into Avid without consolidating or transcoding. This workflow was used in Resolve 12.5 and Avid 8.6 in OS X Yosemite, however I expect it to be stable in the current Resolve 14 and Avid 8.9 as well, in either OS X or Windows.

Initial Sync in Resolve

  1. Set up project. Shift+9 to bring up Project Settings > Master Project Settings > Conform Options > select “Assist using reel names” from  the source clip filename.
  2. Bring media into media pool, preserving bins.
    • in Media panel, navigate to your day’s camera folders, right click > add folder and subfolders into media pool (create bins)
  3. Autosync.
    • In your newly populated media pool in the bottom window, select all folders in the left column > Autosync based on timecode
  4. Fix audio tracks. Sort by number of audio tracks. Select all of the 6-channel and 2-channel clips. Switch them to Mono.
    • select all tracks > Clip Attributes > Audio > Channel Format > select “Mono” icon (the second one)
    • switch audio tracks from 1 to 2
    • 2 needs to be changed because Resolve thinks it’s stereo; 6 needs to be changed because Resolve thinks it’s 5.1
  5. Verify the sync.  Adjust subsync as required.
    • The Audio panel should be active (top right), in waveform view. Options + left/right arrow to adjust the sync in realtime. There is currently no way to zoom in on the waveform unfortunately. If the waveform is not appearing, restart Resolve. 
    • Negative offset audio can only moved one way; to move the other way, Unlink by hitting the “unlink” icon in the bottom right of the panel >  manually adjust audio > Relink.
  6. Manually sync anything that failed the autosync.
    • Unlink any audio that is attached to your video clip, navigate to slate on audio file, link.
    • By default Resolve leaves the last audio clip up when you select a new video, so you can get through multicam footage quickly this way.
  7. Adjust metadata.
    • Scene: which scene it is (eg 102A)
    • Take: which take+camera (eg 1a, 2a, 2c)
    • Comments: Scene+Take abbreviation (overwriting Sound’s comments)(eg VG58V-2a, 68-1a, 68-2c). Mark no good takes as X-X.
    • Description: exact filename of attached audio, eg 102AT01.WAV. Write MOS if no audio. We’re doing this to help Sound with the relink.
    • Add Scripty’s circles to Comments, as an asterisk (eg 54A-2b*)

Exporting from Resolve

  1. Create timelines for each camera roll.
    • In the Edit panel, CMD+N for a new timeline, drag all the clips from that camera into the roll.
  2. Colour correct as needed, either manually, applying a LUT or custom LUT from the DIT.
  3. Create ALEs. With the timeline active, right click on timeline in bin > Timelines > Export > ALE > save.
  4. Export. 
    • Delivery panel, MXF OP-Atom (important! Do not choose OP-1a, otherwise you will not be able to inject it directly into the Avid database, and must consolidate it first). DNxHD 1080p 36 8-bit.
    • Audio > Render > Same as source. Render timeline as > Individual source clips.
    • Save As > Use Source Filename.
    • Render To > Browse > navigate to filepath (don’t render directly to your Avid MediaFiles folder if you intend to have Avid running, as it may cause instability).
    • You can save this entire thing as a preset by clicking Save in the top right; but in many versions Resolve has a bug where it will reset save Audio channels: same as source; this needs to be manually selected each time.
    • Click Add To Render Queue. The job back is added to the queue on the right.
    • Go back to each of your camera roll timelines (Shift+4 for Edit panel, Shift+8 for Deliver panel) and add them all to the queue.
    • Select all items in the queue > Start Render.

Subclipping in Avid

  1. Bring clips into Avid.
    • In Finder, create a new folder with today’s date in MediaFiles, ie Avid MediaFiles > MXF > 20160927. Add transcoded MXF media to this.
    • In Avid, create a folder for the day, eg Day02, and two bins inside it: Day02_MASTERS & Day02_SUBS
    • Drag the .mdb from today’s MediaFiles folder into Day02_Masters
  2. Create subclips.
    • Select all master clips > right click > Input > Import media > Options > Merge masters clips with known events > select ALE file
    • Check to see master clips all end in .mov, have correct Aux TC & Tape Info
    • With masters still selected, right click > Input > Import media > Options >  Create Subclips > select ALE file
    • Repeat for all ALEs.
  3. Adjust metadata on your clips. Select all clips, choose a column & CMD+D to paste the contents of that column into another.
    • Copy AUX TC 1 > “Sound TC”
    • Copy Descript > “Audio Filename” We do this because Resolve isn’t currently able to add a custom column name, and we want to be more descriptive.
  4. Move subclips to their own bin, Day02_SUBS
  5. Adjust audio tracks for subclips.
    • Select all master clips > right click > modify > unlink media
    • Select all subclips > right click > modify > dropdown menu > Set Tracks > deselect all but A1 & V1. This is so that the editor doesn’t have a ton of  audio tracks on his clips, but can still access all tracks if he wishes.
    • Select all in master > relink master clips
  6. Rename subclips.
    • Select all subclips > copy comments column into “Name.” If we want to see the camera roll name, we will matchframe back to the master.
  7. Sort by name. Delete X-X subclips. We only kept them around this long as a troubleshooting step to be able to check if there were missing clips.
  8. Group clips and sort into scene bins as needed.
  9. Switch bin presets to the editor’s preferred preset.

Creating a Dailies Reel in Resolve

  1. Create new timeline. In Resolve, Edit panel > CMD+N to create a new timeline, with the name of your reel.
  2. Select circled takes. Use the sift search to isolate your circled takes. Sort by scene.
  3. Add the circled takes to timeline. If it exceeds 1 hr (check your show’s specifications), split the dailies reel into multiples, keeping scenes together if possible. Always keep setups together.
  4. Delete all audio tracks except for A1 (or wherever your master mix channel is)
  5. Apply colour. Add a preset LUT or the DIT’s LUT to your clips.
    • If you did the colour from your main reels, you can add this colour onto your clips now: with the timeline active, right click the timeline > Timelines > ColorTrace > ColorTrace from Timeline > navigate to the camera roll > Continue. Deselect all options except for Color. Clips that are green have been matched to clips from the timeline you selected; red clips are unmatched. Hit Done. If there were red clips, repeat the steps for their timeline until all clips have been matched.
  6. Add Timecode & Source File Name. Color panel > fire icon > Source Timecode, then Source File Name. On the right you can adjust the font size, colour and placement, and save the entire thing as a preset by clicking the dropdown arrow next to Create. You can also add an image here if your show requires a watermark.
  7. Export. Delivery page.
    • Render timeline as > single clip
    • Save as > use timeline name
    • Data rate > restrict to > 2500 kb/s
    • Resolution > 720p
    • Framerate > whatever your clips are
    • Render > 2 channels of audio
    • Save this as a preset; note that you must manually select Data rate > restrict to 2500 kb/s each time you open the preset for the first time.
  8. Add to render queue. Add the rest of the timelines and then export.

Known Issues

Issue: ALE does not apply metadata to Avid subclips. Receive the error BIN_IMPORT_NO_MATCH
Fix: Re-apply the ALE in Avid. May need to do this multiple times. You will continue to hit the BIN_IMPORT_NO_MATCH  error: hit Quit to exit the error message (it is not necessary to select “ok” through them all).

Issue: Resolve does not allow subframe syncing on audio clips with a negative offset (or rather, it allows adjusting forward, but not backward)
Fix: Unlink the clip, navigate backwards in the audio panel, and then relink.

Issue: Resolve does not save Delivery presets fully. Does not save “Audio Channels: same as source” when exporting DNxHD, and does not save “Quality: Restrict to 2500/s” when exporting H264.”
Fix: Double-check all options in Delivery panel before rendering. Once you have added a timeline to the render queue, the next timelines you load will inherit the old settings unless you change them, so don’t need to be reset.

Issue: Do not have to option to select “Audio Channels same as source” in Delivery page of Resolve
Fix: Switch from Individual Clips to Single Clip, then back to Individual Clips. Now you can select Audio channels. You have to go back to File and re-select Name > Source name.

Issue: Resolve does not see newly added media in folders.
Fix: Right click on any folder in the browser column, and select Refresh.

Further Reading

Check out the reverse of this workflow: going from Avid > Resolve > Avid, by Scott Freeman.