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CDL workflow In FCPX 30 Jun 2022 12:30 #121119


first time poster here.

I'm excited to say that I will be editing a feature film on FCPX soon. I have been asked by the post house to pass on to them the color information that the DIT will be generating by use of a CDL.

I'm an experienced editor on other software, but not so much on FCPX and I don't know how this might be done. In Media Composer, for example, that information is passed on from Davinci in an ALE file and then pasted into the clips upon import. Is there a similar workflow for FCXP that I might use?

Thank you for this site and for the help that you all provide.



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CDL workflow In FCPX 30 Jun 2022 16:42 #121137

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Why wouldn't the post house deal directly with the DP or DIT about exchanging look information? Is the post house going to create dailies, do final color, or ...?

As far as FCP goes, you would typically receive dailies with the DP's look burned into the media, do your editing, and pass along things for sound, motion graphics, VFX, and color (depending on who is responsible for those tasks and final assembly or finishing).

Attached is a graphic from Scott Arundale's book "Modern Post..." that shows a rough overview.

In some situations, the DP or DIT could generate CDLs and 3D LUTs related to various looks. You could then use a 3D LUT in FCP (if a look isn't already burned into the dailies).

Of course, this is a very crude overview. You should discuss all of this and establish (and test) a proper workflow before starting things. Or, a post supervisor should coordinate this stuff between you, the DP/DIT, the post house, and anyone involved in the post pipeline. I realize that most, if not all, of this info is not new to you...

Hope this helps.

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Last edit: by DaveM.

CDL workflow In FCPX 30 Jun 2022 16:49 #121139

ColorFinale can work with shot by shot CDL ...

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CDL workflow In FCPX 30 Jun 2022 19:26 #121147

Color Finale does it one shot at a time, not a group of shots or a full sequence. Read my article about the Netflix film "Blood Red Sky" here. Knut had hoped to do that with LUTs, but it became unwieldy in the FCP library. You might want to look at Colourlab (colourlab.ai) . I believe they have a system for doing this in their FCP version.

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CDL workflow In FCPX 01 Jul 2022 07:04 #121153

Thanks to all of you for your replies.

The post house will be taking care of color grading, vfx and conform. They prefer to receive the cdl info from the editing bay rather than from the DIT if possible. There’s not going to be any complicated color grading going on during the shoot, but they would still like to receive the cdl info as a starting point.

I remember reading Oliver’s article some time ago, and I actually stumbled upon it again before posting here. It’s a super interesting workflow, although it exceeds my current needs. I should have clarified that I’ll be receiving the color grades burned into my dailies, so it’s really all about ingesting the color info and attaching it to my clips if we can.

A workflow that has also been suggested to me is to use a text editor to open the ALE and Shot Notes X to copy/paste that data into FCPX.

I’ll be looking into the options that you guys have proposed and will let you know what we come up with in case it’s useful to others.

Thanks again.

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CDL workflow In FCPX 02 Jul 2022 09:42 #121175

This workflow is becoming standard practice for scripted content these days. All color corrections are baked into the offline proxies, so there is no need to apply LUTs or CDLs as color correction effects. BUT we still need to have the color transformations as metadata in the NLE to be able to pass that information along to other departments like:
  • VFX: if editorial turns over a shot to the VFX department with CDL values, they will surely get a render back with exactly the same color as the original shot. That’s the only way to ensure that the VFX render matches the rest of the dailies in terms of color for the sake of continuity.
  • COLOR: instead of starting the color correction process from scratch, by applying the CDL values to the final sequence, they get the look that the DOP and DIT have been already crafting on set as a starting point. This makes the process faster and more consistent with the creators intent.

Working with individual CDL files (one per clip) is not a viable solution: it makes prepping footage in the NLE cumbersome and slow, and takes up software resources with unnecessary processing of third party effects/plugins. Again, what we need is just metadata (the color is already baked into the proxies).

As Bernard mentioned, in Avid you would import an Avid Log Exchange (ALE) file that would add all camera metadata and CDL values to all the clips for a particular shooting day on a batch. As you can see, this workflow has been built for Avid, although other NLEs like Premiere added support for ALE files as well. But of course, Apple won’t do this.

I honestly don’t know why Resolve and other color grading apps used on set can’t export CDL metadata in other formats like AAF or FCPXML. But as far as I know, they can only pass CDL data via EDL or ALE files (for a group of clips) or CDL files for individual clips.

Then, how can we import CDL metadata into FCPX?
  • EDL: There is no way to convert an EDL into FCPXML. The app EDL-X can only do the opposite: convert an FCPXML into EDL (it’s a one way street). So we have to rule out this option.
  • ALE: As I said, FCPX can’t import Avid Log Exchange files (and will probably never do it). BUT these files can be opened in a Text Editor easily, so we can manually copy the data. Combining this with Shot Notes X , like Bernard pointed, opens up a way to bring this metadata into FCPX as Mike Matzdorff showed in this useful tutorial .
The CDL values would come as Custom metadata properties in FCPX. We can create custom Metadata views in Final Cut with the properties that we need, and then export an FCPXML with our custom Metadata View… The problem is that no color grading software (not even Resolve) will be able to read or extract this CDL information from the FCPXML. They will stick to the basic metadata and ignore the rest.

Then, how can we transfer CDL metadata into color grading applications?

In Avid, the standard practice is to export an EDL that includes the CDL values. So our best option is to try to emulate the established Avid workflow and use the app EDL-X  to convert our FCPXML (which should include the custom metadata properties with the CDL values) into a standard EDL. According to the developer, EDL-X can read custom metadata from the FCPXML, including ASC CDL color information.

I haven’t tried this myself, since all the projects I’ve worked on that require a CDL workflow have been edited on Avid. But I’m pretty confident that this should work. Perhaps other FCPX user could confirm. I hope that was useful.

Jesús Pérez-Miranda
Cut People CEO & Founder

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Last edit: by JPM Editor.

CDL workflow In FCPX 04 Jul 2022 09:25 #121222

Thank you so much for your very detailed answer, Jesús.

Mil gracias.

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CDL workflow In FCPX 17 Mar 2023 00:18 #124618

I've been to this post some times while searching information about FCP and CDL. I've tried the workflow that Jesús suggests and it definitely works.My only advice is to ask the DIT one ALE per shooting day so you instead of one ALE per card so you don't have to do too many copy paste operations. Once you open the ALE as a CSV you have to copy the ASC_SAT and ASC_SOP columns and import them through Shot Notes X as in the Mike Matzdorff video that Jesús shared. EDL-X export properly this EDL CDL. Once in DaVinci you have to open ColorTrace menu to import the CDL values from the EDL.

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