sending your project for grading

You finished your edit. You have a picture lock and now it needs that layer of color.

Preparing the film for the grade can be complex. Luckily you have us to help you out!

we'll come to the rescue...

For an extra fee, we will come over to your location to help you prepare the timeline for the grade. Contact us if that's the case.

 

But if you think that you can manage this step by yourself, we've prepared this comprehensive guide which will take you through the most important steps. It's your call!

...or do it yourself

This guide was written with an Adobe Premiere edit in mind, since that's the most popular editing software.

However, most of it will work for projects edited in Final Cut and other softwares- so your editor should be able to adapt easily.

IMPORTANT

For best results, the grade should not be done using a rendered video file of the entire film. The best workflow is achieved by relinking the edit cut by cut to the original media straight out of the camera, which thankfully can be done (mostly) automatically if you follow the instructions below.

prep your timeline

If have to pre-render any piece of video for grading, always use a high quality codec with at least 10 bits of color information (such as ProRes 4444, DNxHD or DNxHR 10-bit).

ALL of the original video files from the camera and/or created in post-production are needed for grading.

  • Duplicate your timeline and name the new one "Grading", so the changes for the color grading won’t damage your edit.

  • Leave NO Nested Sequences in the XML.

    • Nested Sequences (aka Compound clips) are subtimelines which are placed into your main timeline.

      • Example: You edited a scene on a timeline called “Scene 1” and you dragged that timeline into your main timeline called “Full Film”. To fix that for the grading, copy the edit from “Scene 1” and paste it into the Grading timeline.

  • Delete any black bars you added for cinema aspect. Those will come back during the grading.

    • If you added black bars by cropping, remove the effect.

    • If you reframed shots using black bars, you can leave the reframing as is.

  • Put all VIDEO clips on Track 1 and remove overlapping.

    • If you edited in a way that you absolutely need more tracks, that’s okay. But keep the video clips as low as possible on the timeline.

  • Put all ON-SCREEN TEXT clips on a single track. (if applicable)

    • This counts for initial/end credits, name tags, information tags etc. If they need more than one track to work, that’s okay, but don’t add anything other than the text clips on those tracks.

  • Put all SUBTITLE clips on a single track. (if applicable)

  • If you used slow motion or speed up effects on any clips, you will need to export those clips as a high quality video file and replace them in your "Grading" timeline.

    • Keep those exported clips organized in a separate folder called "Speed Change" and send it to us with the rest of the material.​

  • Render a ProRes 4444 32bit file (this will add an Alpha Channel to it) with the same duration as the film with only the on-screen text clips. (if applicable)

    • To do this, disable all other tracks before rendering.

  • Render another file with only the subtitles. (if applicable)

    • To do this, disable all other tracks before rendering.

  • Select all the ON-SCREEN TEXT and SUBTITLES clips then:

    •  Right click > Disable.

    • For the grading, only the video clips should be enabled.

  • Delete every audio clip from the timeline and delete all the audio tracks

    • It's okay if you can't delete Audio Track 1.

one more thing...
  • Did you use any transitions other than a standard Dissolve?

    • Then we will have to discuss the best workflow for your project. Contact us before proceeding.

  • Used some video effects and/or 3rd party plug-ins?

    • They won’t be transported to the grading software. This should also be discussed depending on your project. Contact us before proceeding.

    • If you did any color adjustments with plug-ins/effects, delete all of it and discuss directly with the colorist what effect has to be achieved in the grade.

  • Did you resize the shot, cropped it or reframed it?

    • That will most likely be transported to the grading software, but an extra check is needed.

what to send to us

​Information about your project

  • Specs of your timeline: Resolution (1080p, UHD 4k, DCI 4k etc.), frame rate and name

  • What’s the final aspect ratio of the film? Check the image below and write it down.

  • Will the film be shown mostly in cinemas, festivals, internet or is it a TV production?

Files

  • ALL original files (except for audio)

  • An .XML file of the picture lock

    • The Premiere Project file is NOT necessary.

  • A .WAV file, with the same duration of the film, with guide audio

    • It doesn’t need to be the final audio, as long as it contains the dialogue.

  • A low-quality render of the whole film

    • A 720p h.264 will do.

If applicable:

  • All the VFX shots.

  • One ProRes 4444 32bit (with Alpha Channel) file, with the same duration of the film, with all on-screen text, initial/end credits etc. (if applicable)

  • One ProRes 4444 32bit (with Alpha Channel) file, with the same duration of the film, with all the subtitles

    • The subtitles sent to the colorist should be only the ones that belong in the film. Subtitles made for translation of the film are not a part of the grading.

These are the most common aspect ratios. Different proportions are also possible.

  • Example 1: The film is an English spoken documentary. There’s a scene where someone is speaking French and English subtitles were added to that scene. Next to that, one of the scenes is English spoken but has bad audio. English subtitles were added to make the audio understandable. Those subtitles belong in the film and should be sent to the colorist.

  • Example 2: The film is English spoken and there are no other languages being spoken in it. You created French subtitles to send the film to a French film festival. Those subtitles are NOT a creative part of the film grading and should not be sent to the colorist.

then what?

  • After the grade is finished, you will receive the graded video(s) in:

    • lower quality h.264 file(s) (via internet)

    • high quality DNxHD, DNxHR or ProRes file(s) (via internet if the file isn't bigger than 20gb, available for download for 30 days after delivery; or, if it is bigger than 20gb, you will need to provide us with an USB drive to collect the file at our location).

  • We will deliver to you the graded file using the delivery specs agreed upon before the grade started (that can be 1080p, UHD 4k, 4k DCI or other custom formats to be agreed upon ahead of the job).

  • You can also request a ProRes or DNxHD/HR master of the grade without any kind of subtitles or burned-in text, in case you want to subtitle it in different languages later.

Still got some questions? Then contact us directly.