What is onlining?
Before color grading can begin, a film must be onlined. Offline editors are the creative editors of the film, online editors get the film ready for mastering and delivery. Onlining is what your online editor does to your movie.
Onlining is the process of moving the timeline from the editing software (in this case, Premiere Pro) into the color grading software (DaVinci Resolve) while retaining your original media and cuts. Frame rate conversions, up-resing or a variety of other technical steps that may be needed are also handled during this phase.
Some of our clients choose to do the onlining of their film on their own, and some opt for an onlining session.
If you choose to do your own onlining, we can accept a color-ready DaVinci Resolve project that you have authored plus your corresponding media. We can begin the grade once we transfer and relink your media on our workstation. We request 1 full business day to complete that process.
If you choose an onlining session, you can deliver a drive with your Premiere project and original media on it, and our technicians will take it from there.
On the estimate we initially send you, we will list a set amount of time that our technicians calculate it will take for your onlining session. If there are any unforeseen complications that would make onlining take longer than estimated, we reach out for approval before continuing. We make sure you won’t have any surprises on the bill.
How do I prepare for the online?
We find that clients who prepare their timelines in advance save valuable time (and money!) in their onlining and grading sessions. Here are our top 5 tips for preparing your timeline in Premiere.
- Join any through-edits.
A through-edit is when you use the blade tool to make a cut in a continuous clip. Each of these clips will be seen as unique in DaVinci Resolve. That can mean extra copy-pasting of grades, re-tracking movement, and other manual procedures that aren’t a good use of time.
By default in Premiere, you will not see your through-edits appear any differently than your actual edits. You can turn this setting on by clicking on the Timeline Display Settings (the wrench icon) and choosing Show Through Edits. Then you can see that your through-edits will be marked like in this screenshot:
To select and delete all your through-edits, Command-drag (CTRL-drag on PC) your entire timeline, right-click and choose Join Through Edits.
- De-nesting your Nested Sequences
DaVinci Resolve has trouble reading nested sequences. Therefore, we recommend separating them before the online.
Double-click your nested sequence and it should open up in a new timeline. Carefully copy/paste the individual clips back into your master sequence and re-create the cut there.
Make sure that your edit is still the same once you have done this, as it can sometimes alter the timing and position of your clips.
If you have any embedded .aep project files, these will not transfer to DaVinci Resolve unless they are rendered to video clips.
- Remove unseen footage.
As you edit, you may have many layers of footage, some of which are not visible in the cut. If you don’t see it in the final piece, it’s better not to have it on the timeline.
For example, perhaps you are making a documentary and you have some b-roll on top of the shot of your interviewee speaking. You do not see the speaker, but you’ve left their video underneath the b-roll since you hear their voice. Before your online, it’s a good idea to unlink those video clips from their audio and delete the video that is not seen.
DaVinci Resolve will see any cut in the timeline as a possible shot to be graded, so try to simplify as much of your cut as possible to track V1 before the online. This will prevent wasted time grading (or remembering not to grade) those clips which are not necessary.
- If you’ve been using proxy or optimized media, remember to reconnect your full-resolution files.
It’s important to color grade using your absolute best quality footage. Even if your proxies are high resolution, we still want the footage from the camera in its original format so we can achieve the best look in the grade.
Premiere will not allow you to export proxy media that was created in Premiere, it will automatically reconnect the highest resolution media before exporting. However, if you are using a modified workflow or created your proxies elsewhere, it is best to double-check and make certain that your best quality footage is in place.
- Media Management
For the online and the grade, we only need the raw footage that is present in the cut. There may be hundreds of clips that were shot that didn’t make the final edit, so it’s faster and more efficient to make a smaller pool of resources to transfer over.
An easy way to transfer only the files you need is to use the Media Manager to make a version of your project and media that is only the material you need. You can find the Media Manager under the File menu, and there are many tutorials online that explain all of its features.
Most filmmakers opt to color grade a textless master, then add their text and graphics later on.
However, if you are planning to finish your project in the grading session, be aware that titles created in Premiere will not look the same in DaVinci Resolve after the transfer, so be sure to export them as high-resolution video clips that can be edited back in. We can recommend a codec to you based on your project.
Lower thirds, subtitles or any other text/graphics over picture will need a transparent background.
Many built-in effects and transitions in Premiere will not transfer to DaVinci Resolve. Basic crossfades and dissolves typically work fine, as do cropping/zooming and keyframed movement. If you need an effect that won’t transfer, you may want to consider round-tripping that segment back to FCP X or exporting a clip with the effect baked in. The onlining technician can work with you to achieve this.
If you are working with a VFX artist, make sure that their exports are in the correct color space and format to match the rest of your clips. This will make it easier to match the color of your other clips.
There are some visual effects that a colorist can achieve. However, it may not be the most cost-effective division of labor. A good rule of thumb is that if the colorist can fix it in under 10 minutes, go for it. If not, save it for your VFX team and let the colorist focus on color. Same goes for adding titles and making changes to the edit.
How do I online?
Ok, so assuming you’ve followed all the guidelines above, you are ready now for 2 different scenarios. 1) Drop off your Premiere project and media with us so we can online it for you or 2) Online it yourself.
If you opt to online your film on your own, here’s how you do it.
- Export a FCPXML from Premiere of your sequence
- Import your XML into Resolve (it’s ok to use the free version of Resolve for this)
- Relink your media and check through your project for any discrepancies.
- Fix any issues (offline, incorrect or differently scaled clips, lay in titles/graphics/VFX shots that were not brought in)
- File > Export Project This will make a .drp file which you can deliver, along with all your media, to your colorist. Please deliver these materials at least 1 full business day in advance of your session.
Sounds easy? Sometimes it is! And sometimes it’s not. But we wish you very good luck.
Is there something else you wish you had known before onlining to Resolve from Premiere Pro? Have a question that’s not answered here? Please let us know! We’re happy to help.
Best of luck with your film!
Thanks for explaining that a film must be onlined before the color grading process can start, which means it has to be moved from the editing software to the color grading software. Lately I’ve been interested in learning more about the process of film making because I made a friend who knows a lot about that industry. I had never heard the term “onlining” before, so thanks for explaining that process!