Avid to FCP to Color wasn’t too painful.

Recently I used Apple Color to color a couple of short corporate pieces that originated in Avid.  There’s more than one way to get from Avid into Color and the editor and I decided to go the AAF route as it would give us the most flexibility (even though it’s a bit more complicated course).  An alternative way would have been to export a QT and EDL from Avid and then load both of those into Color.  Color will take the EDL info and automatically ‘notch’ (add edit points) in all the right places on the QT.  While this approach is fairly straight forward it leaves you without handles in case you need to make any more tweaks after the fact and transitions between shots could be problematic.

Step one in making the AAF in Avid is to make sure the software is appropriately up to date.  The editor gave me a drive with all the media and Avid projects on it and I kept getting an error message when I tried to make the AAF.  Turns out Avid 5.5.3 is the only version approved to use on Mac OS 10.7 and I was using Avid 5.5.2.  Once I upgraded to 5.5.3 all was well.  The project was in 23.976 so I gave myself 48 frame handles just in case we needed them (better to be safe than sorry, IMO).

Step two in this process is to go to AutomaticDuck.com and download all the plugins (if you haven’t already).  The specific one you’ll need for this process is Pro Import FCP 2.0, but the plugins are very useful, and now free, so you might as well grab them all.  Once you have the plugin installed you just go File->Import->Automatic Duck Pro Import FCP, select the AAF from the dialog box and then let the Duck do its thing.  Basically Automatic Duck acts like a translator and, to the best of its ability, converts your Avid timeline into a FCP timeline.  How long and how accurate this process is depends on the amount of media there is and how many effects, transitions, filters, etc., you used.

The pieces I did were only a few minutes long each so the process went fairly quickly on the 2.4Ghz i7 MBP I was using.  Some of the Avid filters used had no FCP counterpart so they were discarded.  Wherever Automatic Duck encountered a problem though it left a marker in the FCP timeline along with a brief description of what the error was.  This is a very helpful feature.

With a working FCP version of the project I used the Media Manager to transcode it into ProRes (the source media was DNxHD) then sent it to Color.  After I was finished with the grade I sent it back to FCP and the editor decided to finish the piece in FCP as opposed to going through another conversion step to get it back into Avid.  The only things that didn’t make the initial Avid to FCP trip were some GFX and lower thirds and those were pretty simple to re-export from AE and drop into FCP.

This was the first time for both the editor and myself to do this process so we kinda bumbled around a few times before getting it right but now that I’ve got one under my belt I know that the next time will go much faster and smoother.

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