For professional colorists, understanding various effects house workflows is just as important as running a client-filled room, not to mention performing the actual grading.

Professional colorists work with special effects artists nearly as much as clients, so understanding various effects house workflows is just as important as running a client-filled room, not to mention performing the actual grading. A professional colorist provides material for designers in the way they request, but also details how material should be delivered to the color session.

General Workflow

Color jobs originating from graphics tend to operate differently than ones from traditional edit sessions. In graphics, shots are constantly changing and are in need of updating. In the edit, the shot footage is never fundamentally changed. Handles are sometimes disregarded, as the files will already be trimmed for color. In these instances, shot management becomes the name of the game. It’s important to remain organized, using dated project folders if the job stretches across multiple days.

It’s important to have a conversation with the graphics department to set up efficient ways to have material readied for your session. Don’t assume their workflow will be the same as yours. While every effects house does things a bit differently, there are some normal procedures that can help ensure the workflow doesn’t get in the way. One such procedure is to discuss deliverables before the session starts.

Designers will most often ask for DPX files, but may also want repositioned scenes rendered at full resolution. Quicktimes may also be required for the edit. Don’t guess what they need. Just give them a call — they’ll be glad you did. You can add additional outputs at the very bottom of the Deliver options.

Additional renders can be added at the very bottom of the render tab so you don’t have to attend to the renders.

How Professional Colorists Work with the Graphics Department: File Image

DPX files are image sequences, meaning you’ll be generating a file per frame, leading to a ton of files. For the sake of organization, it’s customary to render each clip to its own folder.

In the ‘Deliver’ page in DaVinci Resolve, there is an option to place each clip in its own folder, which greatly aids in organization.

How Professional Colorists Work with the Graphics Department: Place Clips in Separate Folders

For even finer control of rendered media, select ‘Use Commercial Workflow’ for even more options.

How Professional Colorists Work with the Graphics Department: use commercial workflow

Placing each rendered shot in its own folder automatically organizes output media for you.

How Professional Colorists Work with the Graphics Department: folder structure

File Naming

Graphics houses will typically label each effects shot with a unique shot number as a way to keep track of them. The folder and shot names for your output should follow this nomenclature.

Double-check to make sure ‘Use Source Filename’ is selected in the File tab to create renders identified with the same name the graphics house used.

How Professional Colorists Work with the Graphics Department: use source filename

What experiences have you had in working with effects houses? Let us know in the comments.