Editing Drones Don’t Fly When the Sky Is Grey was such a nightmare that I finally fell back to the stress free Premiere to be able to seamlessly go back and forth between editing and color correcting software. I had linking problems in Media Composer, that resulted in messing around with proxy files, changing names (wait, what? never-do-that!) and finally almost losing everything. What I did take with me was a whole lot of experience on how AVID projects work and deals with transcoded files and databases.

This guide is intended to detail the workflow of roundtripping an AVID MC (Media Composer) project using RED camera to DaVinci Resolve for color correction and then back to AVID for finishing.

1. In AVID MC – Prep (before editing)

After syncing, the name of your clips end up being something different from the original video footage. Although we’ll see how to relink this anyway by using the “Original File Name” column, it’s always on the safe side to keep a column of metadata with the original file name too.

a) Back up original filenames

To do this we:

  1. create a custom column named LINK (or whatever you want),
  2. click the NAME column to highlight it’s contents. Then: Edit >> Duplicate
  3. When the select window appears, choose LINK and hit OK. Boom! Duplicate created. You know, just in case.

b) Back up starting points

Let’s do the same thing for the column START, but in this case duplicating into an already existing column names Auxiliary TC2.B) Back up original start points

  1. click the START column to highlight it’s contents. Then: Edit >> Duplicate
  2. When the select window appears, choose Auxiliary TC2 and hit OK.

Now, go ahead and edit your movie!

2. MC to Resolve (after editing)

Always export reference files just in case clips are messed up in the timeline during the export process, start points don’t match or clips are literally replaced with other ones because of shitty metadata. Your colorist will always have a reference to fall back and know he/she is working on the movie you edited.

a) Export reference file

Select all of your video tracks in your sequence, mark the sequence In to Out, and go to File >> Output >> Export to File… (this may change depending on your version, but at this point I’m guessing you already know how to export your movie from MC!). This file does not have to be high resolution. It is only intended to be a reference in DaVinci, so your colorist has a complete copy of your film to check for duration and the general picture edit.


b) Prep your sequence for AAF export – relinking

Go ahead and create a new bin. I always name this something like “AVID to DAVINCI” or as simple as “COLOR CORRECTION“, because I don’t want to interfere with the editor’s work, as much as I don’t want them touching the sequences I create. Now make a duplicate of the final picture lock sequence and place it in your bin. Edit this sequence to delete any unused tracks and all of the audio tracks too! Remember we’re color correcting, so this is just useless to us.

You shouldn’t need to do anything else if the original edit was already linking to the original files (i.e. it was done by AMA linking), but if the cut was done from transcoded files you will have to relink the footage.
  1. Select the original footage files in the bin they’re in.
  2. Right click on the Main sequence >> Relink.
  3. In the Relink window check Selected items in ALL open bins
  4. In the Relink window choose Source Name, or even LINK, the custom column your created if you did that still preserves the original file name (source name should still be fine since you shouldn’t change this).

c) Export AAF

Please be neat, go ahead and create a New Folder on your drive and name it “Avid AAF Export” or “Avid to Davinci” or whatever you want.

File >> Export to File… the Finder window will open for you to select a destination and name your AAF file. Here are the options you want to check before saving.


3. In DaVinci Resolve

a) Set up the Database location

DaVinci Resolve utilizes a database in order to save your projects. By default Resolve will save the projects in the computer you’re working on. If you want to be able to open it from different computers, you’ll want to save the database on the film’s external HD or your own external drive so all your project settings remain there. Be sure you select your desired drive in the Database Manager.

b) Create a project

There are a few project settings that are very imperative to the success of your workflow in DaVinci. Make sure to set the following up, prior to importing any media or AAFs. Project settings are independent to each project, and must be set at the start of each new project again.

Go to File >> Project Settings


c) Importing clips to Media Pool

Before even thinking about importing your AAF from Avid, we are going to use DaVinci to navigate to our original camera files and then add them to the Media Pool. Select your drive and pull in the footage. You don’t need to bring in files you know are not being used at all in the cut.


d) Import AAF

  1. Go to File >> Import AAF, EDL, XML
  2. Navigate to the folder on your drive that contains the exported AAF from Avid. Select the AAF file and hit OK.
  3. After hitting OK, the Load AAF dialogue window will appear, as seen below…
  4. In the Load AAF… window, follow the settings above.
    – Make sure Automatically set project settings is selected
    – Deselect Automatically import source clips into media pool
    – Make sure Link to source camera files is selected
    – Timeline resolution in the example is 1920 x 1080, but I like to keep my options open and color correct the original file size for possible reframing later (and a bigger export resolution).
  5. After hitting OK, it is likely you will see an error log window notifying you of offline items. This is usually caused by effects, transitions, and titles from your original Avid project. DaVinci will not recognize these files. Hit OK to clear the error. Since we are only addressing the source clips for color correction, this will not affect our workflow.
  6. After clearing the Log error, your timeline should populate with all the clips in your original sequence from Avid, as seen below…
  7. Now that we have our AAF open, and our timeline from Avid is loaded, you’re ready to color correct.

4. Resolve to MC (after color correcting)


Rendering and Exporting your Color Correction out of DaVinci. Go to the Rendering tab, find the Render Settings Panel (upper left) and:

  • A. Choose the Avid AAF preset.
  • B. Click Browse and select a well named location for your rendered files. It’s a good idea to make a separate folder named something like “AAF Export from DaVinci” so that you don’t get mixed with the uncorrected AAF that came from MC.
  • C. Make sure individual clips is selected. This will render out individual MXF files for each shot in your sequence.
  • D. Here you will choose MXF OP-Atom as The file format. For the Codec, select DNxHD 1080p 220/185/175 10-bit.
  • E. Render at whatever resolution you want your MXFs to be exported.
  • F. When ready, click Add to Render queue. This will add it to the Queue Panel in the upper left corner of the interface.

When the render is done, in your destination folder will contain the new MXF media files for Avid and an included AAF file as well.

5. Back in AVID MC (after color correcting)

a) Copy MXFs

First step is to move your new MXF files that DaVinci created, into a new numbered folder inside your Avid MediaFiles folder. Go to your Hard drive >> Avid MediaFiles >> MXF and create a new numbered folder. The number is totally irrelevant, it’s just for organization purposes. Move all MXFs here.


b) Open AVID MC

Now go ahead and open AVID Media Composer…. not before having copied those MXFs!!! The reason is every time MC opens it scans and indexes the media folder and creates a new database object (msmMMOB.mbd) used to link the timeline with the footage. If you open it and the MXF files are not there yet… AVID wont recognize them.

c) Import Database

Create a new bin titles “Resolve Essence” or “DaVinci to AVID” or whatever. Right click in the bin and go to Input >> Import Media. When the finder window opens, navigate back to the new numbered folder in your Avid MediaFiles folder and select precisely that msmMMOB.mdb file.


d) Import AAF

Now, go to Input >> Import Media. Navigate to the same folder where DaVinci saved your renders and select the included AAF file. Click OK. You should see a new sequence icon show up in the bin. This is your sequence from DaVinci with the new color correction changes. You can leave it there for future edits, or go ahead and replace the picture lock one with this one to maintain the latest version up to date.

Author: Bea Cabrera

Freelance Filmmaker with a passion for big cities, snowboard, cinema and a weakness for the smell of freshly ground coffee. Engineer & Graphic Designer in a previous life, loving and living both: art and technology.  

2 Replies to “AVID Media Composer & DaVinci Resolve roundtrip”

  1. Ron Sussman says: December 22, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    this is FANTASTIC. Thanks for taking the time to lay this all out Bea

  2. William Skea says: December 24, 2018 at 6:39 am

    Hi Bea,

    How do you replace the original video tracks with this one on the original sequence without removing the effects? When I copy and paste the video track from the Resolve Sequence to the Avid Sequence I lose all the effects I did before colour grading.

    Kind regards,

    William Skea

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