Offline/Online Paradigm

There are those out there, primarily DV and HDV shooter/editors that don’t understand the fundamental concepts of the offline/online process for high resolution post-production.  This used to be required for HD content, but computer technology has advanced to the point that 2K and 4K Digital Intermediates are the primary workflows requiring an offline/online post solution.  That being said, the release of the Red One, and a few other new digital cinema cameras, are pushing new people into this unfamiliar territory.  I originally wrote the following piece in a post on reduser.net and decided to post a polished version here as well.  It is designed to introduce DV and HDV editors to the principles and workflow of the online conforming process.

I will try to explain with this analogy.  Most HDV cameras allow you to capture HDV recordings to downconverted DV files in realtime, for backwards compatibility with older NLEs.  Imagine you shot footage in HDV, but you want to offline in DV, and online in HDV.  You capture your HDV footage into a DV project one full tape at a time, and are left with bunch of DV avi files.  You edit the entire piece, and export the final audio, and a DV guidetrack.  Now that you have the final edit in DV, you are ready to conform it at HDV quality.

There are a number of approaches you could take to accomplishing this.  You could throw away the project file and recapture everything in HDV to do an eye match to the DV guidetrack, withno other reference.  That would obviously be a tedious process. Alternatively, you could offline all your media in Premiere Pro, and recapture every entire tape, starting and ending at the exact same timecode values as your DV captures were, giving you an identical set of AVIs, that are at the higher HDV resolution.  This is more efficient, but still requires a lot of storage if your online format is 100 times larger than your offline (not true with HDV) and capture time.  Once finished capturing, there would be very little more work to do. (Resize titles, etc.) You could do a “Remove Unused” in Premiere to totally skip any tapes that were not used in the final edit.  This could save you some space, but only if you have a lot of captures you never ended up using at all.  The next option is to use the project manager to create an offline trimmed project, and recapture only the required parts of clips from HDV (usually with handles).  This process works in Premiere even with high end HD-SDI projects, but will not yet work with data centric workflows.  The alternative that SHOULD work for the Red RAW 4K workflow, among other tapeless formats, is very similar.  In our DV to HDV example, we export an EDL from our DV project and import that EDL into an HDV project to recapture only the needed material.  This allows us to easily capture only the required segments of higher resolution footage, saving tima and disk space.  The new captures will already have a project sequencing them in the correct order, so all that remains is to redo any titles and graphics or effects at the higher resolution, and the project will be ready to send to color correction or whatever the next step in your specific workflow is.

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