Conforming Process

Essential knowledge

Before starting the post production of your project there should always be a post-production meeting with all involved people to avoid problems during the final post production process. Your final target format must be clear before starting with your shooting.

There are a lot of delivery formats with different aspect ratios and resolutions. Some well-known for example are:

  • HD 1.78:1 1920x1080
  • UHD 1.78:1 3840x2160
  • HD 2:1 1920x960
  • UHD 2:1 3840x1920
  • DCI 2.39:1 (Scope) in 2K 2048x858 or 4K 4096x1716
  • DCI 1.85:1 (Flat) in 2K 1998x1080 or 4K 3996x2160

Please define your final delivery format and aspect ratio, before starting with the final stage of post-production.
For example, shooting for a final delivery in scope (1:2.39) it’s necessary to do the correct framing with your camera on set. To do so, you can do a correct framing with the help of so-called frame lines within the camera. For more information regarding frame lines please visit our ARRI Frame Line and Lens Illumination Tool, where you can create and download frame lines for different ARRI cameras.

In the following example you will find a combination of ALEXA LF (A-Cam) and ALEXA Mini (B-Cam). Both are running in Open Gate Mode in ARRIRAW. The framing was intended to be 1:2.39. The ALEXA LF frame line is 1:2.39 and also the ALEXA Mini frame line is 1:2.39. In our example the final target format is set to DCI 4K 2.39:1 (Scope) 4096x1716. In this case each source has to be resized to full width, which means 4096 pixels in width. The final height is defined by the final aspect ratio, which is here 1:2.39. All intermediate steps, as shown below, are done unnoticed from the user in the background by most post production and grading tools. For a better understanding please have a look at the following image.

There are used two different terms, which meaning the same thing, when talking about the final post production process. Some people call it Conforming others call it Online.
Simply said, Conforming or Online means relinking back to the highres OCN files in the correct order, that was creative edited by the editor within the editing software (e.g. Adobe Premiere, Avid Media Composer or Final Cut). There are various post production tools out on the market, which all have pros and cons for different use cases. It’s always up to the user or post company itself, to find the post production software that suites most. Some well-known tools for example are:

  • Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio
  • FilmLight Baselight
  • SGO Mistika

For relinking back to the highres OCN files you always need some basic informations to generate your final timeline in your finalization tool:

  • Clip Name or Reel Name
  • Timeline Timecode IN & OUT
  • Source Timecode IN & OUT

First, the clip or reel name tells the corresponding clip. The timeline timecode defines the target location where each clip is placed in the timeline and tells us the IN and OUT timecode. And last but not least the source timecode, which is included in every source clip. The source timecode defines the used part of the source clip, defined by the IN and OUT timecode.

To export this information from the corresponding editing tool, there are different possibilities. In the early years of post-production the so-called EDL (edit decision list)
was widely used to transport the edited order from the editor to the post-production. The EDL is a human readable file (ASCII text) which can be opened with every text editor. The big disadvantage of EDL was the missing support for most effects e.g. repositioning clips (pan & scan or zooms). Another problem always was a limitation in the character length of the source clip reel names in some cases and the different types of EDLs (CMX 340, CMX 3600, GVG, Sony 9100, etc.). So, it was almost impossible to find a standard which all tools understood.
To avoid the character-length-problem the maximum character length was extended to 32 characters, which solves this problem, but still there was no possibility for transporting effects within an EDL.

The last years there were big improvements for supporting dissolves, some (not all) effects and of course zooms, pan & scan by using todays widely used AAF (advanced authoring format) or XML format. Compared to the XML, the AAF format is not human readable and it’s not possible to open an AAF in a text editor. So, it’s not possible to somehow edit an AAF file.
All professional editing tools can export AAF, XML or EDL files, some can even export all three files. After exporting the AAF/XML/EDL file from the editing software, you can load this file back to your grading tool of first choice. More information regarding this procedure you will find in the corresponding manual of your grading and mastering tool. When loading the AAF/XML/EDL in your grading tool it is possible to relink back to your high-res original camera files (OCN). As long as the source timecode and clip or reel name in the AAF/XML/EDL file matches the high-res OCN files there should be no problem in relinking back the files. Rebuilding the whole movie in your finishing system is really a technical job and mostly there is no room for time-consuming errors and problems. There should always be done a double-check with an offline reference export from the editing room and if necessary, fix things (effects, repositions, etc.) that won't make it through the conforming process. Of course, there are other questions, that have nothing to do with the conforming process itself e.g. color processing or visual effect shots. In this case we refer to our FAQs.

To ensure a smooth conforming, we suggest always to test the whole post-production pipeline from start to end (on-set, dailies, editing, conforming and finishing).