35mm spooling table

Editorial & Dailies Workflow

Essential knowledge

At the end of each shooting day, in most cases, the data needs to be transferred to postproduction to start the transcoding process. Of course, exceptions are always possible: e.g. editorial happens on-site or after principal photography when shooting in a remote location.

Head over to data handling if you're wondering, "Can I copy and paste?"

Post houses offering a HD or UHD editing pipeline should not have issues handling the original camera negative (OCN) that was recorded on Codex Drives, SxS cards, or CFast cards. OCN shot as QuickTime/ProRes can be edited natively in most editing tools and does not need further transcoding. For editing with high-resolution OCN, we suggest using the latest high-level hardware (GPU and CPU) to get the best experience. Usually, OCN shot in ARRIRAW is transcoded into a different codec and container e.g. Avid DNxHD, Avid DNxHR, or Apple ProRes (*.mxf or *.mov) for editing.

For a smooth editing workflow, we suggest transcoding all OCN data into lower resolution proxy files. This workflow typically is called the “offline workflow." For the final finishing it is then necessary to link back to the original high-res files in a later step of postproduction. There are various codecs for different editing tools, which are supposed to be used for editing and offline workflow, e.g. DNxHD, DNxHR (for UHD & HDR content), and Apple ProRes.

There is metadata within the proxy files that must match the high-res OCN files after the transcode to offline or lower resolution files:

  • Source timecode
  • Clip name or reel name

With the introduction of ALEXA 35, we updated the typical ARRI file naming. Of course, our classic file naming is still widely used. Both naming schemes will coexist, as will the new and older cameras.

New File Naming (ALEXA 35 and later)

ALEXA 35 introduces a new, extended file naming to accommodate the needs of productions, based on feedback we have gathered over the years. The new naming provides 704 different options to set a camera index, 9,999 reels, and clips. In addition, an extended time stamp has been added, as well as a “Codec Identifier” to differentiate MXF/ARRIRAW and MXF/ProRes already on a file system base:

New Reel Name (folder name on the media)

The reel name follows the known scheme and consists of camera index, reel counter, and camera serial number.

Classic File Naming (still in use)

The ALEXA Classic series, ALEXA Mini, AMIRA, ALEXA LF, ALEXA Mini LF, and ALEXA 65 will continue with the established file naming.

Classic Reel Name (folder name on the media)

The reel name consists of camera index, reel counter, and camera serial number.

For relinking (conforming) back to the high-res files in the later stage of postproduction, it is vitally important that the source timecode and clip name or reel name of each clip matches with the high-res OCN files.

Material that was shot in ARRI LogC3 or LogC4 needs to be converted to Rec 709 color space to display correctly on a Rec 709 display. Viewed on a regular video monitor, LogC3 and LogC4 images look flat, with desaturated colors. To get a grayscale characteristic and color reproduction that is more pleasing to the eye, the images have to be tone-mapped and transformed into the target color space.

This image conversion can be applied by using a three-dimensional look-up table (3D LUT) on the LogC3 and LogC4 material. It’s up to you what software you prefer for your dailies rendering. A lot of applications can render out the camera material with applied 3D LUT conversions to your target color space, usually Rec 709. If your OCN was shot in LogC3 or LogC4, it’s always possible to do a color space conversion to Rec 2020, P3, or Rec 709 color space. Your viewing display color space should of course match the target color space.

Each clip captured by ALEXA SXT, ALEXA Mini, AMIRA, ALEXA LF, and ALEXA Mini LF is recorded with an ARRI Look File 2 (ALF2). ALEXA 35 is using the ARRI Look File 4 (ALF4). Each look file is stored and embedded as metadata in each file header. Some tools natively support our ARRI Look Files, so that you can easily apply the look on the shot and see how it was intended on set. To get an overview of the differences between our ARRI Look File 2 (ALF2) and ARRI Look File 4 (ALF4), please visit our Look Files section.