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How to Export Premiere Pro Projects to DaVinci Resolve for Colour Grading

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Read Time: 9 min

It might sound a little odd to move a project from one editing suite to what could be considered its biggest rival, but many people find they want to send Premiere Pro projects to DaVinci Resolve. In this article we’ll take a look at why and how you can do that in a few different ways.

Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve

Both DaVinci Resolve and Premiere Pro are non-linear editors, which basically means you can edit any part of your project and add and remove things at any point—you don’t have to work from start to finish in order.

Premiere has had years of building up its reputation as the industry standard for editing video, and that reputation is well deserved: it’s instinctive and has a lot of powerful tools. It’s also quite expensive, and because it’s a subscription, that’s an ongoing cost, which is the main issue filmmakers face when choosing Premiere. Resolve, on the other hand, is free, or you can buy the Studio version outright for $295.

Resolve has a similar interface to Premiere but is not so good at text, graphics, and audio, all things that can either be done in Premiere or that another Adobe program links to seamlessly: After Effects for graphics and Audition for audio, for one.

Where Resolve has really upped its game, though, is in colour correction and colour grading. Its in-depth tools mean that not only can you grade to a professional standard, but you can also balance and match footage from across different cameras and sources.

Both pieces of software have their pros and cons, and that’s why you might want to use them together: Premiere for your construction and timeline editing, and Resolve to colour grade.

How to Import Video to DaVinci Resolve With Scene Cut Detection

One simple way to get a video into Resolve is to use Scene Cut Detection to import. If you’re just doing colour work you won’t need audio, graphics, and so on, so you can either flatten the timeline or remove those elements and just export the video, then use this feature in Resolve. This is a handy way to import any project that doesn't have graphics and overlays, from any editor.

Watch Tom's video below, or we also have a step-by-step tutorial.

This next video from Envato Tuts+ that gives a top-level overview of the export process in Premiere Pro with the latest features. We also have an in-depth general tutorial about exporting from Premiere Pro, or skip this and follow the settings bellow if you're already familiar with exporting from Premiere Pro.

How to Send Premiere Pro Projects to DaVinci Resolve Using Metadata

For more complex projects, next we'll look at how to send your project to DaVinci Resolve from Premiere Pro using metadata. This method includes more information, like track names, markers, and audio volume settings.

Export file types in Premiere ProExport file types in Premiere ProExport file types in Premiere Pro
Export file types in Premiere Pro

You’ll likely use one of two export types—XML and EDL—and it’ll depend on your reasons and needs for doing it. In this section, we’ll go through them—and explain the others—so you can make the best choice. Neither XML nor EDL files are proprietary like Project files are, meaning they aren’t specific to one type of program.

Before you start: to export to some file types, you might need to flatten/render some sequences, so make sure you create a duplicate first, just in case.

A Quick Note on OMF (Open Media Framework) and AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) File Types

AAF is the newer version of OMF and contains more information than its predecessor, most notably audio volume automation and track names.

AAF is similar to XML format but is made to include audio and also has Avid support.

EDL: Edit Decision List

An EDL file is—as the name might suggest—a list of events, information, and general metadata about your project, including things like transitions and durations. It's designed to help you migrate timelines from one editing suite to another.

Although video makers tend to favour XML—which we'll come to—a professional colourist might ask for an EDL file as it's the simplest method of rebuilding your timeline, particularly when they won't need any of your audio or effects in order to colour the video. An EDL file is easy for both computers and people to read as it's essentially a line-by-line breakdown of everything in the edit.

The main issue with using an EDL is that it's not able to store complicated timelines, so you’ll need to flatten your video down to one track.

EDLs work best with projects that contain no more than one video track, two stereo audio tracks, and no nested sequences. Most standard transitions, frame holds, and clip speed changes also work well in EDLs. — Adobe

An EDL file can offer a smoother export than other file types, but because it only works properly with one video track, you will need to render/flatten your video. This option is a quicker one if you’re doing roundtrips from Premiere to Resolve and back again because you’re exporting and importing the least information.

If you're leaving Premiere to move to Resolve, then this probably isn't the option for you.

Exporting From Premiere as an EDL

EDL export settingsEDL export settingsEDL export settings
EDL export settings

File > Export > EDL

As mentioned, you won’t need audio levels or graphics like transitions if you’re just doing colour work, so you can untick those if you want to. If you do bring across transitions, they might look different in Resolve—either black or a similar transition—but they'll go back to what they were when you export and flip back to Premiere.

Importing in Resolve

Importing into ResolveImporting into ResolveImporting into Resolve
Importing into Resolve

File > Import Timeline > Pre-conformed EDL

Once your timeline has imported, scrub through it to make sure that everything has arrived and looks right. Then you can work on your colour, and when you’re finished, render out ready to export. You can export the file as either a single clip or individual clips.

XML: Extensible Markup Language

File > Export > (Final Cut Pro) XML

As mentioned earlier, XML files aren’t proprietary like project files, meaning they aren’t specific to one type of program, so it’s worth having an XML copy of all your projects in case you ever need to open them up in a different program in the future. Think of it as good archiving and future-proofing!

It makes sense, then, that if XML files are designed for transferring information between applications, it would be a sensible file format for sending Premiere Pro projects to DaVinci Resolve, and vice versa.

Like EDL files, XMLs are a sort of guide to what your project contains, without actually having any media in them. Think of them like a map to where the components are stored. For this reason, it’s important to be very organised with your project files so that you can easily locate them from one place if you need to.

XML translation reportXML translation reportXML translation report
XML translation report

There aren't any additional options when you're exporting as an XML file (unlike EDL) as it just makes a 'map' of everything, though when you hit Export, you may see this Translation Report message. This doesn't necessarily mean there's been an issue. It usually relates to anything that might not be faithfully translated for another program. So like the transitions example mentioned in the EDL section, this could be something that doesn't have a matching equivalent in its XML translation and might be removed or altered. If so, it will tell you in the translation report.

Again, this isn't really an issue if you're using Resolve only to colour grade, in which case you can ignore any translation problems—or better yet, use Remove Attributes first to take any effects out of clips entirely for the export. However, if you want to faithfully export your project to pick up again permanently in Resolve, then one solution would be to render any Premiere-specific effects down into the clip so that they come across as part of that.

It's worth noting that occasionally translation errors in an XML file can cause problems or broken files, so it's important to check your file has imported entirely and accurately once in Resolve.

Importing in Resolve

Importing in ResolveImporting in ResolveImporting in Resolve
Importing in Resolve

File > Import Timeline > Import AAF, EDL, XML

Importing is the same as the EDL steps, but this time select the Import AAF, EDL, XML option.

Import XML into ResolveImport XML into ResolveImport XML into Resolve
Import XML into Resolve

You'll get a dialogue box with settings that should match your project from Premiere, but just double-check everything and make sure it's right.

Round-Trip or One-Way Move

Whether you're leaving Premiere for good to move to Resolve or just doing a round-trip for some colour-grading, hopefully you now have a better understanding of the file types you might use and the preparation to do in order to get the best result.

The most important thing to remember before doing anything at all is to make a duplicate of your project, just in case. That way, if something goes wrong or a file corrupts or doesn't translate properly, you've always got your original project to go back to.

More Premiere and Resolve Resources

More Resources From Envato

Envato has lots of resources to try:

About This Page

About the Author

Marie Gardiner is a writer and photographer from the North East of England. After gaining her degree in Film and Media, Marie worked in the media industry, before leaving to set up the business she runs with her partner: Lonely Tower Film & Media. As well as writing about visual practices like photography and video, Marie is also the author of Sunderland Industrial Giant (The History Press, 2017) and Secret Sunderland (Amberley Publishing 2019). Her photographic work focuses on landscapes and industrial ruins, particularly those of the North Pennines as she continues to work on her long-form documentary project Changing Landscapes.

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