Written By Bart Weiss
Black Magic Design has been aggressive in adding new features to its DaVinci Resolve software package every year at the Spring NAB show. But without a live show, they waited to unwrap its new version until this fall. There is a lot new here, and we will go into the highlights, but first, the carveout. This is a public beta (usually, Beta software is for insiders only). BMD has been releasing new versions in public beta for a while, and they tend to be pretty robust. I have been using it for several weeks, and it has only crashed on me once. I can think of a few releases of other editing software that had so many bugs, it should have been called a public beta.
If you are not familiar with Resolve, here are a few basics. One. It is free, there is a paid version ($295), but most of what you want will be in the free version. Two, unlike other editing software, where the editing application, the sound edit application, graphics app, and color app are separate apps that need to be loaded – in Resolve, all these pages are always open. That means you can leave the edit page, go into color in a click, adjust a shot, and come back to edit. It also means you don’t have all that RAM taken up by running lots of apps at once. There are many in post-production who just use one page (like a colorist) and others who learn how to control them.
If you are new to Resolve, you can go to their site and download free tutorials on all the pages. FYI, as I was writing this, 17 beta 6 was released!
17 Page by Page
We start on the media pool page. This is where we import and add metadata to our clips. This is mostly the same, but the inspector tab has new elements, and these new elements are on all of the pages. On the far right, there is a new icon in the tab called file. When you click on that, you can add camera/take/ reel, etc. (See Pic 1).
At the bottom, there is a box that says auto-select next clip. When you click that and are done cataloging a clip, hit the following clip, and that will take some of the pain out of logging. While we are here, I should mention that it might be a good idea to color-code your clips. For example, you can have all your sync clips in orange and your B-Roll in green, so when you look at your timeline, it is clear what is what. (See Pic 2.)
Before we leave the media pool, if you click on the metadata and the very bottom, there is a reviewed area. Here you can have different crew members sign off on the shots (See Pic 3).
One more bit that is not new but mostly unknown is the clone tool, (see Pic 4A and 4B), which is useful when moving files from one place, say, an SD card, to another place, say, a hard drive, in a controlled way, so you are sure your data is transferred safely and securely.
The Cut Page
The Cut Page is unique to Resolve. It is a way to make a first assemblage and rough cut for your film. The big new thing here is that BMD has created the speed editor, a mini controller with a nob, and a bunch of buttons to help you edit quickly. The controller goes for $299. If you buy the paid version of Resolve at the same price and get it from Black Magic directly, you get the speed editor for free. Conversely, if you buy the speed editor separately, it will come with the dongle for the paid version. The Cut Page can work well on a laptop, and with this speed editor, you can zip by.
There is a media pool tab in the cut. (I know that is confusing, there is a media pool page and a media pool section of the cut and edit page.) There is a new view in the media pool tab (this will be on the edit page). It combines the image and the metadata. Nice. (See Pic 5.)
Also, in the effects (and transitions and titles), you can preview the clip’s effect without dropping it in. FCPX has had this for a long time, but it is good to see it here (See Pic 6).
The best thing about the Cut Page is that you can see all your clips in a bin on one timeline and quickly move through it. (See Pic 7.) This is helpful when looking for that shot that you remember but just don’t remember where it is. While editing in the edit page, I will sometimes bob over to the Cut Page to look for a shot, then cut it in and go back to the edit page.
And very quickly, those tiles about the timeline are a second timeline that shows the whole project in one view. It is an active timeline so that you can trim.
Another cool item is the Smart Reframe. (See Pics 8 and 9.) This is also on the edit page. If you want to export your footage for horizontal social media and the framing is off, Resolve will readjust the image to put the face in the right place once you hit that Reframe button.
You can also see different social media guidelines. (See Pic 10.)
If you are using a Black Magic ATEM for live streaming, you can import those tracks directly into the Cut Page.
The Edit Page
Here we can work with various proxy files efficiently (See Pix 11A), and you can sync Multicam clips (See Pic 11B) more easily.
Another new item is the speed change section in the inspector (See Pic 12). While this functionally was in the right clip universe before, this new interface works much better, and I love the little snowflake icon for a freeze-frame.
You can now key a chroma key an image in the edit page instead of going to the color page and adding a node. When selecting the 3D Keyer (See Pic 13), you can see it in the inspector (See Pic 14), turn on the FX overlay (See Pic 15), click on the eyedropper (See Pic 16), and when you draw a line, it performs the key (See Pic 16B). To clean it up, hit the despill button (See Pic 17).
You can now share timelines with others on your team to make a collaborative workflow better.
Another nice trick is the Detect Scene Cuts action that will find edits in a clip and separate them (See Pic 19A and 19B.)
There are times when you open a project and have to relink files. We now have a button that shines red to help. You fix that (See Pic 20), click on it, and it gives you the window to find the media. (See Pic 20B.)
And now the clips are there. (See Pic 20C.)
The changes in Fairlight (the digital audio workstation) are not as significant. Mostly, they are better keyboard control and some dynamic ways to do surround sound.
The additions to the Fusion Page are a bit into more minutia than what I usually deal with. Still, this page is getting to be an excellent alternative to after effects once you get over the idea of working with nodes and a non-timeline interface.
I have saved some of the most significant changes for last, the Color Page, which was and is what Resolve is most known for.
It starts with HDR (High Dynamic Range dials). The regular ones are here (See Pic 21); lift gamma gain Offset. In the HDR wheels, we have smaller ranges so that we can be more precise. (See Pic 22.)
If you click on this button on the top left (See Pic 23A), it will show you what areas this wheel will control (See Pic 23B) to know what you are about to change.
A major change for me is Color Management. Often you have a variety of cameras with different LUTs in a timeline. You can see in this picture (See Pic 24) that there are all kinds of LUTs here. If your fields have the metadata on them, you can just select DaVinci YRGB Color Managed (See Pic 25), and all the shots will have the appropriate LUT put on it. COOL. (See Pic 26.)
Then there is the Magic Mask function that will help you do a quick mask for you to work with.
Click on the Magic Mask button (See Pic 27), select whether you want a whole person or just a part (See Pic 28). Then draw a line on the person or object you wish to mask. (See Pic 29.) Then hit the play button on the tracker. (See Pic 30.) When you hit the Mask Toggle Overlay button (See Pix 31A), you can see what you have selected! (See Pic 31B.) Now you have a motion track on this character.
The last item is the Color Warper, and it looks like a cross between a spider web and a vector scope (See Pic 32).
When you select something in the frame, say his blue jacket (See Pic 33A) and drag it down to the green area of the spider web, you can see that just that area goes green (See Pic 33B), or I can take his face on the web and drag it up to the red to make his face red (See Pic 34).
And there you have it.
Maybe it is time you jumped in and tried Resolve.
Bart Weiss is an award-winning filmmaker, educator and director/founder of the Dallas VideoFest and produces “Frame of Mind” on KERA TV. He was President of AIVF and was a video columnist for The Dallas Morning News, and United Features Syndicate. Bart received an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University. www.videofest.org