So, Resolve 9 has finally been made public after much anticipation since its unveiling at NAB. Many of the new features have already been shown and discussed, but there are even more features being shipped then have been talked about previously, and I thought it’d be nice to highlight
six seven of those in this post. (The lead engineer reminded me of, how could I have forgotten, the updated video scopes, which are so pretty I had to add a screenshot.)
Mixed Frame Rate Support
For me, this is the single biggest new feature in this release. Bigger even then the new UI. Mixed frame rate media has been a frequent hassle in projects I get from clients. Most NLEs let you edit any kind of footage you want together into a single timeline, regardless of frame rate. And as you may or may not know, mixing frame rates can be rather challenging when it comes to finishing, since you can ultimately only output one frame rate as your finished media file or tape output. Prior versions of Resolve were constrained by only supporting a single frame rate in a particular project, but no more.
Resolve 9 lets you mix and match whatever frame rates are necessary within a single project, so long as you turn on the “Handle mixed frame rate material” checkbox in the Master Project Settings panel of the new Project Settings window (available by clicking the gear icon in the lower left-hand corner).
You have to turn this checkbox on before you import an AAF or XML mixed frame rate project (to learn why, check the manual). After you import your AAF or XML file with mixed frame rate media, you’ll want to make sure that your “Playback framerate” is identical to the “Calculate timecode at” setting for optimal performance. (Both settings are also in the Master Project Settings panel of the Project Settings window.)
When rendering a Mixed Frame Rate timeline, how the media is output depends on whether you render to Source or Target mode. In Source mode, each clip is rendered at its native frame rate, for handoff to another NLE or finishing application. In Target mode, all frames are converted to the frame rate specified by the “Calculate timecode at” setting of that project, letting you output the entire project as a single media file at the target frame rate.
I don’t know about you, but this alone is going to save me, and my clients, hours of project prep.
Light Box View
This is another new feature that was previously unannounced. While working in the Color page, you can click the Lightbox View button:
…to view every clip in your timeline using the Resolve Lightbox.
The Lightbox view makes it easy to scan through your project looking for a particular scene, to make multiple selections in order to create groups, or to use the new Flag command to assign differently colored flags to various clips to note things you want to do. This is a terrifically timesaving feature for projects of any duration.
Another interesting new feature is the Clip Attributes window, found in the Media Pool. This window replaces many of the contextual menu commands available for altering various editable properties of clips, for example, to change data levels, pixel aspect ratio settings, or to reinterpret the alpha channel mode now that Resolve 9 supports alpha channels for imported media. It also handles timecode alteration and manual, per-clip reel name changes, as well as stereoscopic 3D media assignments.
What’s notable is that you can select multiple clips, and use the Clip Attributes window to change them all at once.
I had shown the metadata editor in my video presentation (viewable here), but since I’ve shown it last, a shedload of editable metadata attributes has been added. Far too many to show on one page.
Fortunately, they’re organized into groups, which are available from a pop-up menu at the upper right-hand corner of the metadata editor.
If you’re working on digital dailies, or you’re an extremely organized colorist, this is going to be a benefit.
Big Ass Curves
One frequent complaint I’ve heard is that the relatively small size of the DaVinci Resolve custom curves made them difficult to use for precision adjustments. I myself had never quite noticed this to be a problem, but fortunately DaVinci heard your anguished cries, and provided a new Large Curve mode for the Custom Curves. Clicking a button at the bottom of the Custom Curves:
…opens up a window presenting a huge version of the same curves, with all the same controls.
Having used the large curves for a while, I can safely say that they’re a huge improvement (ha) and truly do give you more refined control of your curve-driven adjustments. I never knew what I was missing until I started using these, and now there’s no going back for those finicky log-to-linear custom adjustments I now find myself making with more frequency.
Updated Video Scopes
While they were updating the rest of the UI, DaVinci decided to update the video scopes, too.
The new one-window scopes look beautiful, and I find them easier to manage then the four individual windows that were available previously. Providing an analysis of every single line of image data, the Waveform, Parade, Vectorscope, and Histogram are all there. However, if you like, you can change the number of scopes displayed to 1-up, 2-up, or the default 4-up, which lets you enlarge individual scopes if you don’t need the whole shooting match. Performance is dependent on how much GPU processing power your workstation has, so single or dual GPU systems may have less then stellar performance. However, folks who routinely use the Resolve scopes have cause for rejoicing, as these are a distinct improvement over what was there before.
A New Manual
You knew I was going to mention this. I’ve been hard at work (which explains the paucity of blogging around here) for the last three months writing what has ended up being a 600 page, near total rewrite of the DaVinci Resolve 9 User Manual. (To give you some perspective, the previous version of the manual was 435 pages)
It’s been quite a challenge keeping up with the DaVinci Resolve team as they’ve piled on the improvements and evolved the UI over the months, but it’s been a truly rewarding experience, and I’m rather proud of the result.
Now, bear in mind that, as the product is still in beta, the user manual is also a work in progress, with edits and screenshot changes yet to be put in. However, I’m glad that the team has seen fit to make it available to the public, so that everyone can get a jump on what’s new. There are a lot of subtle refinements, and I’ve tried hard to capture all the little things and interoperabilities.
There are a few things of which, however, I’m particularly proud. “Before You Conform,” on page 111, contains detailed information about project preparation, effects support from NLEs, an explanation of the rules for media conforms, details about image processing and clip data levels, a summary of ACES support in Resolve, and an overview of digital dailies workflow. I tried to answer a lot of the questions that folks have had about Resolve’s inner workings in this section, and I think you’ll find it illuminating.
Also, “AAF Workflow Overview” on page 137 provides a detailed overview, from soup to nuts, of how you get projects from Media Composer or Symphony to Resolve and back again. The DaVinci Resolve team has worked extremely hard to make this workflow smoother and easier in version 9, and I executed each workflow personally while writing this section (kudos to Avid for answering my questions and giving me additional support while I developed the content). If you’re dealing with AAF, read this section. It may explain some of the issues you’ve been having, and will guide you through ways of getting the job done.
If you’re completely new to DaVinci Resolve, there’s a new, almost 30 page tutorial on page 71. It’s basic, so if you already know Resolve, you can probably skip it. But if you’ve never used Resolve at all, it’ll give you a quick and thorough tour of bringing a project in, doing some grading using a core selection of the Resolve toolset, and then rendering your project out. And, you can follow along using the sample media that comes on the DaVinci installer disk (and is also available by downloading from Blackmagic Design support).
So, I hope you find the new version of Resolve as big an improvement as I do, and I hope the new manual helps you to get the most out of it.