I know; it’s not the most clever title. However, once I fully understood the implications of how flags and marks work in Resolve 9, I discovered a practical use for flags that hadn’t previously occurred to me.
To clarify, I wrote in the Resolve manual that flags are intended to highlight a whole clip, while markers let you highlight individual frames within a clip. This is true; you can only apply one flag of a particular color to a clip, but you can apply several markers of a color to different frames within that clip.
What I hadn’t thought to emphasize, however, is that when you flag a clip, you’re really flagging the source clip within the media pool (in other words, the clip that appears in the Master Timeline). This means that, if there are several clips in an edited timeline that all connect to a single source clip in the media pool, flagging one of these clips results in you flagging them all.
At first, I thought this was a nuisance, until I realized the following:
(a) While flags exhibit this behavior, markers are specific to a particular timecode, which makes them specific to a particular clip. So, if you want to mark just one clip for future reference, you’re better off using a marker.
(b) Flags follow the same rules as auto-linked clips in timelines using Remote grades.
This latter behavior is what leads to a valuable tip—you can use flags to quickly isolate every other clip in the timeline that’s auto-linked to the current clip. This gives you a way to deal with situations where you’re not sure how many other clips will be affected by a grade you’re about to make when you’re working with automatically linked clips and Remote versions.
The following example shows a timeline using Remote grades, where the currently selected clip is auto-linked to other clips in the timeline. This means that any changes you make to the grade of the current clip will automatically ripple to all other clips that exhibit the little orange arrow (to the right of the timecode above each thumbnail).
A frequent criticism of this behavior is that it’s impossible to know, at a glance, just how many other clips to the right and left of the visible area of the timeline are automatically linked. In particular, it’s not uncommon for there to be a handful of auto-linked clips that require a different grade; for example, a section of interview after an exposure adjustment has been made.
Using flags, there’s a simple way of filtering just the auto-linked clips. First, right-click the thumbnail of one of the auto-linked clips, and add a flag using the Flags submenu. In this case, I’m adding a blue flag.
Now, each auto-linked clip will have a blue flag attached to it. Even auto-linked clips outside of the currently visible area of the timeline.
Now, using the Timeline Filtering pop-up menu, you can filter out everything but the blue-flagged clips.
This results in a shortened timeline that shows every single clip that is auto-linked to the current one.
At this point, you can spot check the other clips to make sure they match, and you’ll know for certain just how many other clips, to the front and to the rear of the current one, will be affected by the operation you’re about to perform.
When you’re finished, choose Show All Clips from the Timeline Filtering pop-up menu.
If you want to get rid of the flags, you can choose Clear All from the flags submenu of the thumbnail contextual menu.
Keep in mind that this behavior works when your timeline is using Local grades. In the following example, the timeline is set to local grades, which can be seen by the (L) underneath each thumbnail. However, the procedure is the same.
This means that, even if you’re grading each clip individually, you can still take advantage of Resolve’s built-in auto-linking to sort groups of related clips in the timeline.
So there you go, one more use for flagging and timeline filtering, to help you keep organized when grading long timelines. I’ve been working as 2nd colorist on a History Channel program, and using Remote grades has been a real time-saver since there are so many repeated sequences of clips. This technique has been helpful in letting me keep keep track of auto-linking in situations where I want to check to see how many clips will be affected by a particular adjustment.
Special thanks to producer Neil Gobioff and Director Shawn Paonessa for thumbnails from their short, “The Bedford Devil.”
Color Correction Handbook 2nd Edition: Grading theory and technique for any application.
Color Correction Look Book: Stylized and creative grading techniques for any application.
Creative Looks in DaVinci Resolve: 90 mins of creative grading tips and techniques from Ripple Training.
DaVinci Resolve 9 Core Training: 11 hrs of tutorials covering all of DaVinci Resolve from Ripple Training.