I’ve had a lot of fun working with DaVinci this year, and version 11 a big new release that expands editing, improves grading, and makes nearly every workflow better. While I’ve been nose-to-the-grindstone finishing my film, “The Place Where You Live” for the last two weeks (I finished the last of the VFX yesterday), I’ve continued to keep pace with the DaVinci development team as they’ve been putting the final touches on today’s giant new release of the DaVinci Resolve 11 public beta.
If you’re a current Resolve user, or curious about what Resolve can do for you, there are public betas for both the full dongle-protected version, and the free Lite version. And I need to point out that nearly every feature I talk about in this article is available for free in the lite version. Both can be obtained at a brand new support page: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/family/10.
This page also includes some videos showing what’s new, with specific looks at editing and grading in Resolve. However, if you were to ask me about my favorite new features, I would tell you to check out the following…
Editing, Editing, and Editing
One of the main themes of Resolve 11 is vastly expanded editing tools; you now have a video editor living directly alongside your grading environment, in which you can cut from scratch and immediately switch to grading with a single mouse-click. Or, if you’re like me, you can go back and forth between cutting and grading continuously, making grading tweaks to scenes right in the middle of your edit, creating quick matches when insert shots don’t look right, or creating that day-for-night look you need to make a particular scene work. I’ve actually cut a couple of short projects with these tools, and I think you’ll find the Resolve editing experience surprisingly robust given this is only the second year the team’s been working on it.
You need to check out the powerful trimming tools, including a fantastic implementation of dynamic JKL trimming (make a selection and hold the Command key down while using JKL), and the ability to disable tracks from rippling using the Auto Select controls. If you tried editing with version 10, rest assured that version 11 adds most of what you may have found lacking, including timecode entry for navigation and trimming, more JKL transport functionality, better keyframing and a new curve editor, improved copy/paste and option-drag to duplicate clips, Description/Comments/Keywords columns in the Media Pool, bin organization for timelines, trim start/end features and numerous trim functions, four-up trim viewer displays for slip and slide, key shortcuts for just about everything (including moving clips up and down among tracks) and editable key shortcuts, many improvements to the process of adding and modifying transitions, a new film style transition, an adjustable audio crossfade, new 16-channel capable adaptive audio tracks, a clip mixing mode in the Audio Mixer, title formatting improvements, compatibility with OFX transitions such as those in GenArts Sapphire, a find next/previous gap function, flag/marker/through-edit/offline filtering in the Edit Index, editable notes and colors for markers, a Paste Attributes function, new Compound Clip editing, and much, much more. Coupled with the multiple edit types, compositing and transform features, three-point-editing, speed effects, and draggable trimming that Resolve already had, these additions add up to a very nice experience. In fact, Editing is so big it’s now covered in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of the User Manual. And before you ask, no, there’s no multi-cam editing (I would point out that Final Cut Pro X has great multi-cam along with great import into Resolve).
And to reiterate, every single editing feature is available in Resolve Lite, for free, on both Windows and the Mac (there is no Resolve Lite for Linux).
Great New Grading Tools
There are many new grading tools, including the new Color Match palette for automatically grading a clip based on a color chart included in the shot, a new Sat vs. Sat curve that lets you precisely adjust the saturation of pixels in the image based on their level saturation in the picture, new LAB colorspace conversion within a node, vastly improved matte adjustment parameters in the HSL Qualifier palette, terrific new Highlights and Shadows parameters in both RAW and Color Match palettes for easily retrieving highlight and shadow detail in high dynamic range media, Color Boost and Midtone Detail parameters for creating adjustments similar to vibrance and definition, an Opacity setting for windows, improved automatic Color Matching tools for Stereo 3D media, updated LUTs, the ability to create multiple PowerGrade albums, Wipe, Split-Screen, and Highlight buttons at the top of the Viewer, new automatic Broadcast Safe settings, and UI improvements too numerous to get into here. Color grading has now been split into two chapters, 11 and 12, of the User Manual.
A New Take On an Old Tool, Groups
Also for colorists, the all new Group Grading features makes grading with groups easier and more intuitive than before. If you’ve avoided using groups in the past because they were too complicated to manage, give them another try in version 11. Creating a group enables two new modes in the Node Editor, Pre-Clip Group and Post-Clip Group, which can be used for creating node trees prior to and after the Clip node tree, both of which are automatically synced among each clip in the group. The Clip node remains separate from the group, allowing you to make individual per-clip adjustments. This way, you’ve got an easy way of creating one set of node trees that will ripple among the clips in the group, and a separate node tree that doesn’t. This feature let me remove a whole page of explanation from the manual because it’s so straightforward to use. Group grading is covered at the end of Chapter 13.
A New Render Cache
Whether you’re a colorist or an editor, all new Render Cache functionality lets you either manually or automatically (if you choose the Smart setting) cache source clip formats that won’t play in real time, cache Edit page timeline effects that are render intensive, and cache Color page nodes that are render intensive. Caching is done automatically and quickly, sneaking in cache processing whenever you pause working. Colorists can also turn on caching for a specific node in the Node Editor, which forces all image processing up to that node to cache, while leaving all downstream nodes live for editing. The format you cache to is user selectable (in the General Options of the Project Settings) and you can choose from among a wide range of video formats. Also, while exporting from the Delivery page, you have the option of choosing to either output the cached media, or force a re-render. Caching in Resolve is now a big topic, and full information can be found starting on page 97 of the User Manual. Not mentioned (yet) is the ability to delete your render cache, found at the bottom of the Playback menu.
Collaborative workflow (only available with the full version of Resolve) is a huge new feature that allows multi-workstation shops, both large and small, to have multiple Resolve users working on the same timeline at the same time. Setting up a shared Resolve project database to do this is relatively simple (there are complete instructions in Chapter 17 of the User Manual), and once you do so, an editor, a colorist, and some assistants can work together on the same timeline, at the same time, giving you yet another tool to manage those ridiculous client deadlines. Even if you’re a tiny boutique post house with two people, an editor and a colorist, you can set this up to use among your two workstations for the cost of only two licenses of Resolve.
A new clone tool in the Media page makes it easy to duplicate camera card media, volumes, or even individual folders, to one or more destinations, complete with checksum reports written to the destination.
There are even new features for delivery, including a new UI separating the output options into Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced sets of controls depending on how much customization you require, new H.264 one-pass encoding with user-adjustable data rate throttling and AAC audio encoding that produces fast and quality H.264 files, MXF OP1A encoding, IMF encoding for owners of easyDCP, and the ability to output clips of mixed resolutions at their original frame sizes when outputting individual source clips. All this and more is covered in Chapter 14.
Get It Now
These are just the highlights, there’s much, much more to this release than I can easily summarize here. It’s all covered in the beta version of the newly updated User Manual that accompanies the disk installation (the User Manual is now automatically copied to the application folder that’s now installed). The User Manual has been significantly reorganized, and as you can imagine there’s a lot more information in the editing chapters than there used to be. So, download the software, skim the User Manual, and give it a whirl. Integration between editing and grading has never been tighter, and while I’m obviously biased since I work with the DaVinci design team, I think you’re going to really like what you see.
And yes, as you can imagine, I’m hard at work on the updated version of my training videos for version 11, through Ripple Training. This year will be a total overhaul, which is a colossal undertaking, but well worth it. Stay tuned on my twitter feed (@hurkman) if you want to be the first to hear about it.