What is Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve?
Resolve used to be a very expensive grading program. It gained a lot of popularity for grading feature films long before it was owned by Blackmagic Design in 2009. When Blackmagic took over they drastically changed the pricing and made a completely free version. The free version, now simply know as DaVinci Resolve, is fully functional and does not "time out" or add any watermark. You could produce a whole feature film using the free version of Resolve if you so wished.
DaVinci Resolve Studio is the version of Resolve for which you pay. If you buy Resolve Studio you will get more features, including very nice noise reduction, and support from greater than UHD size projects as well as Stereoscopic project support. Resolve Studio requires a USB Dongle to work. You can edit and grade in Resolve Studio and then open the project in the free version of Resolve (as long as the project is under UHD size, the maximum the free version of Resolve supports) and vice versa.
You can see a list of the differences between Resolve and Resolve Studio here: http://www.dvc.uk.com/acatalog/Resolve-free-vs-Resolve-Studio.html
You also get Resolve Studio, complete with Dongle, free with some of the Blackmagic cameras.
All updates to Resolve are free. Obviously if you have the free version you just install a new free version. However, if you pay for Resolve Studio you get free updates for that as well. Our first Resolve version, with a dongle, was version 9. All updates from version 9 to version 12 were free, unlike all other editing programs.
What is grading?
Grading means enhancing your image in various ways - adjusting the colour or brightness of the whole image or just one area. We used to refer to this simply as colour correction but there is a lot more you can do than merely change the colour, hence the term grading was coined.
You can grade in an editing application, and effect applications (like After Effects) or a program specifically designed for the job - like DaVinci Resolve or Adobe Speedgrade.
Resolve for Editing
With the release of Resolve 12 you could simply use Resolve for editing and grading your productions. There was a significant degree of editing in Resolve 11 but the sound part of the program always caused a problem - which is not a surprise because when grading you do not need to hear the sound. However, Blackmagic wanted to offer a decent editing program and so re-vamped the sound side of Resolve so that now it works a lot better and can accept sound plug-ins from other programs. Blackmagic also added a significant number of other features. There are even some editing features in Resolve which are not found in other editing programs like Optical flow slow motion (not Vegas or EDIUS) and being able to sync multiple camera angles on sound (in Premiere Pro & Avid but not in EDIUS or Vegas). However, there are some draw backs to editing in Resolve - which we have explained more in depth on the section comparing Resolve with other programs.
The main issues are importing your footage -Resolve does not take many domestic formats and most AVI files - and exporting footage - Resolve makes some MOV files and still image formats but is very limited on everything else.
DaVinci needs a good graphic card
DaVinci Resolve uses your graphic card for all its effects work. Originally it only worked on nVidia graphic card, but recently this has been expanded to include ATI cards and even some of the Intel graphic cards found in current processors (the latter is only in the MAC version).
We still prefer nVidia cards. The amount of RAM on the card is also important. If you do not have enough RAM then Resolve may not even load the footage and will certainly be fairly horrible to work with. 2GB RAM is enough for HD. For 4K ideally you want 4GB RAM On the graphic card, or more. This is in addition to the RAM inside your computer. Thankfully a good enough graphic card is not too expensive these days.
Resolve can also use two graphic cards or even 3. The get the most out of multiple graphic cards you will need the full version - Resolve Studio - as the free version is limited to how many cards it will use.
- Primary and secondary colour correction in a variety of ways
- Apply correction in regions based on masks you define.
- Motion track masks to follow your subject through a scene
- Image stabilisation included.
- Colour correction based on nodes - you can add as many as you need. Nodes can be one after the other or run in parallel to other nodes. Far more powerful than grading in an editing program.
- Video noise reduction available in DaVinci full
DaVinci supports various formats although not any AVI formats. It can take various MXF files including XDCAM, and a variety of QuickTime files as well as files from the Avid Media directory. This may cause a problem if editing DV AVI files, for example, since you will need to convert them to something different to get them into DaVinci. QuickTime is supported instead of AVI since DaVinci used to be a MAC-only program and has only recently arrived on the PC but not all Quicktime formats are supported. For example DV Quicktime files do load but do not work very well and many other types of QuickTime files will not be seen at all.
Some AVCHD files will work in Resolve although many do not work or do not load the audio part of a clip.
Format support is probably one of the biggest drawbacks for using Resolve as an editing application as many types will need to be converted before use..
Editing program to DaVinci
There are various ways to get your video into DaVinci and it is different for every different program. There is a well-established path if using Avid Media Composer but it is less obvious for others. Check our website for tutorials on different workflows.
Output via Blackmagic cards
You need to see your picture on a proper screen when grading - DaVinci works with Blackmagic hardware to do just this. This is one of the reasons for making a free version of Resolve : to get the best out of the program you will need to add Blackmagic hardware. Resolve will only output through Blackmagic hardware.
The free version is very powerful and may be all you need. It can edit projects up to UHD and is fully functional. If you pay for the full version you also get decent noise reduction and the ability to grade bigger than HD footage and stereoscopic footage.
DaVinci control surfaces
A full DaVinci suit may include a control surface (as pictured), which gives much greater control and accuracy than using a mouse.
DVC DaVinci systems
Even though the software can be free you will still need a decent computer on which to run it. At DVC we specialise in building DaVinci systems to give decent realtime performance -click here for more information.