04 Aug 2015

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12: The Editor's point of view [RedShark Review]

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DaVinci Resolve 12 for Editors DaVinci Resolve 12 for Editors Blackmagic Design / RedShark News


Jonny Elwyn tries out the multitude of new editing tools in the public beta of Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve 12 and gives us the lowdown from an editor's point of view.

[Follow the link to read Eric Escobar's examination of the new colour correcting tools aimed at editors in Resolve 12: DaVinci Resolve 12: Colour Tools for Editors]

DaVinci Resolve 12 public beta came out last week and included dozens and dozens of new features, taking the world-class colour grading application deeper into the realm of being, not just a fully-fledged NLE, but an extremely feature-rich one.

In this article, I'm sharing my first impressions of the public beta software, diving deeper into the editing tools than I have before and, in the process, enjoying working with some footage from EditStock.com, who provides professionally shot projects to help you practice your editing skills.

With this 12th release comes a name change for the software, wherein the word 'Lite' has been dropped from the free version (DaVinci Resolve 12) and the word Studio added to the paid version (DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio).

This is largely to reflect the fact that the free version was never really a lesser product, and that the paid for version carries with it Studio level features like collaborative grading, stereoscopic 3D, remote rendering and multi-GPU support.

Although there are also a huge number of new colour grading features in this release, I'll be sticking largely to the 'Edit' page in this article. For a quick overview of what's new, here are some of the headline features.

Headline New Editing Features:

  • Multi-cam editing
  • VST and AU Audio Plugin Support
  • Improved trimming and dynamic trimming
  • Pitch shifted audio scrubbing

Headline New Colour Grading Features:

  • Perspective tracker
  • 3D Keyer
  • Custom Curves with Bezier handles
  • Compound Nodes
  • DaVinci Resolve Color Management

And a huge amount more! For a full list, check out the incredibly long 'Compare' page over on blackmagicdesign.com.

Before we get too far into things, just a quick word about minimum system requirements. You'll need to be running OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite or Windows Pro 8 and have at least 8GB of RAM.

You would also be best advised to update your CUDA drivers and your Blackmagic Design Desktop Video software. I forgot to do this and when I opened up Resolve, everything played in fast forward and without sound; after I had updated, everything was fine.

Another noteworthy thing to mention is that the user interface, which apart from being completely overhauled, will now scale on any screen size, which is a great bonus for laptop users and anyone with Retina screens.

Resolve_12_UI_Tips.jpgResolve 12 UI Tips

If things are a little unfamiliar to you, here are a few very quick pointers to help you get around. Also, be sure to right click on everything and everywhere to reveal a smorgasbord of contextual options. If you're in doubt in Resolve, right click.

New Editing Features in DaVinci Resolve 12

One of the things that I like about working in DaVinci Resolve is that you could choose never to leave the application and you'd still be able to perform every step of the post-production process from card copy and media ingest, edit, titles and grade, with the final mix thrown in for good measure.

Although Resolve is becoming more and more generalized in its capabilities, it is also becoming increasingly useful in numerous areas of post, like on-set DIT work for copying media, creating dailies etc., as well as combining simple composites and VFX work whilst in the grade.

Extra_Screenshot_1_scaled.pngAudio Plugins in Resolve 12

Resolve 12 has a whole new audio engine under the hood, which allows for further openness and extension of the application through AU and VST audio plugins. As you can see in the image above, any previously installed plugins you might have (in my case Scarlett plugins from my Scarlett 2i4) will automatically appear in Resolve, too. These plugins can also be copied and pasted through 'Paste Attributes'.

This new engine allows for some of the nice improvements to how audio works in Resolve 12, such as the 'guaranteed real-time audio playback at all speeds' (which also means that Resolve will drop video frames in the Edit Page to maintain audio playback), automatic pitch correction when scrubbing at speed, and an impressive array of clip and track automation capabilities.

Extra_screenshot_2.pngDynamic Trim

The main workhorses of any NLE are, of course, the editing and trimming tools, which have been further improved in this release. If you hit the 'T' key to enter Trim mode, your mouse will be a powerful, context sensitive Swiss army knife, allowing you to trim, slip, slide, roll and ripple. On top of that, with a quick press of the 'W' key to get you into Dynamic Trim mode, you can trim whilst playing forwards or backwards with the 'J' 'K' and 'L' keys. You can now also trim multiple clips at the same time and even do so asymmetrically.

Now, I have to admit that the dynamic trim tool in particular does 'look' very cool, but it does require a slight rethink and re-approach to the way in which you might normally edit.

So, I can't say that I'm ever going to use dynamic trim much, but maybe it's the kind of thing that, once you get used to it, you start to think, "How did I ever edit without this?!" Maybe.

Extra_Screenshot_3_scaled.pngFullscreen Multicam

One of the biggest new editions to editing in Resolve 12 is the new multicam editing feature, which is an effective rendering of the same funcitonality found in pretty much any other NLE.

It is very easy to create a multicam clips based on timecode, in/out points or audio and edit them in all the same ways you can any other 'normal' clip. I'm not sure what the upper limit is on multcam angles, but I made a clip with 32 angles, and Resolve simply creates pages of angles based on a maximum of 16 angles per viewer page and lets you switch between them. The limitation may well be practical though, as you'll need a system fast enough to play back all these angles simultaneously.  

One of the best things about working with multicam clips in Resolve is that multicam clips can be graded like any other clip and each angle has it's own grade, unlike Take Selector clips in which, helpfully enough, each take has the same grade. This a huge benefit if you have to go back and make changes to the final cut after grading has been completed, because rather than round-tripping a flattened timeline from another NLE, you can just click on the Edit Page and you're away. It couldn't be faster or easier.

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Jonny Elwyn

Jonny Elwyn is a freelance editor and blogger who has been living and working in London, UK for the past 10 years. Having grown up with a deep love for film and a healthy geek interest in all things technical, editing is his perfect job.

Off the back of a decade of successful freelancing, Jonny has written a 100 page primer on How To Be A Freelance Creative – a straight-forward, practical guide to building a freelance creative career from the ground up.

He also runs a blog on all things post production at jonnyelwyn.co.uk. Twitter: @jonnyelwyn

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