In the world of low-budget film production or independent filmmaking, there's a firm need for tools that can provide Hollywood-level results without breaking the bank. In many cases, these products become so popular, or are so well made that they eventually find themselves in the mainstream, being used on the biggest and most expensive projects around the world. DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic Design is one such example, beloved by post-production teams on big blockbusters and smaller pictures alike.
DaVinci Resolve has been one of the first names in colour grading, and its credits include the likes of "Avatar", "Skyfall" and "Prometheus."
DaVinci Resolve has long been used in editing suites as the colour grading tool of choice for many professionals, but in recent years and especially with the launch of version 12 last year, it has become a far more all-encompassing piece of software. Now, the program is a viable option for completing almost all aspects of a film's post-production work, and in this article we'll take a look back at the last 12 months to break down just what has made DaVinci Resolve such a powerful tool.
DaVinci Resolve 12
For many years now, DaVinci Resolve has been one of the first names in colour grading, and its credits include the likes of "Avatar", "Skyfall" and "Prometheus." The software is also relatively affordable, with a free, slightly less featured version available for projects where budgets are really tight. Of course, the power of DaVinci Resolve isn't just limited to working with colour wheels, as it can also be used as a stand-alone NLE (non-linear editor). In recent iterations, the editing power of the program wasn't up to other NLEs like Adobe's Premiere Pro, but that all changes with Version 12's release in August 2016.
The new DaVinci Resolve represented a bit of a turning point – a stage at which Blackmagic Design could comfortably claim that it offered a complete solution. The goal of this was to compete with the far more expensive systems used in traditional post flows, and 12 months on it looks like this has been a real success.
Part of the reason for this success is the unique blend of editing and colour grading capabilities that DaVinci Resolve provides, so let's break down these two sections of the software and see how they can work together.
The first big selling point of DaVinci Resolve 12 over other editing programs is that the NLE already has a set of incredibly powerful colour grading tools built directly into the system. It's impossible to describe just how many creative and corrective options are contained within the software, but suffice to say that DaVinci's grading abilities can provide the freedom for a director to completely alter the look of their footage – or even repair otherwise film-ruining errors that would require reshoots.
DaVinci allows not just for the creation of unique looks, but also for the quick completion of arduous or difficult tasks. Masks can be used to colour correct key parts of a shot without affecting the rest, and automatic shot matching means that every cut looks smooth and seamless.
DaVinci has always been used for grading, but a typical workflow would involve editing first in a separate project file.
In a review of the program, Videomaker magazine singled out the colour corrective qualities of DaVinci, stating that "DaVinci Resolve 12 is a Hollywood-calibre program for colour correction. At first glance it might feel overwhelming, but it's worth investing the time to learn because it can do so much more than the colour correction filters in an editing program. Resolve's ability to fix footage that wasn't shot right is one reason it has become a go to program for many professional editors."
DaVinci has always been used for grading, but a typical workflow would involve editing first in a separate project file, and then exporting from a system like Premiere Pro. This takes time and complicates the process, so finding a new way to keep everything in one project window holds a lot of appeal. By upgrading the editing capabilities of DaVinci with Version 12, it's now possible to utilise the immense set of colour grading features without having to use another program to edit.
DaVinci Resolve's editing capabilities are broad and varied, representing the very best of contemporary NLEs. That said, the team at Blackmagic Design haven't tried to reinvent the wheel. The layout and structure of an edit is still very much what any experienced editor would expect to see when opening a structure. Editing with the software is very easy to pick up, thanks to clearly laid out windows that put all relevant information at the click of a mouse.
Though familiar, DaVinci is still more than able to handle large 4K files and even multi-cam data with relative ease. There are also a few other features, such as a trimmer tool that automatically changes its function based on where your mouse is in the timeline, that outshine other, more recognisable NLEs.
"Resolve literally eliminates complexities in the existing workflow."
Features such as these have seen the industry sit up and take notice, and even Hollywood has been getting in on the action. 2016 saw post on the film "Jason Bourne" completed almost entirely in DaVinci Resolve, with
The film's editor Sinead Cronin said that "Working on the project together in DaVinci Resolve Studio allowed us a great deal of fluidity, and we were able to collaborate closely throughout. I could conform and work on the online edit in Resolve's Media and Edit pages, whilst [the colourist] could render a grade on the Colour page at the same time."
Feedback like this has come from all corners of the industry, one of the best summaries of the program's power comes from Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media.
"As a working facility that has a solid NLE workflow in place, the very last thing I'd ever want to intentionally do is disrupt that workflow by introducing a new NLE into the mix. In order for me to make that disruption viable, the NLE in question had better be damn professional and up to the task, even so much as to exceed the current abilities of the existing workflow tools. But here's the kicker not only is Resolve not a disruption to the current workflow, Resolve literally eliminates complexities in the existing workflow."
This is high praise indeed, and with version 12.5 now available, we could see DaVinci Resolve solidify its place as one of the most crucial elements of any post-production workflow. Join us again in part two of this series, where we'll look more practically at how the NLE performs in areas such as audio and graphics/FX.
In the meantime, contact DVT today to find out more.
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