It’s Day Three
of my “real world” editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5 and this is going to be the longest blog yet as I want to show you guys a lot of the “little things” that are making editing in Resolve a pleasure. I know there are a lot of questions still out there whether this is really a professional editor. For me it’s the small things that separate the applications making life efficient and fun for the the editor. I also had a pleasant surprise today. Alexis Van Hurkman, the man who literally wrote the manual on Resolve, called to point out some of the editing specific features that I might not be aware were there.
The Brains Behind Resolve
First, I have been remiss in the first two blogs for forgetting to mention the two “main brains” behind Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. Peter Chamberlain, the Producer Manager, and Rohit Gupta, the Lead Engineer.
They have been driving what has become Blackmagic’s own stamp on Resolve. Both of these gentlemen visited my former facility and have both been gracious with their time in the past, especially when I first started color grading with the software about 6 years ago. Extremely knowledgeable and friendly folks, I just wanted to thank them for all the work and my apologies for not mentioning them sooner.
Day Three Editing
Today I realized that DaVinci Resolve as an NLE is really the sum of all of its parts.
The Edit Panel alone is NOT the editor. It’s the entire application working together. So if all you do is look at the Edit Panel and say “well this is missing a lot of stuff” (like I initially did), you’re missing out on so much more that’s available, particularly in the Color Panel. I looked at the Color Panel as what comes AFTER editing, but in reality, it’s part of the editing process. Now that I realize that some of the elements I thought Resolve needed are actually in the app, they’re just in a different place. Of course having Alexis walk me through a bunch of features for 30 minutes REALLY opened my eyes to a bunch of stuff I didn’t realize was there. More on that soon.
In the edit I started putting a bit more polish on the project, getting it to the point where we should be about ready to move to finish next Monday. The biggest thing I had to figure out was the round trip to / from After Effects to create a few animated graphics. Time being of the essence and me being new to Resolve, I reverted to my old FCP workflow. Export audio guides (clips) from Resolve and use those to build the AE comps. Very simple.
Resolve does NOT have your standard File > Export command like most NLEs out there. The Deliver Panel is primarily set up to deliver finished files at the end of the process, but you can also use that panel to export individual clips and selections for approvals and sending to other apps like AE.
First thing I discovered is that In / Out points set in the Edit Panel do NOT transfer over to Deliver Panel.
I set them first in the Edit Panel and when I went over to the Deliver Panel, they were gone.
Alexis explained the reasoning why and it has to do with the fact that the Deliver Panel can output many variations from the same timeline including different combinations of In/Out points. So the Deliver Panel controls its own set of In/Out points. Sounds a little confusing to read I know, but in practice it makes sense. Setting up the video to export is pretty straight forward. Here you can see the controls are what you’d expect. At the top you see you can render a single clip or if you have multiple clips selected, export them as individual clips. In the File tab, you can either use the name of the timeline or set a custom file name.
And below is one of my guides in After Effects on the bottom most layer (Layer 4). No fuss, no muss, super easy and then I just rendered a ProRes out of After Effects to send back to Resolve. If I have to make changes I’ll render them as the same name and let Resolve reconnect to the new file. Yes, Blackmagic has Fusion, but one application at a time……
Yesterday I could not figure out to get a window burn on my Approval copies. That’s because I was looking in the wrong place. Turns out window burn controls in the Color Panel under the Data Burn controls. See what I mean about the ENTIRE application being the editor? BMD is not cramming every feature into an “editor” and then having the “color grading” act like a separate app. It’s all designed to work together.
As you can see the options available in Data (Window) Burn go WAY beyond most NLE’s in what you can have displayed on screen. In fact, most EVERY field of Metadata is available to be displayed on screen via the Custom Text options. You can see that I have Codec_Scene_Take in my custom text as contextual items. Every clip that has metadata information in the Codec, Source and Take fields will automatically be displayed as a burned in window on my output as you can see below.
Very very slick. So you set up you Data Burn info in the Color Panel and then you go over to the Deliver Panel to output. After I did this one time, it was second nature. For the purposes of this project I just output the Timeline name and the timecode. This is one example of how the entire application is the editor, not just the Edit Panel.
Keyframing & Curves
One thing that’s not available yet is initiating key framing in the timeline. You have to start the first keyframe up in the Inspector and then once that’s set, you can alter the settings in the timeline and keyframes are added as you would expect. I’ve filed a feature request to allow for key framing to start in the timeline such as with a pen tool like so many other NLEs. However, the Keyframe viewer in the timeline is awesome.
Just like how easy it is to see the labeling of the clips themselves, it’s very easy to see and edit keyframes in the Keyframe Viewer. This is very nicely done. Click that little half circle on the right side of the clip or the keyframe viewer and you now have access to the Curves where you can add bezier curves to the keyframes.
You can see in the dropdown on the left some of the parameters I can add keyframes and curves to. At the top of the screen you can see there are four curve options giving me a ton of control over the actions of the keyframes.
Composite controls are located in the Inspector panel and they’re what you would expect to find in a professional NLE.
I use a LOT of Rampant Design Tools in my day to day work so I’m using compositing all the time to overlay these elements on my work. One thing I’ve requested as a future feature request is the ability to have the composite mode available via right click in the timeline. That would be a little faster than going up to the Inspector.
Crop, Lens Distortion and More in the Inspector
Speaking of the Inspector, I love how many controls are at our fingertips without the need to add additional filters or effects.
I have missed having the Crop controls right there along with the ability to feather the crop. It always felt like a needless stop to grab a crop filter in other NLEs because it’s something I seem to use ALL the time. It’s one less thing I have to go get and adds to the efficiency of an edit.
The addition of a Lens Distortion control right in the Inspector is a nice touch. Obviously a nod to all the GoPro and small cameras that use wide angle lenses. No need to grab a filter, you can make adjustments to the image right there in the inspector. There’s also Retiming Controls right there as well. I have NOT played with these yet, so I can’t comment on how and how well they work.
Transform, Crop and Dynamic Zoom Directly in Monitors
If you’re like me and you like to just want to make quick adjustments in the Source and Record Monitors, changes to scale, position and crop, this is easily done in Resolve, you just have to activate the controls in the lower left of the monitors.
With the those controls active, you’ll now see you have options to make changes right in the monitors. Change the scale, crop, position and you can play with the dynamic zoom. Dynamic zoom is especially great for you FCPX users who like the Ken Burns effects. Dynamic zoom interprets those movements correctly and allow you to make adjustments to them.
Transform controls active, moving the video in the monitor.
Crop Controls active in the monitor, can now make changes within the monitor.
The ability to just grab and make quick adjustments in the Source / Record monitor is something I’ve missed since switching to Premiere Pro. It’s in that app, just not as easy to use. I’ve really missed this from FCP and it just one of those little things that make editing so much faster and efficient.
Drag and Drop Editing
If you’re a Drag and Drop Editor who likes to edit by dragging your clips from the Source to the Record Monitor, you’ll find all your usual overwrite and insert options along with some new ones when you drag your Source clip into the Record monitor.
I like the Place On Top option so it lays the video on a layer above where the playhead is sitting which is handy when I’m laying in all my Rampant Design effects. Or if I want to stage multiple takes one above the other, Place On Top means I don’t have to go making track selections with each edit. You also see the Append to End which is handy if your playhead isn’t at the end of the timeline. Ripple Overwrite I’ll explain in detail towards the end. It’s awesome.
Transition Options in the Timeline
Transitions have some nice ‘little things’ that make for an efficient edit. Right clicking at the head, tail, or between clips not only brings up a transition dialogue, but OPTIONS for those transitions lengths.
Audio Cross Fade Controls
Video Cross Dissolve Controls
You can see there’s four options for both Video and Audio transitions right there from 6 to 48 frames. How convenient is this? I usually have a default transition set up to 1 second for my projects, but there’s always particular dissolves or cross fades I want to be faster / slower. No need for that extra step to change the transition duration, I have four choices right there. Done. This ‘little thing’ I REALLY like a lot.
As you would expect, you can slide the transitions forward and back in the timeline to make them start, split and a end on the edit or you can make the adjustments in the Inspector. Feathers and Ease controls can be added to wipes easily in the Inspector.
Change the Transition Type In the Inspector
Changing the Transition can be done quickly in the Inspector.
You can see the in drop down box, all the Resolve transition are available so I can just flip through them and adjust on the fly rather than having to drag them one by one to pick the one I want.
For additional filters and effects beyond what Resolve has natively, the application supports Open FX effects but again, the entire application works together as the editor. Transition effects are found in the Edit Panel while filters are found in the Color Panel. Both under the Open FX tab.
I installed the Red Giant Universe filter package which gave me transitions and filters to play with. I have not gotten the point of applying any filters yet in the Color Panel. But at first I thought I was missing all the filters and effects, but Alexis pointed me to the Open FX tab in the Color Panel.
I should note that the New Blue FX filters crashed Resolve 12.5. I honestly don’t use those filters at the moment and forgot they were installed, they installed as part of my Avid installation. But after uninstalling the New Blue FX everything started working correctly. Hopefully New Blue FX is updating their products to keep working with Resolve.
Switch To Timeline After Edit controls
Here’s a neat little setting that Alexis pointed me towards. In the Edit Menu, there is a Switch to Timeline After Edit option that can be disabled.
When the control is enabled, which is a default for any editing system, when you make an edit from the Source Window, your keyboard control automatically follow the edit to the Timeline. The assumption is you just made an edit, so now you want to control the Timeline.
But in the case of long rolls with multiple takes, interviews or just longer files that we want to string out, we can turn OFF the automatic switching and the controls will remain with the Source Window. Mark In / Out, Insert the clip, scroll in the Source, Mark In / Out, Insert the Clip, etc…. without the need to keep re-selecting the Source Window. That’s actually pretty cool and Alexis was saying this was developed primarily for keyboard editors.
One less click, one less motion to make as you’re editing. Another ‘little thing.’
Ok, let’s talk about the Ripple Overwrite.
I saw this when I tested the Drag and Drop editing and honestly ignored it. Then Alexis called and this is the one feature he really wanted to show me because it’s super SUPER amazing and efficient.
Basically what Ripple Overwrite does is allow you to replace a shot in your timeline with one of a different length, and Resolve will automatically ripple your entire timeline keeping all of your edit points and edit timing intact. Your shot can be longer or shorter and Ripple Overwrite will re-assemble your timeline. Here it is in action.
I have an edited timeline, music is timed to fade out where I want it, SFX are timed to the action on the screen, Rampant style effects are located at each edit point and even titles are in the timeline. This is a 4:30 timeline and the 17 second shot highlighted has to be replaced.
If you look up there at the previous image, note especially how I have my music fading out exactly where we want it as the SFX comes in. Now the replacement clip is only 7:16. About a 10 second difference.
Now, I simply drag the 7:16 clip over to the Record Monitor, lay it onto Ripple Overwrite and…..
The 17 second clip is replaced by the 7:16 clip and all of my timing remains completely intact. Note the music fade is still precisely lined up with the SFX. The Rampant Design overlays are still exactly lined up. In fact my entire timeline is still perfectly and all it took was one click. This works both for shorter clips and longer clips, the integrity of your timeline and your edit points are held.
Now I will point out that Resolve made a cut edit in my music in order to shorten it up and keep the fade out lined up. So I have to go back in and make some adjustments to that to ensure that the music remains on the beat. I’m going to be asking if there’s any way to make the edits more intelligent whereby that fade in the music can be rolled back or forward to accommodate the ripple, instead of cutting it. BUT one click, ripple my entire timeline and all I have to do is slip my music a bit. That’s efficiency and something I wish I’ve had for a long time.
Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips
Here’s another neat feature Alexis pointed out, Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips. So if I have clips in the timeline that are Scaled 70%, 80% and 50%. I can select all three of them and make a Scale reduction of 10% and Resolve will make that change relative to their original sizes. Making the three clips 60%, 70% and 40% scale. I can do an absolute change to make them all 10% scale, but this relative changing of multiple clips, is pretty neat.
My Impressions and Next Steps
Well I think if you’ve read all three of these blogs you can tell I’m pretty darn impressed with DaVinci Resolve 12.5. I have barely scratched the surface and continue to review Alexis’ tutorial on the features. Is Resolve 12.5 a professional non-linear editing platform? I would honestly say “Yes” with this release. I’ve gotten pushback on forums from folks who have tried 12.0 and didn’t feel it could edit well. I totally agree, it was a step in the right direction, but wasn’t there yet.
I suppose the .5 moniker makes folks thing it’s just an update. 12.5 is an entirely new release that probably should have been called Resolve 13.
This is a solid editing tool that I have enjoyed cutting in and again, I have barely figured this thing out yet. It’s very feature rich and each time I use it, I’m discovering another one of “those things I wish Resolve had.”
I’ll be finishing the corporate piece this week and I’ve now committed a reality television pilot to Resolve 12.5 next. I think it’s up to the task.
We have seven episodes of this series shot and one of those will become the pilot. I’m running the entire series through Resolve. One thing I’ve been advised on is to keep the project sizes manageable. HUGE projects with thousands upon thousands of clips can get unwieldy. So I’ll employ the same workflow we used for Good Eats and This American Land where each episode is its own project.
As far as video editing for narrative, corporate, commercial, etc…. Resolve 12.5 is a great tool. Very efficiently designed and all of the features I’ve found so far are the “little things” that make life easier. I found myself having fun again in the edit suite.
Look this entire blog series isn’t about “My NLE is better than Your NLE” and the other NLEs suck. This blog series is about DaVinci Resolve being another option for video editors. It is a tool that can do the job today.
Whether you choose to use it, well that’s entirely up to you. I’ll still be using Adobe Premiere Pro for projects because it’s a solid system and Resolve works well with it. But Resolve is something that is now going to take a bigger place in the toolbox. Kudos to Peter, Rohit, Alexis, Paul and of course Grant Petty for having a vision to make Resolve more than just one of the best color grading tools on the planet.
And for doing it right, making this a useful tool.
With that, these “Day” blogs on Resolve are done. I’ll definitely chime back in when we get rolling on the reality series. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!