Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve
It's unlikely any editor is unaware of the release of Resolve 15. It’s equally unlikely many editors, especially those who use Media Composer, haven’t thought of switching to DaVinci Resolve. Switching, however, isn’t as simple as it might seem. First there is the 2,600-page manual. Then, there is realization that an NLE’s most powerful feature is one's experience using it.
Even though I learned to use Resolve 11/12/14, I feel more comfortable editing with Media Composer | First—except when trying to color-grade media. The same conflict is faced by those who use other NLEs that do not have a powerful color-grading capability.
The solution to this editing verses color-grading dilemma is to “round-trip” media from Media Composer (or a different NLE) to Resolve and then back to your NLE. This is accomplished by first sending an XML file from your NLE to DaVinci Resolve. After grading in Resolve, an exported XML file will be used to round-trip the project back to your NLE. (See Case Study: Round-tripping FCP X and DaVinci Resolve 11.2.)
If using, for example, FCP X, issue the File > Export Project XML… command. (See Figure 1.) Export an XML file to a folder.
Unfortunately, if you are editing with Media Composer | First or some other NLEs there is no export XML file command. Thankfully, there is a way to use Resolve that overcomes this limitation.
Media Composer | First provides two ways to input media files: you can Import some formats and Link other formats. Unfortunately, there are limitations to each. For example, while 10-bit DPX files can be Link input, 16-bit DPX files cannot. Moreover, errors can occur during Linking and/or Importing.
The solution is to employ Resolve to import your media, which can be most every available format. Once imported you can, if you wish, create Bins and log the imported clips. You can trim the clips during the logging process.
Switch from the Media room to the Edit room. Next, move the trimmed clips into a Timeline. Although order is not critical, it makes sense for color-match purposes to create a roughly time-ordered assembly for each scene.
In the Color room color-grade the Timeline clips. After switching to the Deliver room, export the clips as individual files using codecs such as DNxHD (1080p) or DNxHR (2160p). These files can then be rapidly Link input into MCF. (Link input keeps UHD files at a 3840x2160 resolution.) Of course, these files can be imported by other NLEs as well.
However, before you can accomplish these tasks, you need to setup Resolve. This process looks so difficult that many give-up after launching DaVinci Resolve. That’s understandable because there are many settings on many preference pages. You’ll encounter settings such as: Color—Embed timecode in audio output, Color—Use legacy Log grading ranges and curve, and Color—Use local version for new clips in timeline.
Therefore, Part one of this three-part article will focus on getting Resolve ready for your use. First, create three folders in the system root drive which you want to be used for media storage: Resolve Source, Resolve Exports, and Resolve Clip Exports. Place on your Desktop, aliased copies of the Resolve Source, Resolve Exports, and Resolve Clip Exports folders.
Launch DaVinci Resolve 15 and its Project Manager will open (Figure 2).
Now click the New Project button, enter its name, and click Create.
- To open an existing project, double-click its icon.
- Delete a project by right-clicking its icon and selecting Delete….
- Close Resolve by clicking the upper-left X.
After a new project window opens, click the Media button to enter the Media Room (Figure 3).
Click the lower-right Gear button in the Project Window to define Project Settings.
Click Master Settings > Timeline Format: set as shown below (Figure 4).
Timeline resolution: 1920x1080 HD or 3840 x 2160 Ultra HD
Pixel aspect ratio: Square
Timeline frame rate: 23.976 or 25 or 29.976 or 50 or 59.94
Playback frame rate: 23.976 or 25 or 29.976 or 50 or 59.94
Click the Save button.
Under Image Scaling: Make the setting shown by Figure 5 so you can work with Cinema 4K media in a UHD project.
Click the Save button.
Under Color Management > Color Space & Transforms and Lookup Tables: By selecting an appropriate LUT for the 3D Input Lookup Table, Log media will appear as a REC.709 gamma video in your project. (Figures 6 and 7.) See Here a LUT There’s a LUT.
Click the Save button .
Under General Options > Conform Options, Audio Metering, and Color: Make the change shown by Figure 8.
Click the Save button.
If you aren’t editing Raw footage, you are finished making settings.
When you shoot RAW and want to edit it, first read the Resolve—Chapter 5: Camera RAW Settings for your camera.
Then, under Camera RAW > Master: set RAW Profile to, for example, Blackmagic RAW.
Set Decode Quality to Full Res.
To use Resolve’s definition of your camera’s RAW settings, set Decode Using to, for example, Blackmagic RAW (Figure 9).
The remainder of the settings on the RAW page provide more control over how you want your imported RAW files to appear. If, for example, the metadata recorded when shooting defines the look you want, under Camera RAW > Master, Decode Using set to Camera Metadata (Figure 10).
When you want more control of the look, under Camera RAW > Master, set Decode Using to Project (Figure 11). Now the sliders under Project Settings can be used to adjust different aspects of the RAW image. For example, set White Balance to Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent, or Flash.
This setting overrides the As Shot color temperature. (Figure 12.)
Once you switch Decode Using to Project (Figures 11 and 12), both the sliders under Project Settings as well as Use Camera Metadata can control how the RAW media will look.
Under Capture and Playback: no alterations.
Under Subtitles: no alterations.
Part two of this article will cover the import and export of media. Part three will cover a very rapid way to color grade clips.
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