Online Creative look to Resolve for TOWIE ident on-set, edit and grade

Brighton-based Online Creative Ltd are an boutique post facility with an enviable reputation for colour grading, editing and post, and a client list that includes the BBC, ITV, C4, Sky, IWC Media and ITN.

Recently, they took on the job of creating idents for Select Fashion, sponsors of The Only Way Is Essex, and decided to edit and grade the project almost entirely within DaVinci Resolve. We sat down with co-founder and senior colourist Darren Mostyn to get his take on the new, extended Resolve workflow.

Darren in Online Creative's Grade suite
Darren in Online Creative’s Grade suite


Can you outline the workflow you employed for the TOWIE project?

We edited and graded the Dancing On Ice sponsorship idents last year for ITN and had a lot of fun with those, so when the same director asked if we would work on the TOWIE idents we were more than happy to. The production company, Eclectic Motion based in London, approached David Ward to direct the series of nine sponsorship idents for their client, Select Fashion. After meeting us at our studio here in Brighton, Eclectic Motion were very happy for us to complete the entire post, from DIT and on-set grading through to the edit, graphics, colour grade and delivery.

Managing colour on set

Managing colour on set

How are you finding using Resolve for more of the creative workflow than just grading?

The entire post-production for the TOWIE sponsorship idents was managed through DaVinci Resolve Studio. Due to the incredibly tight turnaround of this job, we simply stayed in the software for the edit, grade and delivery. The Blackmagic Design team have radically upgraded the edit capability of Resolve since version 12 was released. Having played with the editing software over the last few months, we were confident that the job could easily be edited inside our grading software, saving us time versus switching between Avid for the edit and Resolve for the grade.

Online Creative's on-set Resolve edit/grade setup

Online Creative’s on-set Resolve edit/grade setup

The rushes were all shot in 4K mainly from a Sony FS7. We took our portable grading suite to the shoot and were immediately able to edit with Resolve without any transcoding, playing back in real time. We then applied looks on set to show the client, director and to assist DoP Mark Bader. Using the advanced editing functions in Resolve allowed us to quickly build some first assemblies, which would help us get ahead in the four days left for the edit. Once back in the studio, we simply connected the suites to the on-set project.

Which features of Resolve were most useful on this project?

I still think Resolve is a world class system for colour grading, but now with better-featured editing functionality I can easily make edit changes even if I have started the grade. The trimming functionality of the edit side has been well thought out and feels mature. I was very aware that on this project that there would be a point where we had to start the grade, even without a final picture lock, as the broadcast delivery deadline was so tight. The changes that were made were easily applied by simply switching to the edit page. Traditionally, I would have had to open the edit suite, make the changes, export the AAF/XML and then Resolve would re-conform the edit changes, but now it is completely seamless.

The completed edit in Resolve

The completed edit in Resolve

Were the clients aware of your heavy Resolve usage? Did they give any feedback on it?

Eclectic Motion and Select Fashion were really pleased we came on set and provided a look and rough edit straight away. It gave them confidence at the shoot that it was going to look great, especially as it was Select Fashion’s first TV spot. The grade back at our studio is always a good experience for the client. They were impressed with the speed of the system in 4K, and the tracker always gets a smile.

Before and After Darren's grade

Before and After Darren’s grade

We used Resolve to do some fixing where parts of the set were showing carpentry joins. The node sizing tool came in very handy to use as a paint/clone tool that was then easily tracked. The client was very aware that doing this outside of Resolve would have been an extra expense and taken up valuable time. It’s always great to be able to offer up these additional fixes to clients whilst keeping them on budget.

How does Resolve compare to your previous system?

I have been using Resolve here for over six years now. I previously graded using Digital Vision’s FilmMaster, Avid Symphony and Apple Color. I started grading on Resolve using the Tangent Wave control surface for about a year before committing to the full dedicated panels after deciding the software was a perfect tool for our broadcast needs – in addition to TVCs and idents, we grade documentary and longform work, so the control surface is a very important part of our set up. We now have a Tangent Element which runs on our second grading suite and is used on our portable kit.

Mid-grade in the Resolve suite

Mid-grade in the Resolve suite

What made you decide it was time to move more of your workflow into Resolve?

The Resolve software is always being developed and refined, and each year a new set of features appear that makes our workflow here smoother. Being a smaller facility than most of our Soho counterparts means that we have to give the very best quality service to keep ahead of the game. We need our software to be affordable, able to handle any job in HD and 4K resolution, and reliable – DaVinci Resolve ticks all these boxes and many more.

How did you find working with Jigsaw24? Would you recommend us?

We have bought the majority of our equipment from Jigsaw24. We had an issue with a new iMac that we ordered a little too close to a deadline. The machine caused a few problems and turned out to have a fault. Jigsaw24 replaced it and collected the faulty machine immediately without any hesitation, keeping us on track for our deadline. My clients expect us to pull out all the stops when needed, and so did Jigsaw24 on this occasion.

The fact that we are a small boutique facility in Brighton does not deter the team at Jigsaw24. They don’t treat us any differently to the big facilities, and that service goes a long way for me. Jamie and the team at Jigsaw24 certainly know their stuff in the world of post-production and are a valuable resource for me when compiling a shopping list.

Are you planning on sticking with this workflow for other projects? Are there any circumstances when you wouldn’t recommend it?

The Resolve workflow was completely flawless on the TOWIE/Select Fashion project. There are more projects in the diary that I will certainly implement the same workflow.

The lack of freelance editors with Resolve on their CV may be off-putting to some companies, but I am sure it won’t be long until freelance editors start trying the edit functionality in more detail and adding it to their list of NLEs. I don’t think it will be too long before we receive someone else’s programme edited entirely in Resolve to grade. To be able to simply open the Resolve project and start grading, bypassing the XML workflow altogether, will be great – I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys pre-grade conforming. I’d be interested to see how Resolve fares when editing longform programmes, which we’ll be looking at very soon.

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