DaVinci Resolve: a User’s Eye View

As Resolve makes its way onto the Mac, we find out why DaVinci devotee and certified Color trainer Warren  Eagles (he’s the one on the left) thinks it’s worth making the move…

What kind of projects do you grade with Resolve?

I have been using Resolve since 2006, grading mostly commercials and movies. I am currently working on a 13-part Australian drama, plus various music videos.

Why do you use Resolve?

Resolve helps to make my job easy. It’s very fast, so I can show clients lots of different looks – including blurs and framing changes – in realtime. From a business perspective we can only bill our clients when we are grading, so the faster we can render and output our material, the quicker we can start on the next job.

Practically, I use a Window on nearly every shot and Resolve has shortcuts that make that very fast, so I can be as creative as possible and still work quickly.

Aside from the realtime playback, what makes Resolve stand out for you?

There’s a cool feature that allows you to grab a still to use as a reference frame, but keep the node tree history of the clip the still came from. This tree can then be broken down and each individual node can be dragged to a new clip, so if you’ve got a great sky colour and shape on a still, you can just drag that node onto the current shot and the effect is applied for you.

Resolve is also very happy manually keyframing or using a mixture of auto and manual tracking, and the tracker is faster and more reliable than the ones you’ll find in other applications.

How does it handle multiple timelines and EDLs?

Really well. If you have five versions of a commercial, you can conform them all, then grade the longest version. If any shots appear in the cut down versions, they’ll automatically be graded to match in their own timeline. So if you’ve spent a day grading a show and the cut changes, you can just re-conform and the grades will fall into their new place.

Do your clients like it?

Yeah, there are some big client pleasers. A tool like Powergrade, which lets me pre-build looks, save them and then apply them in any session to any format or resolution, is good for this. If the client’s searching for something different, I can show them different looks at the start of a session.

It’s quite a complex system – how have you found the controls?

I have always been a DaVinci user, so found the transition from the DaVinci 2K to Resolve fairly easy. The UI could be more flexible, but the different needs of the commercial colourist and the feature colourist mean the UI is sometimes a compromise for both guys.

The Resolve control surface looks complicated, but there is a reason for all those buttons and knobs. Each function has a dedicated set of controls, so the framing can be done with its own set of buttons, which are entirely separate from the Power Window buttons. Having these different controls helps my sessions run smoothly.

How does it compare to other colour correction systems you’ve used?

The tools are very colourist friendly. I like to work with an audio guide track, and Resolve enables me to bring in a WAV file that matches the show I am grading.

It has unlimited nodes, so I’m not restricted to eight secondaries like in Color. It’s faster to pull colour keys and make Power Windows, something I do all the time, and of course Resolve has YUV controls so you can adjust the contrast of the picture without affecting the saturation.

Which tools do you miss most when you’re using other systems?

Grading the timeline in C or A mode. If I’ve conformed shots in Resolve, I will always switch to C mode before the clients come in. This means everything is in shooting/timecode order, so shots are naturally grouped together: all the wide shots are now back to back, as are the close-ups. I then colour the shots I need before switching back to A (edit mode), and all the grades fall into place in the context of the cut. This is very easy to do and extremely useful.

I’m also a big fan of Versions, which you don’t find in other programmes – if I need to make a different grade for a skin pass or a car plate pass, I can add it to a clip as a Version and it will automatically get rendered to a folder with the source timecode and the name I gave it.

Are there any situations when you wouldn’t recommend Resolve?

Color probably wins if you’re doing simple primary grades and roundtripping from Final Cut. Color’s secondary curve controls are good – I’m using them more and more – and the Color Effects room is very useful. It does add to the render time, though…

Still not sure if DaVinci’s for you? Take a look at Resolve’s specs. You can also call us for more information on 03332 400 222, email DaVinci@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full broadcast range.

To get in touch with Warren, visit www.icolorist.com or call +61421603111.

Call us: 03332 409 306

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