I’ve been using DaVinci Resolve extensively as a color grading tool for the past few years, but with version 12 just around the corner I am very tempted to use it to cut my next feature. Those of you that read this blog frequently know that I use all of the major NLE’s, and often lean towards FCP X for my personal work. That said, some of the benefits of editing on Resolve 12 are going to be hard to pass up, especially for the unique needs of my upcoming film.
Much like cameras, I think of editing platforms as individual tools that should be chosen based on the job they’re being used for. I may have my favorites (FCP X certainly being one of them), but am not married to any one platform and never have been, just as I am not set on using the same camera for everything that I shoot. Every platform has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and you really should always “pick the right tool for the job”, no matter how cliche that may sound.
Up until this point I have been using FCP X for the majority of my editing work and Premiere Pro for certain jobs where I feel it’s a better fit. To this day I’m still not a big fan of Avid, although I will occasionally use Media Composer on specific jobs as needed – usually based on the other editors involved on those projects.
With all that in mind, DaVinci Resolve 12 is the new kid on the block and it may just become the most powerful and useful editing system out there.
The current version of Resolve (11) already has some incredible editing functionality built right in, and I’ve even used it to edit a couple of short form commercial projects from end to end. But even though version 11 is undeniably a powerful editing system in it’s own right (in addition to being a world class color grading platform), I have never really been tempted to edit any long form material in it, as it isn’t quite at the level of FCP X or Premiere Pro in some ways. With the added functionality coming to Resolve 12 though, that all may change…
There have been countless new editing-centric features integrated into Resolve 12 that will truly take it to the next level and make it a viable candidate for long form editing. Below are just a handful of reasons why I am considering using it for my feature length narrative film:
New User Interface
I am very comfortable working in Resolve 11, and have no real complaints about the interface. That said, it does still feel like a color grading system with an editor built in, whereas Resolve 12 feels like a true hybrid platform. By consolidating some of the ‘pages’ within the UI, Resolve now feels like an editorial finishing system with integrated color tools, instead of the other way around.
The UI certainly wouldn’t be the only reason I would choose one NLE over another, but in this case it’s a very important factor. Working quickly and efficiently in any editing platform partly hinges on the design of the software itself, and it’s comforting to know the Blackmagic has really designed Resolve 12 with the editor in mind. It no longer feels like you are using a workaround to edit in Resolve, but rather than the software was truly intended for that purpose – and your user experience is heightened as a result.
Using LUTs & Color
I will likely be shooting my feature on either the Arri Alexa or the Blackmagic URSA, both of which shoot to a very flat log setting. This will of course mean that I’ll need to use 3D LUTs within Resolve to give the footage a Rec. 709 look, and get away from the overly flat log footage on the RAW files. Just about any editing system now can use 3D LUTs (either natively or via a 3rd party plugin) to give your RAW footage a presentable look as you work on the offline edit, but Resolve takes things a few steps further.
Often times, technical issues in your footage (especially in shots that are slightly over or under exposed) will be amplified by a 3D LUT, and ultimately that can be very distracting while editing. Resolve’s seamless integration between the edit and color pages gives you the ability to fine tune looks as you go, and correct any issues that may be exacerbated by the LUT. For me, this huge… That’s not to say that I am going to color each clip as I go through the offline edit (that would be crazy), but it’s great to know that if I’m unsure about whether or not I can use a specific shot based on color, I can make some adjustments on the fly and give myself peace of mind as I am editing. Not to mention, if I need to do a cast/crew screening or show the producers a cut before the color work as been done, it will be really easy to get my rough cuts looking really polished without having to grade everything prematurely.
I am so used to roundtripping my projects (sending them from my NLE to Resolve, and then back again), that it’s just become ingrained in my day to day workflow. That said, it will be pretty incredible to have the ability to edit, color, and finish all within DaVinci Resolve.
No matter how great your workflow is, and how organized your project may be – there are always potential translation issues that can and will occur when you port your project from one software to another. One of the reasons why I love FCP X right now is because of it’s near perfect integration with Resolve (especially when compared to Premiere Pro which I always seem to have issues with). But editing directly in Resolve takes things to a whole other level of simplicity… Now my offline and on-line edits can happen in the exact same place and there is no need to use translation files (such as an XML file) to send things back and forth, effectively eliminating potential issues and speeding up my process substantially.
Blackmagic didn’t just integrate more basic editing functionality into Resolve, they have gone above and beyond and created some highly original and powerful features. In many ways, they have taken some of my favorite elements from the major NLEs and integrated the best of them into Resolve 12. This is something that I’ve felt Adobe has tried to do with Premiere (as it has many FCP X inspired features, and many Avid style features too), but they haven’t been able to quite nail down. Resolve on the other hand seems to have found the sweet spot by combining only the best proven features from various applications into their system.
One highlight for me is the ‘Smart Bin’, which essentially works like ‘Smart Collections’ in FCP X. This tool allows you to organize your footage automatically based on certain parameters that you set, which can save a lot of time in the early stages of your edit.
I am also really impressed by the timeline and editing tools in Resolve 12. Much like any other editor, you can use ripple editing, slip/slide, etc. within Resolve, but the integration of these tools is second to none. For instance, rather than manual switching your tool settings to change your editing mode (ripple to slide, let’s say), you can simply position your mouse over a different part of the clip on your timeline, and Resolve will automatically know which tool you want to use. Little details like this can save a load of time when editing a feature.
There are all sorts of other little gems hidden in Resolve 12 too – like the ability to set different in and out points for your video/audio on any given clip, or the ability to select multiple clips in the timeline and apply the same edit to all of the clips at once.
Not to mention, the extremely detailed control that you have over keyframes or transitions by using their curves editor is really impressive.
Change Is Good
Creatively speaking, I am a firm believer that you need to embrace change and find new ways of approaching your work if you want to grow as an artist. I will often challenge myself to use a camera that I am not as familiar with or an editing system that I don’t have as much experience with just to shake things up creatively. When you step out of your comfort zone and force yourself to think and work differently, great things can happen and new ideas are inevitable.
On top of all of the technical and logistical benefits of using Resolve 12 for my feature, I really do like the idea that it will be a new experience. Much like how the office or studio you work in may inspire the work that you do in it, the software that you use will play a part in your creativity as well, whether you realize it or not. Resolve will offer a new experience and a new way to look at my story that I am certain will result in an enjoyable creative process.
Resolve 12, much like FCP X feels like the future of editing to me. Hardware and software are converging at a rate that’s faster than we have ever seen before in the film industry, and Blackmagic seems to be at the forefront of that movement. Cameras are essentially computers now, so it’s no big surprise that Blackmagic is focused on creating an end to end pipeline (from cameras to finishing software), that will serve today’s filmmakers throughout the entirety of their production/post pipeline.
It goes without saying that I will still use FCP X and Premiere Pro extensively as they will still be the best options for many projects. My ability to work quickly in FCP X is still unmatched by any other NLE and I doubt that will change in the near future. Even still, for my upcoming feature film where I won’t need to blow through hours of footage every day and the color integration will be paramount, Resolve 12 may just be the best tool for the job.
I haven’t fully committed to using Resolve 12 for the feature at this point, simply because I haven’t used it yet. Once it’s officially released and I can test it out with some longer form content I will make my final decision, but right now it’s looking like Resolve may be the way to go.
If you missed it last time, here is a quick no-budget mood film that I shot for this feature (titled ‘Ivy’) as part of the development process:
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To read more about Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve be sure to check out www.blackmagicdesign.com