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DaVinci's Resolve from BlackMagic Design

By Kevin McAuliffe

On thing that I love about Post Production, especially at the Pro-sumer and above level, is that as computers get more powerful (and cheaper for that matter), we are now starting to get access to gear and applications that only used to be reserved for specialized machines that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and required an obscene amount of man hours to learn not only the hardware, but the software as well.  Thankfully, those days are gone. 

With the power of todays Mac computers, one computer can do just about every job you need it to (editing/rendering/compositing/etc), and what used to be work that was above your "company's level", can now be done in the comfort of your own home.  Blackmagic Design is one of those companies that is bringing what used to be something reserved for Hollywood level post production facilities to the hands of everyone, and I'm talking about Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve.

WHAT YOU GET AND HOW IT WORKS

Way back on September 10th, 2009, Blackmagic Design (BMD) purchased all of the assets of DaVinci Systems LLC, and with that, DaVinci's Resolve (as well as other assets).  Fast forward one year to the day to September 10th, 2010, and BMD ships Resolve to the public.  For Final Cut Studio users, Resolve can be thought of as Color on steroids.  Now, much like Color, DaVinci's Resolve (DR) is its own separate entity.  DR can be used on anything from a standard definition show all the way up to a 4K Hollywood film, and everything in between.   DR even supports Stereoscopic 3D workflows, so no matter what your workflow, you're covered. 

 

Now, I for this article I want to look at what I think is the biggest selling feature of DR, and that's workflow, and for editors like myself, there are two "typical" workflow scenarios that I have run into, and they have both been for Final Cut Pro users out there.  Here is the first one.

I work at a post production facility in Toronto, where I am being sent "finish" products all the time, and in many cases, these pieces can run from one minute to hours long, and in most cases, clients don't send me their assets.  Just a Pro Res QuickTime file of the final piece, and if I need to do any color correction (CC), I end up having to put the clip into a FCP timeline, and scroll through it, and manually find each edit point.  Yes, it can be a labor intensive pain?..well, not with DR.  In this type of situation, I can take that clip, and import it into DR's Media Pool, and then ask the client to e-mail me an EDL/AAF file of their final Edit.  Once i have the EDL, I can simply import the EDL, and "apply" it to the clip that I've imported into the media pool, and DR will add edits to my Pro Res clip, and it will appear in DR, just the way it did in the clients timeline back at their office. 

Now, I always like to call that the worst case scenario, and that is a workflow I use when time is a factor.  My idea workflow situation is to finish my project in Final Cut Pro, and make a copy of it, only moving the media and two second handles to either a different drive or a different folder on my RAID.  Then, I import all of my used media into DR's Media Pool, and again, I can now import my EDL/AAF (keep in mind that FCP does not natively export AAF files.  You will need to use either Automatic Duck's Pro Export FCP or Boris FX's AAF Transfer if you want to work this way.  Also, DR does not support XML transfers, so that is out of the picture) into DR, and relink all my newly imported clips, to my new DR timeline.

Now, with all that being said, we don't live in an ideal world where once our picture is locked, things never change.  DR is designed to work directly with BMD's DeckLink HD Extreme 3D (the DeckLink HD Extreme was recently updated to support Stereo3D workflows) so that you can capture clips from SD all the way to Stereo3D to add to your show quickly and easily.  DR also reads and writes Apple ProRes 4444, 422, 422(HQ), 422 (Proxy) and 422 (LT) file formats, as well as Avid DNX HD (at an additional cost of $500 US), and even H264 files for Canon 5 & 7D workflows.  Needless to say, DR covers just about every format you could possibly need to work in, and the kicker, is that you get top of the line node-based, 32-bit float color correction for $995 U.S.  Yes, that's right.  What was once way outside of the "standard" user's price range is now very easily affordable.  DR is your one stop source for anything and everything color correction related.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

Now I couldn't finish this look at DaVinci's resolve without mentioning their DR Control Surface

At $29,995 (including software), this surface is a big investment.  Can you do everything you need to do without it?  Sure, but having the ability alter any part of your picture with it's own unique button, or to switch between multiple color grades with the click of a button, makes your clients very, very happy, and makes you look like a superstar.

PROS
- Complete, start to finish, color grading for just about any resolution you are working in
- $995 price
- Not packaged with the Control Surface.  Purchase it if you need/want it.
- Node based, 32-bit float color grading
- 99 point 3D tracking (to handle those particularly tricky shots)

CONS
- $29,995 Control Surface price should include the DeckLink Extreme 3D card as well
- $500 extra for Avid users for DNX HD support (that's half the price of the software)
- Website's information is scarce and not very informative.

A review of DR can only scratch the surface of the type of work you can do.  There is no demo of DR, but if you want to see it in action, any reputable post production facility in your city will have it, and if they don't, they should.  Resolve is one of my top picks from 2010, and you can get more information about DaVinci's Resolve at www.blackmagic-design.com .


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com


Related Keywords:Blackmagic Design, DaVinci Resolve, 4K Hollywood film, Stereoscopic 3D, DeckLink HD Extreme 3D, DR Control Surface, DNX HD

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