Day Two: Editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5
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Ok, if I'm being honest about this, Day Two was really a continuation of a very LONG day one. See I finished working last night about 6:30, then wrote the Day One blog, and then was preparing to go to bed around 11pm when I heard my phone chime that I had a text. A Producer on the west coast needed me to do a quick turnaround of a national broadcast spot today for Friday delivery. Well, I couldn't let that project interfere with the corporate project I'm cutting on Resolve, so instead of getting some sleep, I went back to the office and continued editing about 11:30pm - 4:30am. Didn't really sleep and went back to the office at 7:30am this morning, finishing up the master candidate of the commercial spot at 6:30pm tonight. Ok, so there's the backstory and I'm surprised I'm even still awake enough to type this, but here goes.....
Some updates on the issues from Day One.
The need to Transcode to ProRes. Paul Saccone from Blackmagic Design reached out to me and told me I didn't need to transcode the 4k H264 to ProRes to get better performance. I can use "Generate Optimized Media" instead.
This basically makes a proxy file that's easy on the playback and editing but then I can simply switch back to the original H264 files for color grading at the end of the process. Yes, I still have to generate another set of files, but these go pretty darn quickly and are much much smaller than the ProRes files I generated yesterday. I thought the Generate Optimized Media was really for use with large files like RAW, but it looks like it's just as useful with the DSLR stuff too.
Not Automatically Scaling my 4k to 1080 HD
I knew this was a setting that I wasn't finding and thanks to Dmitry Kitsov's response on Twitter, I now know where the "magic button" is. It's in Project Settings > Image Scaling Preset.
The default was Scale Entire Image to Fit but what I really wanted was Center Crop with No Resizing. Seems like a long mouthful but as you can see there are four different options for mismatched resolution files so I guess that's the easiest way to describe it.
So on to Day Two.
Everything so far has been very intuitive, even in my sleep deprived state last night, I was finding new functions simply by doing what I always do with certain keystrokes.
Duplicate a clip is simply Option+drag which I used a LOT last night because I was duplicating the heck out of comedic sound effects. You can see 09829_SFX down below duplicated 5 times to coincide with the action.
Speaking of those clips, see how CLEARLY labeled the audio clips are? There's a delineation between the clip name and user controls that's fabulous. With Premiere Pro, the audio labeling frequently disappears with the audio clips so I have to double click them back up into the Source Monitor to confirm the clip name. The labelling is also plenty large and easy to read. Really nicely done.
I mentioned last night how the volume / level control in the timeline is super useful because you have full control of the amount of level rather than being limited to just 6db +/- like in Premiere Pro. Below you see an audio clip that clearly has low audio, it's a manufacturing floor with audio from the camera mic. What Resolve does is shrink and enlarge the audio waveforms giving you a really good representation of the amount of volume in a clip at a quick glance.
And here's that same clip with the clip volume raised.
You can see visually how much louder the clip is now vs. the original picture above. At first I thought this was gimmicky when I saw it in the online demos, but actually it's really handy to be able to just look at the timeline and without even seeing the volume control settings, I can tell what's full volume and what's not.
I finally played with the Text Tool and it's quite good and useful. Is it as feature rich as Adobe's? Not by a long shot, but can you create titles with it? Absolutely. You actually find the titles in the same place as the effects. They have them laid out to be pre-positioned for ease of use, but I generally just start with Text.
You drag a title out onto the timeline and then the Title Panel becomes active.
As you can see, all the basic controls you'd expect and all the fonts on my Mac loaded up. I've only used it for placeholders so far, but will create some titles for the final.
I mentioned yesterday the ease of video and audio track assignments. Here's a look at that.
Just a single control to turn the track on and off. Renaming the tracks is as simple as double-clicking the name and naming it as you can see I did with the audio tracks. It's intuitive and easy.
The Wacom Tablet Works!!!
I had to bold that one because if you're a user of Adobe Premiere Pro and you use a Wacom tablet, then you know the joy of the "jittery pen." Basically any adjustment you make with a Wacom tablet in Premiere Pro results in the keyframe / parameter changing when you release the pen. Completely maddening to say the least, so many of us resort to using a mouse when doing fine tuning such as audio mixing. But in Resolve, I've found the pen to be very accurate and stable. It's little things like this that really make a long long day in the edit suite pleasant.
A little thing that's functional but could be more efficient. Right now the only way to send out a burned in timecode copy to a client is via the Color Panel. I couldn't even find this last night (this morning) so I went out of Resolve and into Adobe Media Encoder. But if you open the timeline in the Color panel, you'll find options for timecode and other things to burn into the media. I made a request to the Resolve team to consider either making a filter for TC Window or simply adding the option to the Delivery panel. When editing, I definitely don't think much about Color and I never even thought to look at the Color panel just to find TC burn-in. So it's there, but I'm hopeful it might be a bit more intuitive for editors who have no interest in using the Color panel.
One other thing that's not working quite as it should is the ability to double click a parameter in the Inspector Panel and change it. If you go back up at look at that Title Panel and I want to double click the Size to change it from 74 to 50. If I try to double click it, the numbers simply change say up to 80 or down to 63 and they keep changing every time I double click. Or the last number will be selected but not all of them. So I have to manually backspace, backspace then type. Most likely a Beta issue and remember this IS beta software right now. Remarkably STABLE beta software too I might add. Had to restart the machine twice last night because the system got a little wonky but the software is not crashing, it's not disappearing, just gets a little "tired" from time to time so I just reboot and keep going.
Here's a look at my timeline so far. Nothing remarkable as you can see, just your good old fashioned basic timeline but sitting inside one of the most powerful color grading tools on the planet. It's been super easy and quite pleasant cutting.
What's continued to impress me is how efficiently the workspace is laid out and how intuitive all of the necessary panels are. I'm editing on a SINGLE monitor. I HATE editing on a single monitor, I love having all that extra real estate for all those windows I need open. But here I am, editing away in Resolve and when I need to access a panel, it's there. Panels move and replace themselves as you set about doing different functions while editing. It's so well thought out and I'm not searching for windows, or dragging more windows out, or losing windows under windows. Granted I have a 5k Retina iMac, but the interface is so efficient I have no need for the second window. It's absolutely remarkable so far. Keep in mind I am doing a pretty simple project right now, but this does give me an insight as to how the app will work for larger projects. The interface seems to have really been thought out from the editor's perspective first and not from an engineering / coding standpoint. It's a very light and nimble application.
Somebody asked me today "why does editing in Resolve interest you?" Well it is my color grading tool of choice. It's completely free, and by the way, I'm cutting this project using the free version of Resolve. My Studio version sits on another machine.
So if I find the Resolve can handle the bulk of our editorial load and especially if I get my new Contemporary Living Network funded, we can have every editor, no matter where they are, no matter which NLE they currently cut with editing on Resolve. Why? We can completely eliminate XMLs and any issues that arise with moving projects between NLEs and Resolve. Now we're simply passing project files back and forth and staying inside the same application.
The workflow to / from Photoshop and After Effects will be different and not as elegant as the Adobe Suite for sure, but then we had a really good workflow between the old FCP and After Effects in the past and I can draw upon that knowledge to create a simple workflow as needed. BUT completely eliminating XMLs from our editorial to editorial workflow and from our editorial to color workflow makes the idea of cutting inside Resolve very appealing. Now when I want to work with my colleague who is an AMAZING 30 years (and counting) colorist it's as simple as hand him the project file.
Does Resolve have the rich feature set of Adobe Premiere Pro or Avid? No, not even close. Does Resolve have a very good, useful feature set that any editor can cut a narrative story and is easy to adapt you muscle memory to? So far, from what I see, the answer is yes. Especially with the latest additions with Resolve 12.5.
I really like that Blackmagic Design has spent a lot of time under the hood ensuring that the basic operation of editing is smooth and easy. That's the most any editor can ask for. As for what comes next, well that all depends on what the editors ask for. From what I've been told, Blackmagic Design is listening quite well to their editing base just like Adobe.
Two days in, call me impressed.
This article first appeared on WalterBiscardi.com