GEAR TALK: Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 Beta 2
At NAB 2019, Blackmagic Design announced DaVinci Resolve 16 and now, right about a month later, the company has already added a whole slew of new features to the software. From what I heard, there’s a whole team of software engineers working round the clock somewhere in Singapore dedicated to making Resolve better every day!
What you will find in the new DaVinci Resolve 16 is a very comprehensive update to the entire program. We are seeing features added to every single page. From the Edit page, Colour, Cut (which is Resolve’s new UI for fast-turnaround editing), to the Fairlight Audio page, and Fusion. The continued improvements are released in a consistent schedule; that means Blackmagic Design is genuinely interested in getting their feature sets to the users quickly.
Our test rig consisted of the 2018 Apple Mac Mini (3.2Ghz 6-Core 8th Gen Intel i7 Processor, 64GB 2667 MHz DDR4 RAM, 2TB SSD, 10 Gigabit Ethernet), Blackmagic Design EGPU (Radeon Pro 580) and DaVinci Resolve 16 Beta 2.
Blackmagic Design created the cut page and intended it for editors working on projects with quick turnarounds. It provides simple and straightforward alternative to the existing edit page; furnished with integrated colour, audio and titling capabilities. It also introduces what Blackmagic Design describes as “revolutionary new tools”, including a source tape mode and dual timeline for trimming. We think that this opens up an option for non-editors; especially directors, to do their rough fast cuts so that they can convey their vision to the editor in a seamless manner.
The source tape mode presents all of the clips in the media bin as a single, continuously scrubbable ‘tape’, making it quicker to locate the relevant sections of footage. The dual timeline provides parallel timelines showing an entire program and the current work area. Both modes can be used for trimming, minimising the need to zoom in and out.
With the cut page about speed, Blackmagic Design has improved the edit page to be a full-fledged professional solution catered for post-production facilities and collaborative environments. Here are some of the many major improvements:
You will now be able to open and work in multiple, stacked timelines within the edit page. This is big; editors can view multiple, fully functional timelines at the same time. Adding to that, each individual timeline can be in different formats/settings within the same project. For example; a single project can have a timeline for editing with proxies, and others for color or effects at full resolution.
Post-production facilities will be able to better manage their shared storage/network loads by allocating the right amount of bandwidth needed for each process. This includes being able to set multiple outputs from the same project to different terminals. Finally, in Resolve 16, you will be able to change existing settings for timelines after they have been created, a long time request from users. The edit page also now supports both the built-in ResolveFX and 3rd party OpenFX transition and generator plug-ins. Image stabilisation and speed warp retiming have also been added. These are big workflow improvements, allowing editors to do substantially more.
DaVinci Neural Engine
DaVinci Resolve 16 also adds the DaVinci Neural Engine, a new AI, machine learning-based system that’s designed to provide “simple tools to solve repetitive and time-consuming problems”. Examples include sorting clips into bins according to whether people feature in the shot, driven by the Neural Engine’s face-recognition capabilities. Other features driven by the Neural Engine in Resolve 16 include retiming or upscaling footage, and automated colour-matching between clips.
ResolveFX effects toolset
Graphics-related changes include “major improvements” to the ResolveFX toolset, including new plugins for adding vignettes, drop shadows, analogue noise and chromatic aberration; and for removing objects. In addition, there are improvements to the scanline, beauty, face refinement, blanking fill, warper, dead pixel fixer and colour space transformation plugins. Users can also now view and edit ResolveFX keyframes from the timeline curve editor on the edit page or from the keyframe panel on the colour page.
Blackmagic Design has entered into a partnership with Frame.io. From DaVinci Resolve 16 the collaboration toolset is natively built in. This is a smart move for Blackmagic Design; rather than spending time and resources developing their own cloud storage/collaboration toolset, they’re partnered with an industry leader. Once you login to your Frame.io account from within Resolve, the projects in question automatically sync with Resolve, including media and comments. Frame.io shows up as another source on the media page. If the media files are of higher resolution, you can start editing them immediately with the Frame.io generated proxies while the high resolution files are download in the background. Once the files are downloaded, they are automatically swapped out with the proxies. On the render page, Frame.io appears as another preset, alongside YouTube and Vimeo.
What we loved:
– The simple and relatively easy to use cut page
– The dual timeline for trimming
– DaVinci neural Engine
– ResolveFX effects toolset
– Frame.io integration
What didn’t work for us:
– Import Window Prompt; Ctrl A to select all clips still isn’t working. We think that little nuances like this go a long way to speeding up an editor’s workflow.
– Lack of multi-camera support on cut page. That’s available on the edit page, but we would like to see it made available on the cut page as well.
– The button bar (Smart Insert, Append, Ripple, Overwrite and Close Up) could be placed on top of the source overwrite or under the record monitor for better placement so there’s less travelling for the mouse; which translate to being able to get to the buttons quicker.
– Cut button in the cut page wasn’t working for us; probably a bug which we have reported.
– The keyboard shortcut “M” to add markers onto the clips in the cut page didn’t work for us; probably another bug which we have reported.
Remarkably, nearly all the above mentioned features are available for free with DaVinci Resolve 16. At S$429, DaVinci Resolve Studio includes the following features not found in the free version: Neural Engine features, multi-user collaboration, stereoscopic 3D tools, dozens of ResolveFX and FairlightFX plugins, HDR grading, film grain, blur and mist effects, and more. Alternately, you could buy any one of Blackmagic Design Cameras and get a copy of Resolve Studio as part of the camera purchase. Blackmagic Design definitely has made wise choices to better compete with the other major products on the market. It will be interesting to see if DaVinci Resolve, coupled with the new BRAW codec and the improved camera line will truly be able capture the hearts of the filmmakers out there. With DaVinci Resolve 16, Blackmagic Design has shown that they are engaged and are listening to their customers.