Review of DaVinci Resolve 12 by Rob Redman
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Resolve has long been a favourite tool for colourists around the world, and has loyal seats in many finishing houses.

With its high end reputation and feature set it could initially seem beyond some film makers, but Blackmagic Design have, since acquiring DaVinci, released a free version which happens to be suitable for learning and commercial work – something that is very rare indeed in this industry.

What’s more, the tools in the free version aren’t save limited or restricted.

The studio edition, which is still very good value, adds some extra features such as support for the latest 4k footage as well as support for some extra hardware. If you are up to date with workstations in your facility then the £645 (€895) for the studio version is well worth it. Not only do you get to take advantage of your multiple GPUs but you can utilise the optical flow based noise controls too.

With the basics out of the way, what really matters for anybody considering new software is how it actually feels to use on a production and it’s here that Resolve really excels. Of course, the hardware it runs on is important, but Resolve feels slick and responsive on anything from a Macbook Pro (check your GPU for compatibility though) through to a Xeon workstation with multiple Quadro cards.

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The workflow is laid out sensibly with separate sections for managing footage, editing, colouring and finish/output. I’m not a fan of GUIs that fight against me, especially when I’m learning a new tool, and Blackmagic have thoughtfully built a welcome screen that allows the user to set Resolve up to work how they are most comfortable, taking its setups from Final Cut, Premiere and more.

Resolve 12 adds to the Resolve 11 feature set in a number of places but it’s the edit suite that really shows users where the development budget went. You can now legitimately manage, edit, colour and finish in one application, although I would strongly suggest checking out Resolve’s sister software Fusion for any visual effects that you may need. The node based workflow is excellent as is the quality.

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Control of an edit in Resolve 12 is intuitive and any editor, be they seasoned or new, can work at a pace that suits them, with controls falling to hand. Full support for keyboard control sits alongside mouse input, again allowing the user to pick their most suited work styles.

Resolve may have these great new editing tools but it’s in the power of its colouring tools that it shines the most. Correction and grading is both powerful, fast and easy, with excellent feedback from scopes and viewers. Of course having a suitable monitor helps but you can depend on Resolve to give you what you expect. For me it’s the qualifiers that make Resolve my tool of choice for colour work. I can’t think of a selection method that is as versatile as the nodal based masking, with such great adaptability.

Blackmagic have taken an established but limited application and shown it some love, developing its tools while expanding its appeal, as well as opening it up to a whole group of users who may not have heard of it, let alone used it. If you are worried that Blackmagic are trying to limit it to use with their own cameras then stop there. Resolve offers support for a wide array of camera codecs, including Canon, Sony, Red, Arri and more. Your Grade and now your edit, will be safe with Resolve.

Article written by Rob Redman
Get a free copy of DaVinci Resolve 12 here
  • Stevenemartin

    It’s fcp 9