Beginner Overview with DaVinci Resolve

Getting Started with DaVinci Resolve

Getting Started

Welcome to the introductory training program for DaVinci Resolve. We are going to look at the interface, and begin with the conform, and first light process of media. This will be helpful not only for the post-production environment, but will also give you some insight into how Resolve is being integrated into the production pipeline. Let’s start off by opening up Resolve and arriving at the Project Manager Screen.

Project Manager

Database can be displayed by selecting the show/hide icon in the top left corner of the window. You can either create a QPSQL(PostgreSQL Database); that is an object relational database management system, or  use ‘Disk’ to specify a disk that you would like for the database to be created on. You can back up or import databases with these icons. Resolve by default uses a Disk database. Only reason to go with post-gres-q-l would be for sharing between Networked Resolve systems found in larger studios, houses of worship, or educational facilities. 

Here you can import, add, delete, export, or modify the config for various project. This will also give you the ability to bring in project from other accounts, or give a client a copy of a final project. 

Application Preferences

Found under DaVinci Resolve in the top left corner. Media storage destination should be first, this ideally would be a raid, or a solid state drive. System overview lets you know the hardware that is interacting with Resolve. The reason we are able to do so much is because of GPU acceleration. It’s highly recommended you have a graphics card for your GUI, and a separate GPU to work paralleled with Resolve video. My suggestion for anyone who can’t afford the pricey new Mac Pro, is to get a 2008-10 Mac Pro and put in a NVIDIA GTX 1080ti or Titan X dependent on your budget. Both of these are relatively cheap in comparison to the P6000 Server grade version, and won’t give you any issues if you’re working on the most recent version of Mac OS and Nvidia Web Drivers.  Next is to set the video capture device under Video I/O and GPU. It’s also important to select ‘Use Display GPU for Computer’ if your GUI monitor is the only GPU you have running in the system. After selecting your ‘Control Panel’ such as a BMD, or Tangent device you can then select save to finish. Resolve live would be something to look at in an advanced setting, where you are trying to generate looks on the fly in a production environment, and look those back to the footage in the online conform stage.

Project Settings

Located in the lower right of the GUI. You normally do this before creating a sequence, or importing a project into Resolve. You can create presets to make it easier to manage your various project settings and hardware interaction.  

Set your project resolution and dimensions, along with the time base, and bit depth for your project.

You can also specify your colour science in Resolve, which has 4 options. Davinci YRGB which is classic, DaVinci Color Managed, and ACES (Academy Color Encoding Specification) – Rather new, and is trying to standardize the colour science of digital cinema cameras. For this you will want to specify a look-up table for the IDT (input-device transform) ALEXA and ODT (Output-Device Transform) REC709.

ACES will give you a much wider range than Rec709 and 25 stops of latitude. This is the standard of the future, but if you’re planning on going to web, or to broadcast it’s a difficult Colour Science as it really requires the LUT on the other end to be perfect to get the most from the signal, which most HDTV’s wouldn’t be calibrated properly. If you were working on a multi-cam production with all Sony F65’s, and only projecting Digitally I would lean more towards the ACES route as that camera was designed around that colour science, and the final viewing projector would be calibrated.

If you’re working on a mixed format production in an ACES workflow. Set the input-device transform for the most prominent footage, as this will be the preset for all the clips. You can modify the clips individually or in batch by right clicking the media from your project bin, and selecting the input device from the ‘Change Input Device Transform’ dropdown.

Project shot on Alexa or EPIC with wide gamma, low contrast, and raw range that is usually finished in REC709 for a variety of screens that won’t be anywhere close to a calibration standard, it’s more manageable to work in the YRGB colour science. This also enables you to control the RAW camera information, which is a huge benefit that I think outways near-perfect calibration.

Video monitoring will be required if your watching on an external monitor. Colorspace is important because this is how the signal will be converted, I tend to lean more towards Video levels if I’m working in broadcast, so that the final project will of been graded with the limitation of broadcast signals in mind (64-940). If something is going to web of DCP then Data levels may be a more ideal situation. There isn’t a colour space cap for this particular output, so that means final output will see and access that full range of (0-1023). Rule of thumb, even if you’re working on something for web, and think it will get picked up for broadcast work in video, so that no extra conform is required after you’re finished the project.

Most of these settings won’t need to be modified, the conform options are key for bringing in a project, but we will review that later.

There are a fews things that can be done to speed up Resolve when trying to grade. ‘Hide UI overlays for optimized playback’ , and under the Image scaling tab select ‘Optimize for playback’ under the resize filter, and debayer quality dialog. Selecting ‘Don’t update interface icons in playback’ under the General Options tab, will also help optimize playback. Depending on your GPU card configuration ‘Enable field Processing’ in the Master project settings can be of great benefit.

Camera Raw

Enables you to set the master settings for a raw camera file type in your project. These can be modified on a per clip basis while grading, but this is good to set for the general project look, and decode settings. We will do an in depth overview of common Raw Cameras later.

Look up Tables

Are a good idea if you’re working with LOG (logarithmic exposure) footage from a camera like the C300, Arri Alexa, or BMCC.  LUTs provide a starting point for adjustment. These are designed to protect as much detail in the highlights and shadows of the digital image as possible. The exposure and colour must be adjusted to bring it into a linear grading environment. You can do this manually in the grading process, but a LUT can be the shortcut that gets you setting stylized looks faster.

They are also great when doing an onset workflow with Resolve, and act as the onelight process in many regards. If you want to apply LUTs on clip per clip basis, for example a mixed camera production. This can be done with the node editor by right clicking any node and choosing a LUT from the dropdown. If you use a 1D/3D Input  LUT footage will be processed in the current timeline before every other image transformation is applied. With 1D/3D OutputLUT these transformations will be applied after all the Colour page adjustments.

Using a 1D/3D Monitor LUT will also process the current timeline after all the Colour processing, but is only temporarily applied for monitoring purposes. This type of LUT is most commonly used in the Film transfer process when you want to monitor a LOG file as Kodak or Fuji before you send it off to be transferred to a film emulsion release print. The Colour Viewer LUT controls your computer Display, which by default follows the Video Monitor LUT.  

These LUT presets will be stored in Library/Application Support/Blackmagic Design/DaVinci Resolve/LUT/, which comes in handy if your DMT or DP has created their own LUT files. Make sure to select the ‘Update List’ button if the files aren’t showing up.

If you’re capturing from a deck, or playing out to tape there are various settings to specify the video settings.

Auto-Save is a good feature to have enabled, to ensure in the unlikely event of a crash, your updated changes won’t be lost. After selecting ‘Apply’ you are now ready to start conforming, and editing your project.

What types of databases are there in Resolve?

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