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Day Three: Editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5

It’s Day Three of my “real world” editing on DaVinci Resolve 12.5 and this is going to be the longest blog yet as I want to show you guys a lot of the “little things” that are making editing in Resolve a pleasure. I know there are a lot of questions still out there whether this is really a professional editor. For me it’s the small things that separate the applications making life efficient and fun for the the editor. I also had a pleasant surprise today. Alexis Van Hurkman, the man who literally wrote the manual on Resolve, called to point out some of the editing specific features that I might not be aware were there.



The Brains Behind Resolve
First, I have been remiss in the first two blogs for forgetting to mention the two “main brains” behind Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. Peter Chamberlain, the Producer Manager, and Rohit Gupta, the Lead Engineer. They have been driving what has become Blackmagic’s own stamp on Resolve. Both of these gentlemen visited my former facility and have both been gracious with their time in the past, especially when I first started color grading with the software about 6 years ago. Extremely knowledgeable and friendly folks, I just wanted to thank them for all the work and my apologies for not mentioning them sooner.


Day Three Editing
Today I realized that DaVinci Resolve as an NLE is really the sum of all of its parts. The Edit Panel alone is NOT the editor. It’s the entire application working together. So if all you do is look at the Edit Panel and say “well this is missing a lot of stuff” (like I initially did), you’re missing out on so much more that’s available, particularly in the Color Panel. I looked at the Color Panel as what comes AFTER editing, but in reality, it’s part of the editing process. Now that I realize that some of the elements I thought Resolve needed are actually in the app, they’re just in a different place. Of course having Alexis walk me through a bunch of features for 30 minutes REALLY opened my eyes to a bunch of stuff I didn’t realize was there. More on that soon.


Exporting
In the edit I started putting a bit more polish on the project, getting it to the point where we should be about ready to move to finish next Monday. The biggest thing I had to figure out was the round trip to / from After Effects to create a few animated graphics. Time being of the essence and me being new to Resolve, I reverted to my old FCP workflow. Export audio guides (clips) from Resolve and use those to build the AE comps. Very simple.

Resolve does NOT have your standard File > Export command like most NLEs out there. The Deliver Panel is primarily set up to deliver finished files at the end of the process, but you can also use that panel to export individual clips and selections for approvals and sending to other apps like AE.


First thing I discovered is that In / Out points set in the Edit Panel do NOT transfer over to Deliver Panel. I set them first in the Edit Panel and when I went over to the Deliver Panel, they were gone.

Alexis explained the reasoning why and it has to do with the fact that the Deliver Panel can output many variations from the same timeline including different combinations of In/Out points. So the Deliver Panel controls its own set of In/Out points. Sounds a little confusing to read I know, but in practice it makes sense. Setting up the video to export is pretty straight forward. Here you can see the controls are what you’d expect. At the top you see you can render a single clip or if you have multiple clips selected, export them as individual clips. In the File tab, you can either use the name of the timeline or set a custom file name.




And below is one of my guides in After Effects on the bottom most layer (Layer 4). No fuss, no muss, super easy and then I just rendered a ProRes out of After Effects to send back to Resolve. If I have to make changes I’ll render them as the same name and let Resolve reconnect to the new file. Yes, Blackmagic has Fusion, but one application at a time……





Window Burns
Yesterday I could not figure out to get a window burn on my Approval copies. That’s because I was looking in the wrong place. Turns out window burn controls in the Color Panel under the Data Burn controls. See what I mean about the ENTIRE application being the editor? BMD is not cramming every feature into an “editor” and then having the “color grading” act like a separate app. It’s all designed to work together.



As you can see the options available in Data (Window) Burn go WAY beyond most NLE’s in what you can have displayed on screen. In fact, most EVERY field of Metadata is available to be displayed on screen via the Custom Text options. You can see that I have Codec_Scene_Take in my custom text as contextual items. Every clip that has metadata information in the Codec, Source and Take fields will automatically be displayed as a burned in window on my output as you can see below.





Very very slick. So you set up you Data Burn info in the Color Panel and then you go over to the Deliver Panel to output. After I did this one time, it was second nature. For the purposes of this project I just output the Timeline name and the timecode. This is one example of how the entire application is the editor, not just the Edit Panel.


Keyframing & Curves
One thing that’s not available yet is initiating key framing in the timeline. You have to start the first keyframe up in the Inspector and then once that’s set, you can alter the settings in the timeline and keyframes are added as you would expect. I’ve filed a feature request to allow for key framing to start in the timeline such as with a pen tool like so many other NLEs. However, the Keyframe viewer in the timeline is awesome.





Just like how easy it is to see the labeling of the clips themselves, it’s very easy to see and edit keyframes in the Keyframe Viewer. This is very nicely done. Click that little half circle on the right side of the clip or the keyframe viewer and you now have access to the Curves where you can add bezier curves to the keyframes.





You can see in the dropdown on the left some of the parameters I can add keyframes and curves to. At the top of the screen you can see there are four curve options giving me a ton of control over the actions of the keyframes.


Composite Controls
Composite controls are located in the Inspector panel and they’re what you would expect to find in a professional NLE.





I use a LOT of Rampant Design Tools in my day to day work so I’m using compositing all the time to overlay these elements on my work. One thing I’ve requested as a future feature request is the ability to have the composite mode available via right click in the timeline. That would be a little faster than going up to the Inspector.


Crop, Lens Distortion and More in the Inspector
Speaking of the Inspector, I love how many controls are at our fingertips without the need to add additional filters or effects.





I have missed having the Crop controls right there along with the ability to feather the crop. It always felt like a needless stop to grab a crop filter in other NLEs because it’s something I seem to use ALL the time. It’s one less thing I have to go get and adds to the efficiency of an edit.

The addition of a Lens Distortion control right in the Inspector is a nice touch. Obviously a nod to all the GoPro and small cameras that use wide angle lenses. No need to grab a filter, you can make adjustments to the image right there in the inspector. There’s also Retiming Controls right there as well. I have NOT played with these yet, so I can’t comment on how and how well they work.


Transform, Crop and Dynamic Zoom Directly in Monitors
If you’re like me and you like to just want to make quick adjustments in the Source and Record Monitors, changes to scale, position and crop, this is easily done in Resolve, you just have to activate the controls in the lower left of the monitors.





With the those controls active, you’ll now see you have options to make changes right in the monitors. Change the scale, crop, position and you can play with the dynamic zoom. Dynamic zoom is especially great for you FCPX users who like the Ken Burns effects. Dynamic zoom interprets those movements correctly and allow you to make adjustments to them.

Transform controls active, moving the video in the monitor.


Crop Controls active in the monitor, can now make changes within the monitor.



The ability to just grab and make quick adjustments in the Source / Record monitor is something I’ve missed since switching to Premiere Pro. It’s in that app, just not as easy to use. I’ve really missed this from FCP and it just one of those little things that make editing so much faster and efficient.


Drag and Drop Editing
If you’re a Drag and Drop Editor who likes to edit by dragging your clips from the Source to the Record Monitor, you’ll find all your usual overwrite and insert options along with some new ones when you drag your Source clip into the Record monitor.





I like the Place On Top option so it lays the video on a layer above where the playhead is sitting which is handy when I’m laying in all my Rampant Design effects. Or if I want to stage multiple takes one above the other, Place On Top means I don’t have to go making track selections with each edit. You also see the Append to End which is handy if your playhead isn’t at the end of the timeline. Ripple Overwrite I’ll explain in detail towards the end. It’s awesome.


Transition Options in the Timeline
Transitions have some nice ‘little things’ that make for an efficient edit. Right clicking at the head, tail, or between clips not only brings up a transition dialogue, but OPTIONS for those transitions lengths.

Audio Cross Fade Controls


Video Cross Dissolve Controls



You can see there’s four options for both Video and Audio transitions right there from 6 to 48 frames. How convenient is this? I usually have a default transition set up to 1 second for my projects, but there’s always particular dissolves or cross fades I want to be faster / slower. No need for that extra step to change the transition duration, I have four choices right there. Done. This ‘little thing’ I REALLY like a lot.

As you would expect, you can slide the transitions forward and back in the timeline to make them start, split and a end on the edit or you can make the adjustments in the Inspector. Feathers and Ease controls can be added to wipes easily in the Inspector.


Change the Transition Type In the Inspector
Changing the Transition can be done quickly in the Inspector.





You can see the in drop down box, all the Resolve transition are available so I can just flip through them and adjust on the fly rather than having to drag them one by one to pick the one I want.

For additional filters and effects beyond what Resolve has natively, the application supports Open FX effects but again, the entire application works together as the editor. Transition effects are found in the Edit Panel while filters are found in the Color Panel. Both under the Open FX tab.





I installed the Red Giant Universe filter package which gave me transitions and filters to play with. I have not gotten the point of applying any filters yet in the Color Panel. But at first I thought I was missing all the filters and effects, but Alexis pointed me to the Open FX tab in the Color Panel.

I should note that the New Blue FX filters crashed Resolve 12.5. I honestly don’t use those filters at the moment and forgot they were installed, they installed as part of my Avid installation. But after uninstalling the New Blue FX everything started working correctly. Hopefully New Blue FX is updating their products to keep working with Resolve.



Switch To Timeline After Edit controls
Here’s a neat little setting that Alexis pointed me towards. In the Edit Menu, there is a Switch to Timeline After Edit option that can be disabled.





When the control is enabled, which is a default for any editing system, when you make an edit from the Source Window, your keyboard control automatically follow the edit to the Timeline. The assumption is you just made an edit, so now you want to control the Timeline.

But in the case of long rolls with multiple takes, interviews or just longer files that we want to string out, we can turn OFF the automatic switching and the controls will remain with the Source Window. Mark In / Out, Insert the clip, scroll in the Source, Mark In / Out, Insert the Clip, etc…. without the need to keep re-selecting the Source Window. That’s actually pretty cool and Alexis was saying this was developed primarily for keyboard editors.

One less click, one less motion to make as you’re editing. Another ‘little thing.’


Ok, let’s talk about the Ripple Overwrite.
I saw this when I tested the Drag and Drop editing and honestly ignored it. Then Alexis called and this is the one feature he really wanted to show me because it’s super SUPER amazing and efficient.

Basically what Ripple Overwrite does is allow you to replace a shot in your timeline with one of a different length, and Resolve will automatically ripple your entire timeline keeping all of your edit points and edit timing intact. Your shot can be longer or shorter and Ripple Overwrite will re-assemble your timeline. Here it is in action.

I have an edited timeline, music is timed to fade out where I want it, SFX are timed to the action on the screen, Rampant style effects are located at each edit point and even titles are in the timeline. This is a 4:30 timeline and the 17 second shot highlighted has to be replaced.




If you look up there at the previous image, note especially how I have my music fading out exactly where we want it as the SFX comes in. Now the replacement clip is only 7:16. About a 10 second difference.




Now, I simply drag the 7:16 clip over to the Record Monitor, lay it onto Ripple Overwrite and…..




The 17 second clip is replaced by the 7:16 clip and all of my timing remains completely intact. Note the music fade is still precisely lined up with the SFX. The Rampant Design overlays are still exactly lined up. In fact my entire timeline is still perfectly and all it took was one click. This works both for shorter clips and longer clips, the integrity of your timeline and your edit points are held.

Now I will point out that Resolve made a cut edit in my music in order to shorten it up and keep the fade out lined up. So I have to go back in and make some adjustments to that to ensure that the music remains on the beat. I’m going to be asking if there’s any way to make the edits more intelligent whereby that fade in the music can be rolled back or forward to accommodate the ripple, instead of cutting it. BUT one click, ripple my entire timeline and all I have to do is slip my music a bit. That’s efficiency and something I wish I’ve had for a long time.


Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips
Here’s another neat feature Alexis pointed out, Relative Adjustments to Multiple Clips. So if I have clips in the timeline that are Scaled 70%, 80% and 50%. I can select all three of them and make a Scale reduction of 10% and Resolve will make that change relative to their original sizes. Making the three clips 60%, 70% and 40% scale. I can do an absolute change to make them all 10% scale, but this relative changing of multiple clips, is pretty neat.


My Impressions and Next Steps
Well I think if you’ve read all three of these blogs you can tell I’m pretty darn impressed with DaVinci Resolve 12.5. I have barely scratched the surface and continue to review Alexis’ tutorial on the features. Is Resolve 12.5 a professional non-linear editing platform? I would honestly say “Yes” with this release. I’ve gotten pushback on forums from folks who have tried 12.0 and didn’t feel it could edit well. I totally agree, it was a step in the right direction, but wasn’t there yet.

I suppose the .5 moniker makes folks thing it’s just an update. 12.5 is an entirely new release that probably should have been called Resolve 13. This is a solid editing tool that I have enjoyed cutting in and again, I have barely figured this thing out yet. It’s very feature rich and each time I use it, I’m discovering another one of “those things I wish Resolve had.”

I’ll be finishing the corporate piece this week and I’ve now committed a reality television pilot to Resolve 12.5 next. I think it’s up to the task. We have seven episodes of this series shot and one of those will become the pilot. I’m running the entire series through Resolve. One thing I’ve been advised on is to keep the project sizes manageable. HUGE projects with thousands upon thousands of clips can get unwieldy. So I’ll employ the same workflow we used for Good Eats and This American Land where each episode is its own project.

As far as video editing for narrative, corporate, commercial, etc…. Resolve 12.5 is a great tool. Very efficiently designed and all of the features I’ve found so far are the “little things” that make life easier. I found myself having fun again in the edit suite.

Look this entire blog series isn’t about “My NLE is better than Your NLE” and the other NLEs suck. This blog series is about DaVinci Resolve being another option for video editors. It is a tool that can do the job today. Whether you choose to use it, well that’s entirely up to you. I’ll still be using Adobe Premiere Pro for projects because it’s a solid system and Resolve works well with it. But Resolve is something that is now going to take a bigger place in the toolbox. Kudos to Peter, Rohit, Alexis, Paul and of course Grant Petty for having a vision to make Resolve more than just one of the best color grading tools on the planet. And for doing it right, making this a useful tool.

With that, these “Day” blogs on Resolve are done. I’ll definitely chime back in when we get rolling on the reality series. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!



Posted by: walter biscardi on May 10, 2016 at 1:56:10 pmComments (14) DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic Design

Continuing Tales of an FCP Switcher

A continuation on my “Cautionary Tales of an FCP Switcher.”

UPDATED: 6/25 - VTR Success & Workstation Update. At the bottom.

Getting Caught Up on our Series

As mentioned at the end of the original article, we moved our PBS series over the Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 with the reasoning that if we had to flatten a file at the end of the editing process, we’d might as well use the NLE that offers the most native format support. So far, that has absolutely proven to be true and I’m proud to say that my editing team has caught up on our production schedule. Primarily because the software is just so doggone fast our guys are able to jump right into the edit.

Now the emphasis is on our editors to manage all the data, the software really doesn’t do any sort of media management. We stringently follow the guidelines set in “An Editor’s Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro” for managing the data. Essentially we put all the media in place on our SAN before it’s imported to the project. Once a project is completed, we literally have one folder to archive that contains everything needed to bring the project back.

So as far as the editing is concerned, the team is very happy with how Premiere Pro is performing, even our main Avid editor is loving the new CS6 interface and trim tools. We’re also finding significant improvements in render time of CS6 compared to CS5.5.



Spotty EDLs

As noted in the original article, Premiere Pro does not have any way to perform a Consolidate / Transcode function taking all of the native material and conforming all the footage to a single codec. The workflow of sending a flattened Quicktime File to Resolve along with an EDL has resulted in spotty performance from Premiere Pro CS6. Sometimes the EDL imports as expected and the file Pre-Conforms in Resolve and other times Resolve crashes when we try to access the EDL. Conferring with BlackMagic Design, they have discovered errors in the EDLs that are causing the crashes. I’ve sent the troubled EDLs to Adobe for review and we’ll see what they find.

Fortunately, Resolve has an amazing Scene Detect Tool so even without the EDL I can prepare a 30 minute episode for color grade in about 15 minutes or so. And just to remind you, EDLs are the only tool we can use with a flattened QT file into Resolve 8.2, XMLs and AAFs are for timelines.



VTR Frustrations

The one area that’s frustrated us the most is the incredibly poor VTR controls of Premiere Pro. Yes, tape is a large part of our workflow today and for the foreseeable future, particularly as we do a lot of Post on documentaries and long form projects which have a lot of archive materials. We’ve digitized 3/4”, DVCPro HD, HDCAM, BetaSP, BetaSX, DigiBeta, DV, DVCAM, HDV and even VHS in the past year alone. Over the next two months we’ll be digitizing over 400 tapes for three projects. With CS 5.5 VTR control was completely useless for us. We had hoped CS 6 would offer improvements with VTR performance, but so far, it’s been very inconsistent.

This past Friday we spent the entire day with AJA and Adobe trying to layback a show to a Panasonic AJ-HD1400 VTR. One of our edit systems could actually control the deck and start the recording frame accurately, but it was dropping frames for unknown reasons so we couldn’t use it for mastering. We narrowed the problem to something on the Mac HD but could not fully determine what it was.

A second edit suite with a faster computer was able to play without dropping frames, but the audio was 5 - 8 seconds ahead of video during mastering. After a full day of testing, we were no closer to laying back to tape than when we started.

So the workflow for now is to export a self contained quicktime movie and lay back to tape using either Avid Symphony or FCP 7. We'll use FCP 7 for all digitizing since Premiere Pro cannot read Avid MXF files. The good news is both AJA and Adobe are committed to making VTR control work so we’ll be ready to test again when they are. But I am frustrated that Adobe has a professional NLE that can’t control a professional VTR reliably today.



Enter Smoke 2013

The public beta of Autodesk Smoke 2013 is upon us and I’ll be honest that I’ve not had a whole lot of time to even get started with the application. Production deadlines and getting our Post workflow back on track after our initial problems has taken up a lot of our time. My staff has not touched the application at all yet as they are concentrating solely on picking up speed on Premiere Pro.

Where my initial testing will be is color grading actually. Smoke 2013 can handle all of the native formats we’re working with on our current series and it can read an AAF from Premiere Pro. So when the time becomes available in the next few weeks, our first tests will be send episodes of our PBS series to Smoke to how the timelines get into the application and then how the Color Warper will suit our grading needs. If we can avoid the flattening necessary to get the shows from Premiere Pro to Resolve, that will save us a few hours per episode.

Of course, I’ll be doing the testing with practice episodes after they are delivered, we’re not going to put Smoke into actual production until the workflow has been tested, tested and tested again. It also won’t go into actual production until after the actual public release and all of the features have been finalized.



Workstations

As I’ve noted in previous blogs, I have a plan to replace our 5 primary edit workstations with 27” iMacs and lean on a few “big iron” workstations to handle all the rendering and output. A big reason for sticking with the iMacs is Smoke 2013 and the idea that we might run it as a primary editing tool in our edit suites at some point after the the public release. I just took delivery of our first 27” iMac and added the 32GB RAM kit from OWC and it will go right into documentary production this coming week as a test before we move forward with 5 of them.

While I originally wasn’t a fan of thunderbolt external boxes, now I’m really starting to see the advantages, particularly with software like Resolve allowing us to simply switch output devices with ease rather than having to pull cards out of a machine. I’ve been an AJA fan for a long time, but of course, AJA products don’t work with Resolve, probably never will. But now we can have AJA IoXTs, T-Taps for editing and a BMD thunderbolt I/O device for using Resolve. When it’s time for color grading, just disconnect one device and connect the other. I’m liking that concept and depending on how the iMac tests out, we might go ahed and add the other iMacs and ship out the Mac Pros.

But..... I have to say, I’m seriously rethinking the iMac plan after seeing just how flippin’ fast PC workstations are with both Adobe and Avid software. I just might put lower cost PCs in the edit suites and just have a couple of 12 core Mac Pros for Smoke. I’ve used Macs professionally since 1996 but it’s clear that if I want maximum performance with our current software packages, Windows is the way to go. We can put together a pretty cheap PC with a lot of RAM and a nice nVidia card to get awesome performance from our software. I can also re-purpose all of our AJA Kona boards since they work cross platform.

As I’ve reported recently we’re successfully using a Dell Precision PC workstation with Adobe software and I just completed a review of the ProMAX ONE Hero machine which is easily the fastest workstation I’ve ever tested. Needless to say, I have a lot to consider in terms of workstations right now.


Avid update

My conversations with Avid are continuing and so far they do seem committed to looking at our concerns and those of other FCP editors in opening the back-end workflow if possible. We’re going to have some folks coming in to visit the shop to better understand our workflow and where the breakdowns are happening trying to get the projects out to third party software.

I’ve also been told they’re working directly with BlackMagic Design to improve the workflow between Avid and Resolve. Good to see Avid taking the initiative to work directly with BMD to make the workflow better for all of us.



The Tales continue.....

Our testing continues and I’ll report back soon as our Tales roll on.....


UPDATE 6/25 - VTR Success!

A few folks commented to me that BlackMagic Design cards were working good with Premiere Pro CS6 so this morning I loaded up the CS6 Trial on our Resolve workstation. 12 Core Mac Pro, BMD Decklink Extreme 3D card and voila, we had full tape control. It wasn't perfect by any means, it locked up a few times, audio was out of sync one time, but we were able to successfully lay back an episode of our series to tape. It was frame accurate 8 out of 10 tries so that's progress.

The only annoyance is that the BMD VTR controls don't respect the Timeline In Point. In our case we always set up the timelines to start at 00:58:00:02 with Bars at 00:59:00:02 and show start at 01:00:00:00. Generally we set our In Point on the timeline to either 00:58:40:00 or 00:59:00:02 depending on how much black we've laid down on our master tape.

With the BlackMagic VTR control, it always starts the timeline at the head. So I just had to chop off everything at the head making the start of the timeline 00:59:00:02 and made the edit on the VTR at the same point. Worked perfectly 8 out of the 10 times.

I've reported our results back to AJA and Adobe so maybe they can figure out where the problems lie with the Kona boards. We're still awaiting our IoXT to do the same test on the iMac.



Workstation Update!

The new 27" iMac was in production all day today and the editor reported it was outstanding all day. VERY fast compared to the Quad Core she had been editing with for a week, no crashes, no hiccups, no anything. Just a very fast workstation. First day on the job was a good one!


Posted by: walter biscardi on Jun 24, 2012 at 3:51:34 pmComments (1) Adobe Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve

Introducing Tangent Design's Element Control Surface

UPDATED WITH ACTUAL PHOTOS AT THE BOTTOM!

UPDATE 2 - New Photo from Tangent Design showing the relative size.


Thanks to Tangent Designs for letting me introduce this to you guys. I saw the prototype at NAB this past April as of today, Tangent introduces the new Element Control Surface. As you can see, it’s a very sweet modular design that feels like finely honed steel or aluminum. Very beautiful design. These are the final 3D renderings just prior to production.











As you can see, very beautiful and modular in design and according to Tangent, you can outfit this unit any way you please. As long as the software host supports it, you'll be able to add extra panels of knobs, buttons and trackballs.

I'll write a full review once I receive a production model for testing. Coupled with today's announcement from Adobe about purchasing IRIDAS, these are exciting times!

UPDATE: Big thanks to Andy and Chris at Tangent Design for sharing some actual photos of the production unit with me. Enjoy!















UPDATE 2: The marketing photos make this thing look much larger than it really is. Chris and Andy just sent me a snapshot of the unit on the IBC Show Floor that really gives you a perspective on the relative size. Note the Apple Mini Keyboard and iMac in the photo. Remember, when they showed me the prototype in April, it all fit in a backpack. So it's a really nice small, modular footprint.


















Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 8, 2011 at 6:54:45 amComments (20) Color Grade, Davinci Resolve

Davinci Resolve and Apple Color: Secondaries and Nodes.

I thought I would put together a VERY simple example of the same shot getting essentially the same treatment in these two applications so you can see how they differ on what we would generally call "secondary color enhancement." Basically after the shot is balanced, you now go ahead and give it the "look."

In Apple Color we have 8 Secondary Rooms that essentially give you 16 levels of Secondary Color Enhancement. 16 from 8? Well, yes because you can work inside and outside a vignette in any room independently so in effect, you can have up to 16 levels of color enhancement using the Secondary Rooms.

Davinci Resolve uses a Node based workflow that gives you.... well essentially limitless possibilities depending on how complicated you want to get.

NOTE: As with other examples, these images are from the UI of each application because it's just quicker and easier. Images generally appear a little lighter with a bit more color on the actual output.

Now to get the shots into each application I created a very simple two shot timeline in Final Cut Pro. I used the standard "Send to Color" function to get the shots into Color. I created a CMX3600 EDL to get the shots into Resolve. The first shot of the timeline you saw used in the Auto Balance comparison. This is the second shot. Original is 720 / 60 ProRes codec.

First up, Apple Color.

Here's the original shot balanced and ready for some enhancement.



Now let's go into Secondary Room 1 to bring warm up the shot. You can see I'm pushing the Highlights in the Yellow / Orange Hue....



resulting in the image now warming up.



Next let's add a Vignette to the top of the image in Secondary Room 2 to add some crazy yellow / orange to the top and also bring down the blacks to make it look....



something like this. Altering reality a bit here.



Now moving into Secondary Room 3 I'll do the same, but a darker and more saturated version on the bottom to give the image...



this rather cool, golden look. Almost done, just want to add one more thing.



Drop into the ColorFX room to add a Vignette so I can blur the area around the driver....



and end up with something like this. Again, just a very simple thing, spent all of about 1 minute on this, to make it easy to illustrate how it's achieved here and how we can do something similar in Resolve.




Ok, now here's how I do a similar look using Davinci Resolve.

Our balanced shot again ready to move into secondary enhancement. Now Resolve just has one "Color Panel" where you do pretty much all the work from Primary to Secondary in one window. You just keep adding Nodes with no need to switch off between rooms.



Create a new Node and again, put a mask on the top of the image to alter reality a bit at the top....



Looking something like this.



Create another Node so I can once again create the bottom orange / darker mask...





And create a fourth Node so I can add another mask and the blur around the driver....



Resulting in something similar to what you saw in previously in Apple Color. It's a bit too orange at the bottom, the mask needs to be feathered more and I can further tweak it from here, but you get the general idea.




So the two apps take two different approaches to what we call secondary color enhancement. Which one works better? That just depends on how you like to work. They're both tools an they both do a fantastic job of color enhancement. Some folks are going to be more comfortable with the Color wheels and room workflow of Color. Some folks are going to find the Node architecture of Resolve more to their liking. I've been on Apple Color something like 5 years now and I'm picking up the Resolve workflow very quickly. In some ways I'm faster in Color and in others I'm already faster in Resolve.

One thing I will say. You absolutely MUST get a control surface for Resolve. It would be incredibly slow if you just tried to operate it with just a mouse, tablet or trackball. I run the Tangent Wave Panel with both Color and Resolve. With Color it's a bit easier to work with just a mouse or a tablet because of the color wheel architecture. The UI design of Resolve really lends itself to a control surface and I can't recommend the Wave enough. If you really have the money to spend, well then get yourself the full Resolve control surface from Blackmagic.

Since you've read this far into my blog, here is one neat little trick that does separate Resolve and Color. In Color, the 8 Secondary Rooms work from left to right. That is Room 1 comes first in the look, then Room 2 is added to that, Room 3 to that and so on. If you're in Room 4 and you realize you really wanted to have something different between Rooms 2 and 3 you can't just insert another tab or change the order of the tabs. Generally you would save off the various Secondary Rooms, erase All Secondaries, and start again.

Since Resolve works with Nodes, this isn't an issue. I've decided I really wanted to desaturate the entire scene before I started adding those masks to create the yellow / orange casts at the top and bottom. I simply insert a new Node in between Nodes 1 and 2. Technically it's Node 5 but it's now Number 2 in the tree so it's effect happens before the first orange mask....



And our image now looks like this. A much more desaturated scene making the orange cast at the top much more prominent, but enough color still in the scene to see a hint of green in the grass and the red of his jacket. And this literally took me a matter of seconds to make the change. Insert the Node, desaturate the scene at that Node.



Ok, so you're asking me "Walt, so which one do you like more? Which application is better?" Ah, that sounds like a good topic for the next blog entry. Until next time....


Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 9, 2010 at 8:08:12 pm Davinci Resolve, Color Enhancement

Davinci Resolve and Apple Color: Auto Balance

Here's another workflow comparison between Apple Color and Davinci Resolve. Auto Balance. As in "my colors are really out of whack so can you please balance the colors for me to make the whites and blacks appear normal?"

Most Colorists cringe at the thought of an "Auto Balance" button / knob / feature because balancing a shot is just a basic job function of the Colorist. But for folks coming from a Non-Linear Editing background who are used to having a 3 Way Color Corrector with nice little Shadows and Highlights picker, it's a nice way to start out in the application. If the application can get the colors balanced, you can take it from there.

NOTE: The following images are screen grabs from the UI of the applications, not from their outputs. Why? Well it's just easier to do screen grabs when you're pulling a lot of images for this and upcoming blog entries. They are very representative of the changes that each application performed. The images on the output were definitely a bit brighter than what you see here.

First up, Apple Color.

Here's the untouched image. Yes it's pretty dark, shot inside with available light also giving the entire shot has a green cast.




Now here's the image after using Auto Balance in the Primary In Room.



Not bad. You can see the white bottle is pretty white, still a little yellow, but not bad. In all honesty this is the BEST I've ever seen the Auto Balance feature work in Apple Color. Maybe because the white bottle and pills are so dominant in the image. Generally when you use this feature in Color the entire image turns blue, so most of us never use it.


Now on to Davinci Resolve.

Again, here's the original image. It's in a slightly different position, but it's the same video before the pills were poured.




And now using Auto Balance in the Color Panel.



Doing a real close comparison, what I see is that the arms are little less red in this one and overall, there seems to be less green in this image than the Apple Color image and it's a little brighter. For this particular image, the results are very very similar and quite honestly that was a big surprise to me.


But... oh yes there's a but....


Testing the Auto Balance feature across all manner of shots shows that it works consistently in Resolve. It doesn't work perfectly every single time, but I would say more than 75% of the time, Resolve brings the scene into balance so you have good color to start with. With Apple Color.... well I've been using the application for over 5 years now and I think the Auto Balance feature was added 2 years ago. This is the first time I can remember where I've seen it actually do what it's supposed to do. As I said earlier, usually you end up with a blue image that's generally worse than your starting point. In all honesty, the 3 Way Color Corrector in FCP does a better job of auto balancing a scene than Apple Color.

Obviously Auto Balance is by no means a "make or break" feature for any color enhancement tool. If you're going to be a colorist or make color enhancement a service you offer, you darn well better know how to balance a scene manually. That's color enhancement 101. But it does offer a nice simple comparison point between the two apps.


Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 9, 2010 at 7:43:45 pmComments (3) davinci resolve, color enhancement

Davinci Resolve compared to Apple Color workflow Part 1

Today was Labor Day Holiday in the U.S. and instead of grilling outside, we took advantage of a nice quiet shop to really get into some Davinci Resolve testing. My buddy Ron Anderson volunteered to come over and show me the ropes. When a 30 year colorist offers to "show you the ropes" on a color enhancement software, you don't turn him down! He brought along a surprise too. David Catt was at the door and not only did he come over to do the training session, he's one of the guys who was with Davinci when Resolve was created. Ok, now I'm really excited. I've got a colorist AND a Resolve expert in my shop. This is going to great day! Too much to cover in one blog posting so I'll add more over the next few days.

First off, Resolve is broken up into multiple Panels and you switch between them with buttons along the bottom of the interface. So when you see me refer to a Resolve Panel in these blogs, that's what I'm referring to. In Apple Color, it's like the various Rooms in that application. Since Apple Color is the color enhancement tool I'm most familiar with, and there was so much interest in the Apple Color Forum here on the Cow about Resolve, I'll be comparing how that app works vs. how Resolve works. It's going to be quite the learning experience for sure.

The big thing I wanted to start with is the workflow between Final Cut Pro and Resolve since we're an FCP shop. I was having some trouble with it last night and figured it was operator error. At the moment, the folks at Blackmagic recommend a single track EDL as the way to get from FCP into Resolve. When I tried it last night I could not get the media to connect correctly in Resolve. As David showed me this morning, I was simply pointing Resolve to the wrong media folder. Simple fix and the timeline popped right open.

Now I gotta say I'm not a huge fan of EDLs. Not sure why, just have never been. And the whole "Send to Color" from Final Cut Pro is pretty darn simple. But the EDL works really well between FCP and Resolve and unlike Color, Resolve is user friendly for those times when edits are made to the project AFTER color correction. Just send the re-edited EDL into Resolve and all your original grades are applied with the new shots ready to be graded. How does this work?

Essentially Resolve has a Master timeline that holds all of the clips in your project. These clips are just sitting in Timecode order at the bottom of the Color Panel. Above this Master timeline you load your timelines from your EDL. These display the timeline as it would appear in your NLE. In the image below you can see the "Master Timeline" down at the bottom and my edited story from the EDL at the top. Both of these timelines are generated from the same EDL.



So you grade your show, send it back to the NLE, you're ready to master and of course the client calls to make a bunch of changes. With Resolve, no problem. Make the changes to your timeline, create a new EDL. Open your original project in Resolve. Import the new EDL. Resolve automatically applies your original color grades to all matching clips from your original timeline and leaves you with just your new shots to grade. When David showed me this, I started to become a fan of EDLs. And I know it sounds a little confusing, but once you start to learn Resolve, it all makes sense.

The one thing that strikes you right away when you start working with the Color Panel is the lack of the traditional color wheels. You usually see three wheels representing shadows, gamma and highlights, left to right. You move around in the wheels to affect the hue and then you have luma and saturation controls for each as well. Resolve does away with this completely. When I saw this out at NAB I wasn't sold on the idea, but as soon as I watched David work the controls, I realized you don't miss them. And once I got onto the controls, it confirmed that for me. The Curves at the bottom of the Color panel is what everybody notices in the literature, but actually, the Primary controls are where it's at for me. These essentially replace the color wheels with the information displayed more accurately. I really don't even have to describe what everything does because it's laid out in plain English as you can see in the image below.



This is a very efficient window that differs greatly from the 2 Primary Rooms and 8 Secondaries Room concept in Apple Color. Instead of creating 8 rooms of identical controls, Resolve just uses this one set of controls that automatically become active for each shot, each node, each operation. The controls were very responsive with the Tangent Wave Panel.

Tomorrow I'll talk a little bit about the Nodes and how their use compares to Apple Color's Secondary workflow, but here's a look at a simple shot that I graded tonight using some power masks. These are just screen grabs from the Resolve preview screen and not stills from the output.


















Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 7, 2010 at 6:18:53 amComments (4) Apple Color, Davinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve and Apple Color Workflows

Had a great day today poking around in the beta version of Davinci Resolve for the Mac. Spent the first few hours just gleaning through the User Manual and that was actually quite interesting.

See the User Manual for the new 7.0 Resolve is not out yet so I'm looking through the previous version. (Update: the 7.0 User Manual is now available for download) What I find so interesting is all the tweaks Blackmagic has made to the interface, particularly the Config Panel. They've made a lot of very nice changes to combine some things into a single window, moved some other things out to their own tabs and such. They've really streamlined the interface and cleaned it up from what I'm seeing in the older User Manual.

Now most of you know I'm a heavy Apple Color user and until Resolve was introduced for the Mac it was hands down the best color correction tool on the Mac. Now I'm not going to do a full comparison of the tools yet because I've been using Color for 5 years or so now and I've been using Resolve for about 6 hours, and 3 of that was looking through the manual. I'll go much more in depth about that later once I really have the opportunity to get into the product. It's actually quite easy to pick up the functions on the software and the Nodes workflow is quite interesting vs. the Secondaries workflow in Color.

But one thing I wanted to address early on. The big complaint about Apple Color I have heard time and time again, via email, on the blogs, in the Creative Cow Color forum is that it doesn't support all of the Quicktime codecs supported by Final Cut Pro. The second complaint I hear is that it's too time consuming, too difficult to prepare your timeline to go into Color. Of course both of these complaints come from Final Cut Pro editors who have never taken the time to properly learn the Apple Color workflow and thus create many issues themselves.

Well Resolve is going to require you to learn another new workflow. Like Apple Color, it's a serious color correction tool designed for colorists, not editors. It won't support every codec under the sun, it will require the editor to plan accordingly if you want to bring your Final Cut Pro, Avid, whatever timeline into Resolve. I was actually laughing in the edit suite today while playing around with Resolve thinking of all those folks who make some of those complaints I mentioned earlier. What are they going to do now? Resolve is not a standard Apple interface. It's not a "single click send to Resolve and apply my Color Grade" type of app. You're gonna have to work to make this application work for you.

For those of you who have taken the time to create a good workflow for Apple Color, you'll be able to make a pretty easy adjustment into Resolve. For those of you waiting for Apple Color to essentially turn into a Final Cut Pro plug-in, well..... starting planning your workflows now if you want to take advantage of this new option. Apple Color is still an excellent enhancement tool, but it's a no-brainer to add Resolve to your Mac toolbox for only $999.

Tomorrow will be full day training on Resolve so I'll be updating again tomorrow night.....


Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 5, 2010 at 7:45:30 pmComments (1) DaVinci Resolve, Apple Color

DaVinci Resolve Testing Configuration

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the US so I’m taking advantage of the 3 day weekend to set up and start testing the beta version of DaVinci Resolve 7.0 for Mac. Contrary to some of the information that’s out there, you do NOT require two nVidia graphics cards to run Resolve on a Mac Pro. It is recommended, but not required. Here’s the configuration I’m testing on:

Mac Pro Quad Core 2.93 Intel Xeon (2009 model)

16GB RAM

BlackMagic HD Extreme 3D video card

nVidia Quadro FX 4800 graphics card

ATTO R380 SAS/SATA controller

Small Tree PEG1 Ethernet Controller

Dell 24″ primary computer monitor

Viewsonic 22″ secondary computer monitor

Flanders Scientific 2450W reference monitor

Tangent Wave Control Surface

So as you can see, I’m running with only one graphics card, the Quadro 4800. I don’t have room for the second card because of the Small Tree PEG1 card in there. That’s to support our ethernet SAN. The on-board ethernet controllers do not properly support Jumbo Frames forcing us to use the PEG1.

Speaking to BlackMagic about this situation, I was informed that I would be giving up some realtime functionality by going with the one card, but all of the functionality of Resolve will be available. I have no problem at all accepting that I’m giving up a little realtime functionality to take advantage of everything else that Resolve offers for color enhancement.

So everything is installed and operating. More tomorrow on playing with Resolve!


Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 5, 2010 at 2:46:00 pmComments (9) DaVinci Resolve, Color Enhancement

Heck freezes over! Installing BlackMagic HD Extreme 3D in my shop!

Any longtime member of the Creative Cow forums might recall some.... well how shall I describe them.... let's say, "difference of opinion" discussions between BlackMagic Design's Grant Petty and myself. It got to the point where I was politely (well maybe not so politely) asked to refrain from posting in the BMD forum.

To be honest, I wasn't all that nice and Grant and I got into things a little too personally. It wasn't professional and fortunately I've learned from those lessons. In fact Grant and I get along quite well and I enjoy getting the chance to talk to him in Vegas each year at NAB. This past year my wife and I spent over an hour chatting about BMD, DaVinci, the iPad, iPhone and even what games little kids love to play on the phones. It was fun and as always, he was very gracious with his time.

So during the show Grant asked if I would be interested in poking around DaVinci Resolve when it was ready for some outside testing. Took me of all the blink of an eye to say "Yes." Of course he knows I'm a big AJA Video Systems guy so I was rather surprised he even asked, but as I said, we've grown to respect each other and if there's one thing we both have in common is a passion for all things Post Production.

So when I got the call a few weeks ago that they were ready to start shipping the software, I reminded the rep that I have all AJA products here which don't support Resolve. No problem, they'd send me a BMD card. Well, they didn't just "send me a BMD card," they sent the BMD HD Extreme 3D card set. So for the first time, I'll be pulling out an AJA Kona 3 on one of my Mac Pros and installing the BMD HD Extreme 3D. I'll also be pulling out an ATI 4870 card in lieu of the nVidia 4800 Quadro for Mac. Again, this is for the Resolve which is only supported via the nVidia card. No, I will NOT be installing two graphics cards in the system, I was told by BMD that the 4800 will fully support Resolve by itself, I'll just be sacrificing some realtime functionality. For testing out and learning the software, that's no biggie. When it comes time to outfit our full-time system in the new facility, absolutely I'll be installing dual graphics cards in that system.

So I'll be installing everything in the next few days and I'll report back on how it's going. Yes, BMD is ok with me sharing information even though we're in Beta. I'm not used to this quite honestly, usually we have to keep our mouths tightly zipped for fear of Big Brother. Fortunately I have some friends here in Atlanta who are HUGE DaVinci users who will be able to help me get up to speed quickly on the software and we'll be running the Tangent Wave with the thing as well.

So thanks Grant for the opportunity and we're really looking forward to moving into a whole new realm of DaVinci!


Posted by: walter biscardi on Sep 2, 2010 at 3:42:58 amComments (2) DaVinci Resolve, BlackMagic Design



Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.

 




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