May 12, 2016

REVIEW: The 14 Biggest Game-Changers in Resolve 12.5

Resolve 12.5
Blackmagic Design's latest update of DaVinci Resolve brings exciting new features for colorists. 

It seems like only months ago that DaVinci Resolve 12 had been released, leaving colorists to explore tons of new features in the software's expanding capabilities. Now, the speedy team at Blackmagic Design has released Resolve 12.5 (in beta as of this writing), boasting 1000 more improvements and 250 new features, spelled out in a 13-page document. While some of these innovations are cosmetic, other improvements will transform your grading game outright.

1. Fusion Connect

At the top of the list is linking Resolve to Blackmagic's effects program, Fusion. This is 12.5's most significant feature because it opens colorists to accomplishing much more than in a traditional color session. Within the goals of a grade, Fusion enables colorists to remove rigging or facial blemishes with more nuance and articulation than in Resolve, allowing images to more closely realize their full potential with the finesse required in post. Fusion raises the question of whether colorists should add detailed special effects work to their list of skills.

New Fusion Connect Clip
Creating a Fusion comp is as simple as right-clicking a clip and selecting New Fusion Connect Clip.

As in a Premiere/After Effects workflow, Resolve can create Fusion Connect clips to be sent for effects work, rendered, and boomeranged back to Resolve for further processing. This is all native, ensuring a painless round-trip workflow.

Fusion Options
A dialogue box pops up to allow you to rename and store the comp elsewhere on the drive, as well as open it for immediate editing.

2. Temperature and Tint Sliders

Temperature and tint sliders have been added to the Color Wheels section at the bottom left of the interface, accessed by clicking the number "2" below the color wheels. The temperature slider can be useful to globally cool or warm the image, and the tint slider could be used to make skin tones less green, for example. I welcome any additional methods to control the image in the colorist's toolbox. 

Temp and Tint Sliders
The new Temperature and Tint sliders are hiding in the "2" panel in the Color Wheels section.

3. ResolveFX

Blackmagic has included several OpenFX plugins standard with 12.5. The effects encompass utilities, like Color Space Transform, as well as aesthetic effects, like JPEG Damage, which I challenge someone to use on a project. Film Grain, an effect sure to get frequent use, is also included.

A single OpenFX tool can be applied per node and can be keyframed. Likely for the foreseeable future, the effects remain processor-intensive, especially if multiple effects are applied to a single shot.

ResolveFX
A host of OpenFX plugins now come standard to Resolve.

4. Improved Temporal and Spatial Noise Reduction

Temporal noise reduction can now be expanded to five frames, increased from two. Temporal at its highest setting allows Resolve to retrieve a better profile by analyzing more frames at the expense of time. Resolve's Spatial Noise Reduction, a tool I use in the majority of sessions, has also been dramatically improved.

Improved Noise Reduction
The Temporal Noise Reduction can now analyze up to five frames and the Spatial Noise Reduction algorithms are improved.

5. HDR Grading Controls

HDR grading mode can be accessed by right-clicking a node, whereas in the past a more complex HDR node tree had to be devised.

HDR Grading Mode
Easy access to HDR grading prevents setting up complex node trees.Credit: Demo footage courtesy of Ian Perlman

6. Media Pool Power Bins

Not to be confused with Smart Bins, Power Bins are a new feature that work similarly to Smart Bins but carry their contents across multiple projects of the same user. This could be made less confusing by giving this option to Smart Bin, but it's a useful feature nonetheless.

Show Power Bins
Power Bins aren't revealed by default. Turn them on through the View drop-down.

Power Bins
The new Power Bins, not to be confused with Smart Bins, enable sharing common assets across different projects.

7. Lens Distortion Correction

Resolve's lens distortion correction works similarly to Premiere's, except that in Resolve it's not considered an effect. Access it on the bottom of the Inspector within the Edit page.

Lens Distortion Analysis
Lens distortion now comes packaged with Resolve, found in the Edit page's Inspector window.

After Resolve processes the shot with the "Analyze" button, the amount of distortion can then be tweaked to taste.

Lens Distortion Amount
After Resolve has analyzed the clip, the distortion can be further tweaked to taste.

8. Crop Softening

Softening a crop is useful when creating a seamless split-screen or for concealing a boom mic, which recently came up in a project for me. The director wanted his film delivered as a single Quicktime out of Resolve and we spent a lot of time scrutinizing the crop to make sure it wasn't visible. Using even a touch of softening on the crop would have made this simple effect effortless. This is a welcome feature, one that's overdue.

Crop Softening
Use crop softening to seamlessly combine two separate pieces of footage or get rid of a boom mic without fear that viewers will see the cleanup.

9. Offline Reference with Difference Mode

I'm will be using this one regularly for evaluating the timeline both at the beginning and end of jobs. At the start of a job, the reference picture is used to make sure that edits have imported with accuracy down to the frame. Since the difference of any two equal frames will result in a black image, any inconsistency will be revealed if the images are out of sync.

Difference Mode
At the beginning of the session before any grading has been accomplished, if a cut is aligned with its reference the two images will subtract perfectly to yield a black screen. If the cut is off by even a frame, as is shown here, it will become immediately obvious and can be remedied before coloring starts.Credit: Demo footage courtesy of Ian Perlman

At the end of the session, this same technique can be used to more precisely resize images. Grading will prevent the images from subtracting to black, but will create an embossing effect when the sizing is not equal. When the images are sized properly, the doubling effect disappears.

Difference Mode Blowup
You can tell the editor has repositioned this shot by the "embossing" effect over the image (left image), which results when common elements in both frames are misaligned. Modifying the pan, zoom, rotate and tilt corrects the image to its proper repositioning (right image).Credit: Demo Footage Courtesy of Ian Perlman

10. Linear vs. S-curve Contrast

There are several additional preference options, one of which is the option to use an S-curve when applying contrast. It's another one of those subtle touches that can completely change the way you grade, and it's awesome to be able to have the functionality to toggle Resolve's behavior based on a source material's needs.

S-Curve for Contrast
By default, Resolve applies an S-curve when adjusting the contrast slider in the Primaries, but this can now be turned off should the colorist desire.

11. Redesigned Deliver Page

Output options directly to Youtube or Vimeo are finally here, as well as exporting Premiere-specific XMLs. The page itself has also been redesigned, with audio and file-naming options placed in separate tabs. A status bar now displays in the Mac dock, so you can monitor status of the render while surfing the web.

Redesigned Deliver Page
View of the redesigned deliver page, complete with Youtube and Vimeo output options.

The Render Queue job can also be renamed and updated if a job detail was overlooked. Once a job is complete, you can Reveal in Media Storage to snap to that directory in Resolve, or Reveal in Finder to check the renders or upload.

Reveal in Finder
Once rendering has completed, right-clicking on the job will allow you to jump right to its location in Resolve or on the drive.

Also new in 12.5 is the ability to export a shot's alpha channel when rendering to an RGBA format like ProRes 4444.

12. Revert to Last Save

Right-clicking a project in the Project Manager now includes a "Revert to Last Save" option. This option can also be found in the File menu within the project. This is an essential feature to any piece of software during those crucial moments when work may be lost, and a good place to start before resorting to the Autosave Vault.

13. Working with Nodes

There are several convenient ways to work with nodes.

  • Command-dragging one node onto another swaps their contents. Resolve never had a way do this quickly. Such simple functionality can work its way into the daily navigation to save tons of time in session.
  • Option-dragging one node onto another overwrites the second node's contents with the first. 
  • Pressing "E" in the node tree disengages the current node. Disengaging a node will disable the whole grade once you click onto another node, so make sure that the separated node is deleted or reconnected somewhere in the node tree for the grade to become visible.

14. Standard Editing Features Now in Resolve

Many of the editing features new to Resolve are already standard to prominent nonlinear editing platforms. Blackmagic is getting closer to substantiating its grading software as a viable editing platform in its own right with each Resolve release.

  • Create timelines with a specific number of audio and video tracks: When creating a new timeline, users can specify precise numbers of tracks for both audio and video, rather than defaulting to one of each as in the past.
  • Dragging clips to Timeline ViewerIf there aren't any timelines, dragging a clip to the timeline overlay now automatically creates a new timeline. This saves the extra step of creating a timeline before adding clips to it.
  • Command-Option Up or Down moves a video clip up or down tracks.
  • Command-Shift Up or Down moves audio up or down tracks.
  • The middle mouse button enables horizontal and vertical timeline scrolling.

Smaller Features

  • Timecode-sensitive Gallery stills: Grades can be aligned according to their source timecode to align keyframes.
  • 23.98 and 24fps material can be rendered to 29.97 and 30fps: It seems like most projects deliver in 23.98, but just this month I had a job that required delivery to 29.97. Having this render option available saves a conform step and is indispensable when delivering directly from Resolve.
  • Deinterlacing: Another simple but essential feature for working with legacy footage, and can be set to Normal or High in the Image Scaling Project Settings.
  • Edited status: The word "Edited" appears on the top center of the screen when a change has been made after the project has been saved.
  • Release graphics card when Resolve is not in the foreground: Clearly many were annoyed by Resolve tying up the capture card when using it in conjunction with other editing software. Find this checkbox in the General Options.

Honorable Mention: The Point Tracker

The familiar Cloud Tracker has been one of Resolve's biggest selling points, and will still be in heavy use in the future. Colorists also now have the Point Tracker that tracks using a single user-defined point. Perhaps this will be used in instances where the Cloud Tracker fails.

Point Tracker
The Point Tracker enables colorists to choose a single point to track, as opposed to the Cloud Tracker, where the software automatically picks multiple tracking points based on a Power Window.

Of course, these aren't all of the features, but I think you'll agree these exciting new additions deepen what is already an extremely versatile tool.

Watch No Film School's Resolve coverage from NAB 2016.

What are some of your favorite Resolve 12.5 features? What's missing from the upgrade? Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

18 Comments

Great review Tristan. I made the leap from my cozy (but dated) FCP 7 existence this week. I can already see Resolve and Fusion are going to keep me occupied for a while, but I can already produce work now! I'm not going to open the FCP 7 vs X debate again, but for me the Resolve environment felt like a more mature 7 only much, much better.

Can I suggest a Postscript to your review detailing the difference between the free (love that word) version and the paid (Studio) versions of Resolve? There were a couple of features you cover (eg. noise reduction) that are only available when you pay for Studio (or buy certain BMD Cameras).

Thanks again for the review,
Charles.

May 12, 2016 at 5:39PM

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Charles Wannop
Owner - Flying Finish Productions
74

Glad you've jumped over to the color grading world - welcome! You're right, some of the features are only available for the Studio version, but over the years the free/paid versions have come so close to being identical they're *almost* the same.

Once you start generating revenue with coloring, it will be easy to invest in your career with a thousand bucks. The noise reduction alone is so good it's worth paying for - I use it literally in every single job and it improves the image quality a great deal. Certainly the paid Resolve is one of the cheaper purchases you can make, especially considering getting a control surface, monitoring, graphics cards, etc. Good luck! If you have any more questions please don't hesitate to reach out via social media.

May 12, 2016 at 7:09PM

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Tristan Kneschke
Writer
Colorist, Writer

What is about the OMF exportation?

May 12, 2016 at 5:45PM, Edited May 12, 5:45PM

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Very impressive list of new features!

May 12, 2016 at 6:52PM

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Great software. I hope to see some simple fixes too... No crash after OSX sleeps, no crash after certain audio key framing tasks, faster zoom in/out in the time line...

It seems like the direct 'export to Vimeo' function will avoid the infamous QuickTime contrast curve issues?

May 12, 2016 at 7:11PM

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These are not 14 game changers. They're new features.

May 12, 2016 at 11:02PM, Edited May 12, 11:02PM

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cee dee
188

I'd love to see all this power in Linux. BMD already has the code. They just need to streamline it to release the same software-only downloads for Linux users.

Wanna see Davinci seamlessly ported to Ubuntu or Fedora and have it available in free and Studio versions like Windows or OS X users already enjoy? Please sign this petition: http://bit.ly/davforlin

May 12, 2016 at 11:53PM

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Premiere has had most of these "game changers" for a while now.

May 13, 2016 at 12:14AM, Edited May 13, 12:14AM

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Is Premiere also the industry standard color grading application?

May 13, 2016 at 1:53AM

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Alexandra
Videographer / Documentary Filmmaker
409

No. Thats what makes it that much more impressive.

Tell me how Resolve deserves to be "industry standard" when its only just getting these "features"...

I used Resolve for years and now I do all my grading in Premiere now with Lumetri. No more round tripping. Ease to change an edit.

May 13, 2016 at 4:05AM

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Resolve is the industry standard in color correction and grading... not editing. There would be no debating or arguing Resolve as the world's leader in color correction. It just is.

The Premiere/Lumetri color panel is only designed for basic corrections. No one serious about advanced color correction and grading would ever use it.

May 14, 2016 at 6:42AM, Edited May 14, 6:43AM

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Razor
VFX Colorist
225

I don't care what the "industry" uses. Only what best fits my workflow and has the least bugs and workarounds.

With Premiere already having most of these features Resolve need to speed up their development because considering how long they have been in the grading game they should be further ahead.

May 15, 2016 at 8:26PM

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Although not having traied it yet, I very much enjoy the Resolve - Fusion connection. With that implemented I now feel it's a true NLE with which I can do all the post.
I just wish Resolve wouldn't be that unstable, at least on my PC it is.

May 13, 2016 at 5:21AM

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David Hallberg
Project coordinator, researcher
231

Dear Tristan, thank for this review. I have used the professional edition of Resolve 12.0 on Windows, but I had trouble exporting my edited footage into a 4K H264 master file. It somehow mentioned a limitation in the resolution it could export. So true 4K or even UHD was not possible in H264. How is version 12.5 handling that, do you know? Perhaps I was doing something wrong.

May 13, 2016 at 8:04AM, Edited May 13, 8:05AM

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Erwin Hartsuiker
CineVideo-NL videographer
425

What I'd like to see in a future version is a new page that would be called "Audio" with greatly enhanced audio editing features, something similar to ProTools but in an all-in-one application. To me this would be the touch that makes Resolve a more complete finishing tool. (Having more titling and text features would also be a nice addition. Maybe along the line of some basic motion graphics effects a la Motion, without having to use the more powerful Fusion.)

May 13, 2016 at 1:57PM

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Ron Marvin
Director of Photography
134

But does it still require the soon-to-die Quicktime to run on Windows?

May 13, 2016 at 3:38PM

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Some useful stuff, but unfortunately still crippled by inept UI.

First, why would anyone guess that clicking "2" in the strip below the color wheels would reveal entirely different controls? If there are hidden controls, that fact is customarily revealed by aggregating them on tabs or otherwise indicating "more" (like having them in a strip with an arrow at the end, allowing you to scroll to unseen controls). Having two buttons with numbers on them makes it look like you can toggle between two snapshots of color adjustments or something, to compare them.

And "power bins?" That's meaningless. If they're global to the system (available across projects), then why not call them global bins? A name should be descriptive.

Beyond that... that "Fusion connect" feature forces you to choose a file format, which means you have to be diligent to avoid recompression. Since Apple still doesn't understand that professionals want a lossless compression format for exactly this purpose, and nobody else seems to be offering one anymore either, you'll have to render to EXR or TIFF or something like that if you want to avoid recompression.

Either way, this looks like a tacked-on feature, as we've seen in numerous other applications as "Send to..." Convenient? Hopefully. Game-changer? No.

Has BlackMagic fixed any of the design gaffes and bugs that have plagued Resolve, especially as they try to push it as an editing system? For example, can you export audio files now? I couldn't believe there was no way to export a timeline's audio for post work in a dedicated audio app. This alone makes Resolve unacceptable as an editor. We're supposed to render out a dummy video file with uncompressed audio (hope you don't have more than two tracks!), bring that into Premiere, use Premiere to export the audio properly, work on it in an audio app, then bring it back into Resolve? This is being sold as a legitimate workflow?

How about the incorrectly placed, named, and broken (as of 12.3) "output blanking" function? The rest of us know this as "matting;" it's where you pick the shape of your output image (16:9, 2.35:1, whatever) and letterboxing. It's broken in three ways:

1. It's under the wrong menu, "Color."
2. It doesn't indicate that "output blanking" is enabled, even though it is.
3. All of its entries are greyed out arbitrarily (even though the menu itself isn't) sometimes.

And of course there's more. Like the "Inspector" that hides other critical controls because it isn't displayed by default and the icon that reveals it is sequestered far away from anything it's "inspecting."

May 13, 2016 at 8:16PM

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David Gurney
DP
1392

Good points, David - hope you posted it in the BM-Forum, too ;-)

At least the audio-only export works now.
Though I've only exported a mix of all tracks, I think it should be possible to export the audio tracks separately.

May 19, 2016 at 6:09AM

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With the purchase of Fairlight we can hope that Resolve 13? at nab 2017 will include additional sound capability and hopefully finally import of open source audio tools without crashing the resolve system!!!! Also Ultimatte may be in addition to prime matte since in the past Ultimatte had their system as software which they discontinued. This is really an ultimate form of keying!!! These improvements will go a long wayt toward putting Resolve in the lead as an NLE, with great color correction, DAW Quality audio processing, and effects ties ins.
Another thing they could do that would help is to modify their system so that plugins like twixtor can work inside their interface.
Just my 2bits worth.
TJ

October 31, 2016 at 1:14PM

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