For years I told myself that I needed to learn DaVinci Resolve. And, for years, I found ways to avoid getting started. Recently, though, I found myself with some spare time and decided the time had come.
Here’s a very cool tip: You don’t need to learn the entire Resolve app to take advantage of it. Instead, explore the Cut page. This is a new part of Resolve that is optimized for high-speed editing. Even better, it covers the entire range of editing a video – from import to export – in a single “page” of the interface.
It’s a great way to start learning Resolve without getting overwhelmed.
NOTE: I just created a new webinar which, in less than an hour, walks you through the Cut page in-depth. So, if you prefer learning by watching, rather than reading, here’s the link.
What I learned is that the Cut page in Resolve has speed features that don’t exist in either Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. If you are creating simple projects under a tight deadline, the Cut page in Resolve can help you get your work done faster. Why? Because the Cut page is optimized for speed. Premiere, Final Cut and Resolve can all edit complex projects. The Cut page is designed for projects with deadlines measured in minutes, with features not found in other NLEs.
NOTE: I was also struck by how much inspiration the Cut page took from Final Cut Pro.
In this tutorial, I want to help you start editing in the DaVinci Resolve Cut page.
NOTE: Explaining the Cut page in its entirety is beyond the scope of this tutorial. However, Blackmagic Design has an excellent books, videos and tutorials that can get you started. You’ll find them here, in the Training Books section.
Download the free version of DaVinci Resolve (here’s a link). Everything I’m illustrating here is in the free version.
Open Resolve and create a New Project.
This displays the main interface.
At the bottom, the Cut page icon should already be selected (red arrow). If not, click it.
There are multiple ways to import clips or folders containing clips. But, to keep things simple, type Cmd + I to import individual clips.
All media is displayed in the Media Pool (top left). The Media Pool is similar to the Browser in Final Cut or Project pane in Premiere.
NOTE: You can also import the contents of selected folders using File > Import > Bin.
While there are many options to review clips, the easiest is to double-click a clip in the Media Pool to display it in the Viewer. Drag the playhead and type I to set an In, and O to set an Out.
The clip is marked. Nothing unusual so far.
One of the VERY cool review features is this button (red arrow) in the top left corner of the Viewer: Source Tape. It displays all the clips in the currently-open bin as a single clip in the Viewer. (Think of it as an automatic “string-out.”)
You can then quickly skim every clip by dragging the playhead through the Viewer timeline. You can even set In’s and Out’s using this consolidated display. Very, very cool!
At the bottom of the Media Pool are six icons. Click the second from the left labeled “Append” (shortcut: Shift + F12).
This places the clip in the Viewer at the end of all clips in the timeline. (If there are no clips in the timeline, Resolve puts it exactly at the beginning.)
NOTE: This works exactly the same as the Append edit feature in Final Cut.
Using Append edit, add more clips into the timeline. Notice how the focus never leaves the Viewer. You aren’t chasing the cursor between windows. This is the speed benefit of editing clips from the Source Tape window.
BIG NOTE: DaVinci Resolve saves your changes automatically. Still, it is a good habit to choose File > Save every so often (Shortcut: Cmd + S).
One of the big differences between Resolve and other editors is the dual timeline. The top timeline shows the entire project without zooming – start to finish and all tracks/layers. The bottom timeline, which I call the Trim timeline, is used for trimming clips. It always displays a close-up of the media at the current playhead position. You navigate by moving the top timeline playhead.
NOTE: You can shift the display in the lower timeline by dragging the timecode bar at the top. But, the top timeline is primarily designed for navigation and reorganizing clips, the bottom timeline is designed for trimming.
I always have to remind myself to move the playhead in the top timeline, not the bottom one.
NOTE: Resolves supports an unlimited number of clips and/or timelines in a project. However, as far as I can tell, the Cut page only supports one open project at a time.
Here’s what things look like currently in both timelines. The top shows the entire project (three clips) and the bottom shows enlarged clips at the position of the upper playhead. The white arrow is the Smart Indicator, described below.
There are six icons – but seven ways – to edit a clip from the Viewer into the timeline:
Smart Insert. Automatically inserts an incoming clip at the closest edit point to the playhead (as shown by the Smart Indicator) on the selected track, pushing all clips to the right of the edit point forward to make room for the incoming clip. Because this is a smart operation, you are prevented from inserting a clip at any arbitrary frame; incoming clips are only inserted at the closest previously existing edit point. Shortcut: F9
Append. This edits the selected clip in the Media Pool or Viewer at the end of all clips in the timeline. Shortcut: Shift + F12
Ripple Overwrite. At its simplest, Ripple Overwrite substitutes a clip in the Timeline with an incoming clip. However, Ripple Overwrite works differently if you’ve set In and Out points in the Timeline to define a range. In this case, the incoming clip substitutes whatever portion of the Timeline falls within this range, moving all other clips that are to the right of the affected range either forward to make room if the incoming clip is longer, or back to eliminate gaps if the incoming clip is shorter. Shortcut: Shift + F10
Overwrite. There’s no button for this, but pressing F10 overwrites a section of the Timeline with the incoming clip, without moving other clips in any way. Shortcut: F10
Close-up. Edits a clip into the Timeline as a zoomed-in close up, to make up for a lack of actual close ups that would have been shot with either longer lenses or by moving the camera closer to the subject. This function is particularly useful when you’re working with 4K media in a 1080 timeline, or 8K media in a 4K timeline, which enables you zoom into existing wide shots to create medium shots, or medium shots to create close up shots, with no loss of quality. Performing this edit adds the incoming clip as an approximate 150% scaled close up, also performs a face detection, and if a face or faces are found, automatically re-positions the face in the frame. The close-up shot defaults to 5 seconds in length; you can adjust it after the edit it done. (No shortcut.)
Place on top. Edits the incoming clip as a superimposition above whatever other clips are in the Timeline; the incoming clip is always placed on top, so if there are clips in tracks 1, 2, and 3, the incoming clip is automatically placed on track 4, regardless of which track is selected. (Shortcut: F12)
Source Overwrite. If you are working with footage from multiple cameras that have synced timecode, then the easiest way to use this edit type is to set In and Out points over a clip in the Timeline where you want to cut away to another angle. This edit requires overlapping timecode in multiple clips to work properly, such as when recording synced timecode to multiple cameras during a multi-cam shoot. If there is no overlapping timecode, this edit does nothing. (No shortcut)
ONE VERY COOL TRIMMING TECHNIQUE
Resolve supports all common trims – ripple, roll, slip and slide – and the Cut page Trim timeline makes trimming very easy. Just grab an edge and drag. But there’s one trim that is both unique and really helpful: Audio trim.
Start by clicking this button on the upper left of the Trim timeline. This enables audio trimming.
Now, when you drag the edge of a clip to trim it, an enlarged portion of the audio track is displayed to help improve the accuracy of the trim. I really like this trimming tool a lot!
Yes, there is a lot to learn in Resolve; even the Cut page is filled with features. And learning new editing software often seems like rolling a very large rock uphill. But Resolve has features worth learning – especially the Cut, Color and Fairlight pages.
The good news is that you can successfully learn the Cut page in about an hour, especially if you have my webinar to get you oriented. And the benefit of learning this new software is access to tools that we don’t have in other applications.
You don’t need to learn DaVinci Resolve. But it has features that make the time you spend learning it worthwhile. I’m glad I finally started.
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