Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio 18 Review

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In the world of professional video editing software, there are three main players: adobe premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio. All three programs are used to edit Hollywood movies and TV series, so none are lacking in features. But despite offering industry-leading color grading tools, a powerful built-in audio studio, and a graphics suite for creating visual effects, DaVinci Resolve Studio is the cheapest option. at $295 / £306 / AU$479 for a perpetual license with lifetime updates.

You can even get a free copy of DaVinci Resolve Studio when you buy a Blackmagic Design camera or one of the DaVinci Resolve editing keyboards. The DaVinci Resolve Speed ​​Editor is a specialized video editing keyboard with a wheel and includes Bluetooth connectivity as well as an internal battery.

These keyboards ultimately make editing faster and easier, and at $395 / £335 / AU$645 with a copy of DaVinci Resolve Studio 18 included, you get the software for a whole lot less. There is also a free version of the software, which has fewer features, but is still impressive with powerful color grading tools and is ideal for less demanding users.

DaVinci Resolve Studio is a typical NLE (non-linear editor) with drag-and-drop functionality that’s reasonably intuitive to learn. Using the software at a basic level is not particularly difficult, but being such a large program, mastering it is much more difficult. DaVinci Resolve Studio offers all the tools you need to create professional videos, rather than requiring several different programs to cover each, so the editing workflow is incredibly streamlined.

Main characteristics

The Davinci Resolve 18 workflow is divided into a series of pages. This is the Media page. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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As you can already understand, DaVinci Resolve Studio offers all the features you might need and more. So, rather than focusing on the general features on offer, we’ll dive into some of the major new features available in Studio 18. The first new feature of note is geared towards a professional team workflow, which allows members of the team in different all over the world to work together on projects.

The Blackmagic Cloud lets you host project libraries on DaVinci Reserve Project Server, allowing up to 10 people to collaborate as long as they have a local copy of the media. The cost is only $5 per month per project as long as it is stored on the cloud server. There’s also a new Black Magic Proxy Generator app that makes it easier than ever to create, manage, and work with proxy files that will be useful for some collaborative work, as well as speeding up editing performance, especially on machines less powerful.

Another important new feature is that Multicam support has increased from nine to 25 cameras, but the most impressive features in this release are tools that use DaVinci Resolve’s Neural Engine for AI power tools to select, adjust and manipulate sequences. These include the Object Mask which can track the movement of individual objects and people so that effects can be added on, around or behind the object, alongside the ability to color or adjust/optimize the object or person.

The Depth Map feature is new, dividing the scene into foreground, middle and background for separate processing. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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Depth Map can achieve similar results, but this maps the depth of foreground, middle, and background footage, with the ability to adjust which part of the scene is highlighted so that effects are applied. Quick Noise allows users to add noise-based effects, such as adding smoke, and this is dynamic and changes depending on the highlights and lighting in the video.

Then there’s the Surface Tracker, where a mesh guide lets you select a contoured subject or part of a subject where pixel-based effects or elements fit seamlessly into the outlines as the subject moves. . All of these tools will save users hours or even days of hard manual work, but they come with a steep learning curve as they are advanced features.

Resolve FX Beauty has also been updated with the ultra beauty tool. This allows you to soften or rough up the skin while still being able to use it to recover detail. And although its name is for skin and beauty, the tool can also be used on other elements including objects and backgrounds. Using this and the other new features is truly breathtaking as the effects of the tool are incredibly precise.

Interface and usability

The edit page is where you apply transitions and effects, and it’s where most people will feel comfortable doing editing tasks. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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In the Color page, you can use DaVinci Resolve’s powerful color grading tools and node-based editing system for complex composite effects. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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DaVinci Resolve Studio’s interface is unique compared to competitors because the software is divided into “pages”, which are areas for performing different tasks. These are intuitively laid out in the order users are most likely to need them for a logical workflow, although you can, of course, move back and forth as needed. At the most basic level, purely for video editing, Resolve Studio is no more or less difficult to use than its competitors, but taking advantage of all the features is much more complicated and involves a steep learning curve.

The Resolve Studio pages include the Media page where you can organize video clips, audio clips, and images, etc. The Cut page is designed for quick editing and offers multi-camera editing, while Edit is a standard editing space with access to transitions and effects, and is where most people will feel at home. editing tasks.

Fusion is similar to Adobe After Effects and is where you can create cinematic visual effects and motion graphics, while Color is for video optimization, color grading, and applying other effects. Fairlight is a powerful audio post-production suite where you can record, edit, mix, master soundtracks and much more. And finally, Deliver is the export page for completed projects.

Quality of results

DaVinci Resolve’s Magic Mask can be used to select and track specific objects. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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DaVinci Resolve 18 is notable for including not only its powerful Fusion effects module but also the Fairlight audio editing mode. (Image credit: James Abbott)

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All video editing software requires a high quality computer to work well, and DaVinci Resolve Studio is no exception. While the free version of the software has some performance and output limitations, such as being limited to footage up to 4K (3840 x 2160) at up to 60 fps, the Studio version is capable of handling up to 32,000 footage up to 120 fps. In a nutshell, you can enjoy AVCHD, AVC-Intra and H.264 support using ALL-I intra-frame encoding, as well as 10-bit encoding. Then there’s advanced HDR delivery in Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats.

This level of processing requires considerable computing power, and where the free version is limited to hardware acceleration using a single GPU (graphics card), the Studio version can use multiple GPUs for processing power. additional. Being a software intended for professional use where several large raw video files are used, this is an essential feature of the software.

Hardware acceleration also brings more powerful effects and features not available in the free version, including many power-hungry Resolve FX. The fact that the software is used professionally for film and television is a testament to the quality of effects, sound, and editing control that can be achieved with the software.

Verdict

(Image credit: James Abbott)

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DaVinci Resolve Studio 18 is the most comprehensive video editing software available, offering everything you could possibly need and more in one program. There’s very little you can’t do with the software, and new features like collaborative tools, object mask, depth map, and surface tracking to name a few- some are incredibly powerful. These make selecting, adjusting, and manipulating objects in video incredibly simple and can be a huge time saver, overall.

There’s a lot to learn with this software beyond video editing and color grading, but like any software, you can take or leave the features and functionality on offer to focus on just what you need. But if you feel like rolling up your sleeves and learning how to use all the features, and the Blackmagic Design website has plenty of video tutorials with downloadable resources, you can take full advantage of the richest video editing software. in features available. . And priced at $295 / £306 / AU$479 for a perpetual license with lifetime updates, it’s an absolute bargain.


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