With today being the release of the highly anticipated public beta for Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12, I put together a quick list of the top 5 features which I feel stand out the most in the massive update (full changelog available here). In fact, this update is so big, I'm going to focus this list specifically on the differences from a colorist point of view. The new editing and audio features each deserve articles on their own, so this "Top 5" will mainly focus on color and workflow enhancements surrounding color correction and grading.
Top 5 Features for Previous Resolve Users
- DaVinci Resolve Color Management
- While I originally felt this feature was slightly unnecessary, especially with the introduction of ACES v1.0 with this update, I quickly changed my tune after using it. As colorists, keeping up with the camera formats war can be a huge chore, and while I still personally recommend keeping up-to-date as much as you can, this feature makes normalizing a huge variety of image formats automatic and significantly more streamlined when using numerous types of cameras, both professional and consumer. The end result is more time to focus on actual creative color correction and grading.
- New Perspective Tracker
- Even prior to this update, one of my favorite features of Resolve 11 was the speed and general ease of use of the tracker. Its a crucial aspect in my workflow, especially with any beauty work, yet it did have some occasional yet predictable issues. Tracking anything that had a lot of 3D perspective motion confused it easily, and required manual keyframing to "babysit" it through those sections. The new 3D perspective tracker is EXACTLY what we needed, as it provides higher accuracy when tracking, based on a more advanced algorithms which is aware of locations in 3D space and how they "warp" during perspective changes from camera or talent movement. In other words, its more aware of the "context" of the footage and attempts to track accordingly. If your are still having trouble following, just notice how much better it handles things that go off-screen slightly and used to get "stuck". To paraphrase Alexis Van Hurkman from the official manual, this new tracker is great when you need something to "stick" to a surface and typical tracking isnt quite getting a solid track.
- Drag Media from Finder / Explorer to media pool or timeline
- DaVinci Resolve 12 finally allows you to drag media directly into the application, without having to sort through using the Media Tab and using the file manager within Resolve. Just locate your clips/folders in finder (Mac OS) or Explorer (Windows) and drag straight into a newly created bin or timeline. This may mean nothing to you, or it may be an amazing workflow upgrade, depending on how you work. I'm thrilled to have this new easier import option.
- New 3D Keyer
- When I first saw the new keyer demoed, it was also one of the features I wasn't quite sure about. Not because it didn't do what it said, but mainly because I couldn't grasp exactly how it was working with the short time I got to play with it at NAB. After using it more, I feel this is a great new feature which can make a complicated task of isolating an area of color using hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL) significantly easier for a large majority of operations. I've barely scratched the surface on this new tool myself, but I can tell it's likely to be a game changer.
- UI Update
- While the new user interface takes a little getting used to, it's a sleek and modern revamp which gives you more space and control, especially with dual monitors. It scales extremely well between a 15" MacBook Pro Retina, HD and 4K+ displays. I've yet to test up to 4K on my GUI monitors, but I've been told the trend of using the new space well continues even at those resolutions. Its the "small" updates like having the lightbox on your second display, docked scopes & clip/info pages, and the ability to customize a lot more of the layout which really show attention to detail.
- Blackmagic Camera specific additions - Still Testing
- I know this is a top 5 list, but these additions are limited specifically to Blackmagic Cinema cameras, so I felt it was fair to add them as a 6th as it was limited to a specific group. You can now control RAW CinemaDNG as "ISO" exposure instead of a generic exposure slider, and "black sun highlight corrections" should hopefully reduce the appearance of that well-known issue that has plagued BMD cameras since they entered the camera hardware market.
In the short time I've had to use the beta update for this amazing piece of software, these were the features and additions that stood out to me. If you have tried the new public beta, what is your favorite new feature(s)? Anything really awesome? Leave a comment below, if so.