DaVinci Resolve 16 Review

I’m a long time user of DaVinci Resolve going back to version 8 when it first came to Mac and people always ask me… should they switch to Resolve? Does it have too steep of a learning curve and can it work with other NLE’s like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X?

Well in this DaVinci Resolve 16 Review I’m going to share with you everything you need to know to make an informed decision. We’ll talk advantages, disadvantages, and what makes Resolve different from other NLEs and color grading systems.

A Proven Track Record

DaVinci Resolve has a long track record as a high end color correction system, even being touted as being used on more feature films and episodic television series than any other system in Hollywood.

In recent years DaVinci has gained steam in the semi-professional and professional market because of its ability be a video editor, color corrector, audio mixer, and even VFX compositor, making it the top all-in-one post-production platform.

What’s unprecedented for an application like this was is there’s a very capable free version that has nearly all the features that you would ever need. And if you buy a Blackmagic camera it actually ships with a full Studio license worth $300.

So if you want to purchase the Studio version a license is $300 and is comparable in price to Final Cut Pro X. And if you’re using Adobe Premiere that’s currently $240 a year for an annual subscription, it makes downloading a free copy or buying the Studio version of DaVinci Resolve a no-brainer. So this is an insane value for a Hollywood level production tool.

The Interface

DaVinci Resolve is divided into 7 pages following a left to right workflow. Meaning you start your project on the left importing your media and finish your project by exporting it using the Deliver page on the right.

First up we have the Media page where we can browse through our media, preview clips and double click to import them into the project.

The Cut page is a new page in DaVinci Resolve 16 that is specifically designed for fast-paced editing.

The Cut page is a new page in DaVinci Resolve 16 that is specifically designed for fast-paced editing.

There are two editorial pages to choose from: The Cut Page and the Edit page. Which one’s right for you? Well they both allow you to edit like you would in any other NLE but the Cut Page is specifically designed for making fast paced cuts like say for a news broadcast or daily vlogs that you upload to YouTube.

The Edit page provides traditional edit tools, similar to Premiere and FCPX. You can organize, edit and animate your clips all from this page, as well as add titles and transitions. Multicam editing is supported, and it can sync dual-system sound automatically by matching audio waveforms.

Now let’s assume you have a locked edit or finished edit and you need some VFX work or compositing. Well all you need to do is switch to the Fusion page. Fusion has heavy weight node-based VFX capabilities, being a great alternative to After Effects, Motion or Nuke. It can do motion graphics, chroma keying, 3d compositing, vector painting, rotoscoping, generate 3d particles, and so on.

The Color page is the cornerstone of DaVinci Resolve.

The Color page is the cornerstone of DaVinci Resolve.

The Color page is what DaVinci Resolve was originally known for and built a large part of its success on. The color tools you’ll find here are far superior to the color tools in Premiere or Final Cut Pro X but they do take some time to learn and get used to.

The color page has traditional telecine controls, an editor for RAW cameras, color chart support, RGB curves, hue curves, key qualifier for color masks, shape masks with Power windows, 3d motion tracker for tracking shapes and more. To explore these tools in more depth you can check out our DaVinci Resolve Crash Course.

One of the greatest strengths of Resolve in terms of color is the professional color management that’s built-in (it also has an ACES color science option that was developed by the Academy). Resolve solves color and exposure shift issues by allowing you to choose which camera the media was captured on and what color space you’re delivering to, ie broadcast or web.

Now it’s time for sweet audio mixing and for that we have the Fairlight page. This page gives you access to professional level audio post-production tools that you typically don’t find in a NLE. It supports VST plugins, and has its own Sound Library Browser, giving you access to host of sound effects. It also provides professional workflow specifically designed for doing automated dialog replacement.

Now once the project is complete, it’s time deliver. So to export our project we’ll head to the Deliver page. From here we can export the project in a variety of codecs (if you can name it, you can do it). There’s the ability to render a DCP package for Digital Cinema Projection, and like Final Cut and Premiere is has export presets for commonly used formats for uploading to YouTube and Vimeo.

The Verdict

DaVinci Resolve is without a doubt the top all-in-one post-production application. It’s especially useful if you’re inclined to doing your own color grading, audio mixing and visual effects/motion graphics.

What do you think? Is it better than Premiere or Final Cut Pro X? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Now what makes this blog post possible is our Color Grading Academy for DaVinci Resolve. If you’d like to learn more about that then sign up for our free 1-hour online Color Grading workshop where we’ll reveal Hollywood color grading secrets so you can set your films part. Click here to sign up!

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