Da Vinci Resolve 12 First Impressions

This morning Blackmagic Design released the new version of Da Vinci Resolve. Resolve 12 has a bucketload of new features, from simple adjustments and updates, to game changing overhauls, but the name of the game with this release is it’s editing tools.  For years now the non-linear editor market has been dominated by Avid, Premier, and (less so lately) Final Cut, with a few smaller names out in the wings, and now Blackmagic is throwing its hat into the ring in earnest with this new release of Resolve.

At this year’s NAB conference, I was able to elbow my way through the crowd and get a brief hands on demo of the new Resolve 12, but now that it is fully released, anyone with an internet connection can now download the basic package of Resolve, with the pro version still available for $995 from your favorite Blackmagic reseller.

So what’s new exactly?

For starters, the naming convention has changed. In the past, the free version of Resolve has been designated “Lite”, while the paid version just carried the release number. With Resolve 12, Blackmagic has somewhat reversed that convention, and dropped the “Lite” from the free version, and added “Studio” to the paid version. This may be a little confusing for those upgrading from a previous version, but I don’t feel like it will cause much headache, and is really secondary to the other changes made to this platform.

As mentioned above, the real meat of this update is in the editing tools, and as an editor and Premiere fan, these are the changes that I am most interested in. Resolve 12 comes with a decent selection of editing tools that will be very familiar to anyone with NLE experience.  The most often used editorial functions are bundled into one tool called the “Trim Edit Mode”. The Trim Edit Mode contextually switches between different functions depending on where your mouse cursor is, and what you have selected. If you select the middle of a clip you can slip it, or select multiple clips, and slip them all together. To slide a clip up and down the timeline, select the cursor, or the “Normal Edit Mode”. To ripple and roll, switch back to the Trim Edit Mode and select the ends of the clip you want to edit. By selecting just the edge of one clip, you can ripple it back and forth, and by selecting the edit itself, or the space in between both clips, you can roll it back and forth. Personally, I find myself doing one when I intended to do the other, but that may just be a matter of getting used to this system. There is also a “Razor Edit Mode”, which functions just how you would expect. There is also an “Insert Clip”, “Replace Clip”, and “Overwrite Clip”, that function as expected for the most part, although the Replace Clip tool seems to be a little finicky, causing me to sometimes drop the wrong clip into the timeline, or do nothing.

da vinci review 2Resolve 12’s basic editing tools.

There is also a fourth editing mode, known as the “Dynamic Trim Mode”, which essentially gives you the ripple and roll tools at all times, which you can access with the hotkey “W”, but cannot be found on the main bar of editing tools for some reason. This editing tool more or less makes the Normal Editing Mode and the Trim Edit Mode all but obsolete, so why include all three, and why hide the Dynamic Trim Mode? I have yet to come up with an explanation for this.

Resolve 12 comes with a pretty good selection of transitions and effects, and they work fairly intuitively. You’re able to drag and drop effects from a bin on the right side to where you want them, all very familiar stuff, but where Resolve 12 shakes things up is the in timeline curve editor. It gives you a little drop down button that opens a curve inside the timeline where you can custom edit effects. It took me a little while to warm up to this way of doing effects, but it’s actually pretty cool.


Example of Resolve 12’s effects curves

My biggest issue with this release of Da Vinci Resolve trying to be a fully fledged editor is the lack of workspace customization. Sometimes I want my timeline viewer to be larger than my media pool viewer, and this is unfortunately impossible. Nor can you pop panels out of the background like you can in other programs, so it’s impossible to have your timeline viewer on one monitor, while having  your timeline on another.  Of course you can output the timeline direct to a video monitor via Blackmagic hardware such as a Decklinik Extreme card.  However, if you want to have your media bins on a different monitor, away from the rest of your workspace, you’re completely out of luck. This lack of customization is a bummer, but I like the direction this program is going very much. Fingers crossed for the future.

As this is just a brief first impression review. There were a number of features I have not yet had the chance to review, such as the new audio tools which appear extremely promising, as well as the multi-cam editing mode. I could see this feature being quite popular. There is also a new system of sorting footage via metadata tags, which is not editing specific, but could be a lifesaver on larger projects, cutting down drastically on time spent searching for specific clips.

Overall, I was surprised at how much I liked the new editing features in this release of Resolve, and although it may not have nailed it perfectly as an editor, there is the benefit of having Davinci Rosolve’s world famous color correction capabilities, which is nothing to take lightly!


-Zachary Cain

Motion Media Product Specialist


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