Blackmagic has announced DaVinci Resolve 17 with a bunch of new features and performance enhancements

Tips & Techniques

Blackmagic Design has today announced the latest iteration of their video editing and colour grading software, DaVinci Resolve 17. The new version, which is a Public Beta, comes with “hundreds of cleanups” and a number of “powerful new features”. As with previous versions of Resolve, it combines editing, colour correction, visual effects, motion graphics and audio into a single package.

The latest update add some performance benefits, particularly with optical flow, and some fantastic features that users have been hoping would come for a long time. There are also a couple of new desktop hardware tools to help you more easily interact with the software outside of the usual keyboard and mouse.

So, let’s look at these changes in order of the tabs along the bottom of the application.

The Cut Page

The cut page is a relatively new addition to Resolve, having only been added in version 16. It’s only really seen slight updates so far, to tweak how well it performs. In the latest version of Resolve, they’ve brought some nice workflow updates to help speed things up, but one of the biggest features is that you now get live previews when you mouse over transitions, effects and even Fusion effects.

All you need to do is mouse over the effect, and as you move your mouse cursor from left to right (you don’t even have to click) it scrubs through the effect in your monitor window. There are also new ways to view your footage, with better organisation and sorting of clips based on many more factors than have previously been available.

You can now edit the metadata directly within the cut tab, to be able to manually enter all of your shot details for each and every clips. You now get to preview your audio waveform when trim sections of clips to let you easily time up a cut to the beat without having a permanent audio waveform on your screen (like there is in the Edit tab).

There’s a new Smart Reframe tool for social media that lets you quickly create square or vertical versions of your video for posting to Instagram, Facebook and other social media applications. The DaVinci Neural Engine automatically detects faces and repositions the footage for you so that you don’t have to worry about having to reframe everything manually.

Finally, there’s a new piece of hardware. The DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor, which talks directly with the Cut page to really speed up your editing workflow.  It connects to your computer either via USB cable or over Bluetooth. So, yes, you can use it wirelessly and just connect it to USB when you need to charge it. Or you can just keep it permanently connected to your camera’s USB and avoid Bluetooth altogether.

As you can see, it’s a fairly small desktop unit, but it contains a huge jog/shuttle wheel, and all of the essential buttons to allow you to easily perform tasks in the Cut Page with minimal effort. It’s being released at a pretty reasonable price of only $295, too. However, as an introductory offer with the release of Resolve 17, Blackmagic is actually going to be giving it away free with all new DaVinci Resolve Studio purchases for a little while.

Yes, that’s right, for an extra $4 over the regular price of the new console, you get both the Speed Editor and Resolve Studio. They haven’t said when this offer will expire, and I don’t think it becomes available until Resolve 17 comes out of beta. But, I may be wrong on that. We will reach out to Blackmagic to confirm. This offer is only available if you buy Resolve through one of DaVinci’s resellers around the world, and not if you buy it directly. And no, you won’t get a free Speed Editor with free copies of Resolve Studio that come with the Pocket 4K/6K and other Blackmagic cameras. Nice try!

The Edit Page

They didn’t go over many of the new editing features in the announcement presentation live stream, but some of the key things they did mention was that it brings dozens of new timesaving features and creative tools. It sees the same new live previews on transitions, effects and Fusion effects as the Cut page, and it also gets the smart AI-powered reframing for when you need to recrop your timeline for social media edits.

One significant new feature that will be very handy for those who regularly work with archive footage or mix old footage into their productions is a new DaVinci Neural Engine-powered deinterlacing feature. There is also new Proxy editing workflow that allows you to more easily work with and swap out proxy files – even ones generated externally by 3rd party tools – and then switch back to your main footage when it comes time to render with much less hassle than current methods.

Multicam has also gotten much easier with the latest update, including a new “auto align” tool that allows you to sync footage based on timecode or waveform from right within the timeline. No longer do you need to try to do everything blind from the media pool. You can just drag it all into your timeline and sync it up easily from there – and tweak them manually to create a custom “sync map” that allows everything to match up perfectly.

New chroma keying tools have also been added into the Edit tab, allowing you to work with green or blue screen footage without having to go into the Fusion tab – which will be a very welcome addition for many! There are also new collage effects that offer you some interesting and unique picture-in-picture type effects for when you want to overlay clips on your footage or go split-screen – think of things like a news broadcast, or that bit in 24 where they show you what’s going on in multiple places at once at the same time of day.

The Fusion Page

First up with for Fusion is new Fusion Effects Templates. These allow you to create customisable templates that you can reuse over and over with easy parameters to customise them each time you use them in new content and you can drag them right into your content on the Cut and Edit pages. New animation curve modifiers also allow you to retime your animations automatically based on the duration of the clip and change dynamically as you extend or shorten it.

One feature that’s been a long time coming is finally here. Yes, that’s right, there’s audio in the Fusion tab now. This makes it easier to sync up visual effects and animations to music or sounds within your scene. You can listen to a mixdown of the timeline or you can just solo the source clip’s audio and focus on that. Waveforms are also displayed in the keyframe editor to make things even more precise. To also help make things precise, timeline markers are now also visible in the Fusion page.

Resolve now finally has Shape nodes, too. These are vector-based graphics, meaning they can be scaled up to any size without losing detail, and you get a bunch of native shapes that you can combine using boolean operators. They can even be used as particle sources for particle generators.

The Color Page

When it comes to colour grading, the Color page sees some fantastic new updates. Updates like HDR colour wheels, which offer more functionality and fine-tuning ability than the colour wheels we’ve become used to. For a start, there are six of them, which overlap with each other to help minimise the introduction of artifacts. And you can also adjust the range that each of the different wheels affects to really dial in what brightness range you’re attempting to correct.

Another very cool addition to the Color page is the Color Warper tool. I’ve actually seen this principle implemented before in a piece of software called 3D LUT Creator and it’s an extremely intuitive way of working. With 3D LUT Creator Pro’s $249 price tag, that’s going to be a tough one to swallow now when you can get DaVinci Resolve Studio for only $299 – especially when you’re going to get the Speed Editor console for free if you buy it in the next few months.

Obviously, you don’t want to grade your entire frame all at once, and for those we use masks (or “Windows”). Well, Resolve 17 takes these to the next level with the Magic Mask, which uses the DaVinci Neural Engine to automatically create masks for an entire person or specific features like arms, legs, clothing, face or hair (and others). And, yes, you get the ability to fine-tune the matte to get things just right.

The scopes have seen a bit of an upgrade, too. You can now view up to nine of them simultaneously, and you can duplicate the same scope in multiple windows to see different interpretations of the data. They also allow you now to choose from wider colour ranges for working with HDR content.

LUTs have seen an organisational upgrade, too, now allowing you to sort by folder and have Resolve refresh your entire LUT folder structure with just a couple of clicks instead of having to reload the application or remove and re-add folders. You just select your top-level folder and it automatically adds everything underneath.

The Fairlight Page

Fairlight has seen a much-needed overhaul in Resolve 17. It’s one of the few tabs I’ve actually actively avoided because it’s been such a pain to use. Usually I’ve done all my actual processing in Adobe Audition and used the keyframes on the edit tab to mix stuff in Resolve, but now it looks like Fairlight’s finally come of age for us mere mortals that don’t have $30,000+ editing consoles – although there is a new $4,000 Fairlight panel if you want one.

Resolve 17 comes with a new audio core engine, which supports a crazy 2,000 audio tracks. This means you can mix a whole ton of music and effects with lots of channels with full Dolby Atmos support. You can link multiple audio tracks together for editing and even re-render multiple tracks out as a single multi-track file for easier editing (which you can then easily expand back out into the individual tracks if you need),.

And even though Blackmagic has announced a new Fairlight console, you don’t really need it (although, it is pretty cool, as you’ll see in the video at the top of this post). Fairlight has seen a bunch of new keyboard and mouse integrations to make navigating through your audio a whole lot easier.

You get live preview updates of your video footage when moving the mouse over clips in the Fairlight timeline, and you can do live editing while playing back to give you some real-time feedback.

Free Collaboration tools (in the free version!)

As a consequence of COVID, many more people are working from home or in teams separated by location. It makes collaboration difficult, and Blackmagic has realised this. So, in order to help the editing teams around the world, Blackmagic is making Resolve’s collaboration tools, which normally only come with the paid version of DaVinci Resolve Studio completely free for everybody – including the free version of Resolve.

The collaboration tools allow multiple users to work on the same projects simultaneously without getting in each other’s way. Files, timelines and processes are locked while people are working on them so that other people can’t accidentally mess them up, while leaving things that nobody’s currently working on free for somebody to grab.

If you’re working in a team, it makes life much easier than having everybody working on separate local copies that aren’t synced in realtime. Working with a bunch of fragmented local copies means you can easily lose data and work when trying to merge everything back together into a single project.

There are a whole bunch of other tools besides those listed here, so head on over to the Blackmagic website to find out more. Resolve 17 is currently in Public Beta, and is available to download now, for both free and Studio users.

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