• Joe Canham

Davinci Resolve vs. The World


Let's throw it back to the 80s for a sec; yes, hair was crazy, but the process of editing film was crazier.


Clearly we've come a long way from the methods of yesteryear, and today we live in a world where the process of making a 'cut' no longer involves a pair of scissors, but still a sharp eye for detail from an experienced professional, if the best results are desired.


As a result of post-production going digital, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to software solutions. The digital pioneers were Avid, but today we have other players like Adobe, Apple and Blackmagic Design competing for a share of the professional market. Having options is great, but any experienced editor knows that changing from one software to another can be a nightmare, especially if you have an archive of projects that you need access to. So choosing the right one at the beginning could seriously save you some hassle down the path.


The sad truth is that while one software may seem like the perfect solution today, things do change over time and it seems like some software companies just forget how to be good at what they do or don't do enough to keep up with the evolution of the industry. So while I'm making a recommendation here I can't guarantee that it'll be the best option in five or ten years. We'll see.

I have exhaustive experience with Avid, Premiere and Resolve, and I have quite a bit to say about the shortcomings of the first two from a small business/startup perspective (brace yourself).


Avid is Old and Stubborn

The process of Avid Media Composer editing is awesome, because it's mostly keyboard-based which makes for very efficient cutting, and it has a number of strengths that separate it from competitors. The problem is it's showing its age now, and it has been doing so for a number of years. The interface is very Windows-98-esque, perhaps because it was designed around that time, and the formats it accepts are just as inflexible as they were 10 years ago. Avid is great once you've spent two years learning how to use it and googling various error messages and codes that appear when you don't do everything right, but this is 2019. 'Surely they can do better' is something I've heard often in the post-production environments I've worked in. Come to think of it, 'I hate Avid' was also quite a common phrase amongst frustrated professionals (evidence of this phenomenon is available in places such as Avid Hates You). The software that was once the industry leader now seems like more of a dinosaur. At least the auto save is amazing...


Adobe is Too Expensive

I've been working in Premiere since I was about 12 years old, and its flexibility is something to be admired, along with its ability to keep up with the times thanks to Adobe's continuous development. I also use Photoshop and After Effects a lot in my post processing, but I've started trying to move away from Adobe apps since starting my own business. Adobe's problem is that it just keeps getting less and less affordable. At the time of writing, your Creative Cloud Business options are to pay AU$51 per month for a single app, or AU$121 per month and receive every single app. For me to use 3 apps, the most affordable option would come in at over AU$1400 a year, comparable to what Adobe used to charge for a perpetual, standalone Creative Suite license. Now, I know this is a justifiable cost depending on the volume of work being done, but either way it seems inflated to the point of greed. I think the main problem with their model is that there are just too few pricing options, and if you're purely doing video editing, you effectively end up paying to license at least 10 apps you'll never use. So it's a no from me, which sucks because I like just about everything else about their software.


Don't ask about FCP

I actually have no idea about Apple's Final Cut. All I know is it looks like iMovie on steroids and I've had nightmarish days in the edit suite trying to migrate projects from it into other NLEs. If it works for you, cool. Unfortunately I can't give any good advice on it.

Enter Davinci

Now that's a name you may or may not have heard. Originally its own company and now a child of Blackmagic Design, 'da Vinci' were pioneers of software colour grading and Resolve has been an industry go-to for quite some time. Resolve itself has built a reputation for being very robust and great at what it does, and BMD has decided at some point that Resolve was to become more than just an excellent colour grading tool.


It's Got Everything

There aren't many software solutions out there that can say they have media management, a non-linear editor, animation/VFX, industry leading colour correction tools, a pro-level audio mixing tool and robust mastering built into one app. In fact there's only one as far as I know; Resolve.


They Listen

Wow, that's a new one. A company that listens to the features its users are requesting and actually implements them? How progressive. BMD knows that there's always improvements that can be made, and they definitely know that their NLE isn't perfect, but they're trying, and that sets it apart from at least one of its competitors. While I'm not aware of every feature that's come out in the last few years, one really notable example for me was the addition of Smooth Cut, an emulation of Avid's FluidMorph effect or Premiere's Morph Cut. This meant that jobs offlined in Avid with FluidMorphs applied no longer had to go back to Avid after being graded in Resolve, as the Smooth Cut could just be added and masters output straight after the grade.


It's Free

If you haven't heard elsewhere already, the damn thing is free. Granted, there are a few limitations of the free version, but you still have everything mentioned above at your fingertips and you have access to mastering without watermarks or anything stupid like that. It's pretty much the full version minus 4K mastering (you still get UHD), some effects and noise reduction tools. Because of this alone, I think it's the perfect option for a startup, because you have the industry's best right in front of you, and you don't have to lay down a cent to get started, then, when your business is ready, you can scale up to Studio. To see the level of work possible with the free version, check out Champion Media's Recent Work...


The Pro Version is Cheap

At the time of writing, a perpetual license or dongle for the Studio version costs US$299. What? You mean I could buy this all-in-one tool, limitless, forever, for a price equal to 3.5 months of an Adobe subscription with similar abilities? Wow. These gestures from BMD have earned my patronage, so it'll be 'Studio here I come' as soon as the business can afford it.


Plus More

It's also got fully customisable keyboard commands so it'll act like the software you're used to, there's plenty of resources online to learn how to use it, and it's easy on the eyes (literally, the dark interface makes night editing a breeze).

Summary

Blackmagic Design has proven its product is made for seasoned professionals and beginners alike, and it is fast becoming one of the most powerful video post-production tools there is. You should really give it a go. This post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way by anyone except myself, by the way. I hope this info can help with your decision!


Champion Media is a video production company that wants to make a difference with its content. To learn more about Champion, please visit the About page or check out The CM Standard.

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