Making the switch to a different editing software is not an easy decision. It’s even tougher for up and coming video editors, who must choose which platform they want to build on as a career foundation. We’ve put together this DaVinci Resolve review as a guide post to illuminate your path in making a decision as to whether DaVinci Resolve is the right software for you.
So how do you know which NLE (Non Linear Editor) is right for you, and whether you should consider an alternative?
This is where our DaVinci Resolve review steps in.
The tools you use to edit your videos can be an intensely personal decision – no two creatives are alike. But they can also be shaped by the industry, and what software you may be expected to know for the jobs you want.
Davinci Resolve Review – Is Blackmagic Davinci Resolve 16 the NLE to Switch To?
I’ve been thinking about this push and pull a lot lately, due to a few catalysts happening in the industry, as well as in my own video production.
Adobe’s recent price increases for their Creative Cloud, on top of forcing legitimate owners of previous versions to stop using software they paid for, has some Premiere users thinking about making a switch once and for all.
For me, I’ve been using Final Cut Pro X since its release, and for the most part I feel like I can edit with my eyes closed. But there are often times when I’m battling the magnetic timeline.
To treat it more like a traditional track-based editor, I’ve learned to use gaps for the main timeline, secondary timelines above and below, and blank adjustment layers to create little channels or fake tracks. It works, but it’s still a giant workaround.
Making FCPX look like track-based video editing
Recently I’ve also been advising college video producers, and watching students struggle with the Premiere learning curve – when all they need to do is some basic edits – has been nail biting, to say the least.
FCPX would be a natural change for them, but they also need to learn industry standard tools and workflows in order to prepare for jobs in the field.
While FCPX is perfectly fine if you’re working solo and your clients don’t care what software you use, it’s not really a platform for developing traditional editing skill sets that translate to industry-standards like AVID or Premiere, which are better suited for collaborative editing environments.
And then came the new Blackmagic Resolve 16, first announced at NAB. It features a whole new Cut Page that is built for simple and rapid editing – straight out of FCPX’s playbook – while also streamlining the entire DaVinci Resolve ecosystem for more advanced editing, motion graphics, audio fine tuning, and of course the world class color grading tools that its known for.
Plus, DaVinci Resolve is free.
To get started learning Resolve, I watched a 9 hour course titled “The Definitive Guide to DaViinci Resolve,” by colorist and filmmaker Ollie Kenchington. MZed offers a lot of high-level online filmmaking courses, which can all be streamed under an annual membership plan.
In the process of watching the course, I began to think about switching completely to DaVinci Resolve not only to help my college students develop their skills, but also for my own video work. Hence this DaVinci Resolve review.
But before making the switch to an entirely different software platform, let’s consider the reasons and steps to taking on a new NLE.
Tips For Switching Video Editing Software
Here are some tips for switching video editing software:
1. Consider whether you need to switch at all
If you’re already comfortable in a video editing system, should you take on the huge learning curve of a new software ecosystem?
The point of any editing software is to enable you to efficiently edit video stories, using your creative muscles rather than getting bogged down by technical hurdles.
So if you’re already at this level, or close to it, then the only reason to switch to software like DaVinci Resolve is if you want to change or build entirely new creative muscles.
If you feel like you’re in a rut, switching up creative tools can be a great catalyst for rewiring your brain.
Alternatively, you may want to consider switching editing software if you want to get a job or gigs with companies who don’t use your current NLE.
Or maybe you’re about to dive into a new project that will require a ton more media organization, long form edits, a robust timeline, and specialized color grading that is beyond what you’re using now (for example, if you want to master LUT color grading).
Of course, if you haven’t yet become immersed in a particular NLE, then you have a different decision to make. You’re about to commit a big portion of your video editing career to one piece of software. So what should you invest in?
DaVinci Resolve’s color grading tools have a big learning curve, but they’re worth it.
2. What are other requirements beyond the software package?
As with most creative ecosystems, when you build a dependency on one tool, you often end up becoming a customer for other upsells.
With editing programs, the first consideration is hardware. Final Cut Pro X only runs on Mac, so you’re locked into Apple’s pro computers, which aren’t exactly known for being cheap.
Adobe Premiere and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve can be used on either PCs or Macs, so you can shop around for a better price to spec ratio. And honestly, when you’re spending most of your time within a software, the UI of the operating system is mostly irrelevant.
Plugins are often specific to the system, so you may need to purchase new licenses if you’re switching NLEs. There are also different editing codecs and hard drive formats that could make it difficult for you to access your older projects.
And of course, there are proprietary features, sound effects, motion graphics, lower thirds, and other add-ons that you may no longer have access to with a new video editing application.
3. Can you translate your current skills to the new software?
When FCPX came out, it shocked the editing community because it was a complete paradigm shift from the industry standard Final Cut Pro 7.
For FCP7 users who were unwilling to make the leap, Adobe Premiere become an easy switch, because it offered a similar layout, workflow, and even keyboard shortcuts to FCP7.
That’s one nice thing about the video editing world – much of the essential tools and shortcuts that become second nature to editors are duplicated from one software to another. But of course, there are minor changes that still require a learning curve.
As I watched the Definitive Guide to DaVinci Resolve, I was pleasantly surprised at how many features it had that were similar enough to FCPX. The Inspector tab, click and drag speed ramping, and even a non-destructive version of the magnetic timeline were all part of Resolve’s basic editing tools.
DaVinci Resolve 16 features a ripple trim tool for rapid editing.
To help with learning a new software, you can also get a keyboard cover that enables you to quickly learn the essential shortcuts that you’ll use thousands of times throughout an edit.
For Resolve 16, Blackmagic is also releasing a new editor keyboard. It’s a bit pricey, but if you’re going to be using Resolve daily, it could be a solid investment. Especially since Resolve itself is free.
4. Are you between projects?
Probably the most important factor in switching NLEs – or starting with your first software – is giving yourself plenty of time. There are a number of unexpected questions that will arise, and with thousands of tools available, you may end up going down a lot of rabbit holes searching for tips or tricks or workflow tutorials.
If you’re in the middle of a project and you have pressing deadlines, it is never advisable to make any drastic change. Even updating your software version can lead to unforeseen issues.
Before you commit to a new video editing software for a real world project, take the time to learn the program. I watched “The Definitive Guide to DaVinci Resolve” all the way through – over 9 hours of tutorials – while continuing to use FCPX for my daily work.
There are also books, countless online tutorials, and even in-person trainings that can guide you into becoming proficient with a new suite of tools.
Thinking about your video editing future
Whether you work solo and just want to learn a piece of software that helps you create, or you’re switching programs in order to become more hireable, taking on a new NLE is a giant undertaking. And it’s also a big investment in your future.
Before you commit to any program, you should consider not just your pressing needs but also where you may land down the road.
An NLE like Final Cut Pro X might be a quick learning curve today, but you could be limited if you don’t take the time to learn other software.
Blackmagic expanded Resolve from a color grading suite to a fully functioning NLE a few versions ago, so it’s not quite an industry standard tool for editors yet, like it is for colorists. But the new Resolve 16 may start to shift the tides.
Where Premiere and FCPX have their weaknesses, Resolve is quickly becoming an alternative solution that could end up being the NLE of choice for both independent video editors as well as industry professionals.
At the very least, Resolve is a free download, so it’s worth trying out and seeing if it’s right for you. You can also watch the first module of the DaVinci Resolve tutorial for free, where Ollie demonstrates how to edit an entire 1-minute movie using the essential tools.
We hope you found this DaVinci Resolve review informative. If you have any questions about anything concerning DaVinci Resolve, feel free to drop a question in the comments section just below here. We’ll be happy to help you had!
Slavik Boyechko is a filmmaker and editor of Digital Filmmaker.