25 Feb 2020

Free Video Editing? DaVinci Resolve

Free Video Editing? DaVinci Resolve

I love learning of Australian production industry manufacturers making it big on the world stage, and there are heaps of them. Blackmagic Design (BMD) is a particularly well known example which was founded by Grant Petty in 2001, out of Port Melbourne.

We all know of their cost-effective hardware. The ubiquitous ATEM live production switchers, video adaptors and problem solving boxes, input cards as well as their cameras. But did you know they are behind some of the world’s leading video editing and visual effects software?

A fully featured version of which is genuinely free! It is called DaVinci Resolve.


When I say free, I really mean it. Truly professional non-linear editing software with no limitations, no nag screens, no crippled features, no licence restrictions, no monthly cloud licencing and no thirty day trials.

Why is it available for free?

BMD say they make their money on hardware and by making a version of DaVinci Resolve available for free, it helps drive hardware sales, and BMD have some very serious hardware controllers which are designed for high end studio use.

You probably don’t need them and the software runs fine on a stand-alone computer with decent specs.

To be clear, they make a paid version as well, which full-time editors and colourists use. At $495 (including all future updates), the DaVinci Resolve Studio edition of the software has some extra features.

Support for multiple GPU processing, resolutions greater than ultra-high-definition and frame-rates greater than 60 FPS plus other tools for working in a team.

Compare the paid Studio version with Adobe Premiere Pro which is only available by subscription with a min cost of $343 per year.

Before I moved to DaVinci Resolve, I too was stuck on the Adobe extortion subscription train. I’d pay $924 per year (plus the annual price increases that always seemed to be about 10% more) for access to their software suite which was useful, but buggy and unpleasant to use and update.

Before I moved to DaVinci Resolve, I too was stuck on the Adobe extortion subscription train.

A lot of live event professionals occasionally have a need to be able to edit video footage and this is where the annual subscription model is particularly painful.

I also hated how Adobe tried to take ownership of my computer.

For example, without any Adobe apps running, my Mac would still try to make network connections to twenty-six different Adobe servers all around the world, and when I actually fired up Premiere, it would connect to a massive seventy-four different Adobe servers!

Think about that, your computer makes twenty-six network connections to Adobe servers every time you turn it on, even before you fire up one of their apps.

But hang on, the free version is just fine for most CX readers!

The original versions of DaVinci Resolve was a software and hardware based colour correction tool which was produced by DaVinci Systems in the US.

Used by Hollywood studios it was (and still is) the gold standard for colour correction and cost more than $100,000. BMD bought DaVinci Systems in 2009, retaining and expanding the engineering team for Resolve.

Because Resolve’s genesis was as a colour correction platform for Hollywood, it still has the world leading colour correction tools built right in.

With constant development from BMD, the current DaVinci Resolve 16 has evolved to be the only solution that combines professional editing, colour correction, visual effects and audio post production all in the one programme.

You can instantly move between editing, colour, effects, and audio with a single click.

As well as powerful editing tools, DaVinci Resolve includes an integrated version of BMD’s Fusion application for compositing and visual effects.

That’s their equivalent to Adobe After Effects.

The core functionality of Fusion is based on a modular, node-based interface, with each node forming one specific aspect of the overall effects being implemented.

Prior to integration with Resolve, the standalone version of Fusion was used in the creation of effects for over one thousand feature films and TV shows such as The Martian, Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games.

If that is not enough for you, it also includes a version of the Fairlight audio workstation. Fairlight is another Australian success story founded by Peter Vogel in 1979.

The CMI, Fairlight’s first product, was arguably the earliest music workstation with an embedded digital sampler, and is credited for coining the term ‘sampling’ in music.

The Fairlight brand was bought by BMD in 2016. The Fairlight within Resolve is a complete integrated digital audio workstation.

You get a massive set of audio recording, editing, mixing, sweetening, finishing and mastering tools. It supports up to one thousand audio tracks, with a maximum of six inserts and twenty-four aux sends per track.

You get a massive set of audio recording, editing, mixing, sweetening, finishing and mastering tools.

Other functionality includes 96 channel audio recording and 3D audio mixing up to 22.2 surround.

The equivalent in Adobe’s suite would be four separate programs: Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Audition, and Media Encoder!

There are lots of quality tutorials online, many of which have been produced by BMD themselves. As well as that, you can download their free 2,739 page PDF reference manual.

It is really well supported.

DaVinci Resolve Free is available for Windows, MacOS and even Linux. It obviously works really well with BMD’s input/output hardware as well as their monitors.

Lots of professional editors are jumping ship from Premiere over to DaVinci Resolve Studio. But for most CXers, who need to quickly edit a video for a show, place some titles on a recording, or re-render some footage for playback, DaVinci Resolve Free is just fine.

Go get it!

Note for Mac users – don’t install the App Store version. Due to licencing restrictions within the Apple App store, some codec features are missing. Go to BMD’s website and download it instead:

CX Magazine – February 2020   

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