7 Actually Useful Tips for DaVinci Resolve To Maximize Efficiency and Productivity

Hey, everybody. What’s good? Chris from Flying Lap Media. Last week, I had the opportunity to go to the Cine Gear Expo 2024 on behalf of Blackmagic Design. They wanted to give me the opportunity to speak to you about the process in making motorsports and racing content.

What should have been an amazing professional invitation quickly turned into one of the most stressful presentations I’ve ever given in my life. Reason being, there were technical limitations getting my laptop with a PowerPoint to hook up to a movie projector. The movie projector recognized the laptop and thought I might be trying to download the latest Fast and Furious part 27 or some new Expendable summer blockbuster. So much of what I’d hoped to share in that talk, I never got to because we couldn’t get the PowerPoint to load. That being said, I wanted to make a follow-up video to that talk for those that weren’t able to stick around to go a bit deeper into the tools that I use in Davinci Resolve on a day to day basis.

These are things that I’d hoped to cover in my talk, but just wasn’t able to with the technical or the time limitations. Unlike a YouTube reviewer or somebody talking about the merits of these things online, these are real world examples of using these tools in the field to boost productivity and efficiency. My hope is that by showing you the process that I use to make some of this stuff, you may find some creative outlets or uses for the stuff that you’re creating. Like anything in software, there’s a million ways to do a million things. So these are just the techniques that I’ve been using to achieve the effects that I have.

Chances are there are countless other ways to do the same exact thing, but hopefully this may bring you a little bit of value or peel back the curtain just a slight amount to show you how I’m doing what I’m doing in the hopes that it may help you do what you’re doing. Alright. So here we are in DaVinci Resolve, and I wanna show you the tools that I use on a daily basis at any given racetrack to help boost productivity and efficiency. So without further ado, here is just right off the top 1 of the tools that I find invaluable.

If you do any sort of talking head content, you probably know that more often than not, the challenge to begin the edit is getting some sort of direction from the client.

Previously, when we would do something like a talking head bit, we would be left to kind of pluck together from the various spoken bits some sort of framework from which to edit from. But now with the power of DaVinci Resolve, you can send a client a written transcript of everything your talent said for them to tell you what the best parts are. Let me show you how it works. So within DaVinci Resolve, what you’re gonna do is find the clip within your media pool. As you can see here, this is the  one that I’ve used.

What you’ll then do is right click it or option click and then go down to audio transcription and then transcribe. What that will do is give you a written copy of everything the talking head talent said. And as I mentioned, this is a super helpful way to send the entire script to a potential client or director or creative director, etcetera, and have them go through the entire dialogue to help you help them help you get a framework from which to edit from. I find that doing this saves me hours of trying to cobble together something that I think may be relevant, only for somebody else to tell me, doesn’t quite hit the mark. So Audio Transcribe does it all from DaVinci Resolve using their AI tools.

Next up, voice isolation. If you’ve ever filmed in a noisy environment, you know all too well how hard it is to find a quiet time and or place to film any sort of talking head. At this particular example, this was a 24 hour race in Belgium where a client who was paying for all of this work wanted us to get some testimonials. However, as you might imagine, at a 24 hour race, there is no such thing as a quiet moment. The cars run consecutively for the entire 24 hours of the event, which meant we were forced to film said testimonial while loud race cars were on the race track.

However, with the power of voice isolation located in DaVinci Resolve, miraculously, we were able to film a talking headband and eliminate the race car noises. Let me show you how it works. So what you’re going to do is find the clip in question that you want to use, and then from there, what you’ll do is you’ll obviously select it and then go to your effects panel under the audio and then go into voice isolation. And you can go ahead and turn that on. And within that voice isolation, of course, you can toggle how much or how little to use.

Let me show you a before and after of what voice isolation did to this particular clip. As you’ll hear, turning it on all but eliminated the sounds of roaring race cars in the background. Well, Spa is absolutely one of the most historic and iconic raceways in the world, and this event is just such a jewel of the racing circuit. We were here last year.

Next up in tools that I use daily in my personal workflow, smart reframe.

For context, everything we film, we shoot at 16 by 9, typical horizontal. However, in the case of social media and the various platforms wanting vertical video, oftentimes we’re having to reframe or reorient the horizontal subject matter into a vertical context. Enter smart reframe. If you didn’t know, DaVinci Resolve has a tool built in that will automatically help you take your horizontal content and reframe it to a vertical subject matter. The beauty of this particular tool, rather than trying to do it will use AI technology to help you select the point of interest and keep that framed within the vertical context.

Let me show you how it works. You can see here in this clip, we have a car or a series of cars, I should say, that are going through this turn and one of them drops a wheel into the gravel. Needless to say, I thought this was something interesting that would make a pretty cool social clip. So with the power of smart reframe, I can go in and do one of two things. I can select the automatic point where the computer and DaVinci Resolve will do its best to guess what it is that I’d want to focus on, or I can do a reference point and simply find something of interest to keep in frame.

So maybe in this case, it’s the headlight. And once I hit reframe, it’ll do its thing. And let me show you an example of what that looks like when it’s all said and done. Now is this a perfect fit every single time? Admittedly, no.

But if you’re the type who has to shoot horizontal but then also produce a vertical variation of the same content, give smart reframe a try. It can definitely help you with efficiency in getting social media content out from the same clips you’re already shooting in 16 by 9. 

Next up, I wanna talk a bit about just a few of the many OFX tools built in DaVinci Resolve and furthermore show you how you can use one or two or even more of these to take your ordinary footage and oftentimes give it a little bit of sassy or a little bit of spice to get you something totally unique and fun. Let me show you a couple of my favorites. So for context, at one of these races, there was a DJ playing music and a crowd of people enjoying the evening, dancing and having a good time.

So I was in the crowd filming said people. Now you can see here from the context that just a bunch of people having a good time, enjoying the music, jumping around, that sort of thing. However, with the power of OFX and simply by adding one or two, you can get a completely unique shot that gives it just a little bit more of a creative touch. You can see here that what I’ve done is I’ve applied a camera shake and a stop motion effect which takes the same clip where people were just dancing and gives it a little bit of that trendy stop motion feel. So I find this super helpful in taking some boring footage and adding a little bit of spice to it to give you a fun and creative result.

Let me show you how this clip with the effects applied fit into the context of an edit. 

Next up, deflicker. Filming overseas and being from the states often presents some challenges. Namely, the frame rates. Right?

NTSC versus PAL, and believe it or not, the hertz of the LED lights, which differ from those that we get here in the states. Now filming race cars or whatever it is that you’re filming, you may get a really nasty flicker from an LED light. Let me show you an example. You can see here that when the car pulls into the pit stall, I’m getting a pretty nasty flicker from the lights overhead. However, many of you may not know that within DaVinci Resolve, there is a deflicker tool that actually works quite well.

Let me show you. So we’ll rewind here. We’ll go into our color tab. We’ll add a node like so, and we’ll find the deflicker tool and we’ll drag it on. And you can see if we go full screen with it and we’ll first we’ll disable it like so, and then you can see the minute I turn it on, and we play the same clip, the flicker goes away.

This is super helpful if you’ve ever encountered a flicker or something unwanted in your shot. Now again, this won’t work every time, all the time, but if it can mean the difference between a clip that you’d throw away and one that you could potentially use, that’s a game changer in my book. 

Alright. Let’s talk color which is perhaps what DaVinci Resolve is probably best known for. One of the questions that I get asked quite frequently is how I get my colors to match so closely.

And the truth is I can’t take much credit for it. One of the tools that I find the most helpful perhaps in DaVinci Resolve, is their ability to go to a neutral working color space. Namely the DaVinci wide gamut, DaVinci intermediate. Take a look at this chart, which I think will explain it better than I can, and what it’s effectively showing you is that regardless of the camera type, you can first translate it into sort of a neutral common ground before grading and delivering in your eventual rec 709. And just to show you how that works here in actual practicality, you can see I have two different clips on my timeline.

If I go into the color space, you can see the way that I set up my node tree is by having a beginning node and an ending node, And if you look closely, what’s happening here at the beginning is that I’m taking the dynamic range and the color space of the native camera and transferring or converting it first into a DaVinci Intermediate Working Color Space. And then the final node here that you can see is I’m then converting that neutral color space out to a gamma 2.4 rec 709 broadcast standard. And you can see by design, these nodes almost create a sandwich where everything that I intend to do to the clip will happen within this sandwich. Now by doing this, I can go from something like this, which is a Blackmagic clip now, and apply the same logic. Right?

We’ll apply the grade, and first I have to tell it what camera I used first. Right? So we have to know what am I converting to the DaVinci wide gamut, DaVinci intermediate. Well, in this case, it’s Blackmagic. Right?

So we’ll go into the wide gamut and then we know that it’s a film gen 5, And you can see by having done this, it has now converted it to Rec 709. Now you might say, Chris, what’s the big deal? You simply have gone from a black magic color science to a rec 709, but you’ve introduced 2 more steps. What you may not see is that by doing it this way, regardless if it’s a Red clip, or a drone clip, or a Blackmagic clip, or a Canon clip, what’s happening is everything goes into this neutral color science, this working intermediate color space first which helps give you more uniformity so that then whatever grade or look that you apply will get applied evenly and more consistently throughout the various color sciences. It is not a perfect solution, but if you’re looking for a way to help match your footage across multiple camera types, give the DaVinci Wide Gamut Intermediate a look and a try.

There are countless tutorials that explain this much better than I have. I’m admittedly just going over this very quickly first for the sake of brevity and time, but I would highly recommend you do a deeper dive on DaVinci wide gamut, DaVinci Intermediate, and using that as an intermediate color space to help match all of your clips across multiple cameras. 

Let’s talk storage. If you shoot anything meaningful, you probably have closets full of hard drives like myself. And if you’ve ever thought about what you’re gonna do with all of this footage or whether or not you should even keep it long term, media management in DaVinci Resolve may just be the tool that you’ve been looking for, but you didn’t know that you needed.

Here at a typical event, I’ve shot a ton of footage. I believe at this particular race, I shot almost 5 terabytes of data. Now obviously, keeping this long term would be very difficult to do. So what I’ve started to do in my particular workflow is adopt media management, and let me show you what that is. You can see here on my timeline, I’ve broken down the footage into various footage types.

Right? Just general clips or a particular sponsor maybe or some of my best clips. Maybe some time lapse stuff etcetera etcetera. Being able to have these on different layers of the timeline can do a few different things. Let me show you.

Let’s hypothetically say that this particular sponsor wanted just the clips with their stuff in it. Right? Their branding, their sponsor, etcetera. What I can do is output just the clips of them and not necessarily keep everything else that I won’t use. Or perhaps I just wanna keep the raw footage of what actually wound up in the finished edit.

Right? There’s no reason to keep the several other terabytes of footage, but obviously if it wound up in the final cut, we can assume that this is the best of the best of the best. Going through that and filtering it would take an inordinate amount of human time. Now with the power of media management, you can just simply go up to file media management and pull up in this tab. What that’s gonna do is give you a few different options, and there are very comprehensive tutorials on this.

I won’t go into detail here, but I just wanna introduce you to what it is and what it does so that you can go deeper in a different tutorial if it’s something that you find that might be helpful. So you can see here I have all of the various timelines in my particular project. These are broken down by day or the basically whatever the sequence or timeline that I created will be an option in this media management. Now I can export the entire project, everything that I used, and it would be a staggering 19 terabytes. If I used all media, it would it would grow even more so.

So what I can do is simply select I want to copy all the media or just the media that I used, or even specifically, I can go in and just say, okay. I just wanna copy my best clips. And you can see here, now the file size is drastically shrunk.

Right? Only 46 gigabytes to export the best clips, or maybe I just wanna export what I shot Thursday and I don’t need to keep anything from Friday, Saturday or Sunday. So you can see that being able to select various timelines and exporting just the footage that you used for that can help you shrink your long term storage exponentially. So let’s assume that maybe what wound up in my postcard, which is a finished edit, that’s all the stuff that I wanna keep. I don’t intend to keep anything else.

I don’t need it. I know that I’ll never use it. Rather than have this gigantic 250 gig project, I can condense it and say, I just wanna keep the raw footage for what I ultimately used in the postcard. So super handy tool, and again, let’s assume that I don’t need to keep the Red Raw files, but I wanna export those or or convert that into something more manageable and lightweight, you can also transcode the footage. So let’s hypothetically say that I want to take everything that wound up in my final cut and use the entire clip, but I want to convert it from the very beefy and robust Red raw into something a bit more compressed like a ProRes.

I can go into the video settings and select my various flavor of whatever I want to export it as. Maybe it’s something low res and web friendly, mp4 h.264. Now I can go through the options, and depending on the quality and bit rate and so forth, it’ll give me a far different answer of how big the files will be. So you can see I’ve gone from 49 gigabytes to 13 gigabytes just simply by converting and transcoding the files. So super super handy.

If you, like me, get a weekend’s full of footage realizing that, okay, why do I need to keep 5 terabytes worth of data when in fact the only clips that I used in the final cut are the ones that I really wanna keep long term. So super handy tool and I’m really just scratching the surface of what you can do with it. Check it out yourself. I really think it could be valuable if you’re like me and you shoot a ton of footage and you are starting to wonder how you’re gonna keep all this long term. Huge thank you to the folks at Blackmagic Design.

The invitation to even be asked to speak at Cinegear still breaks my brain. It’s truly humbling and flattering. Thank you and huge shout out to everybody who stayed patient and stuck around for what little talk I did get to give. It means the world. Your time is valuable.

Perhaps this follow-up video may be the cherry on the sundae if there was some sort of unanswered question or something I didn’t get to cover in that talk. Hope you’re doing well. Stay creative, and I will see you in the next one.

Watch the music video here: