DaVinci Resolve 12 is the most powerful version yet of the industry’s most loved finishing tool. It also has a greedy appetite for GPU power. Thankfully there are some clever tools built in to make sure you can still get the job done when Resolve starts to slow down. If your system is lagging and you’re not able to upgrade your hardware, there’s a few ways to make your Resolve experience a bit more manageable. I use the word manageable, because these tools will not directly speed up your system, but they do help you manage your hardware limitations, and can ensure real-time performance where it’s most important at the cost of some rendering time. Real-Time Performance We live in an instant world, and we expect instant response from our technology. Few people realise just how much we are expecting from a system such as Resolve when it comes to fluid real-time native playback of very high resolution, complex digital video formats. By “native”, I mean original camera source media that has not been transcoded into some kind of more manageable “proxy” media first. At the high-end this could be 4K – 6K (soon 8K) camera RAW, it could be 4K DPX frame sequences from scanned film negative, CinemaDNG RAW or OpenEXR frame sequences. It could also be 4K ProRes 4444 XQ or 1080p ProRes 422. Increasingly it’s 4K XAVC or complex H.264 based temporally compressed codecs. Resolve’s “real-time” native performance with any of this media depends primarily on your hardware and the codec involved. It Takes Two – The CPU and GPU It’s a myth that Resolve relies only on the GPU for all data processing. Any compressed format first has to be decompressed by your system CPU before it can be handed over to your GPU. Compression methods can be temporal, or non-temporal. This describes whether changes in the image are analyzed over time and compressed across a certain number of frames (temporal), or if each frame is analyzed and compressed individually (non-temporal). Temporal compression methods tend to create smaller files, but are more mathematically complex (and more CPU intensive) to decompress. Non-temporal compression methods result in larger files, but are less intensive on your CPU to decompress. Three things must happen for you to experience real-time playback. Your system must be able to read data from your storage at the required rate (bandwidth). Your CPU must be capable of decompressing data fast enough to deliver frames at the required frame rate to your GPU. Your GPU must be capable of manipulating image data fast enough to deliver all your nodes of correction and output the result at the full real-time frame rate. If one or more of these steps can’t keep up, Resolve will not be able to deliver your real-time frame rate. Without increasing hardware performance, the only thing that will make real-time playback possible is to temporarily substitute the source native camera media with a lower resolution, less hardware intensive copy or “proxy” of the source media. Resolve 12 gives you a few tools to seamlessly create and manage these temporary proxy media files without requiring you to relink or reconform your timeline manually. Optimized Media Resolve’s “Optimized Media” tool allows you to create low res proxy media from selected source clips in your media pool, which are then managed automatically. Resolve handles the linking of your timeline to either proxy or camera source files dynamically allowing you to flip between using the proxy media for real-time playback, or camera source files for optimal quality and delivery. Optimized Media is perfect for streamlining your editing experience when you don’t want to resort to a manual offline/online workflow on a system which otherwise lacks the power to play your camera source media in real-time. Using Optimized Media will cost you some rendering time and additional storage space as Resolve needs to create the proxy files for all the media you want to use but it only does this once. Note that you can change the optimized media settings under “General Options” in Resolve’s Project Settings. You turn on this feature by selecting “Use Optimized Media If Available” under Resolve’s Playback menu. You can then create optimized media for your camera source clips by selecting them in the media pool, right clicking and choosing to “Generate Optimized Media”. Smart Cache Resolve’s Smart Cache gives you the ability to temporarily render proxy files for clips in your timeline. These temporary files allow Resolve to maintain real-time playback of selected clips or sections of the timeline when otherwise linked to camera source files. However, these clips are re-rendered every time you make a change or adjustment. When Smart Cache is turned on, Resolve automatically decides what to cache. If you want more control you can turn on User Cache instead and flag only clips on the timeline that you want rendered. You can then right click on clips in the timeline and choose “Render Cache Clip Output”. There are actually three types of cache in Resolve. The Source, Node and Sequence caches are separate and to deal with them in detail is beyond the scope of this article. You can refer to p142 in the manual for more on the three different types of cache and how they work. Proxy Mode Proxy Mode in Resolve is perhaps the simplest method of reducing demand on your hardware. It relies on Resolve’s resolution independence to lower the resolution of your clips on the fly. You can reduce the working resolution by half or quarter of your current timeline resolution. This article is not intended to be a in depth how-to tutorial, just to make you aware that these methods exist, how they work and how they can help you. I highly recommend downloading the latest DaVinci Resolve 12 manual and actually reading up. Chapter 5, from page 133 will give you all the information you need.Read more
Some of DaVinci Resolve 12’s most powerful tools are hiding just below the surface. The Resolve Media Manager is one of them. Blackmagic Design have pushed DaVinci Resolve way beyond just the world’s most loved color grading tool. It’s also becoming a very powerful NLE and a general workflow swiss army knife. Resolve is impossible to ignore and is finding its way to the core of more post production pipelines than ever before. The numerous advantages to using Resolve as your go to NLE are largely thanks to a spectacular level of integration across toolsets and a fluidity that makes many other NLE’s seem positively clunky in comparison. This integration however has not come at the cost of other NLE’s. Far from becoming insular and exclusive, Blackmagic Design have made sure Resolve 12 plays very well with just about every other software you might need to get the job done. DaVinci Resolve Media Management The Resolve Media Manager is one of a few tools you may not have noticed yet, but it streamlines moving media around, copying media, sharing media with other collaborators and transcoding media. The most powerful thing about the Resolve Media Manager is it lets you choose exactly what media to copy, move or transcode and (depending on the codec) whether you want entire clips, or trimmed clips with or without handles. You can choose all of the media in your media pool, only the media used in a particular timeline, or just clips you have selected. To give a practical example, when I’m using my Macbook Pro Retina on the go, I keep the very fast internal flash drive free for “online” media, but often 512GB (minus OS and apps) is not enough to hold all of the source media someone might hand me on a much larger (typically USB 2) drive. So, I can conform the XML they have given me in Resolve pulling from all the source media on the slow USB drive, check the conform, and then use Media Management to copy only the source files used in the timeline to my internal flash storage. Depending on the type of source files, I can go one step further and copy only trimmed clips. This gives me the smallest possible media storage footprint for the project, everything I need is then internal to the laptop on a drive that gives me over 1200MB/sec read and write, so for commercials or short form projects, I don’t have to think about hauling around or connecting external storage either. Media Management Overview Let’s take a quick look at how this works. Once you get into it, it’s really self explanatory and easy to use. You can open the media management window under the “File” menu in either the Media Page or Edit Page. It will be greyed out in either the Color or Deliver page. The first thing you’ll notice in the Media Management window are a few tabs across the top. These are labelled “Entire Project”, “Timelines” and “Clips”. This is where you choose whether you want to copy, move or transcode all of the media in your media pool, just the media used in a specific timeline, or clips you have selected from your media pool before opening the Media Management window. Below the top tabs, you’ll notice “Copy”, “Move” and “Transcode”, where you choose which operation you need. It’s worth exploring all of the options to see exactly how much control you can have over the various operations. A few things are common to all operations, you’ll always need to specify a destination, this will usually be a different volume, but it can be wherever you need it to be. You’ll always see three check boxes to indicate whether you want the desired operation to apply to all media, used media, or used media keeping “x” frame handles. When you are working with “Timelines” the first of these check boxes “all media” is greyed out as obviously, you’ve already chosen a subset of your media because your going to specify a timeline. To specify a timeline, click the “>” where you see “x out of y currently selected” to reveal check boxes for the timelines in your project. You will only be able to choose “Clips” if you have already selected some clips from your media pool before opening the Media Management window. Then you will see the three check boxes to further narrow your selection. Right at the bottom you’ll see a indication of the current size of your chosen media, and the new size which will be used on your destination volume. This is especially useful when transcoding as you’ll get a good indication of how much space your transcoded media will require. You’ll see “+ more options” which generally allows you to preserve folder hierarchy when copying, moving or transcoding and indicate if you want to relink to the copied, moved or transcoded files. For the “Transcode” operation you’ll also see the self explanatory options to choose your format, codec, and other video and audio options. A few important notes about these operations: Copy – You’ll be copying the chosen media to a chosen destination, leaving the original media intact. Move – Your original source media will be deleted! If you want to keep your source media intact, rather choose to Copy, not Move. Trimming – creating trimmed media files works for all non-temporally compressed and uncompressed formats that Resolve has the ability to encode. For example, Resolve cannot create trimmed H.264 based media files, so it will instead copy, trim or transcode the entire clip. One other thing to keep in mind when you are trimming used media, and you have used multiple instances of a particular source clip, Resolve will create multiple clips and append the filename to prevent overwriting the clips. That’s really about all there is to it. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds and it should make sense as soon as you navigate the options. However, I would highly recommend reading through the Media Management section of the Resolve Manual (Chapter 21, page 486) before completing anything mission critical, or doing some test runs first so you can make sure you select all the right options for your intended outcome. Hopefully this fantastic tool will help you tame some of those cross platform workflow headaches, I know it has for me. If you haven’t yet installed Resolve 12, download it for free from the support section of the Blackmagic Design website – https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/family/davinci-resolve-and-fusionRead more
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