The things you learn when problems arise
After recently doing a grade for a short documentary, I came across a few problems that I've had in the past. Normally I would just sit there, staring at the screen, thinking about my life choices whilst drowning my sorrows in a cheap cognate. This time though, I had done my research before hand.
I've got those vectorscope blues
If you get that above reference then you like good music, if not, there's still time for you. This was something I had never come across before and something that completely throw me. Looking at the vetorscope in the project, I thought it was going to be total nightmare, but it turned out it was just a simple click of a button. For whatever reason, the vectorscope has an option to zoom in x2. So looking at my footage I thought it was totally over saturated and in the "illegal" zone which won't be accepted from broadcasters.
Insane! this button is the devil, the devil I say. All I had to do though was click the top right menu in the vetorscope and unclick show 2x Zoom. Back to normal, back to being happy. I did try and under saturated some images before I found this button, it wasn't pretty.
First of all, I know all these clips are un-linked, that's because I forgot to save them from a project I was working on, but you'll still hopefully get the point. This was probably the most useful thing I've learnt so far on Davinci Resolve. It's the most frustrating thing when you get an XML from a client and some of the files don't link up or have linked to the wrong footage. Easy fix! so easy.
Have your premier project open and your Davinci project opened. Choose the clip that has imported wrong and double click the little black box on it with those two arrow heads (see images below). A screen will come up called "conflict Resolution", go back to your premier project and find the clip that matches the same name as the one in Davinci. Go back to Davinci, Click on that clip in conflict resolution and that will then enable Davinci to re-link the right clip. Amazing, this saved me so much time, I cried myself to sleep with joy that night.
You're so cache
If you're struggling with choppy and slow playback, there's an easy fix for that. Highlight the clips in the colour page, right click, select "Render cache clip output". Go to playback on the top menu, scroll down to render cache and select smart. Make sure that under settings, you've gone to master settings and under "optimised media and render cache, select your optimise media format and render cache format (choose enable background caching, this helps a lot). For high res files, I normally do (for windows) DNxHR LB, which is basically just Pro res LT. Your footage should run as smooth as the voice of Barry white from now on.
This feature is super helpful for matching shots. You have the ability to click on one of the screens, and grade that image without leaving the split screen. Changed my life and my neighbours because I won't stop talking about it. Now we no longer talk, it's all very sad.
In the colour page, hold ctrl and click on the clips you want in the split screen. Then select the middle box in the top left corner (below image). Then go to view in the menu, split screen and choose "selected clips".
This is what you get. You can now see all your selected clips and grade them to each other. It's also a great way to playback shots to see if they're matching. Another split screen technique is to select "versions" ,this will enable you to see all the different version of grades you have for that one selected clip. Works great for looking over your different looks.
Waves for days
The thing is, you can only do so much with the footage you've got. I've worked on a few documentary's now and they've used camera's that are shooting a pretty saturated and high contrast image. The more you push a low end camera, the more the image will break and look terrible. I try just to balance the image, make the whites look white and the blacks look black. Then maybe just warm up the image and get some nice skin tones. Doco's for me is more about matching shots and not taking the audience away from the story, its not about creating some crazy look that will distract the viewer.
In resolve, the more compact and less stretched out your parade looks, generally the easier it is to grade and less chance of clipping blacks and white if balanced correctly.
Documantry tips (skin tones!)
When grading I try and concentrate on balancing the image, natural skin tones and keeping everything matching. Don't go crazy, keep it simple.
I'm working on some LUT's that "hopefully" you'll be able to download. i'll do a full breakdown on them and how best to use them. I find that most websites or YouTube videos I see don't show you the best way to use them and what camera's to use them on. I've been really busy with grading jobs so I haven't had time, but I will get them out eventually and of course they will be free. Because I made them for free...