DaVinci Resolve Review: Best Free Video Editing Software

DaVinci Resolve Review

Davinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design was initially created for commercial filmmakers, but with several new iterations this video editing software added many powerful tools at its disposal.

DaVinci Resolve includes high-end video production modules that allow users to perform color correction, audio production, motion graphics, video effects and more. Here is our full review of DaVinci Resolve and why it’s the best video editor on the market.

What Is DaVinci Resolve?

DaVinci Resolve is a color correction and non-linear video editing application released in 2004. The software was acquired by Blackmagic Design, an Australian digital cinema company that creates high quality products for feature film, post and broadcast industries.

Blackmagic Design made several modifications and enhancements to make it a strong contender for color grading, video editing, special effects and sound mixing at an affordable price.

DaVinci Resolve Lite Vs. Studio Version

DaVinci Resolve comes in two versions; one is a free “DaVinci Lite” with limited features, and a $300 resolve studio version offers extra editing features.

The studio version helps creative teams by expanding the options available for editors, colorists, audio engineers and visual effects artists for simultaneous access to studio projects.

For most people doing light video editing or audio touch up work then the free version works well to take on the task, although the free version is a fully functional software with no limitations imposed on the user.

The interface is modern, although there is a learning curve that may warrant the viewing of one or two tutorial videos. It offers presets to make it look like other editing softwares in layout. 

Overall it seems as though Blackmagic kept the overall look of the platform familiar for editors while adding enough new features to pique the interest.

Best Free Video Editor Features

For editing and rendering clips, DaVinci Resolve features a video-playback engine with CPU and GPU optimization, allowing for a smoother editing process and quicker render times.

Playback is surprisingly peppy when toggling back and forth using the spacebar shortcut keys, which is a significant improvement when compared to previous editions where playback wasn’t nearly as seamless. I prefer Resolve’s cutting tools when compared to Premiere Pro, which is intuitive and easy to use when trimming clips.

The boost in playback can be attributed to Resolve’s GPU Acceleration for video stabilization, ResolveFX Match Move, Super Scaling and more.

Compared to jumping in and out of programs that serve different purposes, Blackmagic hit it out of the park as Davinci Resolve has four modules housed in one place: editing, color correction, audio effects and visual effects.

DaVinci Resolve is the world’s first solution to combine editing, color, audio and now visual effects into a single software application. 

It’s finally possible to bring teams of editors, colorists, sound engineers and VFX artists together so they can collaborate on the same project at the same time, all in the same software application!”

1. Color Correction Capabilities

One of the greatest benefits of using Davinci Resolve is its color correction and grading capabilities, which are far better than Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro X. 

The program also offers a “live save” option to prevent losing edits on the project. This feature lets you specify how often to save a new project backup, whether you want to specify minute, hourly or daily backups.

Users can also utilize nodes to layer changes to images while turning off individual nodes and orders to change the picture presented on screen. There are also keying and masking capabilities to correct the image as precisely as possible, although the color correction curves and bars aren’t user-friendly.

Colorists get an entirely new LUT browser for quickly previewing and applying LUTs alongside newly shared nodes to streamline individual changes across all nodes.

2. Audio Editing with Fairlight

Regarding audio editing Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve is similar in capability to Adobe Audition. The software offers a full professional mixer, several plug-in effects, equalization and dynamics, editing and automation, making it great for anyone who are interested in podcasting.

Blackmagic Design originally introduced the integrated audio features of Fairlight in 2017.

Performing dissolves or audio track fades is an easy process and if you need to perform any extensive audio edits, the dedicated Fairlight audio editor is much easier.

Fairlight offers many audio effects including repair audio plugins; added effects to simulate various spaces; access to reverb, hum removal, vocal channel and de-esser; improvements to stabilization, noise reductions and up-rezzing; audio normalization; pitch correction and more.

The Echo and Delay plug-ins allow you to have copies of original audio playback at different timeline points, while the Distortion plug-in allows you to distort the sound as if it were being played through bad speakers or old recording devices.

3. Visual Effects App – Fusion

Davinci Resolve comes equipped with Fusion, a powerful visual effects app that’s used in Hollywood films and is a great alternative to Adobe After Effects. It offers all the same tools like 3D compositing, particle effects, 3D text tools and more.

The Fusion toolbar houses more than 250 tools including the following features:

  • Vector painting
  • 3D particle systems
  • Rotoscoping and chroma keying
  • Text animations and 3D titling
  • Image stabilization

Blackmagic Design has also added support for Apple Metal, multiple GPUs and CUDA acceleration, making Fusion perform even faster.

4. File Formats / Resolution Support

Being able to support 4K and 8K, below is a complete list of supported formats and codec for Resolve’s media composing:

Import Formats:

  • Video: ArriRaw (ARI / MXF), AVC HD, AVC Intra HD, AVCHD, AVI, CINE, CinemaDNG, Cinema RAW Light, Cinema RAW, Cineon, DNG, DPX (DPX / CDX), easyDCP (DCP / MXF), JPEG, JPEG 2000, MPEG 2 (MTS / M2TS), MP4, MXF OP-Atom, MXF OP1A, Nikon RAW, OpenEXR, Quicktime (MOV / MP4), RED, TIFF, VRV.
  • Audio: Independent Uncompressed PCM (WAV / AIFF), Independent IEEE Float, Embedded Audio (MOV / MXF / R3D), MPEG 1 and 2 (MP3), MP4, OP-1A: Embedded Audio, OP Atom: Associated Audio, AAC, WAVE

Export Formats:

  • Video: AVI, Cineon, DPX, easyDCP, JPEG 2000, MP4, MXF OP-Atom, MXF OP1A, Open EXR, Quicktime, TIFF.
  • Audio: MP4, Embedded Audio, OP Atom: Associated Audio, AAC, WAVE.

Davinci Resolve Studio Version Features:

  • 4K and above output
  • Support for multiple GPUs
  • Motion blur effects
  • Temporal & spatial noise reduction
  • HDR tools
  • Lens distortion correction
  • Deinterlacing
  • Resolve FX Lens Flare
  • Lens Blur
  • Film Grain
  • 3D stereoscopic tools
  • Collaboration tools
  • Remote rendering
  • External database server

How Much Is Davinci Resolve?

If you’re looking to edit videos in higher frame rates above 60fps or better quality than 1080p, the paid version of DaVinci Resolve offers those settings. The free version, Davinci Resolve lite, is fantastic for color editing tools.

The paid version costs a one-time fee of $295, which is a fantastic deal compared to other subscription-based services. Below are other features available on the studio version or premium Davinci video editor:

Pros of DaVinci Resolve:

  • Free and multi-platform with no watermarks
  • Slick and intuitive user interface
  • Strong compositor, sound editor, colour grader
  • Fast exports
  • Large variety of tutorials and user manual
  • Deep application for color grading, compositing, sound editing

Cons of DaVinci Resolve:

  • Requires a strong computer for higher-end functions
  • Learning curve, especially with node-based compositing
  • No direct export to social
  • No direct import or footage from a camera
  • Free version missing some features

Davinci Resolve Free Download

Davinci Resolve is arguably the best video editing softwares out there, whether you’re on a budget looking for a robust tool for editing. DaVinci Resolve is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Click here to download the Davinci Resolve.

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