Blackmagic has announced the immediate availability of the public beta download of DaVinci Resolve 12.5, and the changes they’ve made are major. This is seriously good news for colorists and editors alike who would like to bring their editing and grading solutions under one roof, so-to-speak. Check out Blackmagic’s great video that highlights the 250+ new features in DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Public Beta.
When Final Cut Pro X was released, I was one of the users who threw down my three-hundred bucks and drank the Kool-Ade™ immediately. I was also one of the users who demanded a refund inside of a week after running FCPX for the first time. And, to Apple’s credit, they didn’t even ask me why; they just said, “Here you go!” and gave my money back. That says a lot about the backlash they’re getting from FCPX and also that maybe — just maybe — they will admit they made a mistake in their FCP strategy and will rethink the way they want to step into the future from this point.
When you get down to brass tacks, FCPX isn’t bad. It has some really cool features. It’s a lot easier to review clips in the new file browser, for example, and I think the in-app color tools are much more advanced. However, that magnetic storyline thing has got to go. I was willing to put up with a lot of quirks while I was getting used to the new app, but when it started rearranging clip order and screwing with my ins and outs on clips I had already placed, well — in the words of Devin the Dude, “Bitch gotta go.” (don’t bother Googling, it isn’t worth the time)
So, after I asked Apple for my money back, I started working in Adobe Premiere Pro (again), because I was a little sour on Apple for the time being (pun totally intended). I like Premiere. I’ve always liked it, but it’s never been my main NLE because I simply knew FCP better, and there was really no reason to switch. However, since the days I first tried Premiere, I changed part of my workflow that affects my ability to use the app now: I started color grading in DaVinci Resolve.
The recent release of Resolve 8 is awesome, as it allows for round trips from Final Cut Pro by exporting XML files from the editor. One can also export XML files from Premiere, but here is where a big wrench gets thrown into the machine due to a cool feature of Premiere. Yes, a feature about Premiere that I like is what causes a problem in my workflow, and here’s what it is: A lot of my footage is shot on Panasonic P2 cameras, and Premiere has the ability to work with the native P2 files, which is awesome, since AVCIntra or DVCProHD files don’t see the improvement from being converted to ProRes that H.264 files from a DSLR do. However, DaVinci Resolve does not recognize native P2 files, so if I want to make round trips from Premiere, I first have to convert my P2 files to ProRes before I bring them into Premiere. Yes, I also have to do this in Final Cut Pro, but FCP’s log and transfer window makes it a snap, and it’s much easier to work with these files in FCP instead of Premiere if I want to send the project to Resolve at some point, which I always will.
So, the problem isn’t with Premiere; it’s with Resolve. If Resolve recognized P2 files, all would be well, but the fact is that it doesn’t. I thought it was really strange that Resolve didn’t recognize P2, so I emailed BlackMagic about the issue and they confirmed that that was indeed the case, although the wording of the reply did contain the phrase, “…does not yet support…” so I guess that says there is future hope for working with P2 in Resolve.
So, it comes down to the fact that, if I want to work in Premiere, I would have to remove Resolve from my workflow unless I felt like coming up with a complicated batch conversion process for all my raw footage. Now, I LOVE Resolve, so there is no way I’m going to stop using it. I like Premiere, but I also like FCP 7, and there is no reason why I should switch to Premiere for now. I say, “for now,” because the future hinges on what Apple has in store for FCP, and whether or not they truly intend to abandon the Pro suite of applications for easier pro-sumer profit. If FCP will truly end with version 7, then there is a problem, but if Apple will admit they made a mistake and continue developing FCP the way it should be done, then all will be well. Regardless, I hope Resolve will support more raw camera formats in the near future, because more options are always better.
I took delivery of my AJA Ki Pro Mini yesterday (I lucked out and found one at Adorama – they had two at the time, but I suspect the other one is already gone), and after ferreting out two CF cards that are fast enough to handle the ProRess422 (HQ) stream that the Mini will drop onto them, I took it to set this evening to shoot another scene for the “Piracy” trailer.
But before I did that, I made sure to do a couple of comparison tests with footage that was captured to the camera’s SD card. Below is a combined screen cap of the scopes in Final Cut Pro of frames that were recorded simultaneously.
The top image is if a frame that was recorded to the camera’s SD card via the AVCHD codec, than transcoded to Apple ProRes422 (HQ) with the FCP log and capture function. The bottom image is of a frame that was recorded to the AJA Ki Pro Mini from the camera’s HD-SDI port, and converted on the fly to ProRes422 (HQ) by the mini. Visually both clips were very similar, with the slight nod going of course to the HD-SDI frame. However, the real advantage to the native ProRes recording comes in post.
Both clips were dropped into the same FCP timeline and had the same [very] basic color correction filter applied to them. Note the difference in the histograms between the two after the color move was applied. The frame that was recorded with the Ki Pro Mini held together nicely, while the AVCHD frame broke apart immediately. Imagine how much worse it would be with larger color moves applied to it.
The AJA Ki Pro Mini is really easy to use on set. It automatically detects timecode in your SDI signal and starts recording when you hit the button on the camera. By my estimation, a 32GB card gets you about 20 minutes of storage. Not bad.
It’s also smaller than I thought it was going to be. It actually fits on the rails quite nicely behind the camera. One thing that I do find unsettling about it, though, is that it gets quite hot. That’s understandable, considering the amount of work it’s doing, converting uncompressed video to ProRes422 in real time. That takes a lot of horsepower. Still, though, when you pull the cards out of it, they can be very hot indeed. Not sure if that affects the life of the card or not.