Fusion is a part of the full DaVinci Resolve video editing package and is used to create cinematic effects and motion using a set of 2D and 3D tools. You can use Fusion for rimple retouching of colour or creating massive special effects as seen in movies like the Hunger Games, the Avengers ar Terminator Genisys. This is a tutorial to the basics of Fusion to get you started.
Ben Brownlee shows just how flexible Mocha Pro’s tracking data can be when paired with Blackmagic Fusion’s compositing workflow. Learn at your own pace as he guides you through how to replace a sky with 5 easy-to-follow videos. Includes project file and footage.
Blackmagic Design has announced DaVinci Resolve 17.4 which transforms the speed of DaVinci Resolve to work up to 5 times faster on the new Apple Mac models with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. With this massive speed increase, customers can now play back, edit and grade 8K projects even faster, and can work with up to 12 streams of 8K footage.
DaVinci Resolve 17.4 is available for download now from the Blackmagic Design website.
DaVinci Resolve 17.4 also increases the decoding speed of 12K Blackmagic RAW files, making it over 3 times faster and H.265 rendering is also 1.5 times faster. Plus, DaVinci Neural Engine performance is up to 4 times faster, for real time facial recognition, object detection and smart reframing! Support for ProMotion 120Hz displays makes playback and editing incredibly smooth and HDR viewers are also supported on the new Apple MacBook HDR displays.
DaVinci Resolve 17.4 also adds Dropbox Replay integration. Projects will flow smoothly from DaVinci Resolve Studio directly to Dropbox Replay for easy video review and approval. Frame accurate colored markers, comments and annotations made in Dropbox Replay are almost instantaneously synced to the DaVinci Resolve timeline. Plus with a simple login, customers will only have to sign in once. Other features include quick and easy render set up with dedicated Dropbox and Dropbox Replay presets as well as automatic background uploads that are monitored for status and confirmed when complete.
For subtitling, DaVinci Resolve 17.4 includes automatic resizing of backgrounds and cursor placement when creating captions, as well as nested timeline subtitle tracks now auto-populating the main timeline to speed up creating captions.
There are also improvements to the edit page such as better functionality for position curves in the timeline, so customers can more easily adjust the ease in and out points. This creates a more custom transition from one point to another when applying zoom or image position adjustments. Customers will also now be able to use DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor to switch between cameras in multicam clips on the edit page making it faster to cut programs together. Additional support for asymmetrical trimming allows customers to adjust a transition’s in point without affecting its out point or vice versa, enabling them to fine tune work more quickly.
With Fusion, customers get additional support for languages with combined glyphs and those that may write right to left such as Arabic and Hebrew. Combined with improved vertical layouts, rotation and line direction when working with Text+, this will enable customers to work in a wider range of languages and layouts.
DaVinci Resolve 17.4 adds greater support for automatic color management, making it faster and simpler to set up projects. Additionally, this update adds support for ACES 1.3, including gamut compression, so customers can now more accurately display wide gamut images to be certain they are getting the best representation of the source image.
A new Resolve FX called custom mixer allows customers to combine effects and make adjustments to grades with finer control. Plus, a new 3D keyer adds the ability to make finer adjustments to the key and matte finesse settings to make it easier to create clean masks with more accurate keys and finer edges. For DaVinci Resolve Studio, there’s also a new film halation which will add the effect of a glow or light reflections around high contrast edges, giving images a more filmic look.
Fairlight audio now has support for Steinberg VST3 audio plugins, giving access to more audio effects so customers can create the perfect soundtrack. Plus, there are keyboard shortcuts or click and drag to reorder, move and duplicate effects in the Fairlight mixer, displays single sided audio transitions as fades and added support for multi channel audio outputs.
When finishing projects customers can now export projects with YouTube video chapters, improved encode settings for the YouTube render preset and the ability to use hardware accelerated H.265 on Windows.
“This amazing update gives customers massive performance gains on the new Apple MacBook Pro models with the M1 Pro and Max processors. It completely transforms workflows and unlocks some incredible creative potential. What’s exciting is simply by downloading this free DaVinci Resolve update customers will get all these features for free,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “To have the capability now to easily edit and color grade Blackmagic RAW 8K footage in HDR and all on a laptop while you’re miles away from the studio is incredible. Plus the ability to easily collaborate on projects with Dropbox Replay makes it such an exciting time for our customers to be out there creating content. We’re very excited to see what our customers can do with this amazing update to DaVinci Resolve.”
DaVinci Resolve 17.4 Features
Hardware accelerated Apple ProRes on Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max.
120Hz support on Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max for smoother UI and playback.
Faster DaVinci Neural Engine performance on Mac OS 12.
Native HDR viewers on supported Mac hardware.
Comments and annotations sync between Dropbox Replay and DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Markers and comments sync between Dropbox and DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Export timeline markers titles as YouTube video or Quicktime chapters.
Steinberg VST3 support giving access to even more audio effects.
Simplified color management, SDR and HDR selection and new automatic project settings.
New Resolve FX including film halation.
Improved 3D keyer and matte finesse controls.
Text+ support for combining glyphs, vertical layouts and right to left for Arabic, Hebrew etc.
Significantly faster ProRes decode, encode and AI performance for M1.
Subtitle backgrounds auto resize and nested timelines decompose to parent.
Support for Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max
Hardware accelerated Apple ProRes on Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max.
120Hz support on Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max for smoother UI and playback.
Faster DaVinci Neural Engine performance on Mac OS 12.
Native HDR viewers on supported Mac hardware.
Native full screen mode on Mac.
Dropbox Comment Integration
Dropbox login within DaVinci Resolve preferences.
Render directly to Dropbox or Dropbox Replay.
Automatic background uploads when render completes.
Comments and annotations sync between Dropbox Replay and DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Markers and comments sync between Dropbox and DaVinci Resolve Studio.
Subtitle and caption backgrounds now auto-resize to fit text content.
Subtitle tracks in nested timelines now decompose to the main timeline.
Adding a new subtitle caption now auto-focuses on the text area.
Simple titles and subtitles are faster on Apple Silicon systems.
Improved ease in and out functionality for position curves in the timeline.
Options to include effects and grades for render in place operations.
Switch multicam angles in the edit page with the speed editor.
Ability to mark selection for timeline gaps.
Edit asymmetric audio transitions created in the Fairlight page.
Trim video and audio transitions asymmetrically using cmd/ctrl.
Fine audio clip gain adjustments using shift + mouse drag.
Support for pasting retime attributes on audio clips.
Option to limit audio sync to the first timecode match.
Preview composite modes by hovering over each mode in the inspector.
Ability to set per-clip deinterlace quality in the inspector.
New square iris transition.
Support for custom aspect ratio controls for shape transitions.
Improved overlays for Fusion tools in the viewer.
Improved undo support for Fusion effects and Text+ in the inspector.
Support for folder based organization of effect templates.
New customizable key actions to go to previous/next timeline tabs.
Ability to close timeline tabs with middle click.
Preview generators and titles from the effects panel in the cut viewer.
Support for an automatic mode for color managed projects.
Support for ACES 1.3, gamut compression and new CSC transforms.
New 3D Keyer with new modes, better selection/stroke logic, live feedback.
Improved HSL and Luma keyers with updated matte finesse controls.
Track forward and back with a single action in trackers and magic masks.
Node tooltips now indicate LUT and effect type present.
Dragging new links to layer and key mixers auto-creates node inputs.
Dragging color nodes over key links creates key-to-RGB connections.
Added individual primary and secondary tool icons for faster switching.
Clip filters for timeline clips with Dolby Vision analysis or trim.
Disabled clips are now shown as gray in the timeline.
Support for applying camera LUTs and CDLs to ARRI MXF ProRes clips.
The printer light state is now persisted across application restart.
Navigating to markers in the timeline now auto scrolls to center marker.
Film halation emulates film stock reflections and scatter with Studio.
Custom mixer to combine effects and grades with finer control.
Improved 3D, HSL and Luma keyers in edit and Fusion.
Better noise handling and key refinement for existing keyers.
Improved patch replacer with ability to align source and target.
Film grain with interactive previews and grain freeze options.
Support for Steinberg VST3 audio plugins on Mac OS and Windows.
Ability to reorder, move and duplicate effects in the mixer.
Support for copying clip ranges with partial fades.
Single sided audio transitions are now displayed as fades.
Support for multi channel audio outputs on Linux.
Better waveform displays at smaller track heights and lower zoom levels.
Ability to shift-click and cmd-click on keyframe selections in the timeline.
Navigating to previous or next timeline marker now selects the marker.
Improved default processing order in Fairlight mixers.
Automation curves display current values when no automation is present.
Point selections now flash in edit selection mode.
Improved column order and search behavior in the clip index.
Improved jog, scroll and shuttle with the editing keyboard and speed editor.
Fairlight FX meters have resizable displays and improved channel labels.
Improved audio performance when using Blackmagic monitoring devices.
Text+ support for combined glyphs and right to left language layouts.
Improved vertical Text+ layout, vertical glyphs, rotation and line direction.
Improved Text+ character grouping, spacing, underlining and borders.
Text+ supports per-character stylistic sets for supported fonts.
Support for OpenType features, including old-style numbers in Text+.
Multiple Text+ improvements for character styling and animation.
Hover to show tool descriptions in the effects panel and add tool window.
Improved default tracker search and pattern size for grid warps.
New search area scale slider in tracker options.
Codecs and File I/O
Improved encode settings for YouTube render preset.
Option to export a timeline marker color as YouTube video chapters.
Option to export a timeline marker color as QuickTime chapter markers.
Support for decoding opus audio in QuickTime and MP4 clips.
Hardware accelerated Panasonic 8K AVC decodes on Apple Silicon.
Improved decode speeds for ARRI ARX clips.
Hardware accelerated H.265 encodes on free version on Windows.
H.264 encode profile options on supported Nvidia systems with Studio.
H.264/H.265 encode bit rate controls on supported Windows Intel systems.
Faster encodes and decodes for Windows Intel systems with Studio.
Support for encoding to ZIP1 EXR format.
Ability to add custom languages in DCP/IMF composition naming options.
Ability to use approved operator / rating / region lists for DCP naming.
Marker support in the IO encode plugin SDK
Ability to bypass re-encodes for Sony XAVC Intra clips.
Improved retention of comments metadata for third party XML workflows.
Improved display of render job names with tooltips.
Right click audio icon to adjust volume on media, color and deliver pages.
Auto-identifying media storage sequential image formats as stills or clips.
Prompt to overwrite existing projects when invoking save as.
Locked project indicator for PostgreSQL databases with usage info tooltip.
Ability to clone a PostgreSQL database from the project manager.
Ability to export PostgreSQL access keys from the project manager.
Option to import into current timeline when importing an AAF.
Scripting API support to access inspector properties for video clips.
Scripting API support to set playhead position on the timeline.
Scripting API support to get color version for video clips.
Scripting API support for reflecting upload status in render job APIs.
Scripting API support for setting network optimization in render jobs.
Scripting API support for H.264 multi-pass encode option in Mac OS.
Improved scripting property set when querying MediaIn nodes.
General performance and stability improvements.
Availability and Price DaVinci Resolve 17.4 is available now for download free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.
I have fond memories of the first time I discovered I could get Microsoft Word and Excel “talking” to each other. For instance, if I created a chart in Excel from a data set – my staff’s sales figures for the week at that time was a good example – then pasted it into a Word document, if the numbers updated, so did the chart in both Excel AND Word.
Thus was the magic of DDE or Dynamic Data Exchange. And from little things, big things grow, to quote Paul Kelly.
This same magic, albeit far more sophisticated these days, is also used to update calendars, phone apps use it, and hell, the entire Internet-cum-Google universe relies on it just about.
So what does this have to do with video and film making?
Well it’s a sidewise lean into describing what I consider to the very best setup available today in terms of the perfect editing system, which I have been trying to put together for years and years.
You see, over the last few months I have been getting more and more into the Blackmagic Design (BMD) ecosphere. Sure, I still use Vegas for quick and dirty stuff as I know it well after 20 odd years.
But for the projects I am now looking at doing, I have the feeling that the BMD way of approaching things, along with some ancillary products, is a better long-term bet.
At the heart of it of course is the Da Vinci Resolve NLE, now at Version 17 Beta 9, and as stable as anything I have seen (so far). As well as the revolutionary Cut page, in the free version you also get a cut-down of Fusion, BMDs 3D / Motion Graphics editor and of course the basic Fairlight audio system and arguably the best program for colour correcting there is.
If you spend the extra money to get the full version, you also get the BMD Speed Editor hardware controller which I am finding almost indispensable now and the application itself opens up a lot more options to you. At about $550 it is still a bargain..
Yes, the Speed Editor is skewed mainly to being used in the Cut page section of Resolve, but nonetheless it has certainly speeded up my workflow dramatically.
This combination of software and hardware is, to me, brilliant in its own right and while I do have other plugins in the mix too from BorisFX, Red Giant and the like, rounding it all out is the asset logging system from Kyno, and this is where the magic comes in.
Once you have installed Kyno and pointed it to the directories / folders containing all of your video, stills and audio, you can use the system to search for clips that you may want in your current Da Vinci session. Once found, with a mouse click, they can be immediately loaded into your Da Vinci project.
Various options regarding metadata and folders / bins are also available.
To aid in the search, you can also set folders in Kyno to be “drilled down” automatically when searching for clips.
This in my workflow is the Holy Grail; to be able to search through and find relevant clips and basically throw them into specific bins in a project on-the-fly is as good as it gets.
Try the free version of Kyno and see what you think.
Regular readers know here at Australian Videocamera we are fans of Australian company Blackmagic Design. As we know, Blackmagic Design has been very successful worldwide, but today we received an email detailing just how successful and it is staggering!
Consider these numbers for a company that started in a garage in Melbourne in 2001:
Turnover for 2020/2021 expected to be $700 million
Net Profit 2019/2020 was $72.7 million – 4x the previous year
90% of all Hollywood films use Blackmagic Design gear including Mulan, Jojo Rabbit and The Walking Dead.
It has just opened up 3 new manufacturing plants and all manufacturing is in-house
Uses 20 robots in manufacturing (Singapore, Indonesia, Australia)
More than 1500 staff
And all this despite a global pandemic. Impressive I’d say. And of course, Blackmagic Design, as well as superb products, also makes the uber NLE Da Vinci Resolve free of charge.
Blackmagic Design today announced that the stunning new 8K 3D documentary “Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World,” produced by Facebook’s Oculus, was edited, graded and stitched with DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio.
In April of 2017, world famous climber Ueli Steck died while preparing for climbing both Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse without the use of bottled oxygen. Ueli’s close friends Jonathan Griffith and Sherpa Tenji attempted to finish off this project while award winning VR director and alpine photographer Griffith captured the entire story.
Over the course of three years, Griffith shot footage following Tenji and some of the world’s most accomplished climbers on some of the world’s most extreme locations. The series also includes footage that lets viewers witness what it is like to be engulfed in a Himalayan avalanche, cross a crevasse and staring deep in its depths, take a huge rock climbing fall, camp under the stars and soak in the view from the top of the world.
Griffith worked with a veteran VR post production expert Matthew DeJohn for editing and color correction, VR stitching expert Keith Kolod and Brendan Hogan for sound design.
“It really was amazing how a small crew was able to get all of this done. The collaboration between myself as the cameraman and Matt and Keith was a huge part of being able to get this series done and done at such as a high quality,” said Griffith.
“Matt and Keith would give suggestions on how to capture for VR, how camera wobbling impacted stitching, how to be aware of the nadir and zenith in each frame and to think about proximity issues. The efficient post production process helped in letting us focus on what was needed, and I am incredibly happy with the end result. Everyone on the project worked above and beyond, and the results show.”
DeJohn was tasked with bringing together a huge amount of footage from a number of different high end camera systems.
“A VR project usually has different teams of multiple people for editing, grading and stitching, but with DaVinci Resolve, Keith and I handled everything,” DeJohn said. “DaVinci Resolve is ideal for VR post. The fact that every tool I needed was in a single app made the entire process efficient and cost effective. So much time was saved simply by just having to switch apps with a few mouse clicks instead of shutting down the process by moving files from one system to another.”
For editing, DeJohn used DaVinci Resolve Studio to cut the series at 2Kx2K, relinked to 8Kx8K source and then change the timeline resolution to 8kx8K for final color and rendering. He used the Fairlight audio editing tab for its expanded toolset which allowed him to make fine adjustments, manage different narration takes with audio layers, and manage varied source files such as mono narration, stereo music, and 4-channel ambisonic spatial audio.
“With color correction, I used Resolve to ensure we kept and honest look throughout and to make that look consistent across various camera systems and shooting conditions.
VR forces you to be real, and I used DaVinci Resolve to keep every scene realistic because any hint of oversaturation or an unnatural grade would ruin the VR experience,” he continued. “I colored the project from the very first edit so when it came to finalize the color it was just a process of touching things up.”
Fusion Studio was used for stereoscopic alignment fixes, motion graphics, rig removal, nadir patches, stabilization, stereo correction of the initial stitch, re-orienting 360 imagery, viewing the 360 scenes in a VR headset and controlling focal areas. More intense stitching work was done by Kolod using Fusion Studio.
Kolod, explained: “Every shot in this type of production is a VFX shot and I relied on Fusion. It is better, faster and more affordable. The render time is much faster and the seamless integration with the rest of post is incredibly efficient.”
Footage of such an extreme environment, as well as the closeness of climbers to the cameras, provided unique challenges for Kolod who had to rebuild portions of images from individual cameras. He also had to manually ramping down the stereo on the images north and south poles to ensure easy viewing, fix stereo misalignment and distance issues between the foreground and background and calm excessive movement in images.
“A regular fix I had to make was adjusting incorrect vertical alignments, which create huge problems for viewing. Even if a camera is a little bit off, the viewer can tell,” Kolod said. “The project used a lot of locked off tripod cameras, and you would think that the images coming from them would be completely steady. But a little bit of wind or slight movement in what is usually a calm frame makes a scene unwatchable in VR. So I used Fusion for stabilization on a lot of shots.”
“High quality VR work should always be done with manual stitching with an artist making sure there are no rough areas. The reason why this series looks so amazing is that there was an artist involved in every part of the process, shooting, editing, grading and stitching,” he finished.
When 360° cameras such as those from Samsung, 360Fly and Ricoh etc first came out, the excitement was the novelty of having a video in a browser and being able to scroll it around, up and down in some cases zoom in and out.
However this soon because a bit blasé, and the
novelty factor soon wore off.
Then the Vuze, designed by some clever clogs in Israel came out with its pop out lenses and ability to not only shoot 360° video but also take wide panorama photos with panning. This was followed by the Kandao QooCam which had the same principle but in a totally different form factor.
The darling of the action camera set, GoPro got in
on the act with the GoPro Fusion, but in truth, this was a clumsy and somewhat
cobbled together attempt, let down by an atrocious app as all the stitching was
software dependent (I spent weeks with GoPro support trying unsuccessfully to
get the menus to display in bloody English, that’s how bad it was, let alone
the engineering clunkiness underneath the surface).
One brand we haven’t seen in Australia as yet,
Insta360 from China, apparently raised the bar (from what I am able to gather
as the company has decided that Australia is not worthy of its interest so they
tell me), as the stitching is performed in-camera.
GoPro saw this and went hmmm… and set some engineers to work. The result has been the GoPro MAX, a camera with the same sort of design as the defunct Fusion, but light years ahead in terms of development, although there are some glitches.
Based on an almost square body with a lens each
side and an LCD on the back (depending which way you look at it as either lens
can be the “front” lens), the GoPro MAX has a number of different modes for
Both panoramic stills and 360° footage can be shot,
and GoPro has added functionality such as HyperSmooth, TimeWarp and SuperView
into the mix (those VisiCalc guys have a lot to answer for).
As its name suggests HyperSmooth is in-camera
stabilisation, and in theory at least then, gets rid of the need for software
to fix in post the unwanted shake and jitters of these types of cameras. And work it does,
very well indeed in fact in my testing. As a party trick, it also lets you get
rid of the horrible curvy horizon nonsense wide angle lenses are born with.
SuperView is the generic term covering the GoPro
MAX wide angle abilities and this includes panoramic shots up to 270° which
GoPro calls PowerPano
TimeWarp is a fancy name for time lapse, and it
can be shot in 360° video, and you can put the MAX into “HERO” mode where it
emulates the GoPro Hero 8 camera using a linear mode so stills too.
All the modes and all their various functions can
be accessed via tapping and swiping on the touch screen LCD, or alternatively,
there is of course the GoPro app for smartphones. A vocabulary of voice commands for basic
common functions is also supported.
But the real party trick is in the Reframe plug in
available for Adobe Premiere and After Effects. This turns the GoPro MAX from a
360° capable camera into a one-man (Person? Thing?) multi shooter as with every
angle being captured at once, using Bezier based ease-in / ease-out keyframing,
some amazing footage cane be created –amazing as long as it was shot with this process in
mind in the first place of course.
Originally, the GoPro VR player allowed this functionality, but it took me about 2 hours and then – gulp – an online chat with GoPro support to discover this is no longer supported. Indeed the .360 format used is not even read by the VR Player. At least I couldn’t get it tow work, even after the nice person in support (via a chat system) told me that all I needed was a driver update for my GeForce GX1070 graphics card.
(If I am wrong here, please tell me as all the
info I was getting was potentially contradictory. If you do have the MX working
in VR player, let
If you have a GoPro MAX already, I’d suggest having a play with these extended facilities. If you are thinking of buying a GoPro Max (or indeed any other 360° capable camera), you do really need to think of what you will use it for. If the 360° functionality is a low priority and therefore will be used more for “action-man” stuff, then really, you’d be better of with a Hero 8, DJI OSMO ActionCam or if you want some serious manual camera control, the brilliant Sony RX0 Mk II.
The GoPro MAX costs AUD$799.95 and is avalable here.
As you may be aware, at Chez Australian Videocamera we are rather fond of 360 footage (and 3D) so over the next months, are going to be doing a lot more in this area in terms of testing, tutorials and so on so keep watching! And if you have any ideas, suggestions or tips please do let me know.
Grid VFX relied on Fusion Studio throughout its in house compositing pipeline to deliver newly released children’s animated feature, “Latte & The Magic Waterstone.”
Directed by Regina Welker, the team’s latest project “Latte & The Magic Waterstone” involved the completion of more than 1,200 visual effects shots, including the complex compositing of background and foreground plates and CG render layers for 3D assets, lighting, procedural effects, and more.
“Latte was a huge project for us. It’s a feature animation with a limited budget, so we knew we had to work as efficiently as possible,” begins compositing supervisor at Grid, Laurens Bekaert.
“Fusion’s GPU accelerated render engine was amazing at being able to handle geometry and 3D space compared to alternative compositors. We could add smoke and particles behind our characters and see a good representation of how they would look in 3D instantly, without needing to re render.”
Using Fusion in conjunction with Grid’s in house pipeline management system, Gclus, the team built several node trees to act as the containers for a base look for all the film’s sequences. CG supervisor Chara Sottou could then set the mood for each scene, including specifying elements such as caustic effects, depth haze, depth grading, volumetrics, digital matte painting spherical projections, motion blur and depth of field.
There were also motion vector tools to allow for the motion blur to be added in post, UV tools to reposition and remap textures, and finally relighting tools that could modify the normals, ambient occlusion and position passes to allow for atmosphere and grading adjustments throughout the compositing process.
“Being able to modify so much of our final render in Fusion, without the need for round tripping, was crucial in allowing us to complete this project on time and on budget,” Chara continues.
“We were able to manually adjust depth of field, stylistically blurring certain areas of the frame to our advantage to guide viewers’ eyes to the action we wanted them to focus on.”
The team were also able to add effects such as glow to key scenes, enhancing the feeling of magical realism the story required. All with less than ten compositors instead of 50 or more.
“I think it’s really important to show that this level of production quality and creativity can come from a small team in the European animation industry,” she concludes. “There’s this hesitancy with big productions, because they’re worried that the budget won’t allow for quality. With tools such as Fusion now becoming more accessible to artists, that’s changing.”
“Latte & The Magic Waterstone” will be in cinemas in France from December 11 and in Germany from the December 25 with further release dates across Europe in 2020.
Blackmagic Design today announced that Chimney relied on DaVinci Resolve Studio to collaborate in real time across its New York, NY, and Gothenburg, Sweden, locations while delivering visual effects (VFX) for the hit zombie movie “The Dead Don’t Die.” The international post production company also used Fusion Studio for select VFX work on the film.
“The Dead Don’t Die” follows the peaceful town of Centerville as it finds itself in a battle against the undead as zombies begin to rise from their graves. Directed by Jim Jarmusch, the zombie comedy stars Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton and more.
The Chimney team produced more than 300 VFX shots for the film, with work happening simultaneously at its New York and Gothenburg locations. With Jarmusch and the film’s DP, Frederick Elmes, located in New York, Chimney needed to be able to collaborate in real time across locations so both teams could work closely with the filmmakers to discuss and implement changes during the VFX process. “Since this film was Jim’s first VFX heavy project, we wanted to ensure that he felt comfortable and connected to the team throughout the entire process,” explained Chimney’s VFX Supervisor Sam O’Hare.
Chimney turned to DaVinci Resolve Studio’s collaboration capabilities for its ability to review EXR sequences in real time.
“We needed the teams on each continent to be able to look at the same footage and discuss it live on the phone in real time. With DaVinci Resolve Studio, we were able to share the EXR sequences from each studio, load them into a project which was then shared and relinked, and run a remote session so we could screen all the full quality EXRs in real time in both places. Jim and Fred were able to watch everything and comment directly from New York while the team in Gothenburg, Andreas Hylander (VFX Producer, Chimney Gothenburg) and Alex Hansson (VFX Supervisor, Haymaker), could see the exact frame that was being discussed,” said O’Hare.
“Since this film was mostly shot during the day and later graded to look like night, the challenge was to deliver VFX that would look clear and visible even after such an extensive grade. Traditional workflows with LUTs didn’t cut it, as the grade was dialed back several stops with a multitude of masks and keys. However, since we were using DaVinci Resolve Studio on the original EXRs straight from VFX, we could quickly adjust the grade to make an informed decision on whether we should redo the VFX shot or if we could fix it in the grade” said Hylander.
O’Hare added, “Using DaVinci Resolve Studio, we were also able to use the latest color information from the grade, so the look was always up to date, and with the original footage loaded underneath, we could easily compare it to the plate if needed.”
Jarmusch found the workflow really eased the review process, “Working with collaborators in other places across the world is almost always a challenge, especially when it comes to visual elements like effects. However, on ‘The Dead Don’t Die,’ through the use of DaVinci Resolve Studio at Chimney, we were able to share and discuss ideas immediately and seamlessly with our cohorts in Sweden while we remained in New York. A modern marvel!”
Since Chimney is a global network of facilities spanning 11 cities across the globe, collaboration is at the core of its projects. “This sort of work always relies on good communication, as well as rapid data transfer. We have a data backbone that enables us to send uncompressed sequences very quickly, so we could have the footage available in both places. That system is really a key to collaborating with our offices around the globe,” noted O’Hare.
“We regularly use DaVinci Resolve Studio’s remote grading feature to run color sessions across different locations, but this project was the first time we’ve implemented it in this way on the VFX side of things,” explained O’Hare. “Being able to view all the footage back at full resolution and quality, with the latest color changes applied, simultaneously in two places that are 3,768 miles apart, was a game changer. It meant that the communication between the director, DP and remote VFX team was seamless and immediate, which helped ensure a smooth collaboration throughout the entire process. As a global company with projects constantly running across different studios, that level of collaboration is crucial to our success.”
O’Hare and his team also used Fusion Studio for select VFX work on the film, including one scene that featured a character using a pair of old, damaged binoculars. “The character, Hermit Bob, lives out in the woods, and Jim wanted to get across that there would be layers of grime on the lenses whenever we looked through them, as well as some cracks to internal elements of the glass,” explained O’Hare.
“We used a variety of tools in Fusion Studio to achieve the look, including displacements and offsets fed through rotoscoped shapes to imitate the broken glass, treated imagery of dirt and grime to layer onto the view, and various mattes and keys feeding into rays to build internal reflections in the black areas outside the classic two circle cutout of binoculars. The displacements were designed to react to the movement in each shot as looking through broken glass would, so some shots had movement from the camera, while for others we built matching movement in Fusion Studio using nested perturb modifiers in the transform node,” concluded O’Hare.
Just in case you are brand spanking new to the video editing world
(hello and welcome by the way if so), DaVinci Resolve is one of the stalwarts
of the NLE packages available, along with AVID Media Composer, Adobe Premiere
Pro, Final Cut X, Grass Valley EDIUS, Vegas Pro, Pinnacle Studio and Corel
VideoStudio, and is somewhat unique.
You see, unlike its learned colleagues, it is free. Oh yes, there
are other “free” NLE programs, but with little exception (and that probably
being Hitfilm Express), the “free” programs are lightweight cutdowns of REAL
And DaVinci Resolve, make no bones about it, is a real editor and
has been since inception (2004), when it cost a small fortune and was head and
shoulders above most video editor packages available at the time.
In 2009, Aussie company
Blackmagic Design, famous for its range of TV switches, decoders, converters
etc plus its excellent cinema cameras, stepped in, bought it and made it free, except
for a an upmarket version called Studio which also includes features to create motion
graphics, professional-grade audio editing tools and AI tools.
this thinking to software called Fusion, a powerful visual effects and 3D
compositing tool too, but that is another story we’ll deal with in a later edition
of Australian Videocamera).
OK, so what
makes DaVinci Resolve so good?
DaVinci Resolve 16
As you’d expect, DaVinci Resolve lets you cut up clips and stick ‘em
on a timeline, apply transitions, tweak audio, add effects and so on. And it is
famed for its Colour Correction toolset, probably better than any other package
And you can get it from Mac, PC or LINUX. Did we mention it is
But DaVinci Resolve’s latest version has a few new party tricks up
its sleeve as well. A good starting point here is the new Cut Page.
If you are an editor whose major work is news cutting or even TV
commercials or other short form video, then speed is of the essence. What the
developers of Resolve have done is let you import, edit, trim, add transitions,
titles, automatically match colour, mix audio etc all in the one
location using what they have called The Cut Page, an alternative to the
standard edit window. The Cut Page has a new set of tools to make life, well
easier and faster.
Whilst it may appear that all that happened is a simplification of
existing processes, in reality the Resolve boffins have looked at a different
and better way of doing things.
So, what are these new tools is the next obvious question.
In the Cut Page (see screen shot at top of page), DaVinci Resolve 16 has combined several tools and workflow and made each of these available inside the Cut Page process. These groups are:
Dual Timeline: letting you quickly navigate
the whole edit and trim without wasting time zooming and scrolling
Source Tape: Quickly review all clips in a bin as if it was a
Dedicated Trim Interface: Lets you see both sides of an edit
and trim in frame accurate detail
Intelligent Edit Modes: In the timeline the edit modes
can intelligently sync clips and edits for you.
Fast Review: Quickly review an entire timeline or clips with
variable speed playback that’s automatically set based on clip length.
Transform, Retime and Stabilise: Tools for picture in picture
effects, retiming, stabilization, dynamic zoom, text, audio and more, all
in one place
Quick Export: Render, upload and share your
project to online services such as YouTube and Vimeo.
Media Import: Import individual files or entire
directory structures with subfolders as bins
Portable Editing: The interface is scalable and
works well on smaller laptop screens
Other New Features
But wait there is more as they say (and I really wish they wouldn’t)
Grouped under the separate categories of Editing, VFX, Colour Correction,
Collaboration and “Fairlight” (more on this later), Resolve has another 30+
major new features / additions / updates that have been added to the old
version 15 as follows:
There is now the ability to customise different timelines settings such as frame rate, resolution and output all in the same project, there are colour adjustments that can be applied to a stack of clips in one operation, bins can be created using facial recognition technology plus improvements in stabilisation, keyframing, audio scrubbing, encoding and speed changes / retiming are all available.
In the VFX realm, 3D performance has been improved and GPU acceleration
applied to dissolves, effects motion, pinning and time effects employed.
Masking is now faster as is planar and camera tracking and the Resolve
engineers have tweaked caching and memory management technologies.
As mentioned, DaVinci Resolve is famed for its Colour Management tools –
indeed, a number of people prefer editing in Premiere Pro or Vegas or other NLE
and still switch to Resolve simply for Colour Grading. Functionality has been
improved here too, via better viewing and editing of keyframes, GPU accelerated
scopes, updated histogram curves, auto colour balancing and much more.
Blackmagic claims that Resolve is the only post-production solution
letting different people work together on the same project at the same time. (At
time of release this may have been true, but Vegas Pro now allows this functionality
too, albeit using a different methodology somewhat).
Markers can now be shared, each user has their own cache, a read only
mode stops anything from affecting other users and with support for
collaborative Dolby Vision and HDR10+ projects, each user has access to the SDR
and HDR elements they need.
Fairlight and audio are synonymous in the world of sound. Fairlight originated
in the 70s in Sydney and Blackmagic Design acquired the technology over the
last few years. This has been integrated in Resolve giving high end audio post-production
tools previously only generally found in top-of-the-range dedicated audio tools
(AVID ProTools springs to mind here).
Designed for film and TV, you get a massive set of recording, editing,
mixing, sweetening, finishing and mastering tools all inside DaVinci Resolve.
As a video editing system, DaVinci Resolve is brilliant. Considering the
price, even for the “base” version, it is extraordinary. Whether you are a Mac aficionado,
a Windows lover or prefer LINUX, you can get DaVinci Resolve up and running in
minutes, and your existing NLE knowledge will quickly be able to utilise the Resolve
Sure, the new Cut Page system (if you decide to use it) may take a bit
of a mind warp from the “old ways”, but in practice for short form stuff, I
find it to be easy, flexible and above all, fast.
If at Australian Videocamera we gave a star rating out of 5, Blackmagic
Design DaVinci Resolve 16 would easily top the score.
Have a look at it – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Includes everything in the free version plus DaVinci Neural Engine features, multi user collaboration, stereoscopic 3D tools, dozens of ResolveFX and FairlightFX plugins, HDR grading, film grain, blur and mist effects, and more.