Get Rolling with These Blackmagic Da Vinci Resolve Tips
Blackmagic Da Vinci Resolve is a powerful and professional video editing software popular among filmmakers, video editors, and content creators. If you’re new to Da Vinci Resolve, it can initially seem intimidating, but with some guidance, you could be up and running in no time.
But many non-linear video editing concepts will be foreign to folks just getting started. Da Vinci is a pro tool in that it draws on established methods by old-school editing protocols, and these can be somewhat unintuitive.
So this post will be about some Keyboard Shortcuts and weird “you only know if you know” gotchas that can get you over the initial treacherous hemp that might otherwise leave you wanting to quit.
Getting Started with Da Vinci Resolve
Before you get going, there are a few things you’ll need to have in place:
- A computer with a powerful processor and plenty of RAM. Da Vinci Resolve is a resource-intensive program, so you’ll want a computer that can handle it.
- A high-quality display. You’ll be spending a lot of time looking at your screen while editing, so it’s important to have a display that is easy on the eyes and has good color accuracy.
- A fast storage solution. You’ll be working with large video files, so you’ll need a fast storage solution like an SSD or a high-speed external hard drive.
Once these things are in place, you can download and install Da Vinci Resolve from the Blackmagic website. The installation process is straightforward, and once it’s complete, you can launch the program and start exploring.
The Resolve Interface and Workflow
When you first open Da Vinci Resolve, you’ll see a welcome screen that gives you a brief overview of the program. From here, you can create a new project, open an existing one, or watch some tutorials to get a feel for the interface and various available tools.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is import your media into Da Vinci Resolve. This can be done by dragging and dropping your video files into the media pool or using the “Import Media” button in the top menu.
Once your media is imported, you can start assembling your project by dragging and dropping your clips into the timeline. You can then use the various editing tools in Da Vinci Resolve to trim, cut, and rearrange your clips as needed.
You will see a ribbon along the bottom with Icons (and text labels which can be hidden) for different phases of the workflow, arranged in a progressive order. They are:
Media (import, organize and prepare your media files)
Cut (fast cutting with some extra features)
Edit (full editing tools)
Color (correction and more)
Fusion (visual effects)
Deliver (render your project!)
Da Vinci Resolve has a vast array of features and tools, and it can take some time to get familiar with them all. However, with persistence and some helpful tutorials, you’ll be well on your way to creating professional-quality videos with Da Vinci Resolve.
So here is my short list of shortcuts to get you going. I think if you memorize these, you’ll be able to get pretty far with your project:
Learn These Shortcuts First:
3 and 4 Point Editing Workflow
3-point editing is a technique used in video editing where three points in the timeline are specified: the in and out points of the source clip, and the insertion point in the destination timeline where the clip will be placed.
4-point editing is similar, but adds a fourth point to the process, which is the out point of the destination clip. This allows the editor to specify the exact length of the inserted clip, rather than simply replacing the clip at the insertion point with the entire source clip. Both 3-point and 4-point editing are used to streamline the process of inserting clips into a larger project and can help to ensure that the final product flows smoothly and is properly timed.
- Set the IN point: i
- Set the OUT point: o
- CTRL+SHIFT+ ▲ and ▼ arrow keys to change the track you are on. The track highlighted with red is the target track
- Insert to Playhead position: F9 key. (This will move clips to either side of it)
Alternatively, you can drag your footage and see the insert options as a menu.
- Insert and Overwrite: place footage over top of existing footage: F10 key.
- Ripple Overwrite – existing clips that are longer will get written over and then slide to accommodate: SHIFT+F10
- Replace Clip (the source material needs an IN point): F11 key to replace target clip on timeline with incoming source material
- Fit to Fill: set IN / OUT on source material, then set IN / OUT on Timeline. SHIFT+F11 stretches or shrinks the incoming footage to fill the target I/O points.
- Place on Top – will put your source clip on a track above the last track: F12 Key
- Append at End – put the source clip at the end of the timeline of the target track: SHIFT+F12
In the Edit Workspace:
- Clip drag to copy a clip | Alt+Left click and drag: Slide a copy of a clip along the timeline or to another track
- Cut a clip at Mouse pointer position (Razor Blade) | B: to switch to just the clip that you are clicking on with your razor blade
- Cut a clip at playhead position (Split clip) | CTRL + \: to switch to just the clip that you are clicking on with your razor blade
- Selection pointer | A: switch to selector – this pointer lets you pick and move things around.
- Cut through all clips | CTRL + B + timeline click: to cut through all the tracks simultaneously.
- Delete and slide together | Del: to ripple del, this will slide over the content to the right to butt up against the content on the left.
- Delete in place | Backspace: to delete in place – in other words, If you don’t want everything to slide over to the left after you delete something, use the backspace key to delete it and leave everything else where it is.
- Copy and paste a clip at the Playhead position | Clear in/out points: Alt+X. Here is a weird one – you may think you can copy and paste a video or audio clip as you do in a word processing program, but actually, what will happen is when you paste it usually by using CTRL+V, it will insert at the In point. So you have to clear the In and Out points on the timeline so that you paste where your playhead position is.
- Rewind, Pause, Play | And here is an old classic – use the J, K, and L keys (which are all beside each other on your keyboard) to play in reverse, pause, or forward respectively:
<<J K|| L>>
- Copy/Cut and then Paste to a Specific Track | To paste to a track, ALT + Click the Track Focus icon, which will “solo” or ‘focus’ that track for you to paste. See fig 1 below:
- Select All Tracks Left (backwards) or Right (forwards) of the Playhead | ALT+Y Selects all clips to the Right of the Playhead. Y selects all clips forward on just the current track. CMD/CTRL + Y selects all clips Left/Backwards from the playhead on the selected track, and CMD/CTRL+ALT+Y selects ALL clips backwards/right of the playhead.
Important note: make sure you have all the Track Selectors selected if you want to Forward or Backward select ALL track. You SHIFT+Click a track selector for Video and for Audio to ensure they are all selected. By extension, this means you can also only affect the tracks with Track Selector activated. See the following image for clarification:
And here is one bonus tip for when you are ready for it:
Cinematic Film Dissolves
When you want to cross-dissolve between two clips, you can click the Effects tab at the top left of the Editor window, and then under Video Transitions, drag and drop the Cross Dissolve effect over your cut. But here’s the trick: On the top right, with the Cross Dissolve selected, click Transition and then from the Style dropdown, choose Film (instead of Video) – you will get a way nicer dissolve that looks more cinematic and pleasing to the eye.
You Got This
Da Vinci is a breathtakingly powerful, huge suite of tools, including the node-based Fusion VFX suite and the Fairlight audio suite, both built right in. Just take it one step at a time, focusing on the parts you need to accomplish your short terms goals, and then add a little more over time until you are naturally flowing through the well-designed layout of the software.
With some practice and the help of some tutorials, you’ll be well on your way to creating genuinely professional-quality videos.