FineCut – why you should give the Davinci Resolve Cut page a try, even as a seasoned editor.

As Blackmagic introduced the new Cut page, I was really like – WTF?
Why an other editing page? We already have one that works just fine – and on top of that (at least at first glance) a totally dumbed down version of an editing page? Seriously?


I switched to Resolve as my main NLE since version 12, and never looked back, and I have to say, that I’m completely happy with the editor. So why should I now work with this slimmed down version for beginners?
Could this be a lame concession to inexperienced youtubers, who are overwhelmed with the normal editing page?
Naah – that doesn’t sound like Black Magic at all. They are known for raising the bar with every version. There must be more to it.

After I saw the introduction video and played around with the new page, the fog cleared a little bit, but I still didn’t have too much appetite, to really deal with the new tool, let alone use it for a paid job.

Battle of Material

Two weeks later I got tens of hours of material thrown at me – lots of interviews, extra audio and B-roll, shot with 4 cameras.
I had very little time to get an overview of the unknown material,
and cut the whole thing together for a fairly exciting 20 minutes.

So I decided – against my inner resistance – to jump into the cold water,
and to learn to swim on the cut page – at least for the quick viewing, sorting and maybe the first rough cut (so I thought) – but what did I know at that time?

Ah-ha Moment

So the first thing I did, was throwing all the clips into the pool. It offers three views:

  • A list view, which shows the metadata as you wish
  • the usual thumbnail view
  • and a Filmstrip view, which provides an overview of the entire clip – regardless of its length.

The sequence can be sorted according to various criteria such as camera, time code, name, length, etc.
The metadata is also searchable, which can be very helpful for larger amounts of material.

After hitting the “Tape” button, the complete material is- like a long, single virtual clip – in the viewer, including audio waveform – nice.

That was my first aha moment.
Instead of wading through countless bins, clicking on each clip individually etc. I can now sit back with a cup of coffee and either just play it all back, or quickly scrubbing through, to get an overview.

Fast Review

When you are not only fishing for the best pictures, but also have to somehow internalize what is said, in order to put it all together in the most meaningful way at the end, just scrubbing is of course not the best idea.

Here comes a function into play, that is as elegant as it is useful, and it makes you wonder why it didn’t exist before.
Resolve plays the “tape” clips in the viewer automatically at different speeds if desired.
Long clips play faster, short clips play slower – so you don’t miss anything. Sounds trivial at first glance, but it’s actually an enormous time saver.

And yeah – of course you can also drag and drop all clips from the pool into a timeline, in any other NLE, and use JKL at variable speeds, or speed through the entire material with your mouse.

But what you can’t do in any NLE is, edit efficiently from this timeline, (unless the NLE allows it, to open a second timeline below the first one, and drag and drop clips from the top to the bottom.
Resolve has been able to do just that for a while now, but it’s not the same thing.

That’s where the new cut page comes into play

Strictly speaking, you get not only two, but even three independent timelines, and all of them are active at the same time.
Let that sinking for a moment.


Number one is the “main timeline” which works exactly like a normal timeline, except that the Playhead is nailed down in the middle, and the clips moves under it (but this can also be switched to the usual view with moving playhead, at the push of a button).

On top of that is a second timeline, that always shows the whole project – a kind of zoomed-out “overview map” that not only allows lightning-fast navigation without time-consuming zooming, but also works like a complete timeline.
This means that I can place, move, trim, etc. clips here as well.

Everyone who ever worked with an NLE, knows how annoying it can be, to move a clip from the back of a 45 minute project to another position far away.
Zoom out, navigate there, zoom in (so you get the right one), cut, zoom out,
navigate to new position, zoom in, paste.

In the overview timeline, you just grab the clip with the mouse and – without any zooming – move it to the right place. Done!
The other clips automatically move out of the way and make room for the new clip, gaps are also closed automatically.
Of course, the audio also moves along with the clip and is not overwritten by mistake, or moved to strange places.

Sounds cool Frank – now how about the third timeline?

The third timeline appears below the viewer, the moment you start trimming a clip.
It displays only the two clips to be trimmed, and allows frame-accurate precision trimming.
Furthermore, it is possible to drag a clip from one timeline to another at any time, since all clips are always active at all time.

All in Harmony

After I had gotten an overview of the material, the next step was to sync the external sound for the interviews, which were shot on 3 cameras.
In the Sync-Bin this was – thanks to time code – a piece of cake.

But even material, that does not have the appropriate timecode, can be synchronized via Audio Wave.
If the scratch sound is halfway decent, it works surprisingly well.

If necessary, the option of setting In- and Out-Point manually are also available. The successful sync is indicated by a badge on the thumbnail – very nice.

JKL-I/O-F9

Now I could use JKL to shuttle through the virtual tape clip, set the in and out points with the I/O keys, automatically attach the marked clip to the end of the timeline with F9, and even had one hand free for the coffee cup.
This way you get a lot of material into the A-Roll quite fast and effective.

Really smart buttons

The “Smart Editing” functions also offer a lot under the hood that is not immediately obvious at first glance.

With these “smart” insert buttons, you can not only

  • Append a clip to the end of the timeline
  • Insert at any point (Ripple Insert), a clip with another overwrite (Ripple Overwrite)
  • Overwrite parts of the Timeline (Overwrite)
  • Insert a clip one track higher (place on top)

…or – and here comes the synchronized Multi Angle Shots into the game – with Source Override, material from another camera (perfectly synchronized of course), automatically to the appropriate place in the B roll. A very elegant way of multi-camera editing.

Normal multicam editing, directly from the Sync Bin is also available.
Frame Matching to exchange one clip for another also works perfectly at the push of a button, where the Timeline automatically ripples according to the length of the new clip.

The Close-Up function offers the possibility to insert a clip, which is automatically zoomed in by 50%, wile the AI is taking care,
that the important section of the picture is immediately shifted to the right position, which usually works (and sometimes doesn’t).

Of course, these are not groundbreaking functions by themselves, but the completely seamless, unobtrusive, and well thought-out interaction of all these little smart gadgets – such as the function, which inserts the next clip or transition at the point between two clips which is near the playhead, makes editing a very fluid experience, where the program not only is getting totally out of your way, but also seems to know, what you want to do next.

Also new, is a small round context menu, that appears when you click on the red tip of the playhead. It offers a blade function, and the selection of all clips to the left or right of the playhead.
The mouse pointer is generally context-sensitive during editing – i.e. the tool changes depending on where you click on the clip.

Of course, all effects, stabilization, DVR, retiming, titles, compositing, etc. are also available in the cut page, as well as many other functions,
like changing the aspect ratio e.g. for vertical video at the push of a button (did I mention, that vertical video is a crime?), or the direct export to Vimeo, YouTube etc.

Next Round

After I completed this job (surprisingly smooth and fast I must say), and was more than satisfied with the whole workflow, it was time for a
Documentary project of mine, for which I have been shooting material for 8 years now.

“The Last Hour” documents the events, adventures and experiences of Germans and Americans in the last hour before the end of the Second World War.
Again, there were tens of hours of eyewitness interviews, and plenty of re-enactment B-Rolls to illustrate the stories accordingly.
Within one day (12 hours) I was able to put 90 minutes of material on the timeline.

Contrary to my original plan, I also did the finetuning on the cut page, and switched only for additional audio (music, Foley, FX etc.)
and some Fusion stuff to the Edit Page.

Of course, it is always easier and faster, to cut material that you have shot yourself and know by heart, and you’ve already got the whole movie in your head anyway.
Nevertheless, the whole thing went surprisingly fast, also considering the amount of raw material.

What would have made my editing experience even better back than, would have been the Blackmagic Editor Keyboard, which, besides many dedicated keys and functions for the cut page also has an excellent mechanical jog/shuttle wheel with clutch, that goes far beyond what a Contour Wheel, or similar devices offer.

Now that I got the Keyboard, and a few projects on it under my belt, I gonna share my thoughts, and write a review on it soon, so stay tuned.

Take away

Contrary to my initial dislike, the Cut Page has turned out to be a very powerful tool, which is mainly about efficiency and focus on actual editing, while the NLE is completely going out of your way, without demanding any attention, but supporting you unobtrusively wherever possible.

I learned editing on a KEM about 30 years ago.
Since then I have used pretty much every NLE out there.
From Avid to Edit, Speedrazor, something with three letters I forgot, Final Cut and Premiere.
But I’ve never been as efficient as I am with Resolve, and the new Cut page.

And yes – there is not much that the Cut Page offers, that you couldn’t somehow do on the “real” Editing Page, the difference is mainly
in the well thought-out, tidy and anticipatory interface, which allows the inclined cutter, to automatically always find exactly the right
functions under the mouse pointer, that he needs at the moment, and presents the information that is important at the moment – everything else disappears into the virtual background, until it is needed.

Of course, the UI was a bit unfamiliar at first, and the first few hours were a bit rough, but at some point it comes naturally.
I can only recommend to – at least – give it a try.
I promise, you not gonna regret it.

Happy editing,
Frank

3 thoughts on “FineCut – why you should give the Davinci Resolve Cut page a try, even as a seasoned editor.

Add yours

  1. Excellent overview of the advantages of the Cut Page – thank you for sharing. Also good to hear of someone else who had the dubious fortune of editing on Speedrazor! I thought I was alone….

    1. Haha, thanks Chris, and yeah good ole Speedrazor days – how I’m not missing them 😀

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