The first thing you need to know about DaVinci Resolve is that this software is seriously powerful when it comes to video editing. It packs a real punch with an impressive list of tools and features that have been designed to help you create videos that look super polished and professional.
DaVinci Resolve by Blackmagic Design is one of the best video editing software options on both Mac and Windows.
But with all that power comes a steeper learning curve than most editing programs, so a little upfront investment of time is required to learn how to use DaVinci Resolve 16.
We love DaVinci not only because it’s free, but also because it has all the advanced tools that we use regularly to edit our videos. For that reason, we’re often asked about the best way to get started, and if we can make a DaVinci Resolve Beginner Tutorial.
Well – good news:
Here’s everything you need to get started!
We’ve created this complete DaVinci Resolve tutorial for beginners, stepping through everything you need to know to get up-to-speed and editing videos fast. Even if you have no experience using Resolve, follow along to gain a solid understanding of how DaVinci is built so you can start cutting videos like a pro sooner than you expected!
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How to Get Started with DaVinci Resolve
The ‘Project Manager Window’ is the first screen you’ll see when you open DaVinci Resolve and it’s essentially like your launch pad. Here, you can see existing projects that you’ve already created or you can start new ones by clicking on ‘New Project’ at the bottom of the screen.
Once you’ve selected a project, you’ll be taken to the ‘DaVinci Resolve Interface’ where you can access different ‘workspaces’ that allow you to complete certain functions such as editing, color grading and special effects editing.
These workspaces are:
- Media: where your assets are stored.
- Cut: where you perform all your basic edits.
- Edits: where you action the bulk of your editing.
- Fusion: where you add any special effects and motion graphics.
- Color: allows you to color grade and color correct.
- Fairlight: gives you professional audio tools.
- Deliver: where you have control over exporting and rendering your video projects.
Screenshot of DaVinci Resolve’s workspace options.
You’ll essentially be working through most, if not all of these workspaces to turn your raw footage into a high quality video that you’ll be proud of. And if you’re doing it correctly, you’ll be moving from left to right, starting in ‘Media’ and working your way along the workspaces as you go through each of the editing phases.
Learn How to Use DaVinci Resolve
Setting up a project correctly is important because it will make the video editing process a lot quicker once you begin.
There are 3 things you should ideally do before you start editing your video which we’ll run through now.
1. Configure your Settings in DaVinci Resolve
Configuring some basic settings in DaVinci Resolve is like laying the foundations of a house. Do this correctly and you’ll set yourself up for success. In the bottom right of your screen, you will find the ‘Settings’ button. The main settings to adjust are the:
- Timeline Resolution: For our videos we set this to 1080p, 1920p x 1080p.
- Timeline Frame Rate: The bulk of the footage that we use is 25 frames per second. You will most likely select 24, 25 or 30fps depending on the type of footage that you have.
- Playback Frame Rate: Match this number to the timeline frame rate.
- Video Format: Match this number to the timeline frame rate.
Screenshot of DaVinci Resolve’s project settings menu.
After doing this, you should save your setting as ‘Presets’ so you can easily access them later. Give your ‘Preset’ a name that you’ll be able to recognize. Beginners will find this a real timesaver for future video editing projects. To save them click ‘Presets’ and ‘Save’.
2. Get to Know the Editing Tools in DaVinci Resolve
There are a ton of useful features available in DaVinci which enhance the editing experience by giving you greater control and flexibility when you’re editing.
Check out the features below and test them yourself to get a feel for how they work:
- The Playback Monitor: shows you what your finished product will look like (at the top of the screen).
- The Preview Window: is great for previewing clips before you drag them onto the timeline.
- The Playback Controls: allow you to play through your footage and zoom in or out on the timeline to get more control, or more perspective over the edit.
- Full Zoom: will allow you to zoom back out to see the entire edit.
- Detail Zoom: will jump straight into where the playback head is.
You can also customize how the clips on the timeline look by turning the audio waveforms on/off or adding/removing thumbnails.
Screenshot of the editing tools in DaVinci Resolve.
3. Import your Video Footage into DaVinci Resolve
The next step is to import your video footage into DaVinci. We recommend importing all the files you’ll need when you start editing such as music tracks, B-roll footage, images as well as the raw footage so they’re all in one place and ready to go when it comes time to edit.
To import files:
- Right-click within the area on your screen that’s called ‘Media Pool’ and select ‘Import Media’.
- Find the footage that you want to import.
- If you hold down ‘Control/Command‘ and select multiple clips, they will all be imported when you hit ‘Open’.
Alternatively you can simply drag and drop the footage into the ‘Media Pool’ if you have the folder on your desktop or easily accessible.
Screenshot of DaVinci Resolve’s import media menu.
Learn How to Edit Videos in DaVinci Resolve
It’s time for the rubber to hit the road now that you’ve set up your project correctly and you’re familiar with the workspaces, tools and features available in DaVinci Resolve.
Follow the 8 Step Process below to learn how to edit videos like a pro in DaVinci!
Step 1: Refine your Raw Footage
The first step on the editing journey is to bring in all of the primary video footage onto the timeline by simply dragging it down.
We then recommend that you do a quick scan of your footage and remove anything that you know you don’t want to use in your finished video. At this point though, if you’re unsure about any clips, leave them in there for now.
There are two areas in DaVinci Resolve where you can cut down your footage which are:
- The Cut workspace: where you can start to trim down your footage with some considerably basic tools. This is useful if you’re going to be cutting down lots of different clips.
- The Edit workspace: where you can cut down your footage and build out the story, all within this one workspace.
To cut/trim down your footage in DaVinci Resolve:
- Click ‘Play’ to watch the footage and identify the specific clips you want to remove.
- Move your cursor to the start of that clip and notice that it changes to look like handles.
- Click and drag your cursor towards the right until you reach the part you want to keep.
- If you have blank spaces – select them with your cursor and click ‘Delete’ to remove.
Screenshot of trimming footage in DaVinci Resolve.
Alternatively you can also use the ‘Blade’ tool to slice up your timeline by:
- Selecting the ‘Blade’ tool and clicking on your timeline to make cuts or incisions (i.e. where there is no audio).
- Then select the ‘Arrow’ tool to select the specific clips that you want to cut up.
- If you then press ‘Delete’ with the clip selected, the clip will be removed.
- If you press ‘Shift + Delete’, the clip will be removed and the gap will be closed.
There’s also a tool called ‘Ripple Edit Left/Right’ which enables you to trim a clip and ‘ripple’ the rest of the clips in the timeline (effectively closing the gap between the two edit points). Check out the keyboard shortcut list at the end of the article if you want to speed up your editing even further.
Screenshot of DaVinci Resolve’s ripple edit tool.
Step 2: Build Out the Story
Once you’ve completed a first pass and removed the footage you don’t want, it’s now time to add in some B-roll or overlay footage to help your viewers stay engaged and better understand your video. If you’re looking for quality stock footage, check out our review of the top sites for royalty-free footage.
If you want to add an entire clip of B-roll into your video, click and drag it on the timeline. However if you only want to bring in a specific portion of your B-roll footage, follow these steps:
- In the ‘Preview’ window, move your cursor to find where you want that clip to start and click ‘I’ on the keyboard to mark your ‘In Point’.
- Click ‘O’ on the keyboard to mark your ‘Out Point’.
- You can then click and drag that specific clip onto the timeline.
- If the clip has audio on it, you can mute it by dragging the horizontal ‘volume level’ line down with your cursor or you can click ‘Delete’ to remove it altogether.
Screenshot of selecting B-roll footage in DaVinci Resolve.
Tip: If you notice that your cursor is jumping around to the different edits on the timeline and you’d like more control, there is a ‘Snap’ button that you can use to turn this on or off.
Video editing is an iterative process and as you’re adding in your B-roll, you may find yourself making some minor edits to your timeline, tweaking and adjusting some of the clips, all just to refine your edit down and to build out the story with each pass, moving you closer and closer to the finished video.
Step 3: Add in the Audio
Adding music or audio into your video is a great way to make it more interesting for your viewers to watch. For our top picks of the best royalty-free music sites, check out our full review.
To add music, start by selecting your imported music track and dragging it down onto your timeline. You can use all the same tools we’ve mentioned in the previous section to edit your audio clip such as the start and end handles, ‘Blade’ tool, ‘Ripple Edit’, ‘Delete’ etc.
Screenshot of the audio track in DaVinci Resolve.
If you want to add a ‘Fade In’ and a ‘Fade Out’ to your music track, move your cursor to the top left corner of the clip and drag it over towards the right. The time indicator that is displayed shows how long the fade will last until it reaches no volume. Likewise, to fade your audio out at the end of your clip, grab the same marker and drag it back to the left where you want the fade to start.
Step 4: Add in Titles or Graphics
Now that you’ve added in your audio, it’s time to add any text, titles or graphics into your video.
- To add these in click ‘Effects Library’ and then ‘Titles’.
The titles in the top menu are basic text titles that you can add in and customize as you like. The ‘Fusion’ titles are more advanced and have cool features like 3D.
Screenshot of the titles and fusion titles in DaVinci Resolve.
You can customize your titles in the ‘Inspector Palette’ by changing:
- Fonts, font size, position or rotating the titles
- Adding in drop shadows, strokes or backgrounds to match your branding.
- Adjusting the length or start/end time of your title.
Go one step further and add in an animated intro at the start of your video by following this tutorial to take your video to the next level!
Step 5: Add in any Transitions or Effects
Transitions can make your video look super polished but the key is to not go overboard and add in too many. Use them sparingly to add in a storytelling element to your videos. Less is more!
- To add in transitions, click ‘Effects Library’ and then ‘Video Transitions’.
- To add in a ‘Fade In’ transition, click on ‘Cross Dissolve’ in the left menu bar and drag it onto your clip at the start or the end (or both).
- A ‘Dip to Color Transition’ has a similar effect but incorporates a brief fade to a specified color (usually white or black) as well as the fade between the clips.
Screenshot of DaVinci Resolve’s transitions menu.
Tip: If you have a hard cut between two similar video clips, instead of a transition, you could add in a subtle zoom on one of the shots like we often do at Primal Video to break up the shot.
Screenshot of zoom on and zoom off in DaVinci Resolve.
Step 6: Set Audio Levels
There are two general areas of audio that you need to pay attention to during the editing process.
The first is the spoken audio which is the core/primary audio in the video. We’d recommend that you start here and adjust this first.
To do this:
- Mute the music so the only sound you can hear is what’s actually being said in the video.
- Enable the audio mixer by clicking on ‘Workspace’ in the top menu bar, then ‘Show Panel in the Workspace’ and select ‘Mixer’. You can then see the various volume levels for the different audio files in the menu on the bottom right of the screen.
- ‘Main 1’ refers to the overall master volume. This gives you the ability to control the audio levels of the individual audio clips or the overall audio. Slide the volume level up and down to adjust the audio level.
- Pay attention to the colors in the audio menu as your video is playing. Ideally you want your volume within the yellow area or just within the red area but definitely not touching the top. If it does touch the top, grab the slider and lower it down a little.
- If you want to adjust your audio on a clip-by-clip basis, you can put your mouse on the volume line that appears in the center of the clip and simply drag it up and down.
Once you’re happy with your primary audio, you’ll then need to adjust the second area of audio which is the music track that complements your spoken audio. We normally set our music level at around -25 to -30 decibels but there’s no hard rule with this. As long as your viewers can still hear and understand any spoken audio is the main goal here.
Tip: If you’re an advanced user, you might find it easier to adjust the audio in the ‘Fairlight’ area where you have more control and pro level tools.
Step 7: Color Grade your Video
The next step in the editing process is to color grade your video. There are a ton of professional color grading tools built into DaVinci but let’s stick with the basics for this beginner tutorial.
- To enter the color grading area click on ‘Color Workspace’ where you can find the color nodes (layers) and color adjustment tools.
- Start by enabling the ‘Scopes Viewer’ to get a visual representation of the colors and brightness of the colors in your video clips.
Next, start color grading (correcting) your clip with the ‘Lift Slider’ and then from there, you can adjust each of these to get the look you’re after:
- Gain: changes the brightness of the bright (white) areas in your shot.
- Gamma: changes the mid-range colors in your shot.
- Contrast: changes the contrast levels in your shot.
- Saturation: allows you to change the amount of color in your shot.
Screenshot of the color grading options in DaVinci Resolve.
Tip: If you want to apply these settings to the other clips or your B-roll, select the node, then ‘Control/Command + C’ to copy it and then and come across to the clip you want to apply it to and click ‘Control/Command + V’ to paste it.
Step 8: Export and Review your Video
The final step in the process is to export your video!
- Click on ‘Deliver’ in the bottom menu and then click on the drop down arrow next to the YouTube icon in the top left menu and choose if you want to export in 720p, 1080p, or 2160p.
- Give your file a name and then click ‘Browse’ to choose where you want to save it.
- When you’ve reviewed your video and you’re happy with it, just hit ‘Add to Render Queue’ and then ‘Start Render’ to start saving your video.
Screenshot of rendering your video in DaVinci Resolve.
When your video is ready, we’d strongly recommend that you preview your video on a few different devices (phone, computer, tablet etc.) to make sure you’re happy with the overall look and feel of your video on multiple devices.
There you have it – the complete beginner’s tutorial to editing your videos in DaVinci Resolve!
From getting started, to mastering our 8 step editing process, you’ll soon see just how amazing your videos can look when you’re able to edit in DaVinci Resolve. And to speed up your editing, here’s a list of the keyboard shortcuts for you!
Screenshot of the keyboard shortcuts in DaVinci Resolve.
Want more tips and editing tricks? See our tips, tools and step-by-step process to cutting your video editing time in half here.
Check out all the gear we use and recommend at Primal Video!