DaVinci Resolve Tutorial Part 35: Working with Reference Stills

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By Kevin P. McAuliffe

In our last lesson, in our look at learning DaVinci Resolve, we talked about doing a basic color correction in using the Color Wheels.  In this lesson, I want to move on and talk about working with Reference Stills, why you need them, and how to create them in your project.

First things first.  What is a Reference Still.  Well, it’s a way for you to create a freeze frame “reference” of a particular grade that you’ve created, and then you can use it to compare different color grades side by side.  Let’s take a look at how they work. The first thing we’re going to need to do is open the “Gallery” tab in the upper left corner of the interface.

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Now that we have that window open, we’re going to take a snapshot of the base image currently in our timeline.  We can do that by right clicking on our clip in the Color module’s timeline window and say “Grab Still”.

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Once you do this, a still will appear in the Gallery window, with what appears to be a fairly generic name, 1.1.1., but it’s not as generic as you might think.  These numbers represent 1-Layer 1, 1-Shot 1, Still 1. So the third shot on track 2 would be 2.3.1. A very clever way for you and Resolve to keep track of shots.  You can also add names below the numbers, to give yourself a better idea of exactly what the still is supposed to be of. Now, we need to add the split screen to our shot so that we can see the comparison, but we’ll do a quick color grade first.  Now we’re looking a little post – apocalyptic!

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Now that we’ve added a new grade, let’s turn Image Wipe on by hitting the button in the upper left of the Timeline window.

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Now you can compare any of the stills you’ve created with the grade you currently have added to your footage by dragging through the footage, and adjusting the wipe position on the screen.

DaVinci Resolve 15 - Reference Stills Splitscreen

It’s a very simple and effective process to compare grades in Resolve quickly and easily.

Meanwhile, check out our entire catalog of tutorials for DaVinci Resolve here.

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