DaVinci Resolve Tutorial Part 44: Outputting your Work – Understanding Codecs

DaVinci Resolve - Feature Image Codecs

By Kevin P. McAuliffe

In our previous lesson, in our look at learning BlackMagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, we talked about Animating in the Color Module.  I thought we would take a side step for this lesson, and discuss outputting, as it is an exceptionally important part of the process that if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, you can run into problems very quickly and in this lesson, I want to start out by talking about the codec you’re going to use.

It’s important to first differentiate between containers and codecs.  A container is the type of file you’re exporting. For example, .MOV, .MP4 or .MXF to name a few.  The codec is what the files is actually compressed as, meaning H264, ProRes, DNxHD or any one of the other available codecs out there.  

When exporting, you first need to decide what are you exporting for. Is this your final master that you will make all your versions from?  Is it just a rough export for your client to take a look at? Answering these question will immediately determine the codec you want to use to export.  

To begin with, chances are no matter which platform you’re on, whether it’s Mac or Windows, QuickTime will be the container of choice. Don’t sweat the fact that QuickTime Player is no longer supported on Windows, as there are other players (Switch, VLC, etc) that can playback QuickTime files with no problems!

So, once you head over to the “Deliver” module, you’ll notice in the main window, right below the “Export Video” option is where you will set your container, and codec.  One has a direct impact over the other. Container impacts Codec. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that in Resolve, Container is referred to as “Format”.

Format Drop down in Resolve:

DaVinci Resolve - Format Dropdown

Codecs Drop down in Resolve:

DaVinci Resolve - Codec Dropdown

As a rule of thumb, if you’re exporting an approval file for your client, Format can be QuickTime and the Codec can be H.264.  For Masters, again, Format can be QuickTime, but the Codec should be ProRes(HQ) if you’re on the Mac and DNxHD/HR if you’re on Windows.  Remember, I’m giving you these options from my years of experience. Your mileage will vary based on the type of file your client is requesting.

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


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