Closer Look at Curves and Histogram in Resolve 16

NAB has come and gone, all the hype and the flood of presentations, dinners and keynotes are gone. While the dust settles down, we can take a look back at some of the most interesting news that came out of it. Blackmagic Design went on the path of continuous, and frankly amazing, updates to its software jewel, DaVinci Resolve.

The last tick brought the count up to 16, and although still in beta, Resolve 16 is free to download for anyone who wants to peek at the new features. The most discussed has been with no doubt the more apparent, the addition of a new tab called “Cut Page”. Also, the moving object removal has gained a lot of attention, but there are a lot of small tweaks and improvements worth discussing.

Alex Jordan of Learn Color Grading has highlighted some of the features in his recent videos, whereas now he focuses on the Curves and Histogram, two powerful instruments that have always been very valuable in Resolve, but now with the latest version, they can certainly take your color grading workflow to a whole new level.

One of the first new features to meet the eye is the ability to overlay a histogram over the curves box. You can enable it by clicking on the three dots at the angle of the curves box and choosing whether you want the histogram of the input or the output.

Input refers to the image before the changes you’re applying, and output, on the other hand, refers to the processed image. This comes in handy while applying the adjustments on the curve, as you can see the histogram changing in real time as you move the curve.

If you’re not familiar with a histogram you may be wondering what does that mean. Well, it represents the value in brightness of the pixels of the image. Starting from the left and going to the right, you’ll go from the darkest pixel, from black to the brighter one, being pure white at the end of the line.

This is useful to know for example if you’re losing information clipping the image in the shadows or in the highlights. On the vertical axis instead, you can see how many pixels of the image have that particular value of brightness. Knowing this we can immediately tell from the histogram if a particular image has a lot of contrast or how the tonal range is distributed across the shot.

But histograms overlay are not always the same. If you move from the Luma curve to another curve, like in this case the Hue vs Hue curve, the horizontal axis does not represent brightness anymore, instead, it is showing you the particular color tone. In this image, you can see that the shot has a lot of pixels in the green and red range, much less in the blue spectrum.

What to do with this information, though? What advantage does this improvement give us? The answer is speed. Having this tool allows you to get visual information about the composition of the image and makes you intervene with much more precision. Let’s take the example made here of the picture with the trees.

If you were to select the green of the leaves to change their hue or saturation, you had to “guess” where to pick the point on the curve. Now you can see exactly where the more of green pixels are and pick the exact spot, that in this case is actually a little bit shifted towards the yellow spectrum.

As a kind of an unrelated point, there are many minor novelties in the software. One fixes an issue users have been complaining about for a while, and that’s the ability to have timelines with different frame rates in the same project.

Now, in version 16, you can finally edit the settings of your timeline and moreover, you can create different timelines inside the same project.

The other nice add-on is the presence of adjustment clips, a feature many editors had for a long time, and Resolve has finally picked up. It shows us that Blackmagic is willing to make Resolve an all-around tool for filmmakers, and also that the company has been listening to it’s user-base and that is with no doubt a good thing. These updated even make us wonder what will come up in the future when Resolve 17 is out.

[source: Learn Color Grading]

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