Smart Playback Caching in Resolve 16

Smooth playback is something that all video editors wish they could always have. Sometimes you can fix that by using (or building) a more power computer. Other times you can make use of proxy workflows or optimized playback to get a semblance of smoothness by using lower-resolution footage. Or you can rely on smart caching.

Alex Jordan of Learn Color Grading is once again here to share some tips on how to best use DaVinci Resolve. This time he details Resolve’s smart caching and how that can give you smooth playback on nearly any machine. There is also a neat trick to save you time as you edit.

A situation where you might need a render trick is if during an edit you decide to uses a new OpenFX plug-in on your footage. Your once smooth playback may now be stuttering.

A quick solution is to right-click on the clip in the timeline and select Render Cache Color Output. Great, it’s all smooth again. If you need to make any other changes to the grade, even if it is completely separate from the effects node, you will lose all the benefits of your earlier render and have to re-render.

Making small tweaks to colors happens all the time in your project, so this can quickly get frustrating. There is a unique solution.

If you have your effect set on its own node – which you should – you can head over to the color page, right-click on the node, head down to Node Cache and set it to On. Give it some time to render to cache; the node number will turn from red to blue.

Now, if you make a new node for a small color change or even edit any other nodes after your rendered node you will see that the effect stays rendered on your timeline. You should be seeing smooth playback even with the freedom to make your small changes.

Now, if you do edit the effect node again you will need to let it render it to cache. This method making it so you can make tweaks outside your edit is extremely helpful.

How it works is by rendering out all the nodes up to the selected node. Meaning if your effect is on Node 2, then if you edit Node 1 or 2 you’ll have to render to cache again. If you add new nodes or make changes to Node 3 or later you will not have to re-render.

If you are getting slowed down by effects and still want to preview them as you work this is a great solution to keep your edit moving.

[source: Learn Color Grading]

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