How To Super Scale Your HD Videos to 4K (and Above) in DaVinci Resolve

Although the learning curve with DaVinci Resolve can seem a little steep at times, there are a wealth of user created, online tutorials to help you make your footage look great. Perfection is merely an illusion, and to pull the wool over the eyes of our viewers, we need to know how to use the tools we have at hand.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at a little known feature in Resolve, Super scaling. Super scaling assists you in upscaling HD footage to match the 4K, 6K, or 8K footage in your timeline and it is incredibly easy to implement.

Rob Ellis put together this great guide to help you master your craft in Resolve and explains in detail how this little gem can make your footage look amazing.

Hands down, DaVinci Resolve is the best application for video and film editing available today. It’s packed full of incredible features, has fantastic tools for manipulating color, can be used for high-end professional audio mixing, contains an amazing graphics and animation suite, and best of all it is free.

If you’re a professional editor and you’re not at least learning Resolve, you should be. Given its price, features, and availability for Windows, Mac, and Linux, we’re probably only a few short years away from a full industry-wide adoption of this software.  Also, Resolve is fun to use and the results are fantastic.

Upscaling Footage

These are presented in low resolution for illustration purposes.  To see the subtle differences, have a look at Rob’s example on a 4K monitor at full resolution.

When we upscale footage in our timeline, we’re literally just zooming in and doubling the pixels so that the images are sized to match our chosen resolution. Straight off of the truck, this can often leave us with blocky looking images that stand out and distract the audience.

Though many techniques have been developed over the years to interpolate those missing pixels, the footage will never look as good as native resolution material.

Super Scaling

Blackmagic’s answer to upscaling resolution is a feature that they call Super Scaling. This process attempts to smooth over, sharpen, and remove any artifacts from lower resolution material to help it blend into your edits as well as possible.

Even better, Super Scaling is super easy to find and apply.

  • Insert Lower Resolution Footage into a 4K timeline.
  • Right Click on the clip and select ‘Clip Attributes’
  • Locate ‘Super Scale’ at the bottom of the video tab.
  • Select  the size by which you are upscaling your footage.
    • 2x = 4K, 2160 (when your working with 1080p footage)
    • 3x = 6K, 3240 
    • 4x = 8K, 4320
  • The other options your presented with are Sharpness, and Noise Reduction.
    • Depending on your source material, you’ll need to adjust these accordingly but the default Medium setting usually does a great job.
  • Press OK

The effect that you will see on your footage will be subtle, but a definite improvement to scaling the image up alone.

Noise Artifacts

When you upscale footage, you’re also increasing the size of the noise that is inherent in the image along with it. To reduce the presence of this noise, enter the color tab, and apply additional noise reduction to the final node. 

Rob recommends using Temporal Noise Reduction, but you could also use a plug-in like Neat Video to clean things up. Your upscale sharpening will remain intact.

Adding Grain

In addition to using the Super Scale features in Resolve, another way to mask some of the artifacts created by upscaling footage is to add a filmic grain overlay.  

You can do this in the timeline by placing it on the layer above your clip, adding it with a matte in the color page, or using a 3rd party plug-in. The grain will bury any blockiness and help match images from older cameras with newer, high-resolution shots.

In this example, Rob is upscaling footage from a Nikon D80.

Conclusion

Techniques like these can save you in a pinch when incorporating stock footage into projects, or help you breathe new life into older cameras.

This will, however, increase your render times for output and should be done as a final step when you’re putting the finishing touches on your project. 

There is no substitute for native high-resolution footage, and this certainly won’t magically turn iPhone 4s footage into something that was shot with a RED camera. When you use this sparingly, however, you’ll be able to integrate lower resolution clips into your projects without distracting the viewers.

[source: Rob Ellis]

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