Tuesday, 17 January, 2012

DaVinci Resolve on Windows

Yes, you read that right. DaVinci Resolve on Windows.

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, which has been available on Linux, then later Mac, then recently a free Resolve Lite version on Mac… is now available on Windows 7. On Windows too there is a free version - Resolve Lite - and a paid version ($ 1000 or about Rs 70,000). if you have a full Mac version, then that dongle works on Windows too.

So what's the big deal, and the downsides on DaVinci Resolve on Windows?

First, a well-endowed Windows workstation with nearly the same spec as a MacPro or new iMac can be assembled for somewhat less money. But, more importantly, faster GPUs are available for Windows than for Mac. Like the GeForce GTX 580, Quadro 5000 and Quadro 6000, none of which are available for the Mac, yet.

But before you go out and get the cheapest Acer or Dell or assembled PC to run Resolve on, take a look at Blackmagic's spec on the workstation where they have qualified mainly two systems. HP's Z800 and SuperMicro's SuperServer. 

The document is called
DaVinci Resolve 8.2 Configuration for Windows
and its here...

If you explore the costing on these machines, you will probably find they cost nearly as much or in fact even more than a MacPro. Check for your self.

But still, these workstations come with more PCIe slots, and more wide PCIe slots so its possible to have more than one GPU, a Blackmagic card, eSATA or SAS card and even one or two Red Rocket cards to make a Windows based Resolve a more powerful machine. Like you can do 3D grading in 4k! And, you can use USB 3.0 for faster storage. USB 3.0 also lets you use the Blackmagic Ultrastudio SDI in place of a Blackmagic HD Extreme card. This is external so one PCIe slot saved.

If you need a basic Resolve on Windows setup, Blackmagic has now qualified a beginner Asus motherboard with an i7 CPU so you get get started for considerably less than with a workstation.

The only downside of Resolve on Windows is that many Mac-specific codecs may not work on Windows. And Windows cannot write or render to ProRes. But if you're working with Red or DPX, then you're good to go on Resolve on Windows.

But what is Resolve?

For those that don't yet know, DaVinci Resolve is a software version of the DaVinci colour correction system that's in almost every telecine suite in Mumbai. Pixion, Prime Focus, Famous, Avitel, Shemaroo… you name one and most likely they use DaVinci for colour correction.

So, if you're an ad film maker who (still) shoots on film, waits till it gets processed, and then runs the negative through a telecine machine at nearly any post house in Mumbai… your film 'gets' its look on a DaVinci.

Some years ago this company was sold to Blackmagic who make video capture cards that work with FCP (and with Premiere Pro and now Avid Media Composer too). Blackmagic took the capabilities of the entire DaVinci colour correction system and put that into a software version - using the power of the computer's CPU and graphics card to do exactly what earlier took nearly a hundred kilos of electronics to achieve.

Unbelievable? Well then, just 15 years ago, 1 terabyte of hard disk space would have weighed about 500 kilos, but now comes in under half a kilo, and your mobile phone has more processing power than an entire desktop computer of 15 years ago - the progress of computers has made DaVinci shrink to a software. 

So, the software Resolve can do everything that a 20 year old Resolve hardware could. And yes, the DaVinci hardware in telecine suites in Mumbai is practically the same as what was sold two, yes two decades ago.

If you're in the market for a Windows based colour grading system, and probably have one of these workstations lying around, and would like to experiment, let me know. 
Alternately if you want a turnkey Windows Resolve grading system too, drop me a line.