This is Part 2 of my DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor review. In Part 1, I covered the hardware, trimming, a lot of the Cut page and basic editing with the Speed Editor. This second part is all about multicam and multicamera editing with the Speed Editor and the Cut Page. I don’t think you can really talk at length about the Speed Editor, and especially mulitcam editing, without including the Cut Page in that discussion. They go hand in hand. While you can have mulitcam editing in the Cut Page without the Speed Editor you sure can’t edit mulitcam with the Speed Editor without the Cut page. Who made who? I don’t know but they go hand in hand.
The Multicam editing experience
One of the things that I think the Speed Editor is intended to eliminate is the seeming complexity of the creation of multicam clips and multicam editing overall. We have both the Cut page Sync Bin and a third of the entire Speed Editor surface editor dedicated entirely to multicam editing. The proper operation of these things works best when your multicam shoot has sync timecode. But if you have sync timecode the complexity of traditional mulitcam clip creation is mostly eliminated as it’s a one-click operation to create a multicam clip in the Edit page. Even a novice editor can pickup mulitcam editing with relative ease.
That begs the question: Is Resolve’s Cut page/Speed Editor integration better for multicam editing? That was certainly one of the featured aspects of the Speed Editor during the product introduction. Just a quick glance at the device and you’ll see the middle of the product is dedicated to mulitcam editing with nine CAM (Camera) buttons waiting to be pressed. If you’ve ever done any mulitcam editing using mulitcam tools in any of the NLEs you’ll immediately recognize the layout: it looks a lot like a 9-split mulitcam screen where the viewer is divided into nine quadrants, one for each camera angle.
For my review of the Speed Editor, I used it extensively on 5 camera (10 cameras if you count the 2 passes) mulitcam music show with sync timecode that went to broadcast. There was a Line Cut but we really didn’t use it. Like all my reviews I try my best to use the products on real-world editing jobs. The sync timecode meant it was a great testbed for both the Cut page Sync Bin and the Speed Editor. Admittedly I had to forget some of what I had learned to embrace the Cut Page way of mulitcam editing. As one who loves to learn new and better post-production ways to work, I embraced this challenge.
One thing the Cut page Sync Bin often requires besides sync timecode is a Camera #, or creation date or it might not work properly if you have a lot of media. At least that is what it seemed to me after reading the manual about the Cut Page Sync Bin. I found this out the hard way as several mulitcam projects I tested wouldn’t sync in the Cut Page/Sync Bin. It’s always good to RTFM but we all know you often don’t, especially if you think you know what you’re doing. Twitter helps too.
It needs to have same date of creation as it is designed to handle shoots across days. You can change this in the inspector via multi select.
— Rohit Gupta (@rohit_bmd) December 20, 2020
If your camera didn’t record the proper metadata you can add it or change it yourself in the Inspector but that is a complexity that sort of negates the ease of use the Cut Page/Sync Bin is trying to create. You can use the Sync Clips window (a little button at the top of the Cut page Media Pool) to manually sync up clips and save that sync for use in the Sync Bin.
Honesty I think both the Cut Page Sync Bin (as well as the Sync Clips window) is tricky, especially if you’re robust in normal multicam editing. I can take a number of different mulitcam projects that work perfectly when using the Edit page Create New Mulitcam Clip Using Selected Clips option (Or Premiere, or Final Cut Pro, or Avid Media Composer) that won’t sync properly in the Cut Page without some work. I traced most of that back to Date Created differences.
⬆️ The image above is my trusty numbered clips project that is a bunch of … numbered clips with matching timecode. This new Metadata View shows the matching 00:00:00:00 timecode as well as the creation dates, some of which differ.
⬆️ This image above is the numbered clips synced in the Resolve Edit page Create New Mulitcam Clip Using Selected Clips, Angle Sync > Timecode, Angle Name> Clip Name. Syncs perfectly.
⬆️ Here is that same batch of clips in the Cut page Sync Bin. I would have thought they’d all be in perfect multicam sync. If you’re faced with a situation like this you can scroll through the Sync Bin and see what all you have and what ends up in sync but if you have a lot of media shot over a long period of time you could be scrolling endlessly. What the Sync Bin needs is an easy way to see a Sync Map of your entire bin.
⬆️ A little sleuthing around in List View and you can see the Sync Bin seems to be grouping by Date Created. When in List View you can’t sort by the list column heading so you have to use that menu on the right to change the sort order. Date Time will sort by Date Created.
⬆️ There’s another little tool on the Cut page that might be hugely important when setting up a mulitcam edit and that its the Sync Clips window.
⬆️ Opening the Sync Clips window gives me a lot more information. Finally, I can see a proper Sync Map and use this window to fix any sync if faced with syncing difficulties.
This Sync Clips tool is a great tool where you can sync by timecode, audio waveform, clip IN or OUT. It feels a bit like what Red Giant’s Plural Eyes should have evolved into. I love the idea of a dedicated syncing tool for mulitcam so having this built-in is nice. One thing missing is the ability to sync by markers that are placed on the clips.
But upon further inspection, some of that greatness wears off as I could not find any way to add some video tracks in the Sync Clips tool and get these 15 clips in sync via timecode. It all comes down to those differing creation dates for these clips.
⬆️ But this should be an easy fix. Using the Inspector I could change the Date Created on multiple clips at once. This changes the date and not the time. I also didn’t add a Camera #.
⬆️ This is the result in the Sync Bin after the dates changed to match. I see 9 of the clips but not all 15. And they aren’t in order. 🤦♂️ This wasn’t exactly my expected result.
⬆️ After the Date Created change, the Sync Clips tool properly shows all the 15 angles in sync via timecode. I can now hit Save Sync and this sync shows properly in the Sync Bin. But as you can see the cameras aren’t arranged properly by number. I would have thought a sort by Clip Name would have arranged clip 01.mov as Camera 1. Note I’m going between the Sync Bin and the Sync Clips window.
⬆️ You can add a Camera # with the File tab of the Inspector. There is a really nice feature where you check the Auto Select Next Unsorted Clip and that makes changing lots of single clip metadata quite fast.
⬆️ With matching creation dates and camera number metadata these clips that sync in about 5 seconds using traditional multicam tools finally sync properly! 👏
Multicam editing via the Sync Bin begins a little differently that a mulitcam clip
The setup of a Cut Page Sync Bin multicam edit is built around a base layer as opposed to some kind of mulitcam clip. Once you have everything setup from a mulitcam metadata standpoint you’re ready to edit. The Sync Bin asks for a “base angle” to be laid into the timeline and angles added from there.
⬆️ With all the metadata setup and the sync saved, a multicam edit can begin. In the image above the clip 01 is my “base angle” and everything syncs that that clip. Edits like the Source Overwrite, Close Up and Place on Top use the timecode from the base angle to make the edits so no need to place an IN point in the timeline. In the edit above I have 15 angles but the Speed Editor only has 9 mulitcam buttons. 🤔
Honestly, using these numbered clips (which I’ve been using for year as demo and tutorial media) to test out Sync Bin editing took way more work that I ever thought it would take.
Here’s a couple of other shoots that I tossed into the mix.
When you go to the Sync Bin for this shoot it can be quite confusing if you don’t know what you have. In this shoot I had to scan forward past all of those single clips before I could see my angles in sync. I would strongly advise using the Sync Clips window first to get a visual idea of what you have for a mulitcam shoot even if you think your timecode is solid. You can then adjust and resync clips as need be and save that sync for editing.
Good multicam editing is only as good and as easy as the setup so I always like to assign camera and angle metadata before syncing, no matter the sync method.
Yes, that image above is the Edit Page and not the Cut Page. But boy oh boy, if I have to add and adjust metadata then the Edit Page is a simple way to work.
Back to the Inspector to change the Date Created.
Whew. That feels like it took a lot more work than it should have to get this multicam sync right on with the Sync Bin for mulitcam editing on the Cut Page. Perhaps I am overthinking it. Perhaps …
I’m encumbered by the weight of traditional mulitcam editing.
If you watch the Resolve presentations from Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty he makes it look easy as he demos the Sync Bin with a cooking show. All this works well if you have that perfect combination of footage metadata but I am going to argue that is not the norm and you might be frustrated with the Sync Bin. But not as frustrated as you might be with actual multicam editing via the Sync Bin and the Speed Editor. More on that in a second.
I’m going to add another example of the Sync Clip/Sync Bin not working as expected. In this case, I have a three-camera interview, no timecode but scratch audio. The main camera was recording the hero audio and the other two cameras using their built-in mics. One angle was a DSLR so it ended up with several clips instead of two clips for the other angles.
⬆️ Above are the clips for this three-camera interview. I assigned a Camera # to all of the clips for each angle and changed the Date Created so they all match. Often with low-budget interviews you might not have cameras that can assign good metadata so you have to change it in Resolve.
⬆️ Opening these clips in the Sync Clips window and you can see two clips for each of the two main angles and 5 clips for the DSLR that was on a slider. Admittedly the scratch audio on the cameras isn’t great. I’ve set the Sync by option to audio.
⬆️ This is the result. I’m not sure where some of the clips went. Since all the creation dates matched I would have thought this would have been an easy sync. It did a good job on those three clips!
⬆️ As a comparison and tossed this whole shoot into PluralEyes and it synced just fine.
I’m not sure what this simple shoot didn’t work better when it came to syncing in Resolve.
And then there’s the actual mulitcam editing
Besides just the syncing issues, the actual task of multicam editing with the Cut Page/Speed Editor seems overly complex when it comes to what is the brilliance of good mulitcam editing: getting into a flow where you cut from one angle to another during playback.
Assuming you have perfect timecode and all your camera metadata is spot on, multicam editing with the Sync Bin means laying down a base angle that is essentially your master angle and then adding cutaways on top of that base angle. With this method, whenever you call up the Sync Bin every angle at the timecode of your base angle will be visible at that point in the Sync Bin. Quite brilliant in concept actually. You can then use the camera (CAM) buttons on the Speed Editor to choose other angles or just click them directly in the multicam viewer of the Cut page.
Using my trusty numbered clips as my example:
⬆️ I’m laying clip 01 in for my base angle. Take notice of the camera # metadata on the left of the column view as that is how the Media Pool is sorted.
⬆️ Jump into the Sync Bin you can see the angle viewer and all the angles in sync with the playhead in the timeline. Notice how the cameras don’t sort in the multicam viewer that aren’t numbered properly with a zero: 01, 02, 03 etc. Metadata is important.
⬆️ Hit play then when it’s time to make an edit, hit the CAM 5 on the Speed Editor or you can click the angle in the multicam viewer. But when you choose your desired angle something strange happens … at least it will be strange if you’re used to traditional mulitcam editing and mulitcam-switching. The cut doesn’t switch to camera 5.
This is the point where the flaws of Cut Page multicam editing begin to show. Despite what appear to be normal multicam editing controls you aren’t switching/cutting from one angle to another. Choosing another angle switches the Cut page multicam split viewer from the split to another viewer where you see the chosen angle in full with a default IN to OUT duration of 5 seconds. If 5 seconds is good (how often will that be the case?) then you can use some of the Speed Editor buttons to edit the clip into the timeline. Or you can use any of the standard Resolve edit functions to edit that clip.
There’s some real power in Sync Bin tools like SRC O/WR (source overwrite) that will edit the clip into the timeline at the matching timecode sync but some of that power goes away when you start to have more than a few angles. Or secondary audio as your main audio source. In fact multicam audio and some of the complexities that come with that (multiple audio channels, music, live and pre-recorded mix) seem like an afterthought in the Cut Page.
⬆️ If the 5 seconds that is the IN to OUT default when you choose a new angle isn’t what you want you can use the tools of the Speed Editor to adjust. It’s easy with the search dial. In the image above I’ve changed the IN to OUT duration to 22 frames as can be seen in the upper right corner. If you want to get back out to the multicam viewer without making an edit hit the ESC (Escape) button or click the little x in the upper left of the Viewer.
So what do you do when you just want to get out of all things multicam and just watch your edit? You have to go back to the Media Pool tab for general viewing of the timeline. Notice there is no Media Pool button on the Speed Editor.
As I mentioned before, unless you’re brand new to multicam editing you’ll constantly compare the Sync Bin way of multicam editing to a traditional multicam/group clip. I struggle to see any scenario where the Sync Bin will be better. Even with the Speed Editor you’re constantly jumping between Sync Bin, angle selection, timeline and hitting lots of buttons while moving around to choose your angle, make the edit and then see the result.
Being “in the zone” or that ever-important “editing flow”
Editors often talk about “editing flow” and being “in the zone” while cutting. Having to fiddle with buttons and interface elements can break that up. Traditional multicam editing where you have a multicam clip loaded in the timeline and a multicam split viewer open beside your cut allows you to playback the multicam and then in real-time cut to different angles.
Want to make a change or view what you’ve done? Jump back a few seconds and keep going. It’s often a single keystroke to open and close the “normal” mulitcam viewer and you can move in and out of angle cutting/switching with ease. You can get into a real multicam “editing flow” in a way that just doesn’t feel the same with the Sync Bin. And this “editing flow” is vitally important when cutting multicam music performances. You can get into a nice “editing flow” when you’ve got a ton of broll and you enabled the Cut Page Source Tape option. Then you’ll fly around with the Speed Editor as you build your edit. With that in mind …
Some places the Cut Page/Speed Editor giveth, some places it taketh away.
There is a button on the Speed Editor called LIVE O/WR (Live Overwrite) and I had hoped that would allow for a more live multicam switch but it does not. It’s an interesting implementation of multicam in that going into Live Overwrite allows you to “paint” on a different angle by holding a CAM (camera) button and then spinning the Search Dial forward. If you don’t know what “paint” means when it comes to multicam editing check out the Introducing DaVinci Resolve 17 video at about 1:42:00 and you can see it in action. It’s basically using the Search Dial to lay in different angles when in Live Overwrite mode via a spin of the dial.
I rarely ever embed YouTube clips in my reviews but I think this one below illustrates some of these editing techniques quickly and easily. If you click over to the YouTube page you can see the different sections easily via the chapter markers he embeds or hit play below to see the section where he demos the “painting” in of the mulitcam angles.
This “painting” in of different angles is nice and fun for a few minutes and could be useful here and there but something vital is missing. What you’re not doing is playing the media in real time. Part of the real joy of mulitcam editing is playing that media back in realtime to perform the edit. When you “paint” on an angle you can’t even hear it!
The LIVE O/WR (Live Overwrite) button, as well as the VIDEO ONLY and AUDIO ONLY buttons, have a little LED light that toggle on and off. When you toggle on that LIVE O/WR (Live Overwrite) light I had more hope that maybe that mode would be a live, realtime switch but it isn’t. That does allow you to “paint” on your angles without having to hold down the CAM buttons but you’re still not able to hit the Play button and do this in realtime.
For some reason this Live Overwrite mode doesn’t work when you hit the STOP/PLAY button and actually play the media. In fact, pretty much all of that Speed Editor introduction video and the video embedded above is about using the Search Dial and rarely ever playing your media in real-time. While it all works nicely the way it was designed you’re doing a disservice to what is the actual video if you’re discouraged from playing media in real-time by your hardware and software.
The transition buttons in the lower-left also have a red LED light that can be toggled on.
The light toggle is a feature where you can set the Cut Page to add a default transition to an edit every time you choose a new angle in the Sync Bin. That actually could come in quite handy for a music show where you’re working on a slow song and want a dissolve instead of a cut. What will you never want to do though? To add a SMTH CUT (smooth cut) to every edit in a mulitcam edit. This brings me to…
My button soapbox again
I won’t go into my thoughts on dedicating an entire button to the little-used and often avoided at all costs smooth cut transition as I did that in both Part 1 of this review and when I looked at the Resolve Editor keyboard. On the surface, it seems to make even less sense that it’s even an option to choose the smooth cut as a default transition when mulitcam editing but I guess an argument could be made that if you have just a talking head you might want to use the smooth cut a lot. But enough to have a dedicated SMTH CUT button? 🤔
There is one more design decision where I think they missed the boat on the Speed Editor and mulitcam editing. The CAM (camera) buttons are setup to reflect a numeric keypad with CAM 7 being the first angle button in the top left. This is the opposite of how the multicam split is setup on-screen with CAM 1 being the first angle on-screen in the top left. Why not make the Speed Editor mulitcam keys match what you see on the screen? This was one of my quicktips from way back from 2009 to remap your extended keypad to match the 9-split.
⬆️ Does this make sense to have the Speed Editor multicam buttons arranged differently than the mulitcam viewer? I guess it would have looked too weird if the Speed Editor CAM buttons didn’t match a traditional keyboard’s numeric keypad but it sure could make multicam editing use a couple less brain cycles.
A few random observations from working with the Speed Editor for Sync Bin/Cut Page mulitcam editing
- Despite what would appear to be perfect controls on the Speed Editor for true, live mulitcam angle switching the Cut Page / Sync Bin mulitcam paradigm just doesn’t work that way. The way it works is different but to not have an option for true multicam switching seems like a big missed opportunity considering the Speed Editor hardware.
- When assigning camera numbers be sure they are numbered with a proper zero in the single-camera digits (01, 02, 03) or they might not sort properly when Sync Bin editing. If you have a camera 3 you want that to be in the Camera 3 position of your multicam viewer.
- While you can Save Sync in the Sync Clips window saving that sync data appears to only be for use in the Sync Bin. Unfortunately, you can’t use the Sync Clips window to sync (and check sync) for a multicam clip in the Edit Page. It could really be a true PluralEyes replacement if that was possible. It seems like a missed opportunity to not have more of that functionality flow from the Cut Page to the Edit Page.
- Some of the cool, new edit functions of the Cut Page do not have keyboard shortcuts. Smart Insert, Close Up and Source Overwrite don’t have keyboard shortcuts when searching them in Keyboard Customization.
- While there isn’t a battery light indicator on the Speed Editor Resolve will alert you from within Resolve if your battery is getting low:
For many (if not most) multicam edit tasks, I do not think the Cut Page Sync Bin/Speed Editor will be faster than traditional Multicam Clip-style editing (something Resolve does exceptionally well). In many instances, it won’t be faster to set up for the edit. It won’t necessairly be faster to see what all the different angles are doing at any given point in an edit. It won’t be faster to step through all the different angles at any given moment. It won’t be faster if you need to cheat an angle at a different part of the show. It won’t be that much faster when the director says “what is camera 5 doing at this point?” And it certainly won’t be faster when you move into more complex multicam edits with 10, 15, 20 angles or music shows that have multiples passes of the same song.
Overall the Cut Page can greatly benefit from having a Speed Editor. I feel you’ll get the most use out of it from thing other than mulitcam editing. The Cut Page and the Speed Editor do go hand in hand and that has made me wonder if the Speed Editor has been in development since the Cut Page came along or was it birthed by the Editor Keyboard? In a way I think the Speed Editor is more important to the Resolve ecosystem than the Editor Keyboard (even though I am disappointed by the multicam implementation). So I wonder again, between the Cut Page and the Speed Editor, who made who? And that give me an excuse to embed an AC/DC video into this review. Why pass that up?
I go back to a word we don’t get to use very often when editing a lot of the content that editor have to edit these days … fun. Using the Speed Editor search dial to do most anything while you’re editing is fun. While I will debate if the Sync Bin/Cut Page would ever be that much faster for mulitcam editing, actually “painting” on your angles is kinda fun and unique. If you’re just editing a talking head or something that isn’t at all complex the Sync Bin/Cut Page could be just as quick as regular mulitcam. But if you know traditional multicam editing and like how it works then the novelty of the Sync Bin/Cut Page will probably wear off and you’ll go back to the Edit Page way of doing it. Hopefully, upgrades in the future can add more traditional live camera switching to the Sync Bin/Cut Page as well as the ability to use the Speed Editor to live switch a mulitcam clip on the Edit Page. Resolve is constantly getting upgrades to we can hope those upgrades flow into the Speed Editor hardware as well.
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 17 Studio (Dongle) Includes FREE DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor