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DaVinci Resolve Beginner Tutorial | Free Video Editing

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Read Time: 16 min

Learn everything you need to know to edit videos in DaVinci Resolve. You’ll discover how to set up your project, import your footage, edit the best takes, add graphics, logos, and text, and more. 

What You'll Learn

  • How to set up your DaVinci Resolve project
  • How to import your footage
  • How to edit the best takes
  • How to add graphics, logos, and text
  • Basic color correction in DaVinci Resolve

About Your Instructor

tom grahamtom grahamtom graham

1. Introduction

1.1 Welcome to the Course

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

I'll start this course by giving you a brief overview of the course, showing you what we'll cover and what new DaVinci Resolve editing skills you can expect to pick up.

"If you've never touched video editing software before, this is the course for you. Stick with me, and I'll show you from start to finish all the processes that you need to know."

Also, before you start, here are the source files I'll be using in the course:

1.2 Opening DaVinci Resolve for the First Time

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

Now let's open up the software and create a project. I'll explain what databases are in DaVinci Resolve and show you how to create your first project.

davinci resolve opening screendavinci resolve opening screendavinci resolve opening screen
While this course was recorded in DaVinci Resolve 17, all the skills cross over into the new version and are available in the new update. Also, while I'm using the paid Studio version, you can follow along in the free version and still use all the features I'm going to show you.

1.3 Complete Overview of the DaVinci Resolve Workspace

Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

When you first open up DaVinci Resolve, it can look a bit confusing:

davinci workspacedavinci workspacedavinci workspace

But don't worry—I'll give you a complete overview of the workspace and break everything down so that it makes more sense. I'll take you through each of the seven tabs along the bottom of the screen, which correspond to different editing functions in DaVinci Resolve:

  1. Media: for importing and working with different media
  2. Cut: for quick, basic editing
  3. Edit: for more in-depth editing of your videos
  4. Fusion: VFX software, similar to Adobe After Effects
  5. Color: powerful tools for color grading
  6. Fairlight: for professional audio editing
  7. Deliver: where you finalize and export your project

2. How to Set Up a Project and Import Footage

2.1 How to Set Up Your Project and Import Your Files

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

Getting started is pretty easy: just head to the Media tab, find your footage in the Explorer window in the top left, and drag and drop it into the Media Pool at the bottom of the screen.

media poolmedia poolmedia pool

Now that we've got some footage to work with, let's set up our DaVinci Resolve project. Click on the cog wheel in the bottom-right corner to bring up the Project Settings.

davinci resolve settingsdavinci resolve settingsdavinci resolve settings

We have a lot of options here, but most of them are fine to leave at their default settings. So for now we'll focus on setting the Timeline resolution to 1920 x 1080 HD and the Timeline frame rate to 25 frames per second. You can work with different settings if you want, but that's what I'm using for this project.

2.2 How to Create a Timeline From Your Imported Files

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

So now we can organize our footage in the timeline. I'll drag in some stock footage and audio files. Then hit Command-A to select everything, and right-click > Create New Timeline Using Selected Clips. This brings up a dialog box where you can name your project and choose the settings.

create timelinecreate timelinecreate timeline
It's important to organize your files properly and to use logical naming conventions. So I name my timelines using the iteration and version number, in this case Ride A Bike_V01_01. Then I save each new version with the appropriate numbering.

Now that we have a timeline, we can double-click on it to enter the Edit tab. Now we're ready to start editing our footage, which we'll do in the next chapter.

3. How to Edit Footage in DaVinci Resolve

3.1 A Complete Overview of the Edit Tab

Watch video lesson (7 mins) ↗

When you open the Edit tab, you'll see that all of the footage has been added to the timeline.

edit tabedit tabedit tab

That can be useful, but I prefer to start with a clean slate. So highlight everything and delete it, and we'll start adding our footage and media later.

First, I'll give you an overview of the Edit tab. We'll start by looking at the tabs in the top left:

  • Media Pool: this is like the Media tab we looked at before, but it's more accessible so that you can easily drag your media into the timeline.
  • Effects: from here, you can easily add things like transitions, titles, and other effects.
  • Edit Index: tools to help you organize your project and navigate quickly
  • Sound Library: a library of sound effects to use in your projects

We'll also look at the Mixer, the Metadata panel, the Inspector, and more!

3.2 The Editing Process in DaVinci Resolve

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

So you have some interview footage, along with B-roll footage and audio. How do you begin to put it all together?

In this section, I'll take you through the essential steps in the editing process. These steps will work in DaVinci Resolve or any other video-editing software.

editing processediting processediting process

How to Edit Video

1

Cut Your Interview

Find the best takes that you want to use in your video, and cut out the unwanted parts.

2

Craft a Story

Arrange the footage to create a story—remember, you don't have to present the footage in the order it was recorded.

3

Add Your B-Roll, Music, and Graphics

Use these to highlight and illustrate points, to hide jump cuts, and to make the whole thing look more polished.

3.3 Making Selects in DaVinci Resolve

Watch video lesson (6 mins) ↗

So we'll start with the first step outlined above. We'll do a quick edit of our interview footage, so that we cut out the interviewer's questions and any unwanted footage like hesitation, and just select the best takes.

Drag the interview footage into the timeline. Then the first step is to delete any unwanted audio tracks. You'll see several, and the main audio track with the interviewee speaking is the one with the biggest waveforms.

audio tracksaudio tracksaudio tracks

Unlink the audio tracks, delete the unwanted ones, and then relink your main audio track to your video footage (right-click > Link Clips) so that you can begin editing.

Next, go through and start cutting the parts you don't need.

tip
Use the audio waveforms to help you. A large, sustained waveform shows that the interviewee is giving an answer, and the gaps are where the question is being asked or there are other pauses or hesitations. Focus on those gaps when cutting!

To make cuts, you just need three keys on your keyboard: A, B, and Delete! Click on one end of the section you want to cut, and hit B to insert a cut point. Then hit B on the other end to insert another cut point. Click on the section in the middle and press A to select it, and Delete to get rid of it.

Select the part you want to cutSelect the part you want to cutSelect the part you want to cut
Select the part you want to cut...
cutcutcut
... then hit Delete!

I'll also show you some ways to adjust your cut points and refine your selections, and then I'll show you a time-lapse version of the initial editing process for this footage.

3.4 How to Craft a Narrative From Your Selects

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

Now it's time to start crafting a narrative. The way you do this will depend on the story you want to tell, but keep in mind that it doesn't have to be linear—you can take the footage you have and rearrange it to tell a more compelling story.

Rearranging the narrative is as simple as dragging the various sections of the footage to different points on the timeline. I'll give some brief examples here, and then we'll continue to refine our narrative in the next chapter by adding B-roll, music, graphics, and more.

4. How to Enhance Your Video With Motion Graphics and More

4.1 How to Create a Compelling Intro

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

I want to begin with our subject introducing himself, but with a motion portrait and a voiceover. So I'll take my motion portrait, which is just some footage of him walking up to the camera and smiling, and I'll drag it on top of the existing footage.

motion portraitmotion portraitmotion portrait

Then I'll add a premade intro, which I created using a DaVinci Resolve intro template from Envato Elements.

introintrointro

So we've already gone from simple interview footage to a professional-looking intro. In the rest of this chapter, we'll continue to add music, graphics, and effects to create a compelling video.

4.2 How to Add Music to the Edit

Watch video lesson (8 mins) ↗

Now let's add some music. Of course, the first step is as simple as dragging the music track onto the timeline, but then you'll need to make some adjustments.

You can easily adjust the volume of your clip, either by using the Mixer panel or by clicking and dragging the waveform itself to shrink or expand it.

As we go through and add more interview footage, I'll show you how to make cuts to your music tracks to better fit your editing decisions. We'll also look at fading the music out at the right times and making it fit seamlessly with the other audio tracks.

audioaudioaudio

4.3 How to Refine Your Edits and Add B-Roll Footage

Watch video lesson (14 mins) ↗

Now we're going to keep refining our edits and selecting only the best footage. But as we keep cutting and rearranging, we're going to hit a problem: jump cuts.

A jump cut is where the footage seems to "jump" abruptly because the intervening footage has been cut out. While it can look OK on more informal platforms like YouTube, it's usually best to hide jump cuts in professional editing.

So here are some tips for hiding jump cuts in your footage:

rule of thirdsrule of thirdsrule of thirds

Tips for Handling Jump Cuts

1

Create a Punch-in Edit

Zooming in on your speaker is a natural way to transition over a jump cut.

2

Use the Rule of Thirds

When you're lining up your edit points, use the rule of thirds to ensure the subject is positioned in roughly the same part of the frame.

3

Use B-Roll

Adding B-roll footage is a great way to hide a jump cut. Use relevant footage to illustrate what the speaker is saying.

4.4 How to Use Stock Footage to Enhance the Narrative

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

In addition to using B-roll footage that we've shot ourselves, we can also enhance our project by adding stock footage. There's a whole range of great footage out there that you can use, and it saves a lot of the time and expense involved in shooting everything yourself.

Because this project is about a bike workshop, here's some bicycle-related footage from our Envato Elements collection that we can use in our project. Click on each image to see the full footage.

4.5 How to Create a Music Bed

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

Earlier, we added music to our intro, so now we'll add music to the rest of the video.

tip
A dramatic, fast-paced track can work well for the intro, but you generally don't want that to run through your whole video because it will be too intrusive. Something more down-tempo tends to work better as background music.

I'll show you the best way to add the music, and I'll show you how to add keyframes to adjust certain parts of your audio. For example, here I'm increasing the volume at the end, after our subject has finished speaking.

audio keyframesaudio keyframesaudio keyframes

4.6 How to Create Animated Lower Thirds

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

Now we need some text to say who our interviewee is. I'll show you how to create animated lower thirds quickly and easily.

All you need to do is go to the Effects panel on the left and pick the text effect you want. I like Digital Glitch Lower Third, so I'll just drag that into the timeline.

lower thirdlower thirdlower third

Then you can go to the panel on the right of the screen to type in your own text. You can use the same panel to change the font, size, and position of your text.

lower third textlower third textlower third text
Be aware that animated effects may not always look great in preview mode because they require a lot of memory and may run too slow, depending on your computer. Don't worry—they'll look much better when you render the video!

4.7 How to Add a Title for the Outro

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

We can create a title for the outro in the same way as we created the lower third just now:

  1. Pick an effect you like.
  2. Drag it into the timeline.
  3. Type in your own text and customize the font, size, etc.
jitter titlejitter titlejitter title

I'm using the Jitter effect, and I'll also show you how to add a Non-Additive Dissolve effect to fade the title out at the end.

5. Color Grading in DaVinci Resolve

5.1 How to Color Grade Your Footage

Watch video lesson (5 mins) ↗

Now let's do a basic color grade on our footage. You can go to the Color tab in DaVinci Resolve, and that will allow you to edit the color for each piece of footage individually.

color tabcolor tabcolor tab

I'll show you how to apply LUTs to your footage and then tweak the results to get just the look you want.

Color grading in DaVinci Resolve is a huge topic, and I'm not going to go through it in detail here. Fortunately, I have a whole course dedicated to that topic. Click below to learn about color grading in detail.
FREE
1.1 Hours

DaVinci Resolve Color Grading for Beginners

  • Use scene cut detection
  • Read scopes in DaVinci Resolve
  • Use noise reduction to get clean skin tones
  • Use film grain to get cinematic looks

5.2 How to Duplicate a Color Grade Across Multiple Pieces of Footage

Watch video lesson (3 mins) ↗

So now we have some footage with proper color grading applied to it:

Raw footageRaw footageRaw footage
Raw footage
Color graded footageColor graded footageColor graded footage
Color graded footage

But that's just one clip. How do we apply it to the rest of our project? Simple—just right-click on your color-graded footage and choose Grab Still, which will give you a thumbnail in the top left. Then you can go to another clip and right-click > Apply Grade.

So now you have all your clips with the same color grade, and you can go in and make individual tweaks for each clip where necessary. With this little trick, you'll be able to color grade your whole project in no time!

6. How to Finalize and Export Your Project

6.1 How to Mix and Master Your Dialogue Track—the Easy Way!

Watch video lesson (4 mins) ↗

Our video is looking great now, but it's still sounding a bit tinny. DaVinci Resolve has some great audio tools in its Fairlight panel, and you can watch this video for an in-depth guide to processing voice recordings with Fairlight:

But if you don't want to go into that much depth, there's also an easier way. You can just drag and drop a premade audio-processing effect from the Effects panel straight onto your audio track in the timeline. In this case, I'm using Dialogue Processor.

audio processingaudio processingaudio processing

That helps a lot. You can also apply presets or tweak individual settings via this dialogue box. For this video, using the Male VO preset is just what we need.

audio settingsaudio settingsaudio settings

Now we are done! We can just review our video one more time before exporting it.

6.2 How to Export From DaVinci Resolve

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

Exporting from DaVinci Resolve is quite easy. Just go to the Deliver tab, and you'll get a bunch of settings to choose from. For the most part, you can just choose one of the presets designed for particular platforms, such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Then hit Add to Render Queue. You can queue up multiple videos to render at once if you want. Then when you're ready, just hit Render All, and it will render the video and save it to your computer. And that's it!

export from davinci resolveexport from davinci resolveexport from davinci resolve

7. Conclusion

7.1 Congratulations, You’re Now a Video Editor!

Watch video lesson (2 mins) ↗

So we've now created a mini-documentary, and you've also learned how to import and edit your footage, how to add B-roll and stock footage, how to work with audio, and much more.

"If you've never touched video-editing software before, go ahead and download DaVinci Resolve right now—it's completely free. Then rewind the video, follow my steps, and you'll be well on your way to becoming an editor."

Now that you've mastered the basics, why not take your video editing to the next level by using advanced DaVinci Resolve templates from Envato Elements?

Learn More About DaVinci Resolve

There's plenty more to learn about this wonderful editing app. Here are some great DaVinci Resolve videos to watch next:

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