3 Simple Methods to Make DaVinci Resolve 14 Playback Faster 4k Footage

DaVinci Resolve from BlackMagic is my favorite video production software, and it's free! It comes also in a paid "Studio version" that unlocks some limitations (like group collaboration, 4K video output and de-flickering), but the basic version has everything most of the videographers will need to produce fantastic videos (the majestic 3D tracker, that allows to apply effects to moving objects, is included in the free version!!!). If you realize you need more, you can consider to buy the upcoming BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and get DaVinci Resolve Studio for free!

But let's get to the main point of this post! Sometimes the playback of the videos in Resolve 14 can be very slow (especially with 4k source videos) and this can make the whole post-production workflow very tedious! BUT here there are 3 methods to speed up the performances of DaVinci Resolve! I spent quite some time researching on this topic and here I collected my finding to share them with you.

Method 1 - Optimize the media source with Proxies

Click the Project Settings wheel in the bottom-right corner and change the settings, under Master Settings, as follows:

- Optimized Media Resolution: Half

- Optimized Media Format: DNxHR HQ (on Windows) or ProRes 422 (on Apple Mac).

- Cache frames in: same as above.

Now we can go back to the Media or Edit tab: in the media pool identify the video you want to use for your project, right click on it and select Generate Optimized Media. This usually takes quite a long time, depending on the length of your videos. So I recommend selecting all the videos you plan to use and launch the process for all of them at once.

This step, essentially creates an optimized video (proxy) out of the original media, making the playback of any imported clip much smoother and faster. But don't worry about the final quality! When we will render our final video, DaVinci Resolve will use the original high quality videos. The proxies video are just used to speed up the montage and the color grading steps and make the overall experience much faster. They basically act like Smart Previews in Adobe Lightroom: lower resolution previews are used to speedup the post-production, but when exporting the originals are used.

Make sure that under the Playback menu, the option Use Optimized Media If Available is checked! This will force DaVinci Resolve to use the just created optimized videos for the playback.

Whenever you want to play the original files instead, just go and uncheck Use Optimized Media if Available in the Playback menu and you’re done.

Method 2 - Render the Source Cache

The second method is to render the source cache of the videos in the timeline. This is achieved by selecting all the clips in the timeline (CTRL+Click on them, or CTRL+A to select all of them at once), then right click on them, and choose the choice On under Render Cache Clip Source.

Once this step is done, go to the Playback menu, and enable the choice User under Render Cache.

Method 3 - Render the Cache Output (for color graded footage)

The two methods above produce a much faster playback when they are used with footage that hasn’t been color graded within DaVinci Resolve beforehand. After the color grading and other effects gets applied, DaVinci has to compute on-the-fly the final results when we playback the video. The good news is that we can have DaVinci to calculate the final video preview and save in a temporary cache.

To do that, go to either the Edit or Color tab, select all the video in the timeline (CTRL+A) and right click and select Render Cache Clip Output. You will see a red line appearing above the timeline (or below, if you are in the Color tab): this red line represent the portion of the video that still needs to be cached. This line will gradually turn to blue, indicating that the video has been cached. Try now to playback the video and you will surprised of the speed improvement! :)

Note that if you edit a portion of the video, the line above it will turn red, indicating that that portion needs to be cached again, and back to blue when the cache has been updated.

Still Extremely Slow on Windows 10?

Very slow performances have been reported from users of DaVinci Resolve on Windows 10. Try running Resolve as Administrator, as suggested on BlackMagic forum.

Do you use other techniques to improve DaVinci Resolve performance? Which ones are essential for your workflow? I'd love to learn more and hear your feedback in the comments below!

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