So you’re interested in working in Resolve, but you need a few more options. These plugins may be just what you’re looking for.
It would be fair to say that Resolve has something of an identity problem. Many know Resolve as a professional color grading platform; some know Resolve as a free non-linear editor; and (since the release of v.14 & 15), we’ve also seen the introduction of dedicated audio and VFX pages with Fairlight and Fusion. Color-grading software, editing software, audio mixing platform, or compositor? That’s for you to decide.
However, one element that often gets missed is that Resolve can also accommodate plugins just like Premiere and After Effects. We often think of Resolve as a one-and-done application since it offers next to everything one might need to create a film. However, there may be a time where you need that extra bit of spice.
So, let’s have a look at a few plugins that can take Resolve to the next level.
FilmConvert, by Rubber Monkey, launched back in 2011 as a tool for emulating film stock. The plugin, or standalone application, uses archival scans and algorithmic data to change the curve and color properties to make your footage appear like you shot it on one of many different types of film stock. Although, as co-founder Nigel Stanford states, there’s a little bit more to the plugin than other “film look” assets:
We can control how the color is decoded and make sure that each color is transformed to the correct film stock equivalent. Film look plugins can’t tell which camera you shot your footage on, and so just apply a contrast curve and change the color. It can look ok, but it is not a film stock emulation.
FilmConvert continuously updates the available camera profiles to make sure that the curve it’s applying is specific to your camera’s base data. The software costs $199, but it is a worthy investment for filmmakers of all levels. If you’ve yet to use FilmConvert with Resolve because you think it’s redundant, stay tuned for a tutorial on FilmConvert in Resolve in the coming weeks.
An alternative to FilmConvert is Magic Bullet Film from Red Giant. MBF includes over 20 film stock presets designed to mimic the look of film stock. While both plugins offer the ability to emulate the film look, the difference between the two is that FilmConvert is tailored to your camera’s image data, whereas MBF works from an average based on whether you shot your footage with a video, flat, or log profile. Magic Bullet Film also costs $199.
You may remember back when the 5D Mk II was king of YouTube and a company called RevisionFX made a splash with a plugin called Twixtor. It optically blended frames together to allow footage shot at 24fps appear as if you shot it at a higher framerate. It was magical. De: Noise will also assist with removing both film grain and digital noise, and this too is just as magical.
I’ve never held much regard for Resolve’s built-in noise reduction. I find it cumbersome; the effects are initially hard to diagnose; and in general, the results are patchy. I often find that many denoising plugins make your footage too soft, but with many adjustable parameters, and because DE:Noise uses spatial and temporal filtering to reduce noise while preserving details, you get a clean, sharp image. De: Noise looks to “resolve” your grain and noise problems with an easy to use plugin, which costs $149.
Red Giant Universe
If there’s one thing that Resolve lacks, it’s a library of pre-made effects and motion graphics that you can drag onto a clip with minimal adjustments. Don’t get me wrong — Resolve has a vast library of transitions and effects. But the transitions are basic, and the effects are usually geared toward professional use. There’s not much in the way of quirky vlog effects or quick looks. However, Red Giant Universe is out to change that.
From sci-fi text to camera shake transitions, the Red Giant Universe plugin has everything for the startup creator. The only catch is that it’s subscription-based at $30 monthly — or $199 annually. I’m not a fan of subscription-based software; neither am I a fan of subscription-based plugins. However, since Resolve is free, you can weigh the benefits of using Resolve and Red Giant Universe vs. an Adobe product with fewer of these available presets.
Let’s get the price point out of the way first. Sapphire is a $1,695 VFX suite, or a $495 annual subscription. It is a visual effects suite that you can use to create everything from photorealistic lighting to stylized looks. The suite (and other tools from its developer, BorisFX), see use in Hollywood feature films and your favorite artist’s music video. When you think about After Effects plugins like Optical Flares, and how powerful they are, Sapphire takes that intensity and crushes it. Like many of the other plugins on this list, many of Sapphire’s tools open in their own user interfaces, which you may find either beneficial or annoying.
Two years back, Sapphire would have been a no-brainer for those who wanted to work only in Resolve but also wanted VFX options. However, with the addition of the Fusion page (and with the inclusion of new and updated built-in effects like Resolve’s Face Refinement), Resolve now offers a variety of VFX avenues to explore without the addition of third-party plugins. Still, though — Resolve does have its limits.
Resolve is extremely powerful, and as I said in the introduction, it’s common to think it is an isolated application that doesn’t accommodate third-party plugins. However, next time you’re browsing a plugin store, keep an eye out for the OFX symbol in the compatibility key, as that will suggest that it’s more than likely compatible with Resolve.
To get you started, here’s a handy list of the most popular plugins compatible with DaVinci Resolve.
- Neat Video
- All BorisFX plug-ins (Continuum, Sapphire, Mocha)
- Digital Anarchy Beauty Box
- Digital Anarchy Flicker Free
- All Digital Tools plug-ins
- FXHome Ignite Pro
- Koji Studio
- RE:Vision Effects; DE:Noise, DE:Flicker, Effections, RE:Lens, RE:Match, REELSMART,
- Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite (Looks, Denoiser, Colorista, Cosmo, Mojo, Film, Renoiser)