Our Post-Production Supervisor Adam Huffman has been using Adobe Premiere for over 15 years, easily logging over 15,000 hours in the program, navigating any edit you can imagine. But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. In fact, it never was.
It’s no secret that Premiere has its problems. When it’s working, it’s a great program but when it’s not… there’s very few things more frustrating. So we decided to give DaVinci Resolve a real shot at becoming our go-to editing software.
We’ve been using Resolve to color our video projects for years so it wasn’t totally foreign to us. We picked up the LogicKeys DaVinci Resolve Keyboard to quickly navigate through the shortcuts and we were off to the races.
In this review, we’re going to compare 10 of the main features any video editor would utilize on a regular basis in Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve.
- Import & Sync
- Smooth Cut vs Morph
- Dynamic Zoom vs Manual
- DaVinci Color vs Lumetri
- Fairlight vs Audition
- Fusion vs After Effects
- Tracking Text
- Export Times
- Timeline Volume Control
- Face Refinement
Note: This is just a surface-level overview comparing some of the main features in each program. We’re painting with broad strokes here. If there’s any topics you’d like us to cover in more detail, drop a comment on the YouTube video and we’ll respond or maybe even produce a video on the subject.
Import & Sync
Spoiler alert: the first step with any video project is importing the footage.
The nice thing about DaVinci is the media bin in which it links directly to your hard drives. The most convenient feature of the bin is that it automatically syncs audio to footage. The audio and video files link within the bin and as soon as you drag it into a timeline, it’s connected as a linked clip.
The catch is that it loses some of the metadata on the audio. We record 32-bit and when we look at the metadata after syncing, it’s linked into the bit rates of the video clip. Still amazing though, and the audio file itself stays intact at whatever settings used during recording.
The most obvious difference right off the bat is that Premiere is just a little slower. This is a common theme as we work through everything. Also, the process isn’t quite as intuitive. We bring in the video and audio tracks separately then have to manually sync them on the timeline using the synchronize function. Not a big deal with only a few clips but pretty annoying when importing a lot of footage.
Smooth Cut vs Morph Cut
Occasionally, you need to jump between two different clips in an interview. This can be achieved with a hard cut but a few years ago Premiere introduced the Morph Cut but it never seems to look very smooth. So speaking of smooth, DaVinci’s version of this is called Smooth Cut.
You’re still going to run into similar problems of it obviously not looking very natural but there’s a lot of opportunity to play around and make something cool. We point out that you can play around with it because it renders instantly. Apply the effect and you’re on your way.
We shot back over to Premiere to take a stab at tossing a Morph Cut onto some 8k Red footage. We didn’t expect an instant render like DaVinci but we at least expected it to render and… No joy on this run. After two separate tries to get it to stick, we gave up.
Dynamic Zoom vs Manual
A great tool in post is the ability to give movement to static shots. There’s a multitude of ways to achieve this but a common approach we utilize is pushing in and pulling out with various zooms.
Dynamic Zoom is a really nice tool that speeds up the editing process. (Are you noticing a theme here? I feel the need for speed!) With this tool, you simply need to find a focal point and boom, it’s done. You can adjust the rate of the zoom too, of course.
There’s also the option to use wireframes; a visually driven feature that allows for more manual flexibility. You just set your start and end point and hit it with a quick render.
You gotta go more of a manual route in Premiere relying on keyframes to do the bulk of the work. This does the trick just fine but it’s a little more tedious and can involve a little more guessing and checking than you get with DaVinci. This approach totally works but isn’t nearly as quick.
DaVinci Color vs Lumetri
It’s no secret that DaVinci is going to have the edge here as it was literally made for color. We’ve been using it for years and to great effect.
By far the most vast tab in Resolve is the tab for color. As we mentioned this is what it was really designed for.
Right out the box there’s a plethora of color luts to choose from to get you started. Adding your own is simple and the organization of the luts is very light and convenient.
We’re really just scratching the surface here. There’s a million great sources that detail the basics and others that get deep into the nitty gritty of what Resolve is really capable of.
Lumetri is a far more basic coloring program than Davinci. The lut list isn’t nearly as expansive or modular as it is in Resolve. As you add more, it quickly becomes cluttered.
The big issue we run into with Lumetri is inconsistency with the color profile on the export. Where Resolve is extremely consistent, Lumetri falls off.
Fairlight vs Audition
Admittedly, we’ve spent a lot more time buried in Adobe Audition than Fairlight and it’s a great program. Maybe one of Adobe’s best outside of Photoshop and Illustrator. But as we’ve adjusted to Fairlight… The tides are turning.
DaVinci Resolve (Fairlight)
Fairlight has a beautiful interface and is very user friendly. Poking around and learning the bells and whistles is an intuitive and enjoyable experience. It’s responsiveness makes live editing a seamless endeavor.
Adobe Premiere (Audition)
Within Premiere itself, there’s some basic audio effects that can be used but if you really want to get into the audio Audition is the solution. The program is intuitive and less glitchy than other Adobe programs. A common theme we’ve seen though is having to use a program outside of Premiere. Not the most convenient of workflows.
Fusion vs After Effects
*Bernie Sanders voice* “I am once again pointing out that Premiere requires a separate program to do things that can be done all within Resolve.”
DaVinci Resolve (Fusion)
There’s a plethora of effects within Fusion like 3D, motion graphics, etc. We just focused on text tracking. Within the program, busting out a quick text track is easy and efficient. If you need to accomplish something more complex, you have all the tools at your disposal to get crazy.
Adobe Premiere (After Effects)
Like we mentioned, you can’t track text in Premiere without plugins, so we gotta switch over to an After Effects composition. The first thing that’s noticeable is just the sluggishness of Adobe compared to Resolve, like the other examples. In general, it’s just a little slower and requires a couple of extra steps. However, unlike Fusion, After Effects is a seasoned program and is extremely well supported and far more versatile than Fusion right now. It is the goto program for any kind of motion graphics and visual effects work within the Adobe ecosystem. Fusion is a much simpler and stripped down solution.
The first and most obvious advantage Resolve has over Premiere is in the time it takes to export. With our test clip, Resolve exported in four minutes and 22 seconds compared to five minutes and 17 seconds for Premiere. Not a huge difference but as you scale into longer clips and/or multiple clips the time difference becomes very noticeable.
An added advantage is that Resolve displays a preview while rendering whereas Premiere just displays a progress bar. Media Encoder has a preview window but again we’re leaving the program again to use another one.
We don’t have the hard data to support this but we’ve anecdotally noticed far less render errors exporting out of Resolve than with Premiere or Media Encoder.
Timeline Volume Control
Such a simple feature that goes a long way. Let’s say you’re just going through raw clips and you don’t want to hear the clip audio because you’re not going to use it. Resolve has the control to adjust the volume. Such a simple thing that Premiere has never added for whatever reason.
Before we close out, we just wanted to quickly highlight one of the many great features within Resolve’s color tab: the Face Refinement Tool. Let’s say someone has blemishes or they’re looking pale, have too much makeup on, or any number of variables that need tweaked. This feature scans every movement of the lips, eyes, forehead, nose, chin, etc, and processes it. Without the need for a mask, you’re now able to smooth it out, add contrast, and any coloring effect you can imagine. Limitless potential there.
DaVinci Resolve > Adobe Premiere
After just a couple of short months switching to Resolve full time over Premiere and the results speak for themselves. To top it all off, Resolve is dramatically cheaper with a one time cost of $300 rather than an annual subscription to Adobe that can run you damn near $1000 at the end of the day.
Like we mentioned at the top: This is just a surface-level overview. If there’s any topics you’d like us to cover in more detail, drop a comment on the YouTube video and we’ll respond or maybe even produce a video on the subject. Oh, and hit the subscribe button while you’re there!