Upping my Grade – The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel

Yesterday, at 21:00 (9 pm) Stockholm time Blackmagic Design held a Camera and DaVinci Resolve Press Conference where the founder and CEO Grant Petty presented three new products, the DaVinci Resolve Micro and Mini Panels, and the Blackmagic Mini URSA Pro camera. Blackmagic Design simultaneously announced that a new version of DaVinci Resolve (12.5.5) had been released to add support for the new control panels and camera. Whereas the new camera, being a hybrid cinema, broadcast and studio camera, looks nice (at least on paper), it is not my cup of tea, being a Super 35 and 4.6K camera. My general opinion about Blackmagic Design is that they are best at producing cheap and high quality cameras (such as the Blackmagic Cinema Cameras line of products) and that they have got over their heads in trying to break into the high-end professional segment of cameras, trying to compete with RED Camera and Arri; there have been to much of an issue with the URSA line of cameras regarding fixed pattern noise, magenta tints, and overall poor quality control. It is obvious from the press conference that Blackmagic Design has abandoned the Super 16 small film format (although these cameras are still in production) when it comes to upgrades, etc., and left the independent market for the professional cinema industy, although the URSA Mini Pro is still a quite cheap camera compared to the REDs and Arri ALEXA. Another sign is that Blackmagic Design seems to target the broadcast and television market rather than the cinema segment with its new product. Much more interesting for me was the introduction of two new affordable and portable control panels for colour grading using DaVinci Resolve 12.5, and in particular the smallest of the pair, the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel. To be honest, the Micro Panel with a magical retail price of $995 is the only option for me coming from this announcement, as the Mini Panel is way to pricy for my budget at $2.995.

Hardware control panels are critically important if you want to create a professional level colour correction to your movies. Filmmakers need to “hold the image in their hands” when colour correcting and grading, to be able to hold their attention on the monitor as they manipulate multiple parameters at once with their hands, to create new and highly stylized looks, or even make very subtle natural changes. The new DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is a super small hardware product designed to allow colour correction workflows to be mixed in with editing workflows in a natural and intuitive way, while introducing a new level of quality in an affordable true professional grade hardware control panel. It is small enough to be fitted into a regular home computer workstation (as ours) or even a laptop environment on a shooting location, where the filmmaker is able to switch between the keyboard and mouse while editing, and the Micro Panel for simultaneous grading. In a way, the Micro Panel is to be considered to be a dedicated grading keyboard. It features three exceptional quality high resolutions weighted trackballs, twelve precision machined control knobs for advanced primary colour correction, 18 dedicated navigation and transport keys, illuminated buttons, and more. The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel features a USB-C for being hooked up and working with your workstation, and if your computer lacks a USB-C port but is fitted with a conventional USB 3.0 connection (as is ours), a USB 3 to USB-C cable is included. The Micro Panel is fully powered over USB which makes it possible run directly from a laptop in the field, making it ideal for on-location colour correction.

The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel
The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel

I hope that my budged allows for a future purchase of the new DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel as it seems to be a solid, well designed and affordabe construction. According to Grant Petty, it is fitted into a aluminum base. It is of metal, not plastic as most cheap control panels. As I really enjoy to work with DaVinci Resolve’s colour correction and grading tools, in particular the colour wheels, I belive that the Micro Panel will make a huge difference for me in my future work. I would like to invest in a Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera in the future, as it has a slightly more advanced processor that refreshes the sensor at a higher rate for for lesser “jello” rolling shutter effect, as well as shooting in slow motion up to 60 fps in 1080p and CinemaDNG RAW. It would make an ideal B-Camera for me, shooting slow motion and doing fast panning, retaining the more versitile and well protected Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera as a A-Cam. However, it shares the same price as the Micro Panel. And to be honest, if I had to choose between the BMMCC and the Micro Panel, I would probably choose the latter as I am more than happy with the image that my current Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Produces, especially after finding and exploring the potential of optical flow retime speed (slow motion) in DaVinci Resolve 12.5. I would of course like to have both Micros, as true slow motion is a cool feature in any workflow. However, the more I work with filmmaking, the more I enjoy colour correction and grading, and I belive that the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel would make my filmmaking even happier and more enjoyable!

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