DaVinci Resolve: The Free Version

Released: DaVinci Resolve Lite

Resolve's Node-Based Interface

BlackMagic has posted a Public Beta of DaVinci Resolve Lite: a free version of BlackMagic’s $999 DaVinci Resolvw for Mac. Here are the details from the Read Me:

DaVinci Resolve Lite includes all the same high quality processing of the full DaVinci Resolve. However it limits projects to HD resolutions or less, only two color correction nodes, a single processing GPU and a single RED rocket card. Stereoscopic 3D features, noise reduction, Power Mastering, remote grading, and sharing projects using an external database server are features only offered in the full DaVinci Resolve and so are not included in this free DaVinci Resolve Lite edition. Customers who want to eliminate these restrictions can purchase the full DaVinci Resolve Software for only US$995.

The removed features seem pretty reasonable. The 2-node restriction doesn’t allow for the more complicated Parallel, Key, and Mix nodes – which are ‘power user’ features. Yet it still supports a GPU + Red Rocket card.

BlackMagic has struck a nice balance between giving away a very powerful color grading solution but holding back enough key features that owners of the paid versions won’t complain too much.

The download can be found here. Select MacOS > DaVinci Resolve > DaVinci Resolve Lite then fill in your details to download this free app.

3-Way Color Subtab

Resolve 8.0.1 just introduced this new mouse-driven 3-Way interface

This Lite version is pretty big news but don’t lose sight of a brand new interface that makes this Lite version much more accessible to the people most likely to use it… mouse-only desktop colorists. That’s right, this new version of both Resolve for Mac and Resolve Lite now include a new 3-Way Color Panel. See my accompanying blog post about the new 3Way interface and the modifiers you can use with it to enhance your experience grading with a mouse on Resolve.

iMac and MacBookPro Support

One of the big features of version 8 is Open-GL support, allowing Resolve to run on non-Nvidia cards (except for the new Noise Reduction feature which is CUDA – only and requires one of the supported NVidia cards). This opens up DaVinci from being a tower-only app to also running on iMacs and MacBookPros. Due to the limited architectures of these machines, DaVinci describes the ideal workflows for these two particular configurations:

MacBook Pro

Ideal for ‘SD Grading and SD / HD Shot Preview’ suited for:

  • On-set, pre-grade, previewing and training
  • Real-time processing of SD DPX files
  • Apply shot by shot ‘look’ grades to HD images (for later grading in a MacPro or Linux workstation)
  • Supports internal SATA or SSD storage options (BlackMagic recommends the biggest internal SSD you can afford for the best performance)


Best for ‘SD or HD 720p Grading’ suited for:

  • Pre-grade, Previewing and Training
  • Realtime processing of 720p images
  • Preview, grade, render HD images
  • Internal SATA or SSD storage options (again, they recommend a big internal SSD for performance with FireWire, USB, or Internal SATA only for low resolution images if realtime performance is required)

Resolve & Lite: Supported Configurations

Lite may be free but it’s still powerful and requires a very modern Graphics Processing board in iMacs and MacBook Pros for it to work properly. Version 8 was re-written to support Open-GL – the programming language that Apple has embraced for it’s graphics cards. For MacBook Pros, here’s the relevant  requirements for optimal performance of Resolve and Resolve Lite:

The MacBook Pro contains two GPUs; one for high performance graphics and the other for better battery life. It is essential to enter the Energy Saver preferences, in the System Preferences of Mac OS X, and select the high performance graphics option. Failing to do so will render Resolve unusable. On the mid 2009 model, set the Graphics radio button to “Higher Performance”. On the mid 2010 and early 2011 models, disable the “Automatic graphics switching” checkbox.

At the time of its release (Late July 2011) here are the specific MacBook Pro Specs:

  • 17-inch, Mid 2009, 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 17-inch, Mid 2009, 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 17-inch, Mid 2010, 2.53GHz Intel Core i5
  • 17-inch, Mid 2010, 2.66GHz Intel Core i7
  • 17-inch, Early 2011, 2.2GHz Intel Core i7
  • 17-inch, Early 2011, 2.3GHz Intel Core i7
  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6.7
  • RAM: 8 GB

Also as of late July 2011, here are the specific iMac Specs:

  • 21.5-inch, Mid 2011, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5
  • 21.5-inch, Mid 2011, 2.7GHz Intel Core i5
  • 21.5-inch, Mid 2011, 2.8GHz Intel Core i7
  • 27-inch, Mid 2011, 2.7GHz Intel Core i5
  • 27-inch, Mid 2011, 3.1GHz Intel Core i5
  • 27-inch, Mid 2011, 3.4GHz Intel Core i7
  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6.7
  • RAM: 8 GB

What About Mac OS Lion?

According to an email I received from BlackMagic – Resolve 8.0.1 and Resolve Lite 8.0.1 Public Beta are both Lion-ready. Decklink users should update to the latest drivers, which are also Lion-ready. I myself haven’t had time to test it. I suggest running these configurations on a separate boot drive or partition to make sure everything is working properly before putting it into a production situation.



Related Posts (automatically generated)

FTC Disclosure
Tao of Color is part of the DaVinci Resolve Beta team but purchased Resolve at full retail price and has not received compensation, goods, or services from any 3rd Party mentioned in this post. We hope, one day, this might change. Affiliate links are used throughout this website, sometimes resulting in a commission on sales (which helps support TaoOfColor.com) but without raising the price you pay by one cent.

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  1. DC Reels July 23, 2011 at 6:21 PM #

    That 17″ minimum req. is no joke. Sadly Resolve 8 won’t work on my 15″ MBP. The bottom of the screen, which includes the all important nav bar, is cut off. There’s no way around it.

    • Mauricio de Oliveira July 23, 2011 at 10:43 PM #

      I do have a 15″MBP with high res display and I can see only a tiny top portion of these buttons, what enables me to navigate over the software. The another way around I’ve been using, is to connect my MBP to my FullHD monitor. It works like a charm. :d

  2. Adrian Jebef July 30, 2011 at 4:40 PM #

    You can rescale Resolve to run on a 15″ MBP by opening Terminal and typing:


    defaults write com.blackmagic-design.davinci.Resolve
    AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.87

    • Patrick Inhofer July 31, 2011 at 1:35 AM #

      Careful with this command. We were working on a system this weekend that used this command to fit the GUI on a 20″ Cinema Display. Critical right-click commands weren’t recognized by Resolve.

      Of course, this problem may have been the result of some other things going on with the system… I’m just saying tread thoughtfully until more data points are in to say this is an acceptable work-around.

      • DC Reels August 1, 2011 at 4:41 AM #

        Thanks for that caution, Patrick!

        Is there a way to undo that command? I hesitate to try it w/out knowing I can cancel it. If there is one I’ll try it and report back my finding.

      • Locksnow August 22, 2012 at 6:24 PM #

        I’m on a 13 inch macbook and part of the screen is cut off and nothing happens when i click zoom out help please

    • Ben Goertz August 2, 2011 at 1:18 AM #

      Are you using Lion or Snow Leopard? I’ve read this doesn’t work in Lion. Can you confirm?

  3. Kris August 2, 2011 at 10:32 PM #

    it doesn’t work for me either.
    it says

    -bash: AppleDisplayScaleFactor: command not found

    would someone point me in the right direction?

    • Ed August 11, 2011 at 4:22 PM #

      Kris, that command should all be on one line, like this:
      defaults write com.blackmagic-design.davinci.Resolve AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.87

  4. Neil October 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM #

    Hi, sorry for my bad English.

    How does it compare and stack up against to Magic Bullet looks and Colorista?Since it only has two nodes and I can duplicate a lot of seconadies using colorista II.

    • Patrick Inhofer October 27, 2011 at 1:31 PM #

      BlackMagic consider Resolve Lite to be a training tool. It’ll help you get comfortable with the interface, do small jobs, and figure out if Resolve can run on your hardware.

  5. Kenneth January 17, 2012 at 4:19 PM #

    Okay, don’t throw anything at me…but when will a Win 7 version be available?!

  6. Marc Miller January 19, 2012 at 1:31 AM #

    Great find today your blogsite is. (I sound like Yoda). I’m a dp who is also an editor and having been around since the good old film days I’ve always believed good color graders and their grading skills were my best friends. Going all the way back to the old Hazeltine machines, through the many iterations of Rank Cintel apparati to Davinci systems. Now with digital cinema in full swing and my NLE editing I’m finding it necessary to upgrade my personal skills by bringing more than simple 3 way color grades to my projects. To that end I’m learning Resolve Lite on my new MBP i7. Here’s my question to anyone who wants to answer: What hardware do I need to run the full Resolve but not the full blown tricked out system, just a way to get up and running and then build onto it if my business model warrants the full tricked out system. For example: What monitor to view real colors? What scopes? What video cards and computer? Does someone have a nice list I can use to price things out by? – Thanks a heap.PS, I’m a Mac not a PC, I cut on Avid not FCP and I shoot all digital anymore these days. Haven’t seen a sprocket hole in 5 years. RIP Kodak.

    • Patrick Inhofer January 19, 2012 at 1:36 PM #

      Hi Marc,

      DaVinci has a VERY extensive configuration guide on putting together a system to run Resolve. They cover workflows from a laptop through a desktop – as well as different GPU recommendations, hard drives, etc.

      Much of this depends on the codecs and workflows you want to support and the Resolve Config Guide shows multiples of setups for varying configs.

      Monitoring is a very tricky topic if you’re looking to spend less than $5k. They’re all trade-offs and it’s best to not kid ourselves into thinking otherwise (and I’ve seen some pretty extensive self-justification taking place in this regard). It’s best to understand that you’ll need to rely heavily on your scopes to know what’s really going on with your image. But shot-to-shot matching (80% of our work) can be done on practically any monitor. It’s know what the image actually looks like that gets tricky.

      • Caitya January 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM #

        I have a dell laptop with smaller screen (not 1920×1080). Can I do something similar as one with Mac?

        • Patrick Inhofer January 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM #


          On the download page for Resolve for Windows is also a very VERY extensive configuration guide. It was just updated last week.

          You’ll need to read through that to see which laptop configurations they support.


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