Using the Key Mixer in DaVinci Resolve

In Action: Working With the Key Mixer (in DaVinci Resolve)

June 19, 2017

In Part 2 of this series on working with alpha channels in DaVinci Resolve, learn how to use the Key Mixer to solve tricky a tricky problem on a commercial.


Part 2: Breaking Down a Difficult Shot and Using the Key Mixer

As a general rule of thumb… the more experienced at color grading I become the more I resist building complicated node trees with lots lots of ‘image segmentation’. The biggest reason: If you want natural-looking images then the best way of getting there is to let the image ‘grade up’ the way it wants to. This means don’t do lots of keys, don’t use tons of masks or shapes, don’t do lots of rotoscoping work.

But commercials are different.

Very rarely is it about letting the image look natural. It’s about making the product look as good as you can and projecting a definite (and usually, positive) ‘vibe’.

As you saw in Part 1 of this breakdown of a car commercial… the Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t cooperating with us. The distant city was naturally hazy and the sky was lifeless. We ended up with a slightly pushed, stylized look.

In Part 2 we have a new city, similar problem.

Fixing a dull background using the Key Mixer (and multiple external mattes)

On a different shot, we’ll use multiple rotoscoped elements and combine them to cut out the foreground. The purpose is to get a precise separation between foreground and background and do a completely different color correction on each – but still have them feel like a single blended image.

In the process of keying out the foreground, after combining the various mattes in the Key Mixer, we find a ‘hole’ in the matte that we have to plug. And then we need to decide how to attack the background – once the foreground node tree is built.

Comments and reactions are always welcome

At the bottom of this Insight you can leave questions, comments and reactions to start a discussion. And if your name doesn’t appear as you like it in the Comments, log in to this new page on Mixing Light to update your ‘social name’. Remember, we have a Real Names policy!



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Homepage Forums In Action: Working With the Key Mixer (in DaVinci Resolve)

  • andi winter

    hmmm… thanks patrick! pardon my question, but: isn’t it completely overgraded? did the client want this vibrant colors, or did you? it is not meant as a critic, i am just eager to know 😉

    in my experience, grading a cloudy day into sunshine NEVER works. it might to a certain extent, but not 100%, most of the time the picture gets alienated, plastic.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I’ve never been happy with that grade. It’s forced. But you do what’s necessary and required. In the end they wanted pop and they wanted the car to look right – they felt they got that.

    But I didn’t share this because I think it’s an awesome grade (that’s all anyone ever shows) – it’s about how to use the toolset in various combinations to get at different elements you need to control.

  • andi winter

    thanks patrick. i was just curious. it is an interesting topic: how flexibel should a colorist be with his personal taste… isn’t it oftentimes the taste of one person that gets him a good reputation and therefore booked? or should we consider ourselves as the technicians doing what our client wants? or something in between?

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I think a colorist’s ability to get the client what they want is what keeps them booked. For some clients, they rely heavily on the colorist’s vision. For others, that vision is storyboarded and the colorist is there to execute, regardless how well or poorly the production captured footage to achieve those stated goals.

    You need to be able to step up, when asked – and step aside, when needed.

  • Thanks for the insight. I would like to know how long you spent on that shot to get it where its at. Also If you didnt have access to a roto person, how mush extra time would you allow for.

    I personally would have also asked the roto department to do a sky matte as I think a glossier sky would have made more of an impact on the shot. Is that something you would suggest to the client? But I guess you do one sky replacement then you find the job expands big time for the other shots.

    Thanks for sharing.

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