Using The Surface Tracker for Color Grading – Part 1

November 4, 2022

Learn how to use Resolve's 'Surface Tracker' Resolve FX for color grading - using it as a Power Window or to warp an existing Power Window.


Part 1: Using the Surface Tracker Resolve FX as a Power Window

Resolve 18’s new surface tracker tool is a great way to place logos, paint out imperfections, and do other VFX tasks on dynamically moving and warping surfaces. But what you may not realize at first – is that it is also a fantastic tool for isolating and tracking things for color grading tasks, where a simple power window isn’t getting the job done.

Key takeaways from this Insight

By the end of this Insight you should understand how to:

  • Understand the difference between using an OFX on it’s own node or on a corrector node, and how it pertains to the surface tracker.
  • Using the surface tracker to generate a mask based on a dynamically deforming surface
  • Adjusting the matte made by the surface tracker and using it to drive other corrections
  • Using the surface tracker to dynamically warp a power window you’ve drawn’ to match a moving surface

UPDATE, November 2022: DaVinci Resolve 18.1 changes the behavior of OpenFX inputs on serial nodes, as demonstrated in the video for this Insight. More details on this new behavior can be found in my Insight, New Little Features Packing A Punch in DaVinci Resolve 18.1.

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Homepage Forums Using The Surface Tracker for Color Grading – Part 1

  • This is really cool, great tips on this tool, thank you. I hadn’t noticed the Create matte option there. I recently used the Surface Tracker (in Fusion) to roto something which I was having trouble keying – having the tracker with warp my matte, I only needed two keyframes in the matte for a clean roto, rather than probably forty or more manual keyframes.


  • Wow … this was both 1) simple enough to learn quickly and 2) super useful … thanks Joey. Looking forward to the next one.

  • As soon as I saw the surface tracker I wanted to use it for power windows, but hadn’t figured out how yet. Thanks for this!


    I wonder if/how you integrate a workflow like this with a fixed node tree. Would you build this into a compound node as part of your default tree?

    • I thought the same thing – what I’ve started testing out is having a blank compound node at the beginning in the camera space section, and in the middle in the ACES section of my fixed node tree – therefore allowing me to build shot-unique complex specific things if needed, without interrupting the fixed node tree. Still playing around with it but it works pretty well.


  • This is amazing – great insight!

  • Just a quick update – in this Insight – I explain some difference between OFX nodes and OFX plugins on corrector nodes – including limitations of input mattes. Well – 18.1 has changed this slightly and now corrector nodes CAN have an OFX matte input! more info in my Insight on 18.1:


    New Little Features Packing A Punch In DaVinci Resolve 18.1

  • What a powerful tool.

  • Can you just use the regular Resolve Blur instead of the OFX?

    • Sure – you should be able to use any tools on the color page.

  • d

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  Darrin KLimek.

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