How To Develop A Fixed Node Structure In DaVinci Resolve: Part 1

January 9, 2019

Building out node trees on the DaVinci Resolve Color page can be a messy affair. And haphazard. Learn how to develop a personalized node tree.

Day 9: 25 Insights in 25 Days 2019 New Year Marathon!

Learn A More Structured Way to Color Grade

Over the past year – I’ve been using a fixed node structure workflow in Resolve almost exclusively. So what is a fixed node structure? It’s a template, or Power Grade – that has a fixed set of nodes, and I use it on every shot in a project. At first, this may sound limiting – but it isn’t! It can be a great way to optimize your workflow, and many feature film colorists swear by this method. A fixed structure has a few big advantages:

Saving Time

My node structure saves me time. I’ve pre-built a bunch of tools I use regularly, including various power windows, keys for highlight recovery, a vignette, noise reduction and film grain. I may not use all of them in every project, and I’ll always tweak their settings to the individual shot – but having everything built in advance saves me a ton of repetitive work as I’m grading.

Staying Organized

Once you settle on a node structure and use it often – you develop muscle memory for it. Just like the controls on the panel – I intuitively know where everything is. I can navigate much faster than if each shot had its own bespoke node tree. It also makes managing client revisions, and coming back to a project later – much easier.

Working With A Team

Recently I was tasked with supervising and training 2 other colorists to work on a project at a major cable network. I wasn’t going to be doing the actual grading – but I was assisting, training and supervising. One of the first things I did was I sat down with both colorists, explained why I use a fixed node structure – and walked them through my template. We decided on same changes to it for their preferred ways of working, and settled on a locked template. Now, with the project in full swing – any of the three of us can open any grade on any shot, and know where everything is. There’s no reverse engineering or detective work. Fixed node structures can enable teams to work together much faster than if everybody builds out nodes differently for every shot.

How To Build Your Own Template

In this Insight – I’ll walk you through the actual template I use. I’ll explain how it works, how I use it, and how to build one yourself that fits your needs. You’ll also learn a quick tip on how to get your new nodes to number sequentially, adding another layer of speed to your node tree navigation.

Coming Up: Resolve Commands That Only Work With A Structured Node Tree

This Insight lays the groundwork for Part 2, coming next week. In Part 2 – I’ll dig into some really useful tools that you can only really take advantage of if you’re using a fixed structure, including:

  • Rippling
  • Using “select same node” to grade faster
  • Using “Preserve Number of Nodes”

Premium Members: Download This Insight’s Node Tree

Finally – I’m including my template as a downloadable DRX. If you’re a Premium member feel free to download and study it as an example to test out this workflow, to follow along in Part 2, or as a basis to build your own.

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Homepage Forums How To Develop A Fixed Node Structure In DaVinci Resolve: Part 1

  • Kenedy T

    Hi guys, this is amazing! I am waiting for part 2 please!
    I really need to integrate this into my workflow to be a more efficient colorist!

  • Joey D’Anna

    Thanks! Part 2 is coming very soon. I think you’ll really like it.

  • Joey D’Anna

  • Jose S

    Hi Joey, great insight! I always use a fixed node tree, for each project. I have a prebuilt node tree which I essentially saw online from another Colorist. I’ve been trying to create my own node tree but I’ve gotten so used to using that one everytime I try to create one for me I keep getting back to it.

    I’m starting to do some advertisement work, but my bread and butter are short films between 30 and 60 min, a lot of it for theatrical release/festivals so I often use a transform lut at the end of the chain. Normally on the timeline, but more recently I started using it on the post clip group.

    My point is: I really like your node tree, but you put the lut on each clip, I would love to see a node tree, thought out for people who work with a node or the main image transform at the very end.

    I really want to break free of this node tree I’m using, I could use some inspiration 🙂

  • Joey D’Anna


    Off the top of my head – if I wanted to use my structure but adapt it to have the final transform on a post-clip group (which is a great way of working – I love groups, and use them with this node structure regularly) – I would just chop off the back half of the node tree. Get rid of the post-transform highlight recovery and trims, and go straight from the colorspace transform to the post stuff like vignette, NR, Grain, etc.

    I would leave the CST in there though – because if you are using a LUT on your post-clip group, you may still want to use the CST to convert something to the right input for that lut (for example converting redlogfilm to logC to use a LUT that expects logC).

    Thats just how i would think of it – feel free to take my template and tear it apart and do some tests to see what feels best for how you work!

  • Davide D

    To install this on a mac System go to the unzipped fille and change the .drx suffix to .dpx and you can import it as usual via gallery

  • Robbie Carman

    Davide – that will work because it pulls in the DPX associated with the DRX but the DRX (DaVinci Resolve Exchange) file is the standard way to distribute grades – in fact any time you export a still it creates a DRX along side the image format of your choice.

    On import (both Mac & PC) you need to click on options in the gallery import dialog first and then from the pulldown menu choose DRX or all files. See attached screen shot.

    There is no need to change the extension of the drx to dpx.

  • Alastair

    i just had a huge “aha!” moment in this insight when you extracted the serial nodes and rebuilt the tree manually. i’ve always been frustrated with the prev node/next node buttons, even when i’ve tried to take care to build the tree in the right order, so huge thanks for that tip!

  • Conor G

    Thanks for the great tutorial Joey—I really like the parallel approach.

    One question: If I’d like to break up my BASE correction into separate nodes for Primary, Color Balance, and Saturation (similar to Patrick), is there a way to do that in your node structure? I know having those broken out into parallels will give you a different result as opposed to a traditional serial approach.


  • Joey D’Anna

    Hi Conor! Absolutely. The way I could do it is add serial nodes after the base grade node. Then that whole serial chain will be parallel to your other trim nodes – still allowing you to use the advantage of parallel nodes to isolate inputs for qualifiers, but allowing you to have traditional serial nodes to break out primary/balance/saturation or anything else you want.

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