How to Use Manual Color Trace in DaVinci Resolve

How to Use Manual Color Trace in DaVinci Resolve

June 25, 2014

This is Part 3 in a series on using DaVinci Resolve's Color Trace function. In this final movie we explore the Manual Color Trace mode.


Color Trace Part 3: The Manual Color Trace Mode

In Part 1 of this series of Insights, I introduced the overall Color Trace workflow in DaVinci Resolve… which is used to copy your color grades from one timeline into another timeline, even if they’re in different projects within the same database.

In Part 2 I showed a slightly more complicated workflow where we Color Traced in Automatic Mode from a 100-minute film on one database to a 5-minute cut-down on a completely different database.

Here I Part 3 I’ll wrap this series showing how to do a Manual Color Trace, for those times when Automatic Color Trace doesn’t work.

When Automatic Color Trace Fails

There is one very specific scenario where Resolve colorists find themselves forced into doing a Manual Color Trace: When you’ve color corrected an entire timeline – but suddenly realize you need to change the time-base of the timeline.

I’ve had this happen a few times when I needed to change from 23.976 to 29.97. In Resolve, there’s no way to do this without completely deleting everything from the project and starting fresh. If you’ve been color grading 1200 shots for 5 days, deleting all your work and starting from scratch is a sure way to lose your sanity and your client.

This is one case where the Manual Color Trace comes to the rescue.

How to Use Manual Color Trace

When you need to Color Trace between two timelines that have different time-bases, DaVinci Resolve forces you into Manual Color Trace mode. Automatic Color Trace isn’t an option.

In this Insight, I’ll first show you a very simple Manual Color Trace, that about 5 clicks if your two timelines are completely identical. I’ll then show you the more complicated version when doing a Manual Color Trace between two different timelines that are also at different frame rates (believe it or not, I’ve had this situation happen to me more than once).

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