One Year Later: A Video Review of the DaVinci Resolve Mini Colorist Control Surface

One Year Later – A Resolve Mini Video Review

June 5, 2018

In this 'Resolve Mini' control surface Video Review, see several exciting features in action - plus a bug that confuses things.


Series

Demo’ing Features Unique To Mid-Tier Control Surfaces

It was over a year ago that the DaVinci Resolve Mini and Micro control surfaces started shipping. Mixing Light contributor Joey D’Anna had a terrific overview of the Mini, highlighting its major features. He was followed up by contributor Marc Weilage sharing his thoughts on the Mini, based on several weeks worth of ‘stick time’ and from the perspective of a traditional Hollywood colorist. Both contributors agreed: If you spend considerable amounts of time on Resolve’s Color page then this panel will super-charge your productivity.

One year later, the Mini makes it into my grading suite for the first time. After my first few hours with the Mini and this Insight is my Resolve Mini video review of my first impressions.

The Resolve Mini Panel & Flanders Scientific DM250 in a Color Suite
Patrick’s grading suite, upgraded to the Resolve Mini control surface and the Flanders Scientific DM250 (plus the newly added Stream Deck).

Video review of first impressions with the Resolve Mini Colorist Control Surface

In this video review I skip the orientation of the panel layout (if you’d like a more detailed walkthrough then Joey’s and Marc’s Insights, linked above, are your next stop). Instead, I focus on those features that excited me during the first few hours of exploring this hardware.

As I say in the video, when you start working with any control surface your productivity skyrockets. But there’s always a hidden cost…

The hidden cost is that you generally limit yourself to the tools mapped to the control surface. You tend to go to the mouse for the un-mapped tools only when you really, really need them. The Mini panel is reopening tools that I use much less than I would like. Tools that none of the 3rd party panels have mapped to their buttons.

That’s the advantage of the Mini over other panels – including the well designed Tangent Element. You have immediate access to more tools and widgets, without moving the mouse.

Is the Mini worth the cost of upgrading from a Tangent Element?

A full set of 4 Element panels costs almost as much as a Mini, so it’s fair to compare the two. And many pros who own the Element are the target market for the Mini. If you own the full set of Elements then you may wonder if I think it’s worth swapping out to the Mini? In my opinion, it depends on how you’re using DaVinci Resolve:

  • Are you working 85% of the time in DaVinci Resolve and more than 50% on the Color page? If that’s you and you already own a full set of Elements? I’d consider selling the Elements and upgrading to the Mini. For you, the Mini will give you a productivity boost worth the net investment. And if you’re spending this much time on the Color page and own any other of the lower priced panels, then the Mini upgrade is a no-brainer. If you’ve got the money – do the upgrade.
  • Do you split your time 50/50 between Resolve and one of the other major NLEs? For you, the problem is the Mini only works with Resolve. If you own a full set of Elements I’d keep them (unless you have excess capital laying around that you want to invest). I really like the Elements with Premiere Pro and FCPx. And the one big thing missing from the Resolve Mini is jog functionality, which the Elements excel at (even in DaVinci Resolve). What if you’re making your first big control panel investment and you’re splitting your time 50/50 with other major NLEs? I give the nod to the Tangent Elements, simply for their versatility.

Also in this Video Insight: Informal Colorist Flight School announcement

This Insight is also a dry run for my upcoming Colorist Flight School, which is officially in pre-production. Colorist Flight School is my advanced color grading training program. It’s more than just a Course, it’s interactive between you and me. An integral part of that Program is recreating the experience of sitting next to me and watching me work. This includes watching my hands on the control surface.

This Insight is the first of two dry runs. I’m experimenting with an overhead camera. I’m also working on the presentation of my hands on the control surface, plus the image in the Viewer, and the tool I’m manipulating.

Special Thanks to Flanders Scientific and Blackmagic Design

Because Colorist Flight School is such a popular Program, I reached out to Flanders Scientific and Blackmagic to see if they wanted to support the effort and have Mixing Light feature their latest and greatest gear? And both stepped up to the plate and helped gear-up Mixing Light’s Southern Command Center!

Special Thanks to Flanders Scientific: Since the reference display I’ve been using (the CM250) is no longer for sale, FSI generously upgraded it to the DM250 (although I apologize to FSI, in this video there’s a refresh mismatch between the camera and the display… hence, the purpose of the dry run – helping me build out my pre-recording checklist).

Special Thanks to Blackmagic Design: Since my first Colorist Flight School on Mixing Light is being recorded with DaVinci Resolve, I thought Blackmagic might want to feature the Resolve Mini panel. They agreed. The Resolve Mini you see me working on is generously provided by Blackmagic as a long-term loan.

I greatly appreciate the support and generosity of FSI and BMD. I take it as a sign that they trust I present their products fairly. But I work hard to present their products to you with integrity and honesty.

Use the comments to share your thoughts

Do you have questions about the Resolve Mini? Have you been using it and want to share your observations? Use the comments below! We love the conversations, thoughts and learning inspired by your feedback.

Enjoy!

-pi


Comments

28 thoughts on “One Year Later – A Resolve Mini Video Review”

  1. On mac I think a BM micro surface with on 1-3 midi twisters with midi grade or controllermate directly can provider a faster solution than the mini panel. Having the midi twister 4×4 knobs/buttons allows you to display a colorized lift gama gain offset in yrgb in one panel without changing pages. I have one midi twister that switches banks with the f16-f19 keys on my keyboard. Each bank has colorized knobs that make it super easy to remember what value its controlling.

    1. Yeah, the only problem with the RGB primary sliders in the Mini is that you have to toggle pages to get full access. But the rest of the controls of the Mini is well worth the cash, if you’re in the market at that price point. Which midi twisters are you using?

      1. I mean with 2 midi twisers and a midi fighter lined up behind a BM micro, I would rarely have to paginate and could colorize each group of buttons to remember them. However I currently change banks on my single midi twister with the F-16-19 keys and it takes advantage of my 2 hands and becomes though-less. I set up a course fine control if i hold the shift key. I use this one the knobs don’t have hard stops and also act as buttons or if you hold and twist that can be another function as well. I also devote one knob to just be a generic mouse drag and it works on open fx plugins etc.
        I noticed there was a NODEjs library that lets you programmatically control the mouse and keyboard via midi and javascript . I may attempt a cross platform app to control resolve using it, since midi grade is mac only and the windows options are kinda lame currently.

        Maybe you can find a way to change pages in the BM device via your keyboard then you can also utilize 2 hands.

        https://store.djtechtools.com/products/midi-fighter-twister

  2. There’s sleep mode? I just take the plug out.

    On another note: I definitely agree that with the mini I grade differently than with other panels. Specially curves. I bought a micro for myself at home but sometimes regret not having saved a little bit more money for the mini!

    1. Yup. Starting with Resolve 15 beta 4, BMD is shipping v1.2 of the Mini software – which adds sleep mode! I’m amazed all the Mini users haven’t had that for the past year. It was about to be my #1 complaint until I installed beta 4.

      1. 15 is becoming one of the greatest updates, but not because of a major new feature (although there are some really cool ones – multiple timeline needles and shared nodes are two of my favorites). Instead it’s these little things that really make a difference.

          1. If that’s the case, you should report this to Blackmagic. But make sure your panel is running version 1.2. If not, go into the DaVinci Resolve Panels app and you should be able to force the update from there.

      2. Brilliant! I’ve grown tired of unplugging every time I finish working. Is there a list of updates of the 1.2 firmware? Is that firmware something that has to be downloaded and installed manually, or does it automatically come with 15 beta 4?

        1. It’s included with the 15b4 installer. I’m not aware of any other changes to the panel other than sleep mode. Note: On some (but not all) Windows configurations the mini stops working. I’ve been told they’re working on a fix for this.

          1. Would you know if the 1.2 Mini software has any issues with Resolve 14.3? I’d love a sleep mode, but i’m not moving to 15 for a long time yet!!

          2. The 1.2 Mini Software was released last month. Resolve 14.3 hasn’t been updated since February. And the 1.2 Mini Software isn’t being delivered as a stand-alone. You could try to install just the 1.2 update package from the Beta installer – but I’d be reluctant to do so. If something goes wrong then the fix may require a complete wipe of Resolve – which is always a PITA.

          3. Installed the 1.2 mini software with another machine, will post if I run into any problems using Mini 1.2 with Resolve 14.3!

  3. Great insight, Patrick. I’ve been on the Mini for a year now and love it. You directed me to some functions that I have overlooked, mainly due to mouse memory (BAD habit)! Can’t wait to dig into these “new functions.”

  4. Hello Patrick,
    Thanks for this review. Very interesting. Could you give me the dimension of the Resolve Mini, very difficult to find accurate measures.
    Thanks in advance

    1. It’s not a perfect square, but tapers from narrow to wide, front to back.

      Front Width: 16.5 inches; Widest point: 17 inches; Depth bottom: 14 inches; Tapered bridge additional depth: ~1.5 inches; Height at Bridge: ~16.5 inches

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