The Benefits Of Fixed Node Structures in DaVinci Resolve – Part 2

January 16, 2019

In Part 1 you learned how to build a Fixed Node Structure in Resolve's node tree when color grading. Now learn its huge time-saving benefits.


Series
Day 16: 25 Insights in 25 Days 2019 New Year Marathon!

The Benefits and Advantages Of Using A Fixed Node Structure

In Part One, I introduced the concept of using a fixed node structure for every shot on a project. I mentioned that there are advantages to that workflow. Mostly, fixed node structures speed up your work. I explained some of the reasons why I use them, and shared some tips on building your own. In this Insight – we dig deeper. I’m introducing you to great tools and workflows designed specifically for colorists using a fixed node structure. It’s all designed to get you color grading, faster.

Efficient Tools for Faster Grading

Committing to a fixed node structure for a project opens up a few tools in DaVinci Resolve that most colorists rarely touch. In the video you learn how to:

  • Use  the “Switching Clips Selects Same Node” node graph option to avoid going back to your UI monitor to find the node you want to adjust.
  • Use multiple playheads to quickly match shots – again, using the “Switching Clips Selects Same Node” option.
  • Understand the “Preserve Number of Nodes” options in the Gallery.
  • Use Resolve’s powerful Ripple commands, and preferences for making important tweaks to how those commands work.

Ripple: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The most useful color grading command with a fixed node structure is Ripple. Ripple allows you to apply only what has changed in a node, to that same node in every shot you have selected (or in the current group). This is a super fast way of working across whole scenes while addressing client notes.

But – Ripple also has the potential to be dangerous because it’s applying a change to a bunch of shots instantly. Ripple does NOT cleanly undo if you make a mistake. It’s easy to mess up your grade if you get it wrong. Because of this, as you’re getting started I recommend turning off Live Save.  Then, always Save your project before using Ripple – that way you can always revert back to a previous save if needed.

Don’t let that warning discourage you – once you get your head around how ripple works and the different ways you can use it to apply changes – you find yourself loving how much it can speed up your grading. Especially in fast-paced client-supervised sessions.

-joey

 

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Homepage Forums The Benefits Of Fixed Node Structures in DaVinci Resolve – Part 2

  • This topic has 37 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 7 months ago by Willian Aleman.
Viewing 36 reply threads

    • Adam H
      Guest

      These two tutorials are absolutely brilliant. Extremely useful, clear, and concise. Thank you so much! I hope you do more insights.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thank you so much! I love this workflow, it really has sped me up and kept me organized.


    • Scott Stacy
      Guest

      Packed full of great ideas. Very useful and awesome way to organize changes with the fixed node tree and ripple functions. Thanks!


    • Pat Inhofer
      Guest

      Adam – I’ve seen a few colorists explain the benefits of fixed node structures and rippling. What Joey has done here is outstanding. And yes, he’s coming back for more Insights (assuming he survives flying his drones).


    • Ibon O
      Guest

      Joey! Thank you soooo much for all your insights. You master like nobody else all the functions of Davinci to speed it up processes in order to gain time for creativity. Personally I connect always with the way you take care of consistency, organization,etc Should be a good reminder for others that artistry without craft is much more difficult. Thanks.


    • Jose S
      Guest

      Another great insight!! Ripple just blew my mind… Can’t believe I never used it!

      Just wanted to point out that you can define that option in the Resolve user settings and always have it set that way.


    • Tim Whiting
      Guest

      This is the video that finally made fixed node structures click with me.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thanks so much – you hit the nail on the head, for me this kind of workflow is about getting the technical out of the way so I can focus on the creative. The less time I spend looking at the UI and figuring out where I am and what I need to do, the more time I can devote to the creative process of grading


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thanks! Yea ripple is super powerful once you get your head around it. I wish it had its own page on the mini panel to save me having to go into preferences if i want to change the ripple mode – but I do have ripple selected and ripple to group mapped to shortcuts on my streamdeck to get to them faster.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thats great to hear. While they aren’t the answer for every single project, I use them almost all the time. Using them has absolutely sped up my grading, which is a huge deal when you’ve got a client in the suite and your trying to get through a lot of notes on a show or a spot in a short amount of time.


    • Kenedy T
      Guest

      Thanks for this! Amazing…


    • Seth T
      Guest

      First time I’ve seen Ripple explained in a live fashion… and this is life changing! thank you! Always learning!


    • Willian Aleman
      Guest

      WOW, Joey, this is a fantastic and really helpful workflow. You have motivated me to jump into my own fixed node tree, but the use of the ripple feature will be part of all of them whn applicable. A very well concise insight, as always.


    • Grant McNair
      Guest

      Thanks so much for this series, Joey. I’ll be moving to a fixed node structure on the next project!


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Hey everyone – just an FYI – one thing I forgot to mention when I was explaining ripple, It’s only going to track the changes on the node while you are on the shot.

      So for example if you make a change, then switch shots, then switch back to the shot you were working on – ripple won’t know that anything has changed (because as far as resolve is concerned – the node hasn’t changed since you opened the shot).

      Just figured I would add that, in case you get caught trying to ripple a change and it not applying for you.
      Happy rippling!


    • George D
      Guest

      Invaluable, I’m learning so much, easy to understand. Thanks so much Joey. Just a question about color management: I see you are using a color space transform inside the node tree as well as a LUT. How does this mesh with Resolve color management, where color space transform is on the media level? Do you have that turned off? What are the pros and cons using Resolve color management as opposed to using it on a clip level in the node tree? Why the extra Alexa LUT, is it introducing clipping?


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Hi George –

      Thanks! Yes in this workflow I usually leave RCM turned off, and instead handle the transform myself. This gives me a bit more control – as I can manipulate the image both before and after the transform. The downside? You do loose the flexibility to easily switch output transforms, so for example when working in HDR – I use a different (but still fixed) node tree – and make use of RCM instead of doing a transform in the node tree.

      As for the LUT – I don’t always use one (in fact I rarely do), but I wanted to keep the option open so I built the node into my template. Sometimes I’ll use a film print emulation that is expecting a LogC input, but not be working with LogC footage – So for example I’ll use a CST to transform RedLogFilm into LogC – then normalize that LogC image using a Arri LUT, or a film print emulation LUT designed for LogC.

      I still get the flexibility of adjusting the image both before and after the LUT, or not using a LUT at all and normalizing footage using just a CST. Sometimes I’ll use neither and just use a custom curve on that LUT node as well, it all depends on the footage.


    • Carey D
      Guest

      Hi Joey, you’ve done some great work here. I have started to use fixed node structures a lot in the past 6 months or so but they were a little more organic and of my own design, and tended to vary somewhat project to project. They were largely serial node structures. For example, I’d often start with a node labeled “Expose” where I’d do LGG and Offset corrections, moving into a blank node I’d label “Window”, where, if needed, I’d create a window, adjust it, track it, etc. From here moving on to a CST, usually set to bring whatever the footage was (ie RedLog) over to Arri Log C, then on to some grading nodes, sometimes a “de-pink” node (Sony cams flesh always too pink). I even experimented with nodes labeled “Temp” and “Sat” for a dedicated place to perform those operations. Then moving on to a Final transform, followed by a place for a LUT node, and NR, and then a final blank node called “Finisher”. So I naturally had sort of evolved to a lot of the same ideas you are representing here…but your structure is really next level compared to where I’ve been so far. For example, If I needed more power windows I’d often just add another node (sometimes serial, sometimes parallel) for that, or do a outside node, or some such. However, that would “break” the ability to ripple in many situations. So it wasn’t perfect but still a value for revising grades and having specific places for operations.

      Next level: But what you’ve done here with the parallel nodes with starter windows is really well thought out and takes the idea quite a bit further than I have to date. I really like you having more options in the starter set…and keeping the node structures fixed really is quite valuable for rippling changes. I’m about to start a couple new series and will be doing a version of this approach on each. With around 1000 shots per ep and a lot of variance I’m leaning towards keeping all the finishing nodes in the main structure and not in a post clip group, need to make a decision on that soon. But anyway…Thanks for this. Great stuff.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thanks Carey! Yea I definitely sometimes change up the structure to fit a different project. This is kind of my main starting point, but I’ll use some different structures for projects that need them. Just love having it fixed so I can keep the same node selected and use ripple.


    • Marc Wielage
      Guest

      One important thing I would add is that Fixed Node Structures ideally need to be done with the big (Advanced) panels, because those are the only ones that allow jumping immediately to a specific node without multiple button pressings. Number + go to node , you’re there. Without that, it’s much more of a struggle. Fixed Nodes alone are only part of the puzzle; the big panels and the time needed to learn the muscle memory on where every button is located is the rest of it. After a few weeks, it becomes second nature to hit buttons without having to look down where you’re at. That combination makes more efficient work… by design.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Yea i would LOVE if BMD added a keyboard shortcut for that so i could program bookmarked nodes on the streamdeck.
      I tried macroing prev/next node keys but the response was too slow to be useful


    • Alastair
      Guest

      another great “aha!” moment for me in this insight — preserve number of nodes! how did i not know this trick?! funny the things can slip by you 🙂 game-changer!! thank you 🙏🙏🙏


    • R Neil Haugen
      Guest

      Great explanation, Joey. Complexity made clear.


    • Rupert M
      Guest

      I am wondering if it is possible the Enable/Disable status of a node with ripple? I didn’t make it work.


    • Seth Goldin
      Guest

      I vaguely recall the ripple function not working within a group–this was maybe 6 months ago. Was that just an old bug, or am I hallucinating this?


    • Robert A
      Guest

      Hey Joey, great tutorial! Using a fixed node structure has really sped up my grading, and I’ve figured out how to create macros to select particular nodes. It sounds a little complicated, but once set up it works great most of the time. I’m using Keyboard Maestro, which allows me to set variables to certain values. I have a set of four key commands that I use to set the absolute screen positions of nodes 1,5 10, and 15. I do this at the beginning of a session by putting the cursor over, for example, node #1 and then hitting the key command I’ve set up to capture the node 1 position. I then do the same for nodes 5, 10, & 15. Takes less than 30 seconds. Then I have macros that work by going to the closest node with a simulated mouse click and then using prev/next node as necessary. I personally use Cntrl+numbers on the keypad. So for example if I do Cntrl+4 the macro does a simulated click on node 5 and then one prev node to get back to 4. The response is nice and fast. If for some reason the node tree gets moved around, it just takes me a few seconds to recapture the new node positions and I’m off and running again.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thanks!

      Yea I’ve been thinking a lot about building direct node access autohotkey scripts for awhile.

      But honestly, i keep a Kensington trackball right next to my mini panel, and since its always in the same place on my desk my muscle memory with it is excellent. I can select a node using that so fast now, its just about as quick as I am on the advanced panel calling them up by number.

      Thats another really good thing about the fixed node structure – I know where everything is at an instant, so finding something even with a regular pointing device is still super fast.

      Your way does sound really nice and quick though – well done 😉


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      It works for me – a lot of times i group things, but don’t actually put anything on the group node trees. I just use ripple changes to group to update all the shots in the group.


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Yup – Enable/Disable does work, but you have to ripple it before you switch to another node. If you enable a node, then do something on another node – then go back to the one you enabled, it wont ripple.


    • Ernest S
      Guest

      Hi Joey, great tutorial. Just checking to see if you ever decided to build scripts to call up specific nodes? Love to have those. I assume those scripts could be modified to also work for memories, allowing a macro builder like xKeys to get around the 8 memory limit. Any suggestions on a video tutorial series for beginning script writing?

      Thanks!


    • Joey D’Anna
      Guest

      Thanks! I ended up having some trouble making the script as fast as i wanted – so I bought a streamdeck XL, and actually mapped my node tree out on it with macros to click on the specific nodes.

      the only downsides are its a lot of work – and you have to keep the node tree in the same place, you cant really resize it. but it does work well.


    • Uday O
      Guest

      Oh my god! Such an useful insight, thanks Joey 🙂


    • Marco A
      Guest

      Hey, I’m a little late to the party here. Hope you guys check older posts. I’m a big fan of fixed mode structures, but I often see that they slow down my system a lot. I have an intel i9 7920x, over clicked to 3.8, and 2 2080ti. Even so, even o hd projects, I experience slower playbacks, and sync delays after a short period of time. Even if my nodes are empty. Is it normal? Thanks


    • Evan A
      Guest

      People have posted about this on LGG it seems to be a known issue that some people are seeing.


    • Willian Aleman
      Guest

      It would be interesting to see an example when and how we get in trouble with ripple operations.
      Everybody talk about the dangerous, but I haven’t seen yet how we get there or why in a video tutorial.
      This might safe us lots of troubles. If this has been already shown here, please redirect me to the insight.


    • Pat Inhofer
      Guest

      It gets very dangerous if you’re in the habit of modifying your fixed node structure. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice – and then ripple operations can be dangerous if you’re not targeted and very specific about the shots being rippled.

      Some colorists don’t like using fixed node structures, since their projects are so varied and so quick turnaround that fixed structures are too limiting. For them, Rippling can be very tricky to use – unless they limit it to just those few shots that share the same color grade.


    • Willian Aleman
      Guest

      Patrick, thanks for the helpful response.

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