Soft Clipping in DaVinci Resolve

This article was originally published on Premiumbeat’s blog here.

Limit the extreme registers of highlight or shadow detail using the Soft Clipping feature in DaVinci Resolve.

DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve and a drool worthy color grading suite [via Blackmagic]

A small but powerful feature in Davinci Resolve called “soft clipping” makes a huge difference in the way I work. A component of the software for several years now, soft clipping allows me to bend footage far further than I normally could by limiting the extreme registers of the highlight or shadow detail. Since I use it in every single session, I really can’t undersell using this powerful feature.

Soft clipping is found inside the Color page, in the middle, bottom-half of the screen within the first Curves tab. Select the second drop-down to modify the soft clipping. You’ll see the red, green and blue curves, but these react differently than the main curves; here, you won’t be able to draw points on the curve to change the contrast of the image. Rather, you’ll be able to change where the high and low ends of the shot begin clipping.

You can change the soft clip of the channels individually, but by default the three channels are grouped, or “ganged,” together. Unless you’re dealing with an image that has, say, a bright red traffic light that causes a spike in only the red channel, the default ganged style is my my choice each time.

In practice, a colorist can initially limit the highlights on a particularly bright image where, for example, light bulbs or sunlight are blown out, as you’re performing your primary grade. As you balance the image, you can white balance the highlights to taste as you’re controlling the clipping or utilize the soft clip while you’re lifting any part of the image. I find it useful when working with commercial clients who are trying to achieve a bright, saturated look where the image is naturally dark. Consider an image of several people inside a living room with bright afternoon sunlight outside. The filmmakers have exposed for preserving the highlights that are streaming in, leading to an underexposed interior where the people are. This is a perfect time to use soft clipping.

Read the full story at PremiumBeat.

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