How to edit video on any laptop – Davinci Resolve

If like me you are trying to edit videos on a laptop, specifically a 13″ Macbook Pro, you are experiencing lag and severe frame rate drops during your editing process, then you will be delighted to know that Davinci Resolve provides a solution.

Some laptops are more powerful than others, but that power often trades off against portability and budget. I use a 13″ Macbook Pro circa 2013. Changing to a system with a dedicated graphics processing unit, would be a considerable compromise on portability for me, but at the moment the Macbook is struggling to play back my 2.1k, 60fps GoPro footage at 24 frames per second (the frame rate of my editing timeline).

Davinci Resolve has two methods of optimising and pre caching source videos to allow less powerful systems to play back footage at a smooth, consistent frame rate.

Render Caching

Render caching is useful when you are manipulating a timeline to include text transitions, colour grading or other FX. This tool allows your system to pre-render this sections of your video to allow smooth playback and scrubbing. It also speeds up the final render/export process because your system has already done some of the hard work.

To make sure that render caching is enabled, go to the playback menu, Render Cache and select ‘Smart’. This is use the optimised defaults for your system. If you change this setting to use custom ‘User’ settings, you will need to delete the render cache.

You will know that a section of your edit is cached when you see the red line above your clip editor turn blue. If you make changed to this section, it will turn red again and then automatically start to re-render.

Optimised Media

I like to shoot in a mix of 4k, 2.1k and 1080p, but I also keep me timeline at 1080p. On my 2013 Macbook, 1080p source video plays back at a steady frame rate, however when the resolution climbs, the Macbook struggles to maintain smooth playback making precise editing an impossibility.

Fortunately Davinci Resolve allows you to create and optimised media cache. Creating a temporary video cache at a lower resolution, one which your laptop or desktop can create smooth playback with. Then, when you are ready to export, this cache is ignored and your video is exported at full resolutions and quality.

You can either create optimised media for all of the clips in your media library; select all clips, right click on them, then click ‘Generate Optimized Media’.

Or you can generate optimised media for only the clips you have in your editing timeline. This second option takes less time to generate if you have already trimmed your clips or if you have not imported all of the video in your media catalogue.

It can take a number of minutes to generate this cache of optimised media, however it allows for smooth playback and clear scrubbing in the timeline.

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