Essential DaVinci Resolve Project Settings (For Beginners!)

Featured Essential Project Settings

Getting to know the basic project settings in DaVinci Resolve will save you a lot of time down the line.

Get them right when you start.

Today let’s learn about few project settings related to how Resolve deals with your footage – be it shot through mirrorless cameras, drones, action cameras, smartphones, screen recordings, etc.

We’ll also take a look at the settings that need to be set RIGHT before moving your media into DaVinci Resolve.

What Do You Mean by Project Settings in DaVinci Resolve?

Project Settings” are fundamentally important properties of your project, that are needed for proper editing, color grading, rendering, etc.

They include important settings like timeline resolution, timeline frame rate, optimized media, render cache, color management, image scaling, etc., to name a few.

There are a ton of settings in DaVinci Resolve which could be intimidating when getting started.

But you don’t need to know everything to get started.

Get few settings right and you should be on your way to editing and color grading quickly.

Where is Project Settings in DaVinci Resolve?

After launching Resolve, the “Project Settings” window can be opened by clicking the cogwheel or gear-shaped icon in the bottom right corner on all pages of DaVinci Resolve.

What Project Settings Should I know in DaVinci Resolve?

“Master Settings” – The Most Important Setting in DaVinci Resolve

Master Settings” defines properties for the most important part of your project – the timeline.

Timeline is where you place your clips to form a movie. So it is essential to get the setting right here.

Master Settings” is divided into few sections:

  • Timeline format
  • Video Monitoring
  • Optimized Media and Render Cache
  • Working Folders
  • Frame Interpolation, etc.

Let’s look at the essential ones.

Timeline Format

Timeline Format section (the most important one) tells you what resolution, frame rate your timeline should be.

Timeline Resolution – The resolution or frame size of all of your timelines in the current project. This is a dropdown containing many options like “1920 x 1080”, “3840 x 2160”, etc.

For more information on timeline resolution, read – “How to Change Resolution in DaVinci Resolve (Quickly!)

Select your appropriate resolution (which is most probably based on your footage resolution). For example, if you shot videos in 4K UHD and you’re planning to export in the same resolution, then you can select “3840 x 2160” from the dropdown.

Timeline Framerate – The framerate of your timeline. For a fresh, brand new project you can select the framerate of your choice like 23.976 or 60 FPS based on your needs.

If you shot your footage at 23.976 fps and want the same fps in the final output, then you can go ahead and select 23.976 fps from the dropdown.

What is the Maximum Timeline Frame Rate in DaVinci Resolve Free Version?

You can select up to a maximum of 60 FPS frame rate for your timeline in the free version of Resolve.

What is the Maximum Timeline Frame Rate in DaVinci Resolve Studio (Paid) Version?

You can select up to a maximum of 120 FPS frame rate for your timeline in the paid version of Resolve.

Playback Frame Rate and Video Format

The “Playback Frame Rate” is dependent on the “Video Format” value.

So whatever value you choose in the “Video Format” will be updated automatically in the “Playback Frame Rate” field.

(If you’re a beginner and are confused by this setting, then just make sure the “Video Format” frame rate matches the timeline frame rate. The playback frame rate will take care of itself.)

Learn more about Frame Rates in DaVinci Resolve:

Frame Rates in DaVinci Resolve (Things You Should Know)

Timeline Format Vs Video Monitoring in DaVinci Resolve

Timeline format lets you select timeline resolution and frame rate needed for editing and final delivery.

Whereas video monitoring settings let you choose the correct resolution for your external display (like your monitor).

By default, both the resolution and frames per second (frame rate) of “Video Monitoring” resemble that of the timeline resolution and frame rate.

But you can choose your own resolution and frame rate based on your monitor (or any external display).

For example, if your timeline resolution is set to 4K (3840 x 2160) 23.976, but if you have a 1080p monitor, then you can select “HD 1080p 23.976” from the “Video Format” dropdown under “Video Monitoring” settings, for monitoring only purposes.

This will not in any way affect your timeline settings or final delivery output.

(As already said, if this is confusing to you, then just set your “Video Format” values to match your timeline resolution and frame rate!)

There are other settings under “Video Monitoring” which can be left as it is (the default values should be fine).

Working Folders in DaVinci Resolve

Working folders are locations in your storage drives (like HDD, SSD) for your cache files, gallery stills and proxy files.

If you have a dedicated fastest data storage drives like SSDs (solid state drive), then choose these location for your proxy, cache files etc.

Keep your source media files in a separate drive, OS in a separate drive and cache, proxy files in a separate drive.

These improve the performance of your post production workflow and can offer real time playback.

How does DaVinci Resolve handle when the resolution of imported clips don’t match the timeline resolution?

That is where Image Scaling settings come into the picture.

Image Scaling Settings in DaVinci Resolve

The image scaling settings in DaVinci Resolve takes care of the resizing of images when the resolution of the clips doesn’t match the resolution of your timeline.

What is Input Image Scaling in DaVinci Resolve?

The input image scaling setting lets you select different options to resize your file (video, image, etc) when it doesn’t match with the resolution of your timeline.

Under “Mismatched Resolution Files”, you’ve the below options:

  • Scale Entire Image to Fit – Default
  • Center crop with no resizing
  • Scale full frame with crop
  • Stretch frame to all corners – Don’t use this unless you’re working on anamorphic media.

How to Scale to Frame Size in DaVinci Resolve?

If you want to scale your entire image to fit the screen when the resolution doesn’t match with the timeline, then choose the “Scale entire image to fit” option from “Mismatched Resolution Files”. It is also the default option.

This can sometimes result in black bars from the top (letterboxing) or the sides (pillar boxing) when your clip’s resolution is smaller than the timeline resolution.

If you don’t want the black bars, then go to the “Inspector” and zoom in the clip to fill the entire screen.

Alternatively, you can select “Scale full frame with crop” option to zoom in on the clip which will also result in cropping of the media.

(For beginners, the default value “Scale entire image to fit” should be good enough to get started.)

What is Output Image Scaling in DaVinci Resolve?

Output image scaling is an optional setting which refers to the resizing of your file (image, video) for monitoring, rendering or exporting.

By default, it takes the settings of the timeline (defined in the “Master Settings”).

How to Change the Default Output Image Scaling Settings in DaVinci Resolve?

  • Go to “Project Settings” by pressing “Shift + 9” (if not already open).
  • Click on “Image Scaling“.
  • Uncheck “Match Timeline Settings“.
  • Enter your required resolution, say. “1280 x 720” against “For Processing“.
  • Let “Mismatched Resolution Files” be “Scale Entire Image to Fit”.
  • Click on “Save“.

Let’s better understand the user of Output Image Scaling through an example.

If you have a 4K resolution timeline (3840 x 2160) and want to render at a lower HD resolution “1920 x 1080” for quick approval from clients, then you can set a custom resolution of “1920 x 1080” from the “Output Resolution” under “Output Scaling“.

When you go to the “Deliver” page, you’ll find this custom resolution there.

Of course, if you change your mind, you can always change the resolution in the “Deliver” page before rendering.

(If this doesn’t make any sense to you, then simply go with the default option, which is “Match Timeline Settings”).

After doing all these different changes in the “Project Settings” window, you can save it as a preset for future use.

How to Save the Project Settings in DaVinci Resolve for Future Use?

  • Go to the “Project Settings” window by pressing “Shift + 9” (if not already open).
  • Click on the “Presets” setting from the left side.
  • The “Current Project” will be highlighted (if not click on it to highlight it) – this is where you changed all of your settings for your project work.
  • Click on “Save As” -> Enter any name and save it.
  • The current project settings are saved as a new preset (which will be displayed in the list).

Presets are HUGE time saver.

If your work requires frequent creation of new projects with specific settings, then the presets will save you a ton of time!

All you have to do is just load the preset and start working.

How to Apply Saved Preset Settings to a New Project in DaVinci Resolve?

  • Launch DaVinci Resolve.
  • In the “Project Manager” window, click on a new project.
  • Go to “File” -> “Project Settings” to open the project settings window.
  • Click on “Presets“.
  • Click on the preset which has your required project settings.
  • Then click on “Load“.
  • The preset is now applied to the “Current Project” (which will be highlighted from the list).
  • You can go ahead and import your media and quickly get started with the editing and color grading.

Of course there are a lot of other settings which we haven’t covered, but the above should get you quickly started and encourage you to explore as you learn Resolve!

You may also be interested in the below posts:

DaVinci Resolve Full Screen: Important Shortcuts to Know!

Quick Export in DaVinci Resolve (+ Shortcut & Useful Tips)

How to Move DaVinci Resolve Projects & Databases (Quick Tips)

How To Recover DaVinci Resolve Lost Projects (Crash Recovery!)

Tips to Save Your Precious Work in DaVinci Resolve (IMPORTANT!)

3 Quick Steps to Find DaVinci Resolve Project Files in Your System

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