DaVinci Resolve Tips: Pull Better Keys

This article was originally published on PremiumBeat’s blog.

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The experienced colorist is able to pull fast keys to ensure the session progresses at a quick pace. Here are a couple of actionable DaVinci Resolve tips to make sure your keys are effective.

All images from Shutterstock

Digital colorists pull keys on any and every object in the frame throughout their careers. Clients always ask to tweak skin tones, but elements such as clothing, hair, teeth, lips, scenery, product packaging, or practical lights are all fair game.

Here’s the first image we’ll be working with. We should be able to get a nice clean key of the girl’s skin as it is naturally separated from the background.

A0 - Original

Hue Width, Saturation Low and Luminance Low

Create an initial qualification by selecting the eyedropper tool and clicking and dragging across the part of the image you want. You’ll often find that your initial selection won’t include all the values you want, and choosing the Add Color Range tool can be slower than knowing what to adjust next.

Using the eyedropper tool, this is our initial key. Not bad, but we can do better. Read on…

A1 - initial key

Activate the highlight mode and increase the Hue Width. This will fatten out the qualification, often to include the tones you need. I don’t find myself adjusting Hue Center, Soft or Symmetry as often as Hue Width. If you’ve performed a good initial selection with the eyedropper, you’ve already got a good center hue, and you’ll be wanting to select an area that is defined enough to process, so it won’t be too softened out. Symmetry adjusts the highs and lows of the hue qualification,something I haven’t found crucial for most keys.

Adjusting the Hue Width may be all you need to move on. If not, try adjusting both Saturation Low and Luminance Low to include or exclude as needed. Many times I won’t need to touch the Highs of both controls.

Increasing the Hue Width gets us a key that includes more of what we want.

A2 - better key

When you’ve pulled a good key, don’t forget to blur it by increasing your Blur Radius, an important step for executing seamless corrections.

I adjusted both the Luminance Low and Saturation Low to get a bit more of her hair. There’s a tradeoff because I’m also now getting some values in her jacket that are the same tone as her hair and skin. It’s up to you to determine whether you’re okay with affecting this part of the image in service of improving the hair. You can also choose to exclude the jacket using power windows. If so, read on. Don’t forget to blur your key.

A3 - blurred key

Read the full article on PremiumBeat’s blog.

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