Review: Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve for iPad
Issue: March/April 2023

Review: Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve for iPad

Blackmagic Design recently released DaVinci Resolve for iPad, a free app that gives iPad users powerful color correction and editing tools, as well as cloud capabilities for multi-user collaboration.

The cut page in DaVinci Resolve for iPad is well suited for use during tight deadlines and documentary work, with a streamlined interface that’s fast to learn and designed for speed. The iPad app’s color page is user friendly, with features designed to make it easier for new users to get great results while they learn its advanced tools. 

Blackmagic Design is offering DaVinci Resolve for iPad as a free download via the Apple iOS App Store. The company also has a “Studio” version of DaVinci Resolve for iPad, which mimics the same features that are accessible in the desktop version of DaVinci Resolve Studio. Some of Studio’s advanced features include AI tools, such as magic mask, voice isolation and dialogue leveler, which are powered by the DaVinci Neural Engine. The Studio version of Resolve for iPad is available for a one-time $95 purchase. 

Natacha Ikoli

Freelance colorist Natacha Ikoli is an early adopter of DaVinci Resolve for iPad. Splitting her time between Brooklyn and France, Ikoli finds herself working on independent films and documentaries in the lead up to festivals, such as Sundance in January, and installation pieces for various artists the rest of the year.

“I tend to keep an exclusive relationship with one or two studios, just because you [get used to] their system,” she explains. 

Ikoli regularly works at Nice Dissolve in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, where she recently graded Invisible Beauty using a DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel and DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel, as well as DaVinci Resolve for iPad. She also employed the DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor keyboard, Blackmagic Web Presenter 4K streaming solution and Blackmagic Cloud. Ikoli also graded Joonam at the studio.

“Nice Dissolve, during the pandemic, ended up being the place that I went the most because founder Pierce Varous was eager to put in place a system to keep working remotely and very effectively,” says Ikoli. “Lots of places would just take the drive home, or come in staggered, but in this case, we quickly established the remote (workflow) the first few months of COVID…And then that encouraged me to sort of open my vision of where I want to live.”

Now in France for the next few months, Ikoli says she used DaVinci Resolve for iPad while at Nice Dissolve as a support tool, downloading it right when it became available.

Natacha Ikoli at Nice Dissolve in Brooklyn

“As soon as it came out, we were like, ‘Okay, this is really cool because…I often work with independent filmmakers — sometimes first-time filmmakers — [and] it’s their first experience with a colorist. A lot of times they’re not in New York proper, or they do everything at once when they come to New York. They will do sound, color and graphics all at once, so really it’s packed weeks often. This has allowed us to kind of send them some links to review with the confidence that this looks exactly the same as what we have projected here in the room. The level of accuracy is pretty stunning.”

The fact that DaVinci Resolve for iPad is available as a free download allows the client or filmmaker to have the same viewing experience as Ikoli, who is monitoring the project on her own iPad. The client might be at the session for the first few passes while the looks are being established, and then will allow her to work unsupervised.

“Clients will take a look at a final review link on it,” she explains. “I would also sometimes review on it as well. Let’s say we have a specific situation where we’re doing a remote session: I’m at the studio, the client is at home with their iPad. I have it right here, and I’m checking that the stream that they’re getting is accurate and if there’s any discrepancy.”

Echo Bay's color suite

Echo Bay Media ( is based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and has built a successful track record of conceiving, pitching and creating documentary/travel series. The studio’s credits include Departures, about two friends who backpack around the world, as well as Descending, which focuses on SCUBA diving throughout the world. Additional credits include Over the Horizon, about sailing from New Zealand to the Marshall Islands. They are also contracted by broadcasters on occasion to provide production services, as was the case for the CBC’s Arctic Vets, for which they went north to follow veterinarians as they attend to animals in the Arctic.

According to Echo Bay co-founder Andre Dupuis, who often wears the hats of director and DP, the crews tend to be small, consisting of four or five people, max.

“I’ll direct and I’ll also shoot,” says Dupuis. “I usually have a second shooter, or that person can function as my camera assistant. And then we have an audio guy — that would be Scott Wilson, my business partner. But he also has his pilot’s license and drone license, so he’ll also be doing the drone stuff as well. And he’ll (also) function as a field producer, and has helped by doing the DIT stuff at the end of the day.”

Andre Dupuis in the field with his iPad, running DaVinci Resolve

The nature of their work often takes them to remote locations, and as such, they rely on SpaceX’s Starlink low latency, broadband internet solution. 

“In my experience — and I have worked on productions where we have huge crews in the field — I just find you can kind of crush the authenticity of the places you’re in. So sometimes I think, for documentaries, smaller is better.”

Echo Bay has used a range of cameras over the years. Over the Horizon was caputured using Red cameras, but recently, the studio has developed an affinity for Blackmagic Design’s Pocket Cinema Camera 6K.

“Those are awesome,” he says of the 6K model. “I wish they had a little bit more dynamic range, but they’re still great. There’s 13 stops of dynamic range. They’re small. They’re light. We just finished a project last month that was shot entirely on those cameras.”

Andre Dupuis, shooting in the Arctic

The studio will work with outside editors once a show is greenlit, but for their initial teaser, they’ll cut it themselves. They’ve used Final Cut Pro in the past, as well as Adobe Premiere, so the transition to DaVinci Resolve was relatively seamless, says Dupuis.

“It’s a very easy jump to go into DaVinci for editing,” he notes. “I love the ability to be editing a scene, and because I’m a DP, I really like thinking of color and image all the time. I love just flipping into the color panel and messing with a shot, and then putting that into the edit.”

Dupuis sees post workflows evolving and says in the past, they would edit in Premiere and then create an XML export for color grading as the final part of the post process.

“I started to really like working at the same time. I can jump back and forth. I can jump into Fusion to work on a sky replacement. I can do some advanced motion tracking…So jumping back and forth, I find for me, the way I work, very, very beneficial to have it all in one app.”

Color grading, says Dupuis, is a key component for delivering a successful travel documentary.

“It is the hardest thing to communicate,” he says of the wind and freezing temperatures the crew experiences during location shoots. “Everyone’s watching that show in the comfort of their home, and you’re suffering…so you have to augment with all the tools at your disposal, and color is one of the most important tools.”

Andre Dupuis, working with footage in the field

Echo Bay makes used of Blackmagic Design’s cloud collaboration tools to share footage with the team. Because media is in the cloud, he can seamlessly jump from his MacBook to his iPad to cut dailies or perform a one-light color pass. 

“I could export them with timecode. I can AirDrop it to everyone on the team. Everyone’s very excited to see what we shot yesterday, so it just makes it really easy by having these tools in the field.”

When he’s in the field, he’ll use the iPad to work with proxy files.

“For me, the beauty of the iPad is it’s just the iPad,” he explains. “I don’t necessarily want to have hard drives hanging off of it. I like to just copy it. I’ve been using proxies in the field like that. (In the future) I could see the benefit of sending proxies back to the home base, where the post team is putting metadata on all of the clips.”

Ice Dog

Once the metadata is added to the clips, he can easily search media for interview topics and dialogue. And between his MacPro and the iPad, viewing 6K media in the field isn’t a problem for Dupuis, who says Echo Bay consistently finishes programming in 4K, and more recently, in HDR. 

“That’s another benefit of having my MacBook and iPad in the field,” he explains. “If I wanted to do a great HDR (pass), I can tether the iPad to the MacBook as a reference monitor and reference mode. Yes, it’s not a proper grading studio to do the final, but I’ve gotten really good results grading in the field like that.”

Next up for Echo Bay is a series called Ice Dog, which follows adventurer Oliver Solaro as he tries to ride his heavily- modified BMW motorcycle to the North Pole.