Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor Review – Get it Free!

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The DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor provides custom hardware control for, you guessed it, DaVinci Resolve. For a limited time, Blackmagic are running a promotion where you get the Speed Editor for free when you purchase a license to DaVinci Resolve Studio. Usually, the Speed Editor costs $295.

If you’re currently using the free version of Resolve, and have vowed to one day upgrade to the powerful Studio version, now would be the time to do it. Even if you already own a Resolve Studio license, you could take advantage of this offer by purchasing the USB key version of Resolve Studio. Then keep the free Speed Editor and sell the USB Key on the second-hand market to recoup much of your money.

Blackmagic says that this offer is “for a limited time”. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how long that time is. Given that the retail price for the Speed Editor is $295, if I were you, I’d jump on this right away to avoid disappointment.

What is the DaVinci Resolve Speed Editor?

Product Highlights

  • Source tape allows faster clip searching.
  • Large trim in and out buttons.
  • New keyboard modes for intelligent editing.
  • Buttons to allow search dial to live trim.
  • Buttons to change the transition type.
  • Integrated search dial control.
  • Keypad for direct timecode entry.
  • Retail price: $295, but free for a limited time.

Blackmagic have had a full-sized DaVinci Resolve keyboard in their product lineup for some time. Essentially, the speed editor chops the QWERTY keyboard out of that product and just gives you the jogwheel, playback controls, sync bin controls, edit and trim controls. With the Speed Editor’s focus on the Cut page of Resolve, there are a few additional keys that actually aren’t found on the full-sized keyboard.

Existing Resolve users will no doubt be familiar with the Cut page. For new users, the Cut page is best described as an editing UI that’s purely designed for speed. When Blackmagic wanted to experiment with some new editing tools and workflows, they didn’t want to mess around with the tried and trusted Edit page that professional users are used to. Rather than shying away from adding these new features, they simply created the Cut page.

Users can choose to use the Cut page on its own, without the Edit page, or they can choose to use it in combination with the Edit page as a pre-edit space to trim clips and lay out a draft edit. If the Cut page isn’t right for you, you can go straight to the Edit page. But, if the Cut page isn’t for you, it’s likely the Speed Editor isn’t for you, either. Keep that in mind.

Although dyed-in-the-wool Resolve users seem uncertain about making use of the Cut page, I personally think it’s great, and works well for a new generation of creators who are making content faster than ever before. The Speed Editor is the physical embodiment of the Cut page ethos. It takes that simplified page, with its new tools, and gives physical keys to just about everything you need to throw an entire edit together in a timeline.

The keys have a pleasing feel to them and use mechanisms that are designed for millions of operations. The jogwheel is silky smooth, and a joy to use when scrubbing through media in your bins or the edit in the timeline. While it does take some time to get your muscle memory used to the key positions, once you master it, you’ll be flying through your clips.

Battery Power and Wireless Connection

USB-C connection on the rear panel.

I purchased my Speed Editor from a retail store. When it arrived, there were no instructions in the box, and seemingly none on the Blackmagic website. Seeing the USB-C cable in the box, I assumed that this must be a USB-powered device.

I was surprised, then, to see a small battery power indicator light up in the bottom right-hand corner of Resolve when I opened it. Does this thing have a battery, I wondered? Initially the battery showed 0%, but sure enough, after leaving it plugged in for a few hours, the battery indicator climbed to 100%. It does have a battery in it! I had no idea.

Does the Speed Editor Have Bluetooth?

Ok, if it has a battery, it stands to reason that it must have Bluetooth. But with no instructions, and no mention of this feature in any product specifications that I could see, how do you pair it with your computer?

After some trial and error, I figured out that the Speed Editor puts itself into Bluetooth pairing mode once you remove the USB-C cable from the back of the device. It’s possible that pairing is only activated after you reach a certain level of battery charge has been reached. I left mine until it got to 100%, then unplugged the USB cable and opened my Mac’s Bluetooth settings panel. Sure enough, a new device was discovered right away, called “DaVinci Keyboard”. I clicked connect, and it paired immediately to give me total wireless control. This is a great feature, and I’m not sure why Blackmagic don’t make it more prominent in the marketing of the device.

With no power button on the Speed Editor, the next question was how does it turn itself off? As far as I can tell, after some indeterminate amount of time, the Speed Editor will put itself to sleep to conserve battery power. When it does this, the Bluetooth connection will disconnect automatically but will be saved in your computer’s previous device list. To wake the Speed Editor, you simply need to press any button on the device. It then takes about 30-45 seconds for your computer to discover the connection again, at which point, it will automatically connect again.

Connection Confirmation

When the Speed Editor is connected via USB-C, a battery indicator appears in the bottom right-hand corner of Resolve. For some reason, this indicator seems to disappear when connected over Bluetooth. Instead, you need to go to Preferences > Control Panels. If you are connected, you will see the Speed Editor listed there, with an indication of remaining battery power. Battery life seems to be very good, and you should only need to plug the Speed Editor in every couple of weeks to get it back up to full charge.

Conclusion

If you don’t yet have Resolve Studio, and you can get the Speed Editor for free as part of the current deal, this is a no-brainer. It’s an excellent piece of hardware that definitely speeds up the already fast process of using the Cut panel. For people who need to churn out content quickly and efficiently, it’s a great tool. Even if you can’t get it for free, it still feels every bit a $299 product and one that will pay you back in time saved.

With the Speed Editor being specifically designed for the Cut panel in Resolve, you may think that it’s useless for people who also spend a fair amount of time using the other panels. Particularly the Edit panel. While you may not get the most out of it in other parts of Resolve, the Speed Editor is not non-functional in those other areas. You can still use the jogwheel, playback controls and IN/OUT buttons in all of the Resolve panels, as well as several of the shortcut buttons.

If you don’t have room on your desk for the full-sized Resolve keyboard, or the $999 budget for it, this smaller, cheaper Speed Editor is still a good tool for all Resolve users. The small physical size also makes it a great playback control system for a DIT cart.

Where to Buy

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Dan Carr

Professional photographer based in Yukon, Canada, and founder of Shutter Muse. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, Apple, Adobe and Red Bull.

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