Double Exposure Video Effect in DaVinci Resolve 17 (Tutorial)

DaVinci Resolve 27/10/2021 4 min read

Double exposure is when one image is superimposed onto another creating a mix of the two images. Used wisely this effect can look great. If you simply wanted to create a double exposure with two entire images all you need to do is place one image on top of the other in a timeline in DaVinci Resolve then lower the opacity of the top clip to blend the two images. You could also change the blend mode for different effects.

Rather than using this method, let’s look at some ways we can use DaVinci Resolve to limit the area where the double exposure effect applies. We will do this by creating a mask of that area using different tools and then changing the opacity to blend the mix. 

Don’t forget there are many resources and effects for DaVinci Resolve at the Motion Array marketplace. For example, check out the Prism Effect macro available for download today! 

Part 1: Double Exposure Effect using the Luminance Mask

For this method of creating a double exposure effect, you will need a clip with a lot of contrast. Something silhouetted against a bright sky or window is ideal as we will use luminance to create a mask.

  1. Add your double exposure clip (the one you want to show through) to the first track in your timeline.
  2. Now add your main clip on the track above then duplicate it and place that on the 3rd video track. Disable the top clip temporarily.
  3. With your main clip on the second track selected go to the Color page.
  4. Enable Highlight mode in the viewer so you can see your mask then, in the Qualifier window, use the Luminance values in HSL mode to create a mask for the dark or light areas depending on which area you want your clip to shine through. If you have it the wrong way round you can simply Invert the mask.
  5. To see the clip below, add an Alpha output (right-click in the node editor) and connect it to your node alpha output

Note: Remember this step as you will need to use it every time you create a mask on the Color page.

  1. You now have fully transparent black areas showing your bottom clip but you have lost all the details. To bring some detail back go to the Edit page and re-enable the duplicate clip.
  2. Use the Opacity slider and/or Blend modes in the Inspector to adjust the amount of detail you will see in the clips below.

Part 2: Double Exposure Effect using the Magic Mask

The double exposure effect is especially popular with people but this can present a real challenge, especially when there is movement in the shot. If you don’t have a shot with high contrast like a clean white background the first method won’t work. 

Thankfully, for those with DaVinci Resolve 17 Studio (the paid version), there is the Magic Mask. For this method, you will need a clip with a clearly defined person with a visible face. It is an intensive process using the DaVinci neural engine to process the clip so be patient.

  1. Arrange your clips on the timeline in the same way as in part 1 on the first 3 tracks. Disable the top clip again as you did before.
  2. Now, with your main clip selected go to the Color page. Make sure you are at the start of your clip then go to the Magic Mask window and make sure the Person option is selected. 
  3. Simply draw a line over the person in your clip. DaVinci Resolve will now automatically create a mask of your person. To track the movement press the Track forward button and your mask will be tracked.
  4. Add an Alpha output and connect it to the node like before. You may need to Invert the magic mask.
  5. Like in the previous option we will re-enable the top clip but instead of just using the Opacity slider to blend details back in we will go back to the Color page.
  6. Make sure your top clip is selected, then add a gradient to your clip. Adjust the Gradient softness and position to reveal the details you want. 
  7. You can also adjust the Scale and Position of your bottom clip on the Edit page as needed.

Part 3: Tracking a Mask for a Double Exposure Effect 

So you have the free version of DaVinci Resolve 17 or the magic mask just doesn’t work that well. That’s when you need to do it all manually. It can be done in Fusion or in the color page. We will just re-use Part 2 for simplicity and replace the magic mask with a tracked window created with the pen tool.

  1. Arrange your clips on the timeline and again disable the top clip again as you did before.
  2. Now, with your main clip selected go to the Color page. Make sure you are at the start of your clip then use the Pen tool to draw a detailed mask around your subject. 

Note: The more time you spend here the better quality your mask will be.

  1. Now track your mask in the Tracking window. Set it to Frame before tracking so you can make adjustments to the track should you need to.
  2. Once the tracking is done go back to the mask and adjust the Inside and Outside softness for a better blend.
  3. Create a gradient in your top clip same as part 2, step 6, and you are done.

A double exposure effect can easily be created in DaVinci Resolve 17 using a variety of methods. The principle remains the same, mask the area you want to expose then add detail back in with a duplicate clip. You can use additional masks and softness to control the areas you want the effect to be limited to. The DaVinci Resolve Studio version can help speed up complex masks with the magic mask tool using the DaVinci neural engine. 

If you are looking for more cool effects to create in DaVinci Resolve 17, you can read our recent tutorials on vintage VHS effects, cinematic mirror effects, and even clone effects