Learn How to Use DaVinci Resolve’s Fusion in 15 Minutes

DaVinci Resolve January 30, 2020 5 min read

DaVinci Resolve Fusion is DaVinci’s powerful visual effects suite that comes with the free version of DaVinci Resolve. So whether you have the free or paid version, learning how to use DaVinci Resolve Fusion can be a great way to level up your projects, particularly if you’re working with mixed media, motion graphics, or 3D elements in your project.

Fusion can seem a little overwhelming at first if you’re not used to working with a node-based graphic software. But in this tutorial, you’ll learn all of the basics you need to know and some pro tips too. After reading this article, you’ll have a great handle on how to use the program and can go away and start using it in your own projects.

Part 1: How to Use DaVinci Resolve Fusion

Step 1: Understanding the Fusion Page

Before you start adding any effects, take a look at your Fusion composition workspace and review the basic things you’ll need to know for a project.

  • Make sure the clip you want to edit is selected and your playhead is over it.
  • Switch to the Fusion workspace by clicking the correct icon in the bottom panel.
  • Your clip Timeline is underneath the Preview Viewer.
  • You can see two clips at a time in the Preview View.
  • You can view the element Inspector, Metadata, Keyframe, and Spline by clicking on the relevant menu icons in the top-right corner.
  • There’s a selection of Tool Shortcuts underneath your timeline.
  • The main work area at the bottom is your Nodes space, where you will adjust most of your effects. You’ll learn how to do that in a minute.
  • Toggle between viewing your Media Pool, Effects Library, Clips, and Nodes by clicking on the relevant icon in the top-left of the window.

Step 2: Media In & Out

Your Media In and Out is important to understanding the node system. Thinking of your node workspace as a flowchart which acts as a set of instructions will help you to get your head around it.

The Media In represents your input media, as it is, before any effects are added. The Media Out represents your output media, after the effects you’ve added have been applied. You haven’t applied any effects yet, so the Media In and Media Out will look exactly the same.

  1. Your multimedia clip will start out with a Media In node (the gray box of the left) and Media Out node (the gray box of the right) connected by an arrow.
  2. The arrow shows the direction and order each of the nodes are connected.
  3. Select any node and press 1 to make it appear on the left Preview Viewer, and press 2 to show it on your right Preview Viewer
  4. For this tutorial, keep the Media In visible on the left, and Media Out visible on the right as a before and after comparison.

Step 3: Effects Library

To alter our clip, you need to add some other nodes. Each effect will appear in our workspace as another node. The Effects Library is a great place to build our own effects or see what’s already on offer. You’ll notice a mix of visual, motion graphic, and even color grading effects.

  1. Click on Effects Library to open the full list of available effects. There are several subcategories.
  2. Use this list to build your own effects, or pick from DaVinci Resolve Fusion’s ready-made Templates. This is a great way to study the individual nodes that build a more complex effect.
  3. Alternatively, right-click in your node space and select Add Tool to choose an effect.

Step 4: Beginner Effects

Let’s start with a simple visual effect to alter our footage. This will show you how a new effect will create a node that connects to your Media In & Out, which will act like a set of instructions to alter your output.

  1. Click on Effects Library > OpenFX > ResolveFX Texture.
  2. Select Film Damage, and click and drag it into your node workspace.
  3. Drop it in the center of the arrow that connects your Media In and Media Out Nodes. A new node should appear in the middle of your Media In & Out, with arrows connecting to them both.
  4. You’ll see that while your media input in the Preview Viewer is unchanged, your Media Output now shows the effect!

Step 5: Nodes & Customization

Now you know how to add a simple effect. A lot of effects on DaVinci Resolve Fusion will need you to adjust values to make them work. This is done by customizing the settings of your nodes, and it will help you to have better control over your effects. Let’s go back to just our Media In and Out nodes and start again with a color correction effect.

  1. Select Color Corrector from the shortcut toolbar, or the Effects Library.
  2. Click and drag it to the center of the arrow that currently connects Media In and Media Out. It should create a new node.
  3. Click on Inspector to adjust the values of the Color Corrector node. Make sure the node is selected as you do this.
  4. Choose your desired color using the color wheel.
  5. You have control over the other values, too. Try adjusting the color levels such as the Gain, Gamma, or Lift.

Part 2: Advanced Tips to Develop Your Skills

1. Merge Nodes

As you get more confident in DaVinci Resolve Fusion, you’ll come across effects that need a slightly longer set of instructions to work properly. Merge nodes are just one example, and they are the proper way to incorporate a more complex set of instructions in your node system, such as adding a new piece of media.

  1. Click on the Media Pool icon.
  2. If you don’t have a piece of media ready to add, right-click in your Media Pool and click on Import Media and choose which media you want to add.
  3. Click and drag your chosen media into an empty space in your node area. A new node will be created with the name of your media file.
  4. Right-click in your node workspace, and select Add Tool > Composite > Merge from the dropdown menu. Or, click on the Merge icon in the shortcut toolbar.
  5. A Merge node will appear: this will act as an instruction to composite your new media with your original clip, but you need to add the arrows, so the “flowchart” knows to follow the instructions, and when.
  6. Click and drag to draw an arrow from the right-hand gray box on the side of your new Media node to the Merge node.
  7. Delete the arrow connecting your Color Corrector and Media Out nodes by clicking on the right-side of the arrow.
  8. Connect the Color Corrector node to the Merge node, using the technique in bullet point 6.
  9. Repeat this step to connect the Merge node and the Media Out node.

2. Swap Node Inputs

If you follow our first tip and your second Preview Viewer changes dimensions, don’t worry. There is a quick fix!

  1. Scroll over both arrows flowing into your Merge node. Your new Media node has been assigned as foreground and the color correction node as background. You want this to be the other way around.
  2. Right-click on your Merge node and selecting Swap Inputs.
  3. Add the finishing touch by dragging and dropping your new media on the second Preview Viewer until it’s where you want it.

Just like that, you’re no longer a stranger to DaVinci Resolve Fusion. You’re ready to add simple effects, and even start building your own more complex node sequences.

It can take a moment to get your head around a node-based system if you’re used to working with layers. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back for learning a whole new system in just a few minutes!