This week at NAB 2011, Blackmagic Design has announced version 8 of the very high-end dedicated color-grading solution DaVinci Resolve. The upgrade brings XML support, multi-layer timelines, curve grading, noise reduction, stabilization, automatic 3D matching and OpenCL acceleration to the solution, making it a substantial upgrade.
Unfortunately, if you don't have an equally high-end paycheck then the US$29,995 price for the full system is probably prohibitively expensive, and even the software-only version costing US$995 may stretch many people's budgets. If you're in that boat, Blackmagic has some good news for you: it's releasing a free version in the form of DaVinci Resolve 8 Lite to "help promote the art of color correction."
While the Lite version is more limited than the full version, it's surprisingly liberal for most casual users and for anyone who wants to learn. Projects are limited to SD and HD output (though it can work with 2K and 4K resolution footage), only two color correction nodes, a single processing GPU and a single RED rocket card. Some features, such as stereoscopic 3D, noise reduction, power mastering, remote grading and project sharing, are also missing from the free version; if you do need any of those features, the Lite version may still be a great opportunity to evaluate the application before upgrading to the full version.
Blackmagic notes that DaVinci Resolve 8 Lite also shares the same system requirements as the full version and will run on the latest model iMacs, 17-inch MacBook Pro machines and Mac Pros. There's no indication whether older or less powerful systems will be able to run it. DaVinci Resolve 8 and the free version will both be available in June.