Obviously, when we think of DaVinci Resolve, we think of video production. But did you know you can use it to grab high-resolution stills from your clips? This is super helpful for creating all kinds of digital and print media to support your video projects.
You can create a custom thumbnail or promotional poster from freeze frames. Stills can also be used to promote your work on social media since not all platforms support video.
No matter how you want to use them, we've got the guide to help you quickly capture and export stills in DaVinci Resolve (including some tricks that we like to use in a pinch).
How to grab and export stills in DaVinci Resolve
There are a couple of ways to grab and export a still from DaVinci Resolve. We'll start with how to do this natively inside of the program. This method renders the highest-quality image but does take some clicking around to accomplish.
Step 1: Drag the clip you want to export a still from to the timeline.
Step 2: Move the cursor/timeline marker to the specific frame in the media clip from which you want to export a still.
Step 3: Click on the "Color" workspace icon at the bottom of the workspace to enter the Color workspace.
Step 4: In the top right corner of the Color workspace, move your mouse to click on "Gallery" and open the gallery window.
Step 5: Right click (or Ctrl + click) on the preview window to bring up a drop-down menu.
Step 6: Select "Grab Still" from the drop-down menu.
The still image will now appear in your Gallery bin to the left of the preview frame of your video.
Step 7: Navigate to the still in the Gallery bin and right click (Ctrl + click) on it to open the drop-down menu, then select “Export.”
Step 8: In the Export window that appears, name your image file, select a save location, and select which image format you'd like to export it as from the drop-down Format menu.
Make sure you're exporting it in an image format you can use. The default image export format for Resolve is a DPX file, which isn't very useful for most still image applications. You can change this to JPEG or TIFF before exporting.
Step 9: Click "Export" to export your image.
And now you'll have a high-res export of a single frame from your clip. Now, if you don't need full resolution and just want to grab a quick still for a thumbnail or to dash off to someone for review, here's my favorite hack:
Step 1: Locate the frame you want to export by dragging your timeline marker to the right location.
Step 2: Make your preview window full-screen by using the shortcut Ctrl + F.
Step 3: Take a screenshot of your full-screen preview image.
You can do this using the following shortcuts:
- Shift + Cmd + 3 for a full screen screenshot
- Shift + Cmd +4 to select the area of the screen you want to capture
- Use the Print Screen key to capture a full-screen screenshot
- Use Windows + Shift + S to select the area of the screen you want to capture
Step 4: Select where to save your screenshot (if applicable).
Some systems will prompt you to select a location for your screenshot, while others will save it to a certain location by default.
This hack works great if high-res isn't a huge concern. It's great for thumbnail images that don't need to be more than a certain size and saves you a lot of clicking around in Resolve.
That being said, if you need a screen image for a full-size movie poster, you're much better off using the Grab Still function in resolve to get a higher resolution image that you can expand and manipulate with fewer restrictions.
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A quick breakdown of still image formats and their uses
One common question among video editors that don't handle still images often is which format is best for still exports. Of course, this answer really depends on what you plan on using the images for. Here is a breakdown of the most common image export formats and their best uses:
This is the most common image format worldwide and is compatible with nearly everything. Its big downside is that it's a "lossy" format, meaning as you shrink or copy the image, the quality degrades. It's also a compressed format, meaning you get a smaller file size than other formats, great for saving storage space or speeding up upload times.
PNG's are a lossless format, meaning that they don't discard image information when they're copied or resized, but they are relatively low resolution compared to other lossless formats. These are almost exclusively used for digital applications, especially where you need a transparent background behind a graphic.
This is a high-res, lossless image format that retains all its information no matter how much it's copied or manipulated. This can be great for creating large print images, as it preserves the quality grade, but can be a nightmare for web applications since file sizes can be massive.
Being able to export still images from a video clip is a huge win for creating all sorts of additional digital and print material from your video projects. Leveraging single clips for a multitude of content can help make you a one-person marketing machine on social media. It's also just a useful skill to have for being able to send preview images to co-collaborators for review and approval.
If you're looking for a better way to bring your remote video production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently in DaVinci Resolve from a distance, check out Evercast.