How To Mask in DaVinci Resolve


Masking is a feature in video editing software that enables you to choose a specific component of a video, such as an actor or object, then use video overlays to modify it. Knowing how to mask opens a world of editing possibilities and is essential to every video editor’s toolkit.

This tutorial shows you how to perform a quick mask in DaVinci Studio. A section of footage is removed to reveal footage placed underneath – like eyeholes being cut out of a mask to reveal eyes underneath, hence the name!

In our example, we will be using two media clips:

  • Footage to Mask which features a laptop where we will make our ‘cut-out’ on the screen.
  • Background Footage featuring a curious little frog. This clip will be placed directly underneath the Footage to Mask clip and will be visible after the masking procedure.

This tutorial is performed on a 2019 Macbook Pro, running OSX Catalina 10.17 on DaVinci Resolve 18.

Preparing your footage

Step 1: Ingesting the footage

  1. Open the Ingestion Window to select the footage you’re going to use. Press CMD-I (Control-I in Windows) to locate what you want to mask. Click Open to import them.

    Ingesting footage
    Browse and select the footage to use for the masking process.
  2. Click on the Edit tab – it is a blue and green icon at the bottom of the workspace.

    Go to the bottom of the workspace and select the Edit tab.

Step 2: Adding to Timeline

The timeline is the ‘working area’ of DaVinci Resolve, where you can edit the video and audio tracks.

  1. Drag Background Footage to the V1 Video, the first video channel. As the name implies, this will be the background layer underneath. When the mask is created, it will be revealed.
  2. Drag your footage that will be the Masking Footage to V2 Video. You will create a ‘cut-out’ through which the background can be seen.

The masking process

Step 1: Navigate to Fusion

  1. Click on the Footage To Mask.

    Click on Footage to Mask
    Ensure that the Footage to be masked is clicked on first. A red outline will appear when clicked.
  2. Next, click on the Fusion Tab at the bottom of the workspace. It is the 4th icon from the left that looks like a magic wand. This is where the masking process will take place.

    Click on fusion tab
    Click on the Fusion tab.

Step 2: The Fusion Workspace

  1. In our example, the Footage to Mask clip is a laptop, and the screen area will be removed to reveal the footage underneath. As the screen is a rectangle, a rectangular mask is an ideal choice for this situation. Click on the Rectangle Mask icon in the middle of the workspace. It is a square-lined icon.
    There are three other mask choices next to that icon:

      • Ellipse: a rounded mask selection option, ideal for circular and round shapes to cut out.
      • Polygon mask: The most flexible option for drawing masks. Great for irregular shapes, one can plot points around just about any shape.
      • B-Spline mask: Formerly known as the Bezier curve mask, similar to the Polygon mask, it only involves more curves when drawing masks.
    Choose the Rectangle Mask icon.
    Choose the rectangle mask icon; a node will appear.

    After the Rectangle Mask icon is clicked, a Node will appear with the name of Rectangle1, and a rectangular outline will appear on the video clip in the Viewer.

Step 3: Masking Process

  1. The Rectangle1 node has a small grey square on it. Click and drag that small square to the MediaIn1 node, and a blue arrow will join them. When that happens, the image in the viewer will be cropped to the rectangle in the Viewer.

    Connecting the nodes
    Click-drag the grey square from the Rectangle node to the MediaIn1 node.
  2. We want the opposite of this. Click on the Invert box in the Inspector Panel on the right.

    Click Invert to Reverse the effect
    Click the Invert Box in the Inspector Panel.
  3. A rectangular cut-out will appear with a checkerboard pattern. That means that it is now transparent. The Background Footage placed underneath the video clip can now be seen through it. The process is nearly complete!
  4. The mask has to be positioned. Click-drag the red box with arrows in the center of the rectangle into position over the desired area, in this case, over the laptop screen.

    Position the mask into place.
    Move the mask into the appropriate position via click-dragging.
  5. Once in place, the mask has to be adjusted to fit. Use the Inspector sliders to accomplish this. The height, width, and angle can be fine-tuned until the fit is satisfactory.

    Use the appropriate values and sliders to ensure the perfect fit for the mask.

Step 4: Viewing the result

  1. Click on the Edit tab, the icon with the blue and green lines.
    Go back to the edit screen
    Click on the Edit tab; it’s the 3rd from the right on the bottom of the workspace.

    The Background Footage is now visible through the mask!

  2. Finishing touches: click on the Background Footage clip in the Timeline to activate it. A red outline will appear. Now you can adjust the Background footage to fit within the mask outline with the sliders and values in the Inspector.

    Final touches to the Background Image
    Make adjustments to Background Footage until satisfactory using the Inspector Sliders.

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