BlackMagic Design Buys daVinci – Confirmed

Black Magic Design (BMD) has bought daVinci color grading systems. Black Magic known for it world class signal convertors and hardware boxes. daVinci, makes of Resolve and Revival, has been based out of Florida, but interestingly, software R&D for some time has been based in Singapore – also home to Black Magic’s head office.With this move, the new company will be increasing – almost doubling or tripling – their R&D staff on the Resolve and Revival products.

What is changing is the companies reliance on custom build in house Hardware. daVinci will be showing some incredible new technology at IBC next week that extends and changes the companies technology focus. For all current daVinci customers there will be no break in support, development or service.

There has been a reduction of US staff as part of the move but this is linked to R&D changes rather than a contraction of the companies activities.  daVinci and other companies have been hit with the global economic climate, and changes in the DI industry – notable the expansion of DI to a wider audience and the withdrawal of some major houses from DI altogether, recently for example Framestore in the UK closed its whole DI department, (although Framestore’s Digital Lab was not primarily a daVinci house). Industry insiders point to how well this positions BMD to compete at an even higher level – while simultaneously allowing daVinci to service a wider market.

fxguide spoke directly with daVinci. There is a rumor going around – that story is not true, but we can confirm this is 100% true.

From an email from Grant Petty:


I have been a bit surprised by some of the really odd rumors I have heard in the last day, so I thought a quick update on what’s really going on might be a good idea.

Sorry if I am a bit blunt in this email, but as you can understand it’s a busy time at the moment, and I am just doing a full brain dump here.

Last Friday, Blackmagic Design purchased DaVinci. Because DaVinci was losing money there are a lot of changes going on, but most of these changes will bring some big improvements as well.

Firstly, we have not “sacked everyone in Florida and closed down the facility”. The only people in Florida who have been let go were managers, office staff and engineers working on products that had no future. The engineering team for Resolve had already been cut back a few months ago, but now we have already rehired those engineers. We are hiring even more now.

The team for Resolve should be 3-4 times bigger in about 2 months time, and we have a lot of good ideas to work on. Resolve is just incredible and deserves more resources. Also some of the research engineers had been re-tasked into management roles which they hated, so we are keeping them and letting them get back to basic research which is what they truly love.

Revival had almost no engineers working on it, but it needs a new user interface and extra features. It will also have more engineering added to it. As for manufacturing in Florida, we have not made any decisions here, but manufacturing is really only 3 people, and a lot of manual systems. We need to drastically improve that.
We still have the same great support team in LA and Germany, however some of the other support engineers were in strange locations. There was no one in New York, and we need to fix that quickly. DaVinci support will stay exclusively for DaVinci products only.

We are going to stop marketing 2K based systems, as it’s an old product now, and Resolve should be the focus now. But we do have a massive number of spare parts, boards, etc, and we will be moving a lot of those parts to the support offices around the world for faster turn around in case of faults.

On the support contracts. We are going to honor all current support contracts, but we are not going to sign any new ones.

I have never really heard of anyone who has used the cost of the support contract in failed boards, and I think it’s a waste of money. Products are just not that faulty to justify such a high support contract fee. I think it’s much better to pay if a fault happens. This also makes it easy for people to buy a second hand DaVinci product from e-bay and only pay what’s needed to get it working again. We want to encourage people to buy second hand DaVinci equipment and have confidence it will be supported cost effectively. There are lots of good second hand equipment on the market, and we can help keep its resale value.

We are going to improve the marketing for DaVinci products. DaVinci Resolve is an amazing system that’s not being sold very well. Revival is jaw dropping, and is like some kind of magic watching it work. These are incredible products that need to be marketed much better than they are now.

I guess one question people will ask is will we make lower cost versions of the DaVinci products. I don’t know about this, and this was not the reason we purchased the company, the performance was. We have two Resolve systems in our post production facility and we kept asking DaVinci for more features. It was through these conversations we learnt that DaVinci was for sale.

DaVinci Resolve is unique because it uses multiple linux computers linked together with InfiniBand connections and multiple GPU cards so you get the real time performance advantage it has. I don’t think that can be lowered in price much, however over the next few years as technology advances this might happen a little.

However, DaVinci is different to a DeckLink card because it’s a high performance computing based tool. Our focus will really be on adding more features. That’s what we want, and I guess others would too.

Hopefully this covers everyone’s questions for now. We will be on the DaVinci booth and the Blackmagic Design booth at IBC this week, and there is a lot more to talk about. If you have any other questions and can make it to the show, please drop by, and we also want input from DaVinci customers too. We might not know answers to every single question yet, but we are working though it. Give us 6 months, and I think the improvements will become clearer.

In reality, I cannot believe we have purchased such as legendary brand, and one of the things that totally blew my mind when I first started in post production as an engineer way back in 1988 was the color grading room with a DaVinci. The image on the monitor was such incredible quality, I just stood there staring speechless. It was amazing. Now we have our opportunity to care for the DaVinci name, and it’s exciting but a little terrifying too! We have some big standards to live up to, but we want to exceed what people expect.

Take care,

Grant Petty
Blackmagic Design

Here is the official press release:

Blackmagic Design Announces the Purchase of all Assets of DaVinci Systems LLC

The world’s greatest color correction systems and film restoration products from DaVinci are now part of Blackmagic Design’s family of high quality post production tools!

IBC 2009, Amsterdam, Netherlands – September 10, 2009 –

Blackmagic Design today announced the purchase of all assets of DaVinci Systems LLC. This purchase means Blackmagic Design will now offer DaVinci Resolve DI color correction systems and DaVinci Revival film restoration products for sale worldwide.

DaVinci Resolve working with stereoscopic 3D and 4K, and DaVinci Revival film restoration will be demonstrated at IBC 2009 at the DaVinci booth 7.D08.

Since 1984 DaVinci have been, and continue to be, the standard in post production. There are thousands of colorists worldwide who understand the performance, quality and workflow of DaVinci color correction systems. DaVinci is the name behind more feature films, television commercials, documentaries, episodic television production and music videos than any other grading system.

DaVinci Resolve is unique in supporting more real time color correction than any other system. This advantage is because DaVinci Resolve is not limited by the computer it’s running on. DaVinci Resolve is based on a cluster of computers with high performance GPU cards, so all processing is always real time.

This means DaVinci Resolve has the power of a super computer for the real time performance of all color grades even when using dozens of primaries, secondaries, power windows™, multi point tracking, blurs, and more. With DaVinci Resolve, this is all real time, and if customers need more power for higher resolutions or more “nodes” of color correction, they can add more computers or GPU cards for the additional power.

Blackmagic Design has also initiated a wide ranging restructure of the DaVinci business. The new focus will now be on the DaVinci Resolve color correction and DaVinci Revival film restoration products. The company believes these products represent the future of color correction and film restoration and the company has many exciting ideas for future developments.

DaVinci Resolve already has the power to handle complex color grades in real time even at native 4K resolutions and in stereoscopic 3D. These are the features that are vital on modern post production workflows. To accelerate development, DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Revival engineering teams have already been expanded and further expansion is currently underway.

Due to the age of the DaVinci 2K systems which were originally launched in 1999, Blackmagic Design will cease marketing 2K systems immediately. Support for 2K systems will continue and plenty of spare parts are available for customer repairs. Engineering will be dedicated to bug fix updates and small feature releases.
Annual support contracts will also immediately cease, and a new “pay as you go” system will be initiated so customers only need to pay if a fault occurs. Blackmagic Design believes this will save customers thousands of dollars of unused support payments. Customers can pay for any repairs required, and purchase and repair of second hand DaVinci products will be supported when possible. This will greatly improve the resale value of second hand DaVinci products.

“I remember back in 1988 to the first day I started in post production and was shown the telecine suite with DaVinci. I could not believe the quality of the images on the monitor, and that was the moment I fell in love with high quality imaging and color correction,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “I worked hard to become a telecine engineer, and for me it was the most exciting job in post production. It’s been a while since I was a telecine engineer, however it’s incredibly exciting to be back involved with DaVinci again! We have a lot to live up to and many fantastic ideas, so it’s a very exciting time!”

DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Revival are available now from authorized Blackmagic Design DaVinci Certified Resellers.

15 thoughts on “BlackMagic Design Buys daVinci – Confirmed”

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  4. My question is- will this mean greatly reduced prices on Davinci software in the future? Or is this just good news for the high end post houses that can already afford them?

  5. In reply to #6,

    daVinci systems have been largely based on powerful hardware as well as software. They have been designed to rely on each other. The system is/has always been targeted at high-end post-production where timeliness is important, (thus dedicated hardware). There has never been a “software only” davinci and this won’t likely change, unless they change the nature of what it does. Don’t look for any reduction of price to suit the casual user.

    >My question is- will this mean greatly reduced prices on Davinci software in the future? Or is this just good news for the high end post houses that can already afford them?<

  6. Looks to me like daVinci was going down SGI’s path: costly specialized hardware; small customer base; while the commodity hardware vendors kept moving up and eating the market out from under them.

    If Grant is a strategic thinker he’ll know this. With Snow Leopard’s GCD and OpenCL, daVinci could take advantage of much lower cost parallel processing hardware to broaden its market. With lower cost hardware, new features and judicious software price cuts, BMD can test the broader market demand for daVinci-class products in mid-market post.

  7. can’t wait to hear the real deal… if BlackMagic was traded in wall street this letter is the last thing stock holders would like to hear. I hope they have a future plan how to make better products and money out of this. over all blackmagic has some good products but AJA is still controlling the highend market of video cards, maybe this buy will change it all.

  8. I think the strategy will likely be along the lines of what Robin is saying. Shore up the current business on the strongest/most promising product lines, and over time I could see Blackmagic bringing their hardware design expertise and economies of scale to this product line. I wouldn’t expect this to be an overnight transition though. I think those of us who currently don’t have the business models to support a DaVinci system should look a lot further down the track to see what fruit this acquisition could bear for the lower cost end of the market.

  9. All I can say is that we will publish more at IBC – but from your comments here – some of you may be surprised at what they show at IBC. 🙂 fun time

  10. @Robin Harris: Actually, DaVinci’s platform was more based on the Nvidia CUDA platform, essentially using GPU’s in tandem to process an image. It was more or less their answer to FilmLight’s parallel GPU processing. The IB interlinks are really only network interfaces for transporting data at highrates… again not really a blackbox tech. The only remaining custom hardware DaVinci was using in Resolve was the image scaler, I believe… someone correct me if I’m wrong, which was doing the obvious of p/s as well as for “proxy” generation and whatnot. Obviously the cp’s were custom.

    The older 2k’s, 2k+’s, 888’s and whatnot are all blackbox hardware and those are the systems that are being retired and no longer sold. Revival is all Linux and software at this stage as well. So nothing to be retired there.

    Adding Apple’s tech to the fold most likely won’t add so much to DaVinci’s fold… given that it’s all Linux at this stage anyway. One might argue that on a product like Revival, adding platform support for Apple might be advantageous to complete with the PFClean market, but then there would have to be a rather large change in price made as well. They are night and day for a toolset that share’s more than they are at odds.

    Could there be a drastic price decrease in the Resolve line. Sure. Why not? The core processing could be split over 2 GPU’s running on the same desktop/rack PC with a fast disc connection in a data only config combined with some clever hardware from BMD for monitoring (wait, don’t they already make that) and continue to decentralize the color correcting workflow. Many machine’s performing different tasks in tandem. Not everyone needs to lay to tape. Not everyone needs telecine control.

    In my opinion the main issues with DaVinci as of late have been more with understanding pipelining, workflow and connectivity. If you are perceived as being long in the tooth against FilmLight and DV by the up and coming generation of colourists, post-supervisors, Flame artists and whatnot then it doesn’t matter how impressive the tech is. Didn’t hear Resolve mentioned by Peter Doyle, despite their “awesome processing power” as someone close to this site once mentioned. If it doesn’t work and play well with others then it won’t go so far. Maybe BMD will fix that.

    It’s also going to be interesting to see is how BMD will make money off of DaVinci. Most of their revenue was generated as of late selling refurb 2k’s and the like along side service contracts. With that market gone, it very much becomes Resolve vs BaseLight vs Filmmaster. I know who I would put my money on.

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