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How to Make Instagram Reels in Davinci Resolve (Full Guide)

In this article you’ll learn how to make quality Instagram reels, like the influencers, using Davinci Resolve.

Your advantage is that Davinci Resolve is among the most powerful post-production software out there, used by professionals all over the film industry.

Here’s a quick summary/introduction on how to make reels with Resolve:

  1. Click on “File” > “Project Settings…” > “Master Settings
  2. Set “Time resolution” to “1080 x 1920“.
  3. Select all clips in the timeline, go to “Inspector” > “Retime and Scaling“.
  4. Change “Scaling” to “Fill“.
  5. Go to the “Deliver” page > “Render Settings“.
  6. Set “Format” to “MP4“, and “Quality” to 4000 Kb/s.
  7. Give the file a name in “File Name”.
  8. Set “Location” to where the file is going to be saved on the driver.
  9. Click on “Add Render Queue”.
  10. Click on “Render All” on the right-hand side of the “Deliver” page.

Don’t worry if that seems overwhelming!

In this article, I have broken everything down into easy step-by-step guidelines for you to follow!

As stated in the title this is a FULL guide, learning you everything you need to know. Even if you’re a complete beginner to Davinci Resolve.

Therefore I’ve made a table of content here, so you can skip ahead if you don’t want to read everything:

Let’s get to it:

Can You Make Reels in Davinci Resolve?

You can make reels with Davinci Resolve, like with most editing software. The criteria for the software to be able to make reels, is that you can set the right resolution and video format. This is because Instagram reels have to follow a set of guidelines.

For those who were not sure, you definitely can make reels in Davinci Resolve. I would even argue that it’s the best software to use as well.

Since you’ve not only the option to edit your videos, BUT there are also own pages dedicated to editing audio, color, and graphic design! It’s hard to beat all of that.

Now, over to the first criteria for reels:

What Resolution to Use for Reels in Davinci Resolve?

9:16 vs 16:9

The resolution and the video format are the most important things you must get right.

Instagram reels accept a resolution of a maximum of 1080 x 1920. Therefore you want to set the “Timeline Resolution” to this range before editing.

Does numbers sound kind of funny?

That’s because they are pretty uncommon in the film industry. However, when it comes to mobile phones, most videos on Instagram, Snapchat, etc. are actually filmed as vertical videos.

This means that the largest value in the aspect ratio is swapped. As it’s not the width that’s biggest anymore, but the height. On Youtube where we find the classic way of aspect ratio, full HD is 1920 x 1080 as we are used to seeing it. While Instagram reels the opposite.

How to Set the Right Resolution:

Make sure to be on the “Edit” page inside Resolve:

go to edit page

Now click on “File” in the top left-hand corner, and click on “Project Settings…“, like in the picture:

projects settings open

Inside the window that pops up, you want to be in the “Master Settings“.

Then change the “Timeline resolution” to “Custom“.

In the boxes where you specify the resolution, you want these to be set to “1080 x 1920“:

set right resolution and fps in project settings

Next up is the frame rate, so before closing the project settings, read this:

What Frame Rate to Use for Instagram Reels in Davinci Resolve?

When it comes to the frame rate, Instagram reels are a bit weird.

Instagram reels are always 30 FPS. If you upload a video with a frame rate of 24 FPS, Instagram will change it to 30. Therefore, it’s optimal to shoot the video in 30 FPS and prevent Instagram from changing it.

However, I don’t want you to worry too much about this.

If your videos are 23.967, 24, or 25 you will hardly notice any difference. And the people who are scrolling in the reels algorithms, please!

It’s not a big deal if they are 60 FPS either, as 30FPS is actually pretty high already. Of course, you may see subtle differences if there is a lot of action filmed in 60 FPS natively.

HOWEVER, set the “Timeline frame rate” and “Playback frame rate to 30 in the “Project Settings”.

It’s better to know what it’s going to look like when you are editing, so you can make it look as good as possible.

save

Next, go ahead and click “Save“, when you have done all of the above.

Now, it’s time to add your video clips to Resolve!

Open the “Media Pool” by clicking on it in the left-hand top corner.

Then go to the folder/folders where you have your clips stored.

To import them, just select your clips and drag them into the “Media Pool” like this:

import

Then Resolve will ask if you want to “Change Project Frame Rate?

Since we have already set the frame rate to 30, click on “Don’t Change“:

don't change framrate

Adding Music/Audio to our Reel:

Before adding our video clips we are going to add the music.

If you need good non-copyright music I recommend you to check out, Youtube’s audio library (opens in a new tab).

And for sound effects, you can use Freesound, which has endless different choices. Just search for something like “door opens” and you’ll get hundreds of search results to choose from.

(You add audio to the Resolve the same way as with videos)

Now go to the “Media Pool” and drag the audio into the timeline:

drag audio to timeline

Often songs have a few blank frames without any audio information.

I like to just cut these away, as there is no time to spare when you are going to hook those Instagram reel scrollers!

To do this, simply place the “Timeline Cursor” at the beginning of the timeline/audio clip.

Timeline Cursor= the red line arrow 1 is pointing on in the image below:

Once you are at the beginning of the timeline, zoom all the way in clicking on the “+” or dragging the slider to the right to which “arrow 2” in the picture below is pointing:

zoom in to audio in timeline

If you can’t see any blank space, you don’t have to worry about trimming it. BUT make sure to read how to activate the “Blade Edit Mode“, we need that for the next step.

If you are seeing a little bit of space without audio waves, we want to cut that away.

To do this we are using the razor blade called “Blade Edit Mode“, watch the picture below and click on it as it turns red (meaning it’s activated).

With the “Blade Edit Mode” ON, click on the audio clip, right next to where the audio waves start.

When you have made the cut, click on the little part you’ve cut off, then hit the “Delete” button on your keyboard, or “Backspace” (then you have to drag the audio clip to the start of the timeline).

remove audio

What’s the Length of an Instagram Reel?

An Instagram reel can be up to 60 seconds long. They used to be limited to 15 seconds in the beginning, hence, why you often hear 15 seconds when talking about reels.

So the only thing we need to worry about is really making sure it does not exceed the 60 seconds mark, in that case, it will be too long.

However, in the example for this tutorial, I’m going to make a classic 15 seconds reel!

TIP: Never make your reels longer than necessary to tell the story!

People who scroll in the reels love tempo! So many clips and fast-phased music is never a bad idea.

However, cinematic reels seem to do quite well as well! In that case chill music, awesome clips, and bump up the color game (fully possible inside Davinci Resolve’s “Color” page).

Plan how long you want your reel to be and cut off the audio with the razor blade.

OR the PRO way of doing it: Place the “Timeline Cursor” where you want to cut off the music and press “W” on your keyboard. (If you did that, you are now a member of the “cool club”)

15 seconds mark in timeline

Next, I’m going to show you a hack:

Right-click the audio clip in the timeline, then click on “Normalize Audio Levels…“.

In the window that shows up: set it to “Sample Peak Program” and the “Target Level” to “-2.0 dBFS“. Then click on “Normalize“.

Now the peak (highest part) of your audio file is -2 dBFS.

What’s awesome about that, is that you don’t have to worry about audio distortion (volume that goes over 0 dBFS), and at the same time you have the highest possible volume.

To get noticed in the reels, it’s important that your audio is not low volume.

normalize audio

Once you have done all of the above, it’s time to lock the audio track. That way you won’t ruin it by accident when editing your videos.

Click on the icon that looks like a lock on “Audio 1”.

When the lock is enabled, your audio track should then look like it does in the picture below:

lock audio track

Next, we are going to start adding the video clips and editing:

How to Edit the VIDEOS in Davinci Resolve

It’s time to add your video clips!

Simply drag them from the “Media Pool” onto the timeline above the audio clip like this:

If your clips have audio they will show up in the track “Audio 2” since audio track 1 is locked.

drag videoclips to timeline

IF you want to delete the audio from the videos you can just select all of them by dragging over them (click and hold the gray part of the timeline and drag), once they are selected they should have a red outline around them.

Then hit “Backspace“, DO NOT HIT “DELETE” this time, as then you’ll also delete the video clips…

delete audio to clips

Now it’s time to edit!

To do this, I’m going to show you a method that’s classic Davinci Resolve.

However, you can use the razor blade “Blade Edit Mode” and just cut and hit “Delete on the part you don’t want as well! Yes, then it’s allowed to use the “Delete” button, however, if you have audio other than the song, be careful… I’ve messed up a couple of times with that button, as you may guess.

Now to the legendary method:

In the toolbar above the timeline, click on “Trim Edit Mode” (Shortcut “T).

Now if you go ahead and hover your mouse over the edge of a clip you want to trim the cursor will change into the symbol you see in the image below.

Then click, hold and pull the clip to make it shorter (or longer). However, notice that all the other clips follow it. Without the “Trim Edit Mode“, they would not have followed and it would be created a space between them.

So, go ahead and trim your video down to the length of your music! (No longer than 60 seconds!!)

trim clips in trim edit mode

Here’s another cool thing you can do by using the “Trim Edit Mode“:

trim edit trim technique

Alright, here you can see how my timeline looks after trimming:

trimmed 15 seconds

It does now fit the length of the audio perfectly!

If you are using a video captured in a 16:9 aspect ratio, I’ll show you how to fix that next. If your film was filmed vertically you can just scroll past the next step:

Making the Video Fit the Vertical Frame

fill result

Now, if the video clips you are using were shot in 16:9 or in any other aspect ratio than 9:16 they will have black bars like those above.

Select all the clips you want to fix (if any).

If you want to select multiple clips at the same time you can click the gray part of the timeline and drag over them, or use the shortcut “CTRL+D” or “Cmd+D“.

To choose only a couple, hold down the CTRL button while clicking on the ones you want to select.

Next go to the “Inspector” tab, located in the top right-hand corner of the page. Click on it to open the tab.

Then at the bottom of the “Inspector“, click on “Retime and Scaling“.

Now, go ahead and change the “Scaling” from “Projects Settings” to “Fill“.

Voilà!

Now your videos should fill the vertical frame. If it didn’t work, at the top of the “Inspector” under “Transform” change the “Zoom” value to fix it instead.

Scaling and select fill

Next, since we just zoomed in to the video using the “Fill” function, you may have lost some details in the video you want to include in your reel:

To adjust this, at the top of the “Inspector” under “Transform” there is an option called “Position“. Hover your mouse over the box on the right side of the “X“, click, hold and pull to the sides to adjust the position:

Transform to change position of video in frame

If you want to learn to make GIFs like the one above, I’ve written an article on how to do this with Davinci Resolve here.

Now it’s time to add some special effects to the reel. This will give it a more cinematic look, and make it stand out from the herd:

Adding Effects to the Reel

Click on “Effects” in the left-hand top corner of the page, then under “Toolbox“, click on “Video Transitions“.

You can choose any one of the transitions under “Dissolve“.

If you want to do a test, place the timeline cursor in between two clips where you want to add a transition, and then over the dissolve in the menu.

I’m going to go with “Blur Dissolve“.

To add it just drag it into the timeline, and place it between two clips:

drag transition onto timeline

Next, if you wish to adjust the length of the transition, you do that by just hovering over the edge of it, and pulling it to either increase or decrease the length:

adjust transition length

Another cinematic type of effect you can do is to fade out the audio. I’ve written about three different audio fade-outs you can do here.

However, here is a quick and easy way to fade audio:

Just hover your mouse over the top end corner of the audio clip (you have to turn off the lock icon now), then you’ll see your cursor change to two triangles and a handle on the audio clip.

Click, hold and pull that handle to the left in order to fade out the audio. To fade in you drag it to the left at the beginning of a clip.

fade audio out1

The best part:

It works to fade out the video as well!

fade video out

How to add Text to Instagram Reel in Davinci Resolve

  1. Click on “Effects” in the left-hand top corner of the “Edit” page.
  2. Click on “Titles” under “Toolbox“.
  3. Drag the “Text” to the timeline and place it on top of your video.
  4. Click on the “Text” in the timeline, and open the “Inspector“.
  5. Type in the box under “Rich Text“.

That’s the shortversion.

Here is the detailed version, including some great effects to put on the text:

Click on “Effects” then under “Toolbox” click on “Titles” and drag the one that’s only named “Text” onto your timeline, and place it on top of the video clips like this:

Then, click on the “Text” in the timeline to select it.

add text to timeline

Next, open the “Inspector” on the right-hand side of the page, and under “Video” you can see “Rich Text“.

In the box under “Rich Text” type in what you want the text to say in the video.

Next, a little further down in the “Inspector“, you can see “Stroke“.

If you wish to outline your text -> increase the size of it.

A better way to outline the text, in my opinion, is to use the option called “Drop Shadow“. It’s looking more smooth than the “Stroke” option.

To use this, first of all open “Drop Shadow” by clicking on the name, then change the “Offset” Values:

stroke and drop shadow

Congratulation!!

We are now finished with the classic editing part.

Next, it’s time to bump up your color game a little!

This is what really will make your video pop, and separate your video from all the noobs.

Color Grading Instagram Reels in Davinci Resolve

First of all, go to the “Color” page inside Resolve:

Go-to-colortab-davinci resolve

Then in the top right-hand corner of the “Color” page:

Make sure that “Clips” and “Nodes” are open. The text is white when they are open.

Below these two buttons are what’s called a node graph. Here you can see there is one node by default called “01“. From now on “01” is one of us (trying to be funny…)

However, go ahead and right-click the node and click on “Add Node” then “Add Serial“:

add new serial node

Next up, you have the “Gallery” which you opened in the right-hand top corner (if not just click on “Gallery“).

Here you can see all the clips you’ve added to the timeline!

In order to change the clips, you are color grading you can just click on them:

change clip to colorgrade here

Next, go to the “Curves” by clicking on the icon shown in the picture below.

Also, make sure that the “chain” icon is ON!!! See inside the circle with the number 2 (picture below).

Here, you can adjust the luma/brightness of your video.

To make new dots on the line just click on it. Then you can drag the dots up and down to increase and decrease luminance!

go to the curves

I have written an article on how to adjust luminance/brightness here. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of that article to find the curves!

However, to make it simple:

A lot of times just making an “S-curve” like this will make your video pop:

s curve grade

Here’s a before and after image using the “S-curve”:

(I had to do it a bit extreme in order for it to show, as this picture is insanely compressed)

s curve result

Now, it’s time to export your reel from Davinci Resolve! It’s important that you get the render settings right:

How to Export Instagram Reels in Davinci Resolve:

  1. Go to the “Deliver” page, and click on “Render Settings“.
  2. Select the “Custom Export“, and give a “File Name” and “Location“.
  3. Change “Format” to “MP4” and “Codec” to “H.264“.
  4. Set “Resolution to “Custom” and “1080 x 1920“.
  5. Set “Quality” to “4000 Kb/s“.
  6. Click on “Add to Render Queue”.
  7. Click on “Render All” in the “Render Queue” tab on the left-hand side of the page.

That’s the short version.

Here’s the detailed version with a bit more explanation for the best result:

Go to the “Deliver” page:

deliver page

Go to the “Render Settings” tab, and choose “Custom Export“.

Then in “File Name“, type in what you want the file to be called in your system.

Set “Location” to where you want it to be saved on your computer:

export settings

A little further down in the “Inspector” you’ll find the “Format“.

It’s recommended to use the MP4 container for Instagram reels together with H.264.

Since this is what Instagram prefers this is what we are going to use as well to get the best possible quality.

Then make sure that the “Resolution” is set to “1080 x 1920“, which is the highest resolution Instagram accepts for reels.

And also make sure that the “Frame rate” is set to “30“, which is the only frame rate accepted for reels, and everything else will get converted:

resolution export

Lastly, for the “Quality” we want to tick off the box “Restrict to” and then set it to “4000 Kb/s“. This is the bitrate.

This is the maximum bitrate allowed for Instagram reels and we want to make sure we get the best possible quality!

Next, click on “Add to Render Queue” at the bottom of the “Inspector“:

It should appear as a “Job” in the “Render Queue” tab on the right-hand side of the “Deliver“. Then just click “Render All“:

render queue and set bitrate

Alright!

Once it’s complete right-click on the “Job” and click on “Open File Location“.

Now you should be able to see your final product saved on your computer.

open file location

And like that! You have successfully created an Instagram reel… Or at least everything your video needs in order to become a reel once uploaded to Instagram!

This brings us to the last section of the tutorial, where you’ll learn how to upload it to Instagram from your computer:

How to Upload from Davinci Resolve to Instagram

You can’t upload videos directly from Davinci Resolve to Instagram. However, it’s possible to export the video and upload it to cloud storage which you can excess through your phone. By using a good cloud storage service the video will not suffer any quality loss.

This is also what we are going to do next.

If you’re a MacBook user, there’s a big chance you are using iCloud. That’s a great cloud storage service and does not compress your videos.

However, since I’m a Windows user, I’ll use Google Drive for this example:

The first step is to go to https://www.google.com/ (opens in a new tab).

Then in the right corner, click on those 9 dots forming a square, then select “Drive“.

(You need to sign in to your Google account)

Google drive find

Next, you’ll see the Google Drive page.

Click on “New” on the left-hand side of the page, and select “File Upload“:

file upload google drive

Locate your video file, select it, and click on “Open“:

open insta reel location

Once it’s done uploading you should be able to see it under “My Drive” > “Files”, like in the picture below:

uploaded

Now, we’re done with the computer for now!

Go ahead and grab your smartphone next.

If you’re an Android type of person you should have the Google Drive app downloaded by default, however, for iPhones, my guess is you have to download it if you haven’t already…

Next, go to the Google Drive app.

If you’re logged in to the same account as you were on the computer, you should now be able to find it.

When you find it, click on the three dots next to the filename, and click on “Download“:

mobile drive

Go ahead and open the Instagram app.

Here open the reels, and click then click on the camera icon up in the right-hand corner (by the time of this writing).

Next, instead of filming a reel with your camera, click on the upload symbol in the left-hand lower corner to find your video.

By default, you will be directed to the “Gallery” inside your phone, and most likely you’ll see it here (if not go to the next step), then click on the video to upload it.

select in instagram gallery

If you did not see the video in the “Gallery“:

Make sure to be in the “Gallery“, then click on the name “Gallery” to open the location menu, from here select “Download“, and you should see your video:

find the files in downloads if not in the gallery

That’s it.

I hope if you one day become a famous influencer, you will remember this article!

Also, if you want to learn how to make GIFs with Davinci Resolve, make sure to check out this article! (does not open in a new tab), does who get it get it…

Best regards,
Your friend, Jens.