DECEMBER 12, 2023

Avid Media Composer vs DaVinci Resolve: 2024 Comparison Guide

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Professional video editors have a variety of software choices to pick from. The quality of your tools will determine the overall quality of the work you produce. The key to securing repeat business and happy clients is determining the best software for any project before proceeding. In the case of fully featured video editing suites, both Avid Media Composer and DaVinci Resolve receive high praise when browsing online for the best solutions.

Our comparison of both Media Composer and Resolve will cover the details of each software while showcasing which program is ideal for common editing scenarios. You will also learn which tool is better for beginners and which one allows experienced content editors more freedom to express their knowledge.

Avid Media Composer Overview

Media Composer is renowned as the industry standard for professional video editing. Launched in 1989 as the first nonlinear professional video editing software, Media Composer remains one of the most advanced editing platforms.

At first glance, the interface reveals a range of commands and controls, signifying its expansive capabilities. It's no surprise that this complexity makes Media Composer the go-to video editing software for many award-winning Hollywood filmmakers.

Once acquainted with the configurable panel-based workspace and customizable keyboard-based editing, the scope of what you can achieve with your footage is boundless.

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Key Features and Strength for Avid Media Composer

  • Advanced Trimming Tools and Script-Based Editing: Allows precision and efficiency in every edit
  • Media Management: Offers superior management of media files, ensuring efficient organization and retrieval
  • Multicam Editing: Allows for simultaneous editing of footage from multiple cameras, facilitating a smoother editing experience
  • High-Res Workflows: Supports editing in high resolutions, ensuring pristine quality and detail preservation
  • ScriptSync AI: Automates dialog search and sync, facilitates the creation of scripts from clips, manages transcriptions efficiently, and detects multiple languages automatically
  • PhraseFind AI: Provides AI-powered dialog search, indexes dialog-driven media, creates transcripts automatically, and integrates seamlessly with Media Composer platforms
  • Avid | Edit On Demand: Provides access to a virtual editing suite in the cloud, including cloud-optimized Media Composer software and Avid NEXIS storage
  • Avid NEXIS | EDGE: Facilitates ease of remote collaboration and is offered with Media Composer | Enterprise at no additional cost
  • New Workspace Layouts: Allow users to easily transition from Adobe Premiere Pro
  • New Keyboard layouts for Davinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere Pro
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DaVinci Resolve Overview

DaVinci Resolve was first released in 2004 and is compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems. While it's a bit younger than Avid's offering, it has challenged Media Composer due to its advanced color correction toolset. In many workflows, editors often transition a Media Composer sequence into Resolve for advanced color correction finishing. Through a consistent stream of updates over the years, Resolve has achieved much renown for the raw power and adaptability it possesses. Much like Media Composer, Resolve has both a free and paid version, each with its own set of parameters and functionality.

Key Features and Strengths of DaVinci Resolve

While Media Composer may be the industry standard for editing, many pros and hobbyists turn to DaVinci for color correction and finishing. Here are some of its key strengths:

  • User-friendly interface has an easy learning curve
  • Intelligent Media Management - Create file paths that automatically link similar footage
  • Automatic depth map allows you to apply color edits to specific objects
  • Blackmagic cloud service that makes storage and collaboration painless
  • Full support for exporting directly to various social media platforms
  • Native support for Apple Silicon
  • Enhanced subtitles with foreign language and accessibility settings

Comparison: Resolve vs. Media Composer

While both apps are potent video editing solutions overall, you can see the advantages of each tool when analyzing specific aspects of the creation process. Here is how Media Composer stacks up against Resolve in all the key categories you care about.

User Interface/Layout/User Experience

DaVinci Resolve utilizes seven different screens for organizing the layout. You can select from the cut, deliver, color, edit, sound, fusion, and media pages by clicking on their respective tabs at the bottom of the screen. These pages provide similar functionality as the modes found in other popular video editing suites. FullScreen is a straightforward toggle and you can scale the UI to 100%, 150%, 200%, or rely on the automatic adjuster. The working interface is split into three panels, which can be moved around by dragging the boundaries of each window.

Avid Media Composer has an interface that takes some getting used to when first starting. All of the features you’ll need are located on the various tabs. Once you get familiar with everything, it’s easy to customize the layout and commands to shortcuts. To learn about the many buttons and features, you can hover over any icon until a "What's this?" prompt appears. However, it’s best to explore some online tutorials to get a better grasp of the layout. Luckily, once you memorize where all your most used features reside, Media Composer is a highly efficient tool for creating professional work.

Editing Capabilities/Features

Resolve offers a bevy of trimming options for source clips before adding them to the timeline. The trimming tool automatically selects an appropriate cursor based on where your mouse is placed, though you can manually override this setting before making any edits. When adding clips, the window splits into two so you can view the start and ending frames simultaneously. With three and four-point editing, you can control a clip's position by altering the start and end points on both the source and timeline respectively.

The bulk of Media Composer's editing features excel when using a keyboard. Keyboard controls are fully remappable if you dislike the initial layout, and the mouse is always a worthy backup when you want to navigate with a cursor. Still, our best work with Media Composer always comes from the keyboard setup. For instance, the sequence and bin map will let you swiftly jump to any related part of a project nearly instantly when the keys are used. Both features allow you to move and adjust clips to make the perfect timeline arrangements in a snap.

Media Management/Workflow

Media Composer has a strong sense of media management, especially with its bulk edit feature. It allows you to rename dozens of clips at once. The interface allows you to name, count, and sort each of the renamed clips so you never miss a beat. You can even tag clips for easy access later using their metadata signatures. If you make a mistake, no changes are saved until you click the commit button to finalize your reorganization efforts.

DaVinci Resolve utilizes its proprietary Blackmagic cloud technology to help facilitate file management. As long as you are connected online while editing, you can take advantage of digital archiving and file path shortcuts. This makes organizing files and workflows of multiple people that much easier.

Effects and Transitions

Resolve comes packed with a large library of traditional effects, as well as the ability to import your own. The interface for applying new transitions into the timeline is very straightforward to deal with. You get a handy viewer that previews your changes each step of the way. This helps you make edits on the fly to narrow down the perfect timing when moving between scenes and clips.

Media Composer offers a library of both stock and custom transitional effects to choose from. While this portion of their offering is quite standard, Media Composer spices things up with the Masked Margin feature. This allows you to quickly reformat a video for different social media platforms, such as Instagram's 1:1 aspect ratio. The import settings are where you can choose which platform's format you wish to convert to.

Audio Capabilities

In addition to adding multiple sound channels, Media Composer allows you to make basic edits such as audio ducking or altering the sample rate of distinct tones. The massive list of effects includes a page dedicated to intricate audio effects and sounds to further enhance the atmosphere of your piece. And when the standard toolset isn’t enough, Media Composer allows you to send an entire project to ProTools, Avid’s pro-level DAW.

Resolve comes with a robust sound editor called Fairlight. It supports up to 2,000 audio tracks at once for immensely complex acoustic recordings. Even without Fairlight, Resolve makes altering sound a breeze with convenient controls located to the right of the timeline. Apply chorus, echo, noise reduction, compressor, and more with just a few clicks.

Compatibility and Integration

Avid Media Composer enjoys a great deal of customization featuring more external plugins than you can reasonably download. After picking a few that suit the needs of your project, importing them to either PC or Mac is rather effortless. Although Media Composer is compatible with many versions of Windows, make sure your PC is strong enough to handle a video editing tool before downloading.

Resolve boasts compatibility with Linux in addition to the PC and Mac versions many organizations depend on. Since Resolve has such open compatibility, there is also a laundry list of available plug-ins for it. You will still need strong hardware if you go the Windows or Linux route.


Avid offers a free version of their software with a remarkable lineup of features available when compared to the full version. Speaking of, you can upgrade to the premium offering for $49 a month to get everything.

Resolve also gives access to a substantial free version of the software. Upgrading to the paid version will run you a one-time fee of $295. You can also choose to purchase proprietary control surfaces to speed up your editing process, though these are mostly designed for a big-budget workspace environment.

Who Is Avid Media Composer Best For?

Avid Media Composer is ideal for video editors who aspire to work in Hollywood or produce indie content with an emphasis on cinematic techniques. The interface takes some time investment to learn, but that investment can pay huge dividends once you can edit professional-grade movies and TV shows using the software.


  • Outstanding tools for professional work
  • Aligns with most industry standard practices
  • Fully customizable interface and plug-in functionality


  • Confusing interface that benefits from outside tutorials
  • Has demanding PC hardware requirements

Who Is DaVinci Resolve Best For?

DaVinci Resolve is best for YouTubers and other social media content creators who must quickly create solid work to stay relevant. The cloud features and online connectivity make adding new items to channels and feeds easier than with a traditional editing program.


  • Intuitive interface and excellent motion graphics support
  • Precisely control the action with advanced editing tools
  • Renders scenes faster than the average editing software


  • Despite the easy interface, a large knowledge base is required to take full advantage of the program
  • g uses a ton of system resources

Choosing the Right Editing Tool

Both DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer bring a lot to the table for video professionals of any skill level. With that said, Media Composer gets our pick for the overall best choice for most editors. Colorists and anyone who sticks with social media and online content creation will get a lot out of Resolve. However, those who take the time to master Media Composer's advanced list of features will be equipped for the vast majority of professional editing roles.

Young people and students should especially take advantage of the learning opportunities inherent in a program like Media Composer. You can sample the free version of Media Composer First after signing up for an Avid Master account.

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