How to Track Properly in DaVinci Resolve

In collaboration with Youtuber AramK, we bring you a series of Davinci Resolve 16 tutorials to help you get your video project off the ground.

In this tutorial, AramK shows you how to track within DaVinci Resolve to get the best possible result.  The footage used is a beautiful panning shot of a mountain landscape. 

First and foremost, make sure your footage has enough contrast. No matter what you are tracking or whether you use pointer or planar tracking, the video needs enough contrast in order for the software to recognize which objects/people/etc. you are tracking. Simply increase both the contrast and saturation, and you’ll be good to go.

For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s say the hill in the foreground is what you want to track. Most of the time when editing for tracking in DaVinci Resolve, people will select pan, tilt, zoom, rotate, and perspective- every option- in hopes of producing better results. However, when you choose each option but do not have every form of movement going on in the film, you confuse the program. It takes longer to calculate, and you are left with sub-par results. 

Never select more than what is needed. For this mountain footage, all that is required is pan. By default, pan and tilt should go together since they are complementary movements. Use the pan tool to create a basic shape outline of the hill, and then begin tracking backward. Depending on your computer, the larger the area you are tracking, the longer it will take to process.

Once tracking is finished, you can go to the tracking analytics (tracking window with various colored lines) and click anywhere to pull up a specific part of the video. This will show you which parts of your footage were not captured by the tracking outline shape. Extend the basic outline you created to catch any pieces of footage that did not make it into the initial sweep. This will not affect your tracking.

From here, you can add more contrast, color, or whatever you want. This is a basic example of how tracking works in DaVinci Resolve. Skip to 4:25 of the video to see the more advanced tutorial. 

Looking for a particular topic?

  • Begin – 0:40
  • Choosing what to track– 1:30
  • Narrowing down your settings – 2:00
  • Shaping to track the subject – 2:33
  • Start tracking backward – 2:48
  • Editing shape to track more – 3:45
  • Advanced tracking begins– 4:25
  • Advanced shape selection – 5:00
  • Color editing within selection – 6:40
  • What happens with inaccurate selection – 9:10
  • Complex color editing within tracking – 12:43
  • Stabilization – 14:21

Key Takeaways

Tracking holds the camera’s focus on a subject within your video to bring more attention to it. It brings your footage to life and adds dynamic motion. When done correctly, it looks smooth and stabilized.

The key to tracking is having a good level of contrast (and saturation) in the video colors. Without contrast, DaVinci Resolve will not be able to recognize what you want to track. 

Remember, never select more tracking options than you need. For example, if nothing is zooming in or out in your video, you don’t need it. However, using pan + tilt in combination is a good idea when you need to use pan.

Click the necessary tracking tool to create a shape outline of what you want to track. You can always go back and edit this after the initial sweep is finished.

Edit away however you like once tracking is complete.


Thanks for reading/watching! We will see you soon with another killer DaVinci Resolve tutorial.