WOW 8.1 is FAST. Love it. Love the new features. I AM IN LOVE with our Davinci suite! But anything can be better so...
Most of my complaints seem to fall into the category of this $1000 small prodco software still in some ways feeling like a Big Iron app, but not in a good way (it also does in very EXCELLENT way, don't get me wrong...). In a Big iron facility, the color grading artist would do only that task all day, not that and 6 others things. They would likely also be trained hands-on by a senior artist.
As such, he/she would not need easy to remember parameter names/functions, and would not mind that many functions are semi-hidden. For example, the noise-reduction control has some number that controls better vs faster, but it doesn't say "quality" or better on one side, and faster on the other, it's just a number. Between 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, After Effects and many other software here, I deal with lots of numbers in a given week, and so I will likely forget what this does and have to look it up each time. Render modes being called Source and Target (rather than, individual Clips, Single Clip or something you could make sense of without reading the manual or being taught) is another example.
I would love a list of functions on some help page, with where to find them (right click in this menu to bring up this function) - not just some useless manual.
On that note, the manual is HORRIBLE. The last time I read a manual this bad was 2001. Nothing is really explained or defined, there is no page like "Understanding the Node System", many parameters are simply documented as controlling what they control. Here is an almost direct quote: "The Offset control controls the amount of offset in a Qualifier selection". Why even print an explanation that useless?
2 - Audio out of sound card would be hugely appreciated. Optical out is great, especially for grading. Here again, in a non big-iron world, maybe we use HDMI, not SDI, and an extra $4000 investment to re-wire evything to get sound out of an SDI card is a lot for us - let us at least use the HDMI sound off an Intensity Pro - that would be very helpful.
3 - Two render levels - one for grading, one for rendering - I waste a lot of time switching settings every time I do a test-render, and there is the risk of forgetting to switch back to say, Red Premium Full at the end of a long night. In small studios like ours, there is no expectation of real time delivery, people have no problem coming back for their final render the next day, or after dinner if its a TVC or music promo - only a fool would final render at "1/4 res good" - but many of us do not have a fast enough compu to work in Full Premium so we work in 1/4 good (and, that said, why is there no 1/4 premium?) but RENDER at Premium full.. It seems silly to keep switching between these two modes settings, day in day out, when each is alway the same. Ideally, the render cache would use a 3rd setting
4 - Easy right-click on any clip to render a high-quality preview of just that clip. Fast/quick easy way to check if any apparent problems with, say, noisy qualifier edges will show up in final rendering quality.
5 - My cache disk and my disk for storing powergardes should not be the same disk. In one case, I want something reliable, like an internal raid 1, to store my creative assets long-term, in the other case, I just need speed (so likely an external 4 disk raid 0). The interface for setting up these directories is also very clunky and circa 2001 Unix-esque.
6 - Some things are not clear at all - for example, what does the "Use Real-Time Cache" Button do, when real-time caching is set elsewhere as a toggle between, dissolves, enabled clips only, etc.. Like so much, this is not even IN the manual at all, let alone poorly explained. and why not ProRes caches as an option. WOuld be a lot less demanding on hard drive speed than DPX sequences, less huge, and just as useful for looking at a final render (Pro Res 4444 is quite perfect). We're not grading over these sequences, we're just using them for previews. Why not also an option for using preview caches to grade FROM after the first node. (so if you change the first node, the preview is gone, and must be re-rendered, but otherwise it is using a debayered preview render to feed later nodes). This would not affect final render, just working preview.
7 - Give us some curves to help us calibrate the video-out monitor on Decklink or Intensity Pro. Yes you can calibrate using CALMAN and RS port controls on a VT25, but in-software curves would be way less time consuming. Better still, please let us use ANY video port of ANY graphics card for full-screen preview, as Premiere Pro does.
I'm sure others have other suggestions...
Some will say "well, you should have a professional station with 12 cores and a Red Rocket and 100% SDI-only cabling", to them I say we simply cannot afford this with production financial metrics being what they are this year. We CAN afford an extremely usable grading room with carefully graded HDMI monitors that still give Rec709 to a degree so precise the human eye could not detect any imperfection. We are asking for Black Magic to better adapt their software to our reality, which is shared by many of their new users. We may do very careful and high-end work here, but we are not Big Iron.
1 - Linking and re-linking nodes sometimes leads to an image that stops updating. Only solution I have found is re-start software.
2 - In 8.1 Tangent Wave communication only happens by clicking on and off Tangent as control surface in the config page. No big deal, but should be fixed. in 8.01 this was not an issue.
I hope other have other suggestion - any creative tool is only as good as its users.