On the weekend of 25-27 August 2023, the DaVinci Resolve Conference was held. For three days, various experts will share their knowledge about working in this very comprehensive Non Linear Editor (NLE for short). Almost everything is covered and the part I am most looking forward to is working with audio in the Fairlight page. 

Fairlight is exactly the part of the workflow I have been missing in my workflow. Until recently, I often worked only in Final Cut Pro and before that in Premiere CS and CC. For many recordings, I always provided an extra recording with an audio recorder that I had multiple channels recording at the same time. Two channels were connected by cable directly to the mixer and recorded well below -6 dB. I did that on purpose because the person behind the mixer often had a tendency to overdrive. And if that happened in the recordings, you could throw them away with the technology of the time.

With today’s recorders, you can work with 32-bit floating point. With the right software, you can amplify overly soft passages and correct overmodulated passages without losing anything. It sounds almost impossible, yet much more is now possible. Of course, the software has to work with it and connect to it. There you have another point to consider if you have yet to choose an NLE.

I often involved the sound during recording from the mixer. The recorder also had two additional inputs for external microphones and two internal microphones. This allowed me to capture as many as six channels and use them later in editing. In the beginning, this was sometimes puzzling. Especially when the second cameraman thought the pause button was important. But luckily that could be solved with a tool like Pluraleyes and I got a timeline completely synchronised on my screen in minutes. Pluraleyes is no longer necessary these days because most NLEs have such a synchronisation feature built in.

What is not built into every NLE are extensive capabilities to work with audio. Adobe’s Creative Cloud package has Audition CC for that purpose and it works perfectly with Premiere CC which is used for editing the videos. But if you want to switch between the two, you have to perform a few operations each time. Another issue is the monthly price you pay for using the entire suite. Without discount, that’s an average of about 62 euros a month for all applications within the Creative Cloud, or over 744 euros a year. For a hobby, that’s often a hefty price. To justify that price, you will have to work with it almost daily or do paid work.

Final Cut Pro still cost 300 Euros in 2011; today that price has risen to 329 Euros. But for that price, you still don’t get extensive audio editing capabilities like in Audition CC. Then you need Logic Pro, but that too is software that can only partly do some editing and the roundtrip workflow (back and forth between Logic and FCP) is not 100% due to the differences in both packages. You then really have to make choices that sometimes limit you. For example, in FCP you can only choose a limited number of colours for audio reels while in Logic you can choose from a much wider range of colours. 

DaVinci Resolve Studio had been on my shelf since February 2021. The Studio version now has the same price as Final Cut Pro. I bought it through the App Store because it’s easier when I receive and need to install updates. With that, however, I am stuck with Apple’s MacOS.

This NLE, as I have described before on this blog, has several screens; pages, in which you can work. From left to right, they are at the bottom of the bar on your screen: The Media page for importing your footage, audio, photos and titles (this is similar to Adobe Prelude CC), then we have the Cut page or Edit Page for editing your video; these are similar to Adobe Premiere CC, for audio you have the Fairlight page available for editing and mixing your audio channels; which is similar to Adobe Audition CC, then you also have the Colour page for colour correcting your footage, the Fusion page is there for creating effects; which is more or less similar to Adobe After Effects CC, and the Deliver page; similar to Adobe Media Encoder CC. There is one big difference: in Adobe, all the apps in CC are separate, and in DaVinci Resolve Studio they are each part of an application. All you have to do is switch pages, which is ideal. As soon as you adjust something on one, it is immediately visible or audible in the other page.

It is going too far for me to choose which is now the best of all. You can choose from a lot of applications these days. Prices also differ between completely free to a certain price or amount you pay per month. You can judge for yourself and make choices based on your usage. Looking at my own use, DaVinci Resolve Studio with Fairlight offers exactly what I need and what I have been waiting for for years as an extension to Final Cut Pro. You can get straight to work in the free version, but I chose the Studio version because it supports all hardware in the computer. It works faster and you have even more options on the various pages. As with Final Cut Pro so far, updates are free of charge and it works on multiple platforms: MacOS, Windows and Linux. 

Now it’s time to build knowledge. How do I start an edit, and how do I work towards a correct mix of all the sounds. That soon starts with a few videos on Youtube, and I now also have three courses that cover it all amply. Breathe easy and keep tinkering with audio and video. That’s the most fun there is, isn’t it?

Fairlight 101 met Jason Yadlovski

Ripple Training also has a number of courses for DaVinci Resolve, including one specifically focused on Fairlight. Ground Control also has several courses, which include Fairlight in a dedicated chapter.

The three live stream videos from ResolveCon over the weekend of 25 to 27 August 2023 can be watched back here (click on one of the three links).

ResolveCon Day 1

ResolveCon Day 2

ResolveCon Day 3

ResolveCon23 photo by @CameraTim

ResolveCon is organised every year for a live audience and very nicely: provided as a stream on Youtube. Anyone unable to attend live can still go and watch or re-watch all the sessions. More information about ResolveCon can be found on this website. The 2024 date will be announced here soon.

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