Peter Langmead's Blog

Film Director, Screenwriter, Composer, Steadicam operator, Social Documentary Photographer. My latest film is The Borderline, released on December 4, 2019.

How to Use Music in Davinci Resolve

Introduction

I find sequences are the right length for composing music, four or five scenes, ten minutes, a reel, usually an element of the storyline. I deliver a print with sound of each sequence that I label S8-11, for a sequence made of script reference scenes 8 to 11. I open an appropriate template file in Sibelius that I composed earlier, call it a temp track if you will, and give it the same name. Using Play>Video>Add Video in Sibelius, I associate the video. Unsurprisingly, I call the video tracks S8-11 as well! The score starts at the beginning of the video, which plays as Sibelius does. If I rewrite and manipulate the music to fit the action and dialogue, it will have the same style but sound nothing like the original template, so every film is different.

Fairlight with diagetic and score tracksFairlight with diagetic and score tracks: diagetic music is real to the film and is in sound effects on front left and right speakers and (probably) in surround left and right as well; score music, non-diagetic music, is the emotion of the film, called MX, stereo, and is on front left and right speakers only.

Before you start

If you know genres, you know this is fine. The Sibelius file goes into the music subdirectory in my Dropbox folder with the 48kHz 24bit wav file in my Music Library subdirectory. Both remain on the local drive during postproduction. That is the easy way. A more challenging approach is each instrument, or group of instruments, is placed for width and depth, called stems. They are made from the sib film, carefully named and placed in the music library. The people who use this approach are paid a lot more than me, about US$500,000 more the last time I heard. The rest of us, may be five per cent, if anything! Ha! But it is more manipulatable and produces a better sound as well. Do not worry about Reel reference names now because they are going to move but ensure your script scene references are good.

Sequences

In the context of computing power, a sequence of four scenes is manageable as one timeline, with transitions across scenes. I look at the sequence as a story element; it is effectively a self-contained short in which edit, sound, colour and vfx are complete. The next step is making a block of sequences into an Act, because between Acts are natural fades to black. I prefer cuts but they are not inevitable between sequences, realizing that ends of sequences are the end of scenes. The transitions between sequences are a choice of a cut, a fade to black, or, in DR, enforced trimming to make room for a crossfade. If you do not like the enforced trim, leave a top and tail on each sequence. There are always workarounds, but they are ugly.

Aggregate your sequences in >Create a new timeline with selected clips with no special conditions. When you do this, the track names disappear. This takes a few minutes to clear up. I list the characters in the first timeline if there are a lot of them. There are two tricks: use the same track names in each scene, even if they are empty; the other is to fill the start (five seconds) of each empty track with five seconds of OSC. This is the quickest option and, if you do not do it, you will be making spaces physically in each sequence or act, and that takes time. Now, when you >Decompose in place, all the sequences will be the same number of tracks. Since you did study the ‘Definitive Guide’ and colour-coded the tracks, you recognize the DIAL bounce track, the BG FX bounce track and any other bounce tracks you have made.

Best regards,

Peter Langmead

P.S. Please have a look at my website here, for all sorts of interesting things about my film productions, operas and books on social photography. Remember, if there is no spit on the lens, you are not close enough - I do not know who said that but it is true. Write to me if you have a question.

Indiewire News

IndieWire is an online publication covering film, TV, and digital news, reviews, and interviews for passionate fans and industry insiders.

powered by Surfing Waves

Notes

Langmead & Baker Ltd is a public relations and communications company based in Lusaka, Zambia. Although there is a free version of Davinci Resolve, which will do nearly everything, I use the current version of Davinci Resolve Studio. Although I use the usual suspects, I normally use Blackmagic Cameras and Studio Equipment.

For those of you who noticed that I am a Steadicam operator, I can assure you that the Mini 4k with SSD recorder and, importantly for me, a global shutter, works beautifully.

The Next Movie

The script is prepared for my next movie and pre-production is in progress. This is the most time-consuming part of filmmaking and production is expected to begin at the end of the year It will be shot on Blackmagic cameras and postproduced almost exclusively on Davinci Resolve.