This is a quick getting-started guide to working with DaVinci Resolve, a free and very capable video professional editor. There is also a paid version, but the free version is more than adequate for editing pre-recorded services and has a feature set way beyond what we need. It is produced by Black Magic Design, a company specialising in professional grade video cameras and high-end studio equipment.
You can download a copy from the Resolve product page. It’s a big program and the downloaded file will be over 1GB in size. There are versions for Windows and Mac. You need a reasonably modern computer to run it on, and more memory makes for a smoother experience. I started with 8GB RAM and later upgraded to 16GB, which has made a difference. If you have a desktop PC then having a good video card will also make a difference, but it’s not essential – I don’t have one.
The best place to start learning is with DaVinci’s own training video. Just navigate to the training page and play the first video, Introduction to Editing. It’s a 45 minute video which goes through a lot of stuff. Be prepared to start and stop and take notes. You may also want to note the times of particular sections in case you want to go back to them later.
One thing you should note is that this video assumes that you’re on the Edit tab but a new installation will usually start up in the Cut tab which looks different. The tab selector is at the bottom of the screen.
The other thing is that this video was made using a Mac. The Windows version is almost identical but you need to know that the [Command] key on a Mac becomes the [Ctrl] key on Windows, and the [Option] key on a Mac becomes the [Alt] key on Windows.
Tips for editing services
The best way to learn is just by having a go yourself. These are some of the things I picked up along the way which have helped streamline the way I edit services.
Even professional grade programs have glitches and there’s nothing more frustrating than losing a section of careful editing.
Undo is your friend!
Everyone gets it wrong and does something they didn’t intend. Sometimes you’ll lose a whole section. Don’t panic! Rather than try to work out what went wrong and repair it, it’s usually far easier to undo the change, gather your thoughts and try again.
On the left side of each track you can see a set of controls.
The padlock locks the track for editing. No matter what you do to other tracks, that track will not change.
The double-headed arrow controls whether items on the track can move. If the arrows are greyed out, nothing moves. If you delete a section, it will not try to close the gap.
The film icon on the video track turns that track on and off in the output. If it’s crossed out in red, the video will not be displayed.
The S icon on audio tracks means Solo which means only that track will be heard and all others will be silenced.
The M icon means Mute and turns off the audio from that track.
One of the things that can speed up your editing is keyboard shortcuts, as it reduces the amount of mouse movement you need between the timeline and the controls. If you hover over a control, a tooltip usually pops up and often it will tell you the keyboard shortcut for that icon. There’s a more extensive list on this page.
You don’t have to use them, but if there’s something you find yourself doing often then it may be worth finding out if a shortcut will help you.
Top and tail
Most of the videos you receive will need to be trimmed at the start and end. This is where the camera stabilises and person being filmed settles. At the end you might see the camera being turned off. These are things you don’t want to appear on your final video. As described in the training, you can preset in and out points before dragging the clip onto the timeline. You can also use the drag handles on a clip to change that end point.
Cutting out a section
Sometimes there will be a section in the middle of a video that you want to cut out, either to edit down to a shorter length, or to remove a fluff. The tool you want for this is the Blade which has a razor blade icon on the toolbar above the timeline.
Position the play head where you want to make the first cut, select the Blade tool and click on the video track next to the play head, which will cut the video. Nothing will have moved, but you’ll see a division in the video. Now move the play head to the end of the piece you want to remove and cut there as well. Change from the blade tool back to the select tool (the arrow, shown in red above). Select the section between the two cuts and delete it. If you use the Delete key, the section on the right will automatically move back to close up the gap. If you delete using Backspace you will be left with a gap.
Almost certainly something will have moved between the two cuts, so you’ll see a slight jump in the video. You can smooth that out using a Smooth Cut, which generates video frames to link up the two different positions. You can find it in the Effects Library under Video Transitions. Drag this onto the timeline where the join is.
If you select maximum resolution on the timeline you should see a white box spanning the two video clips. Select this (it will turn red) and open the Inspector and you will be able to change the duration of the transition. If it’s a small movement then about 4 frames will be enough. Larger movements may need a longer transition, but don’t make it too long as it will look unnatural.
If you are introducing a song, it sometimes works well to start the song video early so that you can hear the introduction playing in the background as it is being introduced. If the song is a plain audio track then it’s easy because Resolve automatically mixes the audio. If it’s a video then the order of tracks is important because video tracks are layered. The one on top, the highest numbered video layer, is the one that you’ll see and it will cover whatever is behind it.
In this case I wanted to see the service leader announcing the song, with the song video coming in afterwards, so the service leader track is higher in the stack than the song video. You can drag clips from one track to another, although you need to be careful about subsequent clips moving in to fill the gap. See the section on locking tracks.
You’ll also need to duck the audio down so that the music doesn’t drown the service leader. See the tip below on ducking audio.
Using static pictures
As well as showing video, you can also show static pictures. Just drag them onto the timeline as you would with a video clip and use the grab handles to stretch to the length you want on the timeline.
As with video, the order of layers is important. If you want the picture to cover the video clip, put it in a higher layer.
You need to be zoomed in close enough for the grab handles to work. The default duration of inserted pictures is quite short and I changed my settings to make it about 30s, so that it’s easier to see the picture and the handles. You can change that in the preferences from the menu bar:
DaVinci Resolve > Preferences > User > Editing > Standard Still Duration
Picture in picture
Another useful effect is to have a large static picture, or even a video, covering most of the screen, and a smaller video of someone talking in one corner. This can be useful if you want visuals during a sermon or prayers.
Here again we use the order of layers, so the full screen background is in the lower layer and the speaker is in the upper layer. The trick now is to shrink the size of the upper layer so that it exposes the underlying background.
Position the play head at the start of the section so you can see what’s happening. Select the upper layer video, open the inspector and change the zoom level to shrink it down to the size you want, then change the X and Y position values to move it to a corner of the screen.
Most cameras generate video with square pixels, but occasionally you maybe sent video which appears squished or stretched. You can correct this by right clicking on the clip and selecting Clip Attributes. Under Video attributes you should see the Pixel Aspect Ratio which will be Square by default. There is a long list of alternatives and unless you know what type of device is being used, you’ll just have to try a few different ones.
When you receive a set of video clips, they will almost certainly all have different audio levels depending on how far from the microphone the speaker was sitting. Usually they will be fairly quiet too. To fix this, you need to Normalize the audio levels. Right click on the audio, select Normalize audio levels and set a value of -1.0dB. Do this for every clip and they will all be matched and at a useful volume level.
If you are playing background music, you need to ensure that it doesn’t drown out any speech in the foreground. You can easily do this for an entire clip by hovering the mouse over the audio until you see a double headed arrow, then drag the level up or down. A tooltip will show up indicating how much the level is changed. I usually find -15dB works well to keep background music below speech level.
If you want to fade the music in after someone starts speaking, or fade it down just before they start speaking, then you need a slightly different technique. You need to define some keyframes which mark where the transition happens.
Here you can see in the outer track, the speaker saying the last few words. At this point the music is playing quietly in the background. You can then see two white markers on the song audio track marking where the fade up starts and ends. As the speaker video finishes, the song is now up to normal volume.
You can place these keyframe markers by using Alt-Click on the audio track. Place the two markers, then drag the earlier one down as needed. Here I’ve used -15dB. You can expand the height of the audio track using the grab handle between track headers. This makes it a lot easier to make fine adjustments.
Audio with only one stereo channel
Occasionally you will receive a video clip which only has audio on one of the stereo channels. You can hear this clearly in headphones. To fix this, right click on the track, select Clip Attributes and go to the Audio tab. If the source is showing as Mono you can change it to Stereo and set the right channel to use the same embedded audio as the left channel. It will still be mono, but at least you’ll hear it in both ears.
Separating audio and video
Sometimes you will have a clip where you only want the video, with the audio being replaced by a music track. Or you may have a clip where you only want the audio. Normally the audio and video are inseparable. There is a small chain link icon in the bottom left which indicates that they are linked. However, you can unlink them and remove the part you don’t want.
Right click on the clip and note that the menu has a tick next to Link Clips. Click on that menu entry to unlink the clips and the link icon will disappear and you can then treat them as separate clips. Click somewhere else first, so that you don’t still have both tracks selected, then select the track you want to delete and use the backspace key to delete it. Don’t use the delete key because the clips will change position.
Text and subtitles
There are two ways to add text to a video. Subtitles are generally placed at the bottom of the screen and come up a line at a time. We started out using these and more recently have moved to text overlay because it is easier when you can see more text.
First of all you need to add a subtitle track to your timeline. Right click in the track header area and select Add subtitle track.
You’ll get a new track called ST1 on your time line. Move the play head to where you want to add a subtitle, right click on the subtitle track and select Add subtitle. You’ll get a new subtitle block appearing with default text in it. Use the inspector to edit this text.
Note that the Use track style box is ticked, which means we can sort out the styling for the entire track at one go.
You can use the usual timeline grab handles to change the start and end times of the subtitle. If this is text that the viewer needs to say, make sure it come up somewhere between 0.5 and 1s before they actually need to say it. Getting this right is one of the most time-consuming parts of using subtitles, and you’ll need to keep playing back to check that it’s right.
Once you’ve added your subtitle text, you need to set the styling. Set the play head at the start of any subtitle, select the subtitle, then in the inspector select Track Style. Here you can choose font, size, background, etc. What we generally do is to use white Open Sans text on a dark background.
The Character panel sets the test styling. Transform sets the subtitle position on the screen, and Background defines what goes behind it. Because we are using the same style throughout the video we use a semi-transparent dark background. You’ll need to enable Background first, then set the width to 1.0 (full width) and adjust the height to cover the text. The default opacity of 50% is usually fine.
There are several reasons why I stopped using subtitles: they take a long time to enter and get the timing right, and viewers don’t get very much look-ahead. But we’ve also found that YouTube doesn’t always manage to keep audio and video in sync at times of high load, and there can sometimes be a 1s lag between them. Normally this is nothing more than a distraction, but if you’re trying to read subtitles that appear after the audio has already gone then it’s hopeless.
For sections of liturgy we are now putting them up a page at a time over the top of the video, as shown above. To do this you need to add a title item to a video track in the top layer. You can access these from the Effects Library / Titles.
Drag a title block onto the timeline and edit it using the Inspector. The controls there are similar to those for the subtitle styling, except that you can select part of the text and change the font size or boldness, so it works well for showing responses.
In this case I’ve set the background to be black, 50% opacity with width and height set to 1.0. You can change those value to suit. You might decide to have your title are on the left half of the screen instead, so as not to obscure the video.
One I’ve got the title slide looking the way I want it, I then copy and paste that slide into other parts of the service, then edit the text, to save redoing the styling each time.
Generating the final video
So far your video only exists in your editor. To show it, or upload it to YouTube or Facebook you first need to render it to generate a single output file. You do this from the Deliver tab at the bottom of the screen.
There are a number of presets for YouTube, Vimeo, etc. We normally use YouTube, so I choose that one. There is an option to upload directly to YouTube which I leave unchecked because I want to check the video before I upload it.
If you have used subtitles there is one further important step you must take. Switch from YouTube to Custom, and expand the Subtitle Settings section.
Make sure Export Subtitle is checked, and change the format to Burn into video. If you don’t do this, your video will be rendered without any subtitles.
When all is ready, click the Add to Render Queue button, which will add a job to the render queue over on the right hand side. Click Start Render to start the process.
Rendering will almost certainly take a long time, depending on how fast your computer is and how many layers are in the video. On an older computer with poor video processing this can be several hours. You should also be prepared for the fact that it will sometimes fail and you’ll need to re-run the render. Always check the final video before uploading to make sure that it plays, that you have both audio and video, and subtitles if you’ve used them.
If all is well then you can upload it to your preferred video platform. That’s another slow process, even if you have fast broadband, and the video platform will also need to process the video before it can be viewed, which may take a further hour at busy times.