My Experiences with Video & Audio Editing in DaVinci Resolve

Before taking this course, I already had previous experience with video editing software, including subtitling and working with timelines. However, I had never worked with DaVinci Resolve, which meant relearning the basics, and I was trying to subtitle a video in English, while the narrator speaks a language that I do not speak. In many cases, I overcame these issues more easily than I had expected and completed the entire 4-minute folktale video even without a timestamped transcript to help me. My experiences are as follows:

I had specifically avoided DaVinci Resolve in the past, particularly because of its tendency to crash randomly. Yet, I can tell you that during my entire time working with DaVinci, it never crashed on me once, but I know it did crash for others in the course. I am almost certain this is due to the amount of RAM available for DaVinci to use since the PC I work with uses a lot of the newest hardware. My advice for people working with DaVinci Resolve would therefore be to save your work after every big step (or change) in the project with “Ctrl + S”.

The initial issues I faced when working with DaVinci were mostly expected, but some things really did baffle me. I have to give a big shoutout to Anne and Michael’s step-by-step presentation on video editing in DaVinci, as it would otherwise have taken me ages to find everything. Still, the editing process felt very clunky and inefficient for the most part (undoubtedly down to my inexperience with the software). For example, I am very used to scrolling left and right by using “Shift + Scroll Wheel” and zooming in with “Ctrl + Mouse Wheel”, but in DaVinci Resolve it is the other way around for some reason. I didn’t end up finding out if that could be changed in the settings, but in the end, I just tried to adapt to it as best as possible.

Another element of the editing process that confused me at first was the timeline starting at 1:00 as a baseline and each minute only being counted as 30 seconds, before it goes back to 0 seconds. In effect, this means, that 2 seconds of video are displayed as 1 second in the timeline, which was important since the timestamps we were given for subtitling the first minute of the video were not adjusted to this system. However, after testing out manually inputting the time, I figured out that DaVinci automatically converts the manually input timestamps correctly to work within the software.

When it came to subtitling the narrator, the main difficulty was (as stated previously) the fact that we don’t speak Konkomba and are trying to subtitle it in a completely different language. Tasun was very kind to provide us a list with timestamps for about the first minute of subtitles we were supposed to add. Now, that would not have been an issue had I gotten the memo that we were only meant to add the timestamped subtitles given to us. Instead, I convinced myself that I had to subtitle the entire folktale without any further assistance.

To explain how I completed this, I must present some basic information about the folktale assigned to me, “The Crocodile Steals Ten Sisters’ Waist Beads”. In the story, ten sisters take off their waist beads and bathe in a nearby river. As they are bathing, a crocodile steals them while they are not paying attention. They realize they have been stolen when they want to leave and all ten sisters sing to the crocodile from youngest to oldest, demanding their waist beads back. The crocodile does this for 9 of the sisters, after which each one leaves, and the rest start their song again. When only the last sister is left, the crocodile doesn’t return the waist bead and instead eats her. Structurally, it has some similarities to the song “10 kleine Jägermeister” by Die Toten Hosen but provides an actual context for the events of the story.

The advantage this gave me, was that the all songs in the folktale translations included a side-by-side transcription of the original Likpakpaln Konkomba. Since 90% of the story was a repetition of the song, I could generally follow where they were in the story, and for the parts where they weren’t singing, I could roughly gauge what the narrator was saying based on word flow and breaks between sentences. In fact, it was while using this method that I found out the translation and transcript left out an error that the narrator and audience made during one of the songs. At the end of the second time they sing, where the 9th sister receives her waist beads, they at first accidentally sing a verse from the previous song but don’t let themselves be confused and sing the correct verse after.

Nna ma biwee yee. Tii maaleen ka nkun’a yee.
“My mother has given birth to nine. Give me my waist beads so that I can go home.”

Instead of the following, which is supposed to end the second song:

Ka m kpee biwee yee. Tii maaleen ka nkun’a yee!
“And I’m the ninth. Give me my waist beads so that I can go home!”

As I said, this wasn’t in the translation given to us, so I thought I was going crazy at first when I couldn’t figure out why they sang ten verses instead of nine. Using the transcription of the Likpakpaln Konkomba, I was able to determine what they made, which I think is really cool to be able to do. It reminded me of Old and Middle English manuscripts, where people make mistakes even when telling their own stories. For me, it highlights the importance of the oral narrator maintaining cohesion for the entertainment of the community.

Lastly, there were also interruptions by one individual from the crowd. While I could have simply left him out, I found it insightful to highlight how the narrator interacts and responds to questions from the crowd. The subtitles of their interactions are almost too short since they happen too quickly, however, there is no real better way to include in my opinion.

In any case, I found this exercise to be quite interesting and very compelling. In many ways, it felt like an encrypted language that I had to decode for an anglophone audience. By the end, I had subtitled all 4 minutes of the video with relative ease. Additionally, I found that working on this part of the project solo is better than having to constantly share the editing file with the other person, which can lead to accidentally deleting other people’s work. This made the work a lot easier and gave me more freedom to make aesthetic decisions for the video. I want to thank Tasun, Michael, and Anne for allowing us to be a part of this project and for all the help they gave us for the course. I think this will be one of the courses I will look back on very fondly. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *