Mixing Dialogue and Music with Fairlight
DaVinci Resolve Quick Tips: The Secret to Mixing Voices and Music with Fairlight
By Ross Papitto
Chocolate and Vanilla, Yin and Yang, The Force and The Dark Side, Voice and Music. All things in this world require balance, room, air, peace. And like a Production Assistant trying to move an 18k, audio tracks work the best when they’re not stepping on each others toes. I’m sure you’ve at some point been stuck in the age old struggle of turning up the music of your piece, only to bury the dialog track, causing you to turn up the vocal track, making the music seem weak.
And so we dance.
What if I told you there was a secret to getting that balance between a loud present dialog track, and a loud powerful music track?
“Then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.” you reply.
What can I say; I’m generous. (And they pay me to.)
Get dialog and music levels balanced first.
At this point in our post process we have already sweetened the dialog track so that it’s sounding loud, full, and present. You can even see our EQ curve and compression settings in our channel strip on Dale’s lav mic above. The key theory now for getting his voice to sit in the music track is making room for his voice in the music track.
What we’re going to do is carve out sections of the music track’s EQ that are getting in the way of Dale’s dialog.
Double click on the EQ section of your music track to open Fairlight’s built in equalizer. Starting with Band 2, select a bell curve and boost it all the way up. You can keep the Q Factor quite wide this time as we’re not trying to be too surgical.
Hit play on your piece and focus on your dialog track. Even though we’re boosting chunks of the music’s EQ, focus on listening to where your dialog disappears. That way you know that particular section of frequencies are fighting and getting in the way of your dialog’s frequencies.
Dale’s voice starts around 100hz; right around where the kick drum is living.
We cut 100hz 7db to make room for Dale’s fundamental frequency.
When we boosted 100hz in the music track we could hear a lot of low end information, especially the sub of the kick drum getting in the way of Dale’s voice. So we ended up cutting that 7 decibels to make room for Dale’s fundamental frequency, or where most of the power of his voice originates.
Can you hear me now? No? Have you tried carving room for my fundamental frequency?
Move on to Band 3 of the music’s EQ and repeat the process. Scan for any areas of frequencies that are causing the dialog track to become especially difficult to understand and make a subtle cut. Anywhere from 2 to 6 db should do the trick.
If for some reason you or your client insisted on using a music track that has singing in it, I would strongly suggest looking for the area of the music’s EQ that the singer’s voice is living in and cutting it, so that it doesn’t clash as much with the voice of your talent. This town ain’t big enough for the both of them.
Our finished music track EQ looked like this.
After you’ve repeated this process for Bands 4 and 5, toggle the music track EQ on and off, reveling in how much room you’ve made for the dialog. You should be able to boost the music track even more, now that it has room to breath and not get in the way of the human voice. Now everybody is loud and happy, just like the Kardashians.