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How to Make a Lyric Video in DaVinci Resolve

Making a lyric video can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like, though my personal approach is more of a minimal approach. In this lesson we'll break down the steps I use when making a lyric video, from creating a plan to making a video using DaVinci Resolve. Let's jump in and see what we're talking about.

The Song, The Idea, And Putting It Together

A lyric video isn't really the same thing as a singalong video. They both offer images, text and audio, but the objective is different. Where a singalong's purpose is to offer a way for someone to do karaoke, to me the lyric video is more about connecting an audience to the material using images, text, and the audio. Of course this take is a bit subjective and there's tonnes of lyric videos that are between the two.

Keeping it Simple

One of my favourite lyrics videos is "The Heart & The Tongue" by Chance The Rapper. Put aside for a second whether you like the song or the artist; the video shows how simple and effective using text can be when paired with the right direction.

Here's an example I made using stock footage available from Envato Elements

This is another lyric video I put together using stock footage from Elements.

Creating a Mood Board

Assuming you've decided that the song is a good fit for this type of project, the first thing I like to do is actively listen to the song. Doing this helps me get a feel for imagery and the general approach and direction for the video.

While playing the track on repeat, I'll head over to Elements' video section and go through the clips, using the search feature. From there I'll start adding anything that strikes me as something that could work to a collection. Something to keep in mind is that I'm not fussy or precious about anything at this stage. Working with stock footage means you need to be flexible. 

Note: There are lots of other ways to approach a mood board. Often with other projects that don't rely on so heavily on stock footage, I'll start by thinking about specific colours, shots, lighting. Pretty much the more control I have over the actual shots, the more flexibility I have in the direction. Just use your discretion and try not to get hung up on perfect.

Download and Organize

Now that you have some footage added to your collection, it's time to download it to your computer so you can work with it in Resolve. One thing that makes your life a lot easier is to create a folder to receive your files. One folder is enough, though you can take it a step further if you have a bunch of footage that fits into different categories. This could be mood, colour, sections, a group of clips that all come from the same shoot. When doing this create a folder nest instead of having a bunch disjointed folders,  By creating organized folders you can automatically create multiple bins in Resolve without having organize and sort while importing. 

Working With DaVinci Resolve

Using Resolve as your medium when making a minimalistic lyric video is a great option. One thing is that you can do pretty much everything you need with the free version. Another plus is a project like this isn't technically demanding from an editing standpoint. The first thing you'll want to do after opening up Resolve is to import the footage from the organized folders.

Bins

Creating a bin is really easy. Select the Media tab along the bottom, furthest option to the left. Under Master, right click and select New Bin. You'll see a folder and appear which you should go ahead and name it. What's really cool is that you can create a sub bin. Double-click to open the bin and now if you create another bin you'll be creating it inside of the original. If you'd like to create a bin that's not nesting-dolled, go back to Master by selecting it and create another bin.

Remember how we created the media folder with it's nesting substructure early. With that we can just drag that folder from the desktop underneath Master and Resolve will create bins that mirror the folder's structure.

Building The Video

Alright! It's time to actually build the video. Here, we're going to cover adding footage to the timeline, how to add and edit text it, as well as some general tips.

I like adding mt footage while in the Edit Tab (the option in the centre). To do this find Media Pool along the top left side of the screen. From here you can access your bins and drag-and-drop your footage into the timeline. You can easily shorten the clip if needed by grabbing the clip on either end and dragging it to desired length. You can also use the Blade tool (B) to cut your clip to either separate the clip or to cut and delete a section.

Figure 1. Adding Footage To Your Timeline

To add the text, select Effects, located next to Media Pool. This opens up a tool box along the left side of the screen. Here you'll find titles to select, then choose which title style you want. I always start with a basic title. I find the simplicity of it the most freeing creatively speaking. Just like adding the footage you add and edit the text the same way on the timeline. What's great is that there's unlimited number of other customizations you can make by using the text editor by selecting the title on the timeline.

There are two headings here, Title and Settings. Title contains all the setting that deal with the font itself: colour, size, font style, as well as other stylistic choices. Setting is where you can adjust the position as well as other sizing options. When it comes to position text I like to manually move the text by first selecting it in the viewer, then using settings to nudge and fine tune the position.

Figure 2. Adding Text To Your Timeline

General Advice When Building Out The Lyric Video

Editing a video like this involves a lot of personal taste and judgment to it, but there are still some general things to take into consideration. Here's what I consider the take-aways.

  • Less Is More — Experiment leaving blank video space and allow the arrangement of the text to be the focus. It's really hard to find enough video clips that will take up the whole length of the song without looking like it's stock footage. Be selective and don't forget about more abstract imagery.
  • Timing — Be precise in your timing. It looks best when the words appear when the beginning of the word is being pronounced. With that in mind, the timing of the text disappearing is equally important. When that is is totally subjective. Play around and find your groove.
  • Be Selective With Music — The strength of the video relies heavily on the choice of song, so be selective. Tracks where the lyrics aren't really that rhythmically interesting kind of fall short. Also with a minimal style there's nothing really to hind behind, so if for example the lyrics are performed a little off time, when you sync the text that performance will be more pronounced.

Conclusion

Making a lyric video in this style is really fun and really not too complicated in terms of technical editing, making it great for all skill levels. That being said it does involve being resourceful and working with your limitations rather than against. That goes for all things, from choosing a song that inspires you and using the stock footage tastefully.

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