Blackmagic Design set its sights on the market for Avid Pro Tools in post-production, releasing a public beta of DaVinci Resolve 14 that incorporates the Fairlight audio technology it acquired last year.

That’s right — Resolve now includes a full-fledged post-production audio mixing engine on a new Fairlight page (top). It can be controlled by Fairlight consoles, which Blackmagic will sell in modular form, starting with a desktop version and expanding to 2-bay, 3.5-bay and 5-bay consoles. (You can use Resolve’s capabilities in software-only mode but control may be tricky, especially for complex projects.)

Audio pros will also want the Fairlight Audio Accelerator, an add-in card that allows a system to play up to 1,000 tracks in real time with up to six VST plug-ins per channel. CEO Grant Petty said a “normal” computer can play back about 60 channels of audio at once.

At Blackmagic’s NAB press conference, CEO Grant Petty also touted what he described as 10x performance improvements, along with fairly impressive new collaboration features, including bin-locking, timeline compare (to track changes on two users’ versions of the same timeline), and secure chat over an internal network. No cloud collaboration here — as Petty noted, “all the production systems in high-end facilities have the internet shut off.”

Petty took a clear shot at Pro Tools when he explained Blackmagic’s impetus for diving into audio. “We didn’t feel there was any audio for the film and television industry,” Petty said. “There are fantastic tools, but they’re music industry tools. That’s the culture of the audio tools in this industry…. We felt that was the big problem to solve — we didn’t want to have to export our project out, send it out over to a music industry guy, and then bring it back.” Petty was quick to note that he wasn’t disparaging the music industry, just lamenting the need to leave a native post-production environment to handle audio for film and TV.

DaVinci Resolve 14 color page

Amid all the fuss about Fairlight coming to Resolve, there was another big announcement. The basic version of Resolve remains free, but the price of Resolve Studio, with its advanced post-production features, dropped from $999 to $299, and the dongle requirement has been removed.

In other Blackmagic price-drop news, the company reintroduced Ultimatte 11 keying hardware — technology it acquired at the same time it purchased Fairlight last year — at a significant discount. An Ultimatte 11 keyer is now $9,995, down from its original price of $27,000. Petty said the move was made to encourage studio users to buy one for every camera on their set, rather than using it with only one camera.

Blackmagic Design: