Post-production in film involves adding music, sound effects, cutting raw footage, dubbing, and a lot of processes that require different professionals. The fact that a lot of moving parts are involved in this process means that open communication and trust are essential in post-production. This process is the glue that holds the film together.
The cost of the entire post-production process is standard across different visual mediums but might vary depending on the media (film, television, or video games) and the size of the project. Taking these factors into account, a collaborative process like post-production can take a few months or even a year.
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Stages of Post-Production in Film
As we stated earlier, it’s not enough to simply define post-production using general terms; you need to break it down.
Post-production is just the umbrella term for a process that can be broken down into the following stages;
- Ensuring reliable storage
- Picture editing
- Sound editing
- Securing music
- Sound mixing
- Visual effects
- Color correction
- Titles, credits, and graphics
- Gathering distribution materials
- Making a trailer
Let’s define these stages one by one, and you’ll also learn who you need to hire for each one of them.
Ensuring you have enough storage
The first thing you need to do after you’re done shooting is to make sure they have a secure place to store the footage; back it up right away.
And don’t just link the camera to your laptop and do the old ‘drag and drop.’ Take precautions, use professional software to back up your footage.
You’d be surprised how many times the post-production process gets delayed because of missing clips. And while you are at it, make sure to label each of your files. It will make the entire process much easier for you in the long run.
You can store your files on a hard drive or, preferably, on a RAID (redundant array of independent disks). The idea is to store the same data in multiple locations just in case something happens to the original file. Call it having a backup, and when you have a lot of footage, it becomes essential to label and secure it well.
The picture editing process is about deciding what frame goes where and for how long. It involves cutting and assembling raw footage to create a story, and you need an editor for this.
Before hiring a post-production editor, it’s important to make sure that you are familiar with their work.
This isn’t to say that you cant hire someone fresh out of the box. Simple go the extra mile to make sure they have the skills you need. Editing enhances performance. The editor is responsible for creating the pace and rhythm of a film.
First, the editor has to read the script so that they can understand the tone and feel of the film. To create a beautiful result, the professionals working on the film need to have both the skills and an understanding of the plot.
The picture editing process of post-production requires you to think as your audience would.
It’s about building the end story, and you need to hire an editor that is confident in their skills. This editor will have the freedom to cut and assemble the film as they see fit
You might also need an assistant editor. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in post-production. The assistant’s job is simply to ensure all the clips are accounted for at every stage of the post-production process.
Usually, there is a first draft of the edited film, called a rough cut, and the editor will keep working on it until the director is pleased with the final copy, called the answer print.
Then the sound editing can begin.
Sound Editing in post-production
This stage requires a lot of work; cutting dialogue tracks, removing unwanted noise, assembling audio tracks, and also adding sound effects.
The specific sound required determines who you hire and for great results, you need to hire professional sound editors. And you also need a foley artist on call.
Foley is the technique of adding sound to video during the post-production process. When a pre-recorded sound from the field recording does not sound as good, the foley artist is called in to recreate the sound. The audience needs to clearly hear what is being presented; whether it’s approaching footsteps, a slamming door, or breaking bones.
Actors can also come to the studio and re-record their dialogue over the scenes during the sound editing process. This can also be done for creative purposes in the instance where the scene requires voice overs.
Techniques such as dubbing and ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) are used at this stage to ensure the new sound matches the original footage.
Scoring or securing music
Music is the key factor used to set the pace and mood in films. Experts advise that you hire a musician or composer to create an original soundtrack for your film. This will save you some time dealing with the licensing and publishing rights that come with using other people’s music.
This whole process costs a lot of money, takes up a lot of time, and that can be very exhausting. It helps to hire a music supervisor to oversee the entire thing. Securing music to use for your film can be very exhausting, and if you can, you should start scoring way before the post-production process.
Sound mixing in post-production
Sound mixers adjust volume levels and ensure that they eliminate any distracting noises. Their work is to make sure all the sounds used in the film are clear and are perfectly synced.
Adding visual effects (VFX)
Time to manipulate the images and add some context to the film. This process of post-production is spearheaded by a supervisor managing a team of artists and engineers who use computer-generated imagery to come up with visuals that cannot be captured on set.
In short, this is where all the magic happens. If you’ve ever wondered “how did they do that?” while watching a movie, now you know.
This stage accounts for all the images of dinosaurs or explosions that would otherwise be impossible or dangerous or expensive to do during production.
To make it easier for VFX artists, the director has to make sure the picture is locked. This means that the editor has to make sure that they have finalized all the other post-production processes before the editing begins. VFX artists work frame by frame, and if a shot is swamped they will have to go back in and start all over.
However, not all projects will require this work/stage.
Working with color
Color is used to enhance the mood already established by the music.
The correction of color can be done before or after the visual effects. This all depends on who is available to do what first. Once the picture is locked, the VFX artist or colorist can go in and digitally alter the shots by lightening or darkening them to create the tone of the scene.
Creating titles, credits, and graphics
Editors are responsible for the creation and adding of credits, title cards, and any required graphics during post-production.
First impressions are everything, meaning opening credits are important. Opening credits are used to deliver the tone and mood of the film. The opening credits, therefore, need to be very creative to capture the attention of the audience from the start.
When it comes to the end credits, you need to put more effort into ensuring accuracy and professionalism. There is a hierarchy or order to be followed with end credits.
Preparing for the distribution process
Yes, the distribution of the film is part of the post-production process. These are the steps you need to take:
1. You will need a Music and Effects track.
And if your film is for international distribution you will have to provide a soundtrack without English dialogue to make possible it’s dubbing in a different language.
2. There has to be a dialogue script.
Also if it is going to be sold internationally, the creation of a script with the exact time stamp for every word uttered is important. If not for anything, at least make it easier for the person writing subtitles to know where exactly to put the dialogue on screen.
3. Also, ensure that your film is on a hard drive ready to be delivered.
Create a Digital Cinema Package that has the final copy of the film to be distributed to theaters.
Post-production in film involves advertising
Ensure that the media or method you use to promote your film hooks their audience immediately. There is a lot of competition out there, and because of too much content, people have become very choosy on what they consume.
If you decide to use a poster make sure the image, the catchphrase, and credits on the poster embody what the film is about clearly and engagingly.
You usually only have one chance to grab your audience, so make it count. Hold a meeting about the advertising budget with the relevant post-production team.
A Summary of Post-Production in Film
For an effective post-production process, find hires with a track record.
A well-edited video or film is more likely to reach its full potential. Also, the more freedom your team members have to exercise their creativity, the better the film will come out.
Post-production in film can be quite a stressful process, but it’s very manageable with the right equipment, software, and team supporting you. A good script, director, skilled actors, and camera work are essential, but post-production editing is where one can affect the overall tone of the film and the emotions they want to evoke from their audience.