When the cameras and lights get put back on the trucks (or in the car or closet), there’s still a lot of work to go before a finished product emerges. The raw footage itself is like clay (but like really fancy clay that is a work of art in and of itself) that becomes shaped and glazed over the course of the post-production process. In this post I’ll talk a bit about some of the aspects of post-production that go into polishing off your baby from editing, to color grading, to sound work (I’ll mention VFX but only mention it because that’s still magic to me too).
Editing – Editing is probably the most well-known part of the post-production process. Editing is the heartbeat of the video. The pace of the cuts plays a major role in the pace of the video as a whole. If you’re in the DIY realm, you can cut your own footage in programs like iMovie or windows movie maker (don’t use windows movie maker). Three main platforms are being used by the more professional sector with proponents of each one—Final Cut, Premiere, and Avid.
Color Grading – Depending on the time crunch of your video, whether it was shot professionally and how big your budget is, you might or might not have to deal with color grading. Color grading is basically taking the image that your cinematographer shot and modifying the color after the fact (hopefully with the blessing of the cinematographer). Color grading is an art in and of itself that takes a lot of time and practice to perfect. I am by no means an expert, so if you get the color bug, feel free to tinker around.
As a quick, somewhat sensationalist example, these two screengrabs of Megan Fox show a bit of the power of color grading. Both are daytime exterior shots, but they look incredibly different. The image from Transformers has a much more saturated and amber hue; the grab from Jennifer’s Body is more desaturated and blue.
Sound – even within sound there are a couple different post-production areas. You’ve got the musical score that accompanies the visuals, any sound effects (foley), ADR also known as automated dialogue replacement or dubbing, and any scrubbing of poorly recorded location sound. Sound is the other half of the picture or so some sound folks say. iPhone quality images can be forgiven so long as they’re consistent, but if the audio is grating and unpleasant, you’re going to lose viewers fast.
VFX – the people who can do visual effects and do them well are magicians. They sit their behind their computer screens and construct cities, magical creatures, even snow or rain where before there was a thin green sheet.
This picture comes from the new The Great Gatsby and is an example of the sorcery that is visual effects.
With that, our three part look behind the curtain at the process of film production has reached its end. This series was a brief overview of what can be a very complicated and intricate process. If you have any questions about any segment or want to learn more about anything I’ve covered, feel free to leave a comment with us.
-- by Joseph Baron
-- by Joseph Baron