Video Production 101: Guide to Post-Production
Ever heard someone say a film was saved in the edit? That’s the effect of quality Post Production; it pulls together a project into a final product.
When it comes to video production, it is important to recognise the importance of post-production and the work that goes into finalising footage. In this guide, you will learn all you need to know about post-production and the impact it can have on your film.
What is Post-Production?
Post-production is the process of editing video and audio. It is the last step before a film is released and encompasses video and audio editing, effects, production of titles, credits and trailers needed for the launch.
When Does Post-Production Happen?
Once shooting has finished, post-production can begin. It is the last step in video production and is where every bit of footage is reviewed and pieced together to reveal the finished product. The pre-production stage prepares everything needed to shoot the scenes of a film or video. Within the video production, directors and actors will work together to produce the shots for the film crew to capture. Then, the last step is to edit these shots in the post-production process, tying the clips together with the audio to finish the video.
Who is Involved in Post-Production?
Post-production is a long process and involves many individuals. The director and producer are often present and oversee its entirety, working closely with video editors to cut scenes together and create the best piece of content. Then sound editors, foley artists and music supervisors add the sounds. Visual Effects editors add any CGI and special effects and a colourist and cinematographer correct the hue of all the shots.
The Different Steps of Post-Production
Post-production should be completed in a particular way, making each subsequent step easier:
Before you can start post-production, correctly store your footage and audio to access them quickly in the future. Storage needs to be reliable and safe because reshooting costs time and money and makes the video production process harder.
Depending on your needs, there are a few storage solutions you can employ. If your files are small, a simple hard drive is suitable but as they grow, you might invest in RAIDs. A Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) improves the performance of a single drive by using multiple hard drives. This increases the speed of your computer’s processing and makes dealing with large files easier.
If you are working with multiple editors, build a system which can update and save so everyone can access the files in conjunction whenever they need to.
2. Video Editing
Editing your footage is the most important part of post-production as it shapes your film’s plot.
It is important to have an editor who can pull the story together just as you imagine. Producers and cinematographers may have some creative input in this but the editor is pivotal. They need to know the tone of the video before they start to deliver your vision.
The editor should have a clear understanding of your script and screenplay. They will analyse the call sheets and footage to piece together the plot. This process means your storage system is key, so ensure that the files are clearly labelled and sorted. It will help them make an Edit Decision List or EDL, and mark the changes they want to implement.
This process is vital so it is worth spending time on and doing right. Moving from a Rough Cut to an Answer Print (final draft to you and me) can take months as the director and editors experiment. Once they’ve got this Answer Print, they will ‘lock the picture.’
3. Sound Editing
Now you know which scenes go where you can edit your audio. These sounds include dialogue, music, sound effects, voice-over and so on to strengthen the plot and atmosphere.
Editors will assemble and cut tracks, reduce unwanted background noise, combine different forms of audio and enhance it to produce a high-quality sound.
Automated Dialogue Replacement
If an actor has come into a studio to re-record dialogue audio, it’s called Automated Dialogue Replacement, or ADR.
ADR might be used for several reasons. Firstly, audio can be compromised during filming and needs to be clarified for the final cut. Or ADR can be used creatively by recording voice-overs or dialogue from characters off-screen. Ultimately, ADR gives a sound editor better audio to insert.
Sound effects are produced by foley artists who create sounds to edit into scenes. They can emulate and complement sounds like footsteps or machinery.
For your soundtrack, you can either use existing music or write your own. Copyrighted music is expensive to gain permission to use so, depending on your budget, hiring a musician to compose an original score is often the cheapest and easiest way to add music to your film.
Mixing is layering audio tracks together and adjusting their volume to make them sound good. It is the last piece of sound editing because you need to have completed the other steps before you can begin.
It’s a good idea to experiment with panning. This means adjusting which speakers each sound comes from so you can suggest that a sound is coming from the viewer’s left or right, creating a very immersive viewing experience.
4. Visual Effects
Visual effects should be added after everything else has been locked down as the effects are created frame-by-frame and changes to the structure of the video can cause a lot of problems for this.
Visual effects are usually the most cost-effective and safest way to add certain stunts to your video. You can film with a green screen to insert effects in post-production.
5. Colour Correction
Colour correction and grading are great ways to inform the tone of a scene. Changing the lighting and hue of a shot can reflect different emotions and help the viewer understand what is happening. It is also important to adjust scenes to ensure continuity of style throughout the film.
6. Titles and Credits
Once the major editing is finished, it’s time to add the final touches.
Creating attractive titles helps brand a video. They are your first impression, so make sure it lasts. If you experiment with fonts and colours, you can reflect the video’s themes to your audience so they learn more about it. Often titles will integrate graphics into the fonts and letters to achieve this.
All videos should end with a call to action and if you are producing a film, ending credits offer you a way to recognise the contributions of everyone in your team. A bit of creativity can be a nice touch but you also need to be professional and credit anyone involved and any copyrighted material included. Use the call sheets and schedules to record everyone and credit them. Just make sure you spell their names correctly.
Marketing your video helps it reach new audiences. Ask yourself: what do you want people to think about this video? Why should they watch it? These answers will inform the content you should produce. It is also important to analyse which channel is best for distributing your video to reach your target audience.
If you are producing a film, crafting a trailer is vital as it gives audiences a sneak peek of the film. You can hire a specialist trailer editor to do this or you can chop up footage yourself. Keep it exciting and make the audience want to know more; introduce your main characters and ideas without giving away the plot so they want to see the film.
The Best Tools For Post-Production
There are multiple tools available to help you with post-production. It can seem daunting to anyone entering this world but most of them are intuitive and your choice often depends on your prefered computer operating system.
The most important tool for your post-production is the software that you use to cut your footage. Here are a few industry standard options for you to try:
- Adobe Premiere Pro– Premiere Pro is a Non-Linear Editing (NLE) software. It allows you to edit your video and graphics with colour correction as well as your audio so is a great all-inclusive package to get started with. It is also regularly updated, providing loads of new features.
- Final Cut Pro- This is an editing program but is more suited to editors who use Mac software. It uses a Magnetic Timeline which can be easier to visualise, and though it offers a similar package to Premiere Pro, it is simpler for beginners.
- Avid Media Composer- This is another NLE system which allows you to edit and finish projects in up to 4K resolution. It also has colour correction tools, audio mixing and effects software and video effects.
Audio Editing Software
Though the video editing software offers some options to format audio, a specialised system gives you extra flexibility to perfect the sound of your film.
- Adobe Audition– This program works well in tandem with Adobe Premiere Pro for detailed mixing and can often be purchased in a package with other Adobe creative software.
- Logic Pro X– Logic Pro X is made by Apple so it works well with Final Cut Pro. It is also a good next step for anyone who has had experience using Garage Band in the past.
Colour Grading: DaVinci Resolve
In Resolve, you can colour grade your shots to enhance them. It’s free and can render images faster than Adobe so can help speed up your editing process.
Films Featuring Excellent Post-Production Work
The following are our two three films that demonstrate the incredible effect post-production can have:
Jaws is an excellent example of what a musical score can do for a film. John Williams’ iconic musical cue for the shark emphasises the impending danger that it symbolises and strikes fear into its audiences.
Psycho – The Shower Scene
The most famous scene from this legendary film features a great mix of scoring and editing. Hitchcock cuts between multiple shots quickly to emphasise the panic and fear of the victim and when paired with Bernard Hermann’s infamous score of screaming violins in time with the stabs of the knife, it is a masterclass in editing a murder scene.
Free Solo – The Boulder Problem
Free Solo is a feature-length documentary following climber Alex Honnold and his ropeless ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The editing of his historic climb is partly why it won an Academy Award.
This section of the documentary follows Alex climbing through a problem on the route which viewers have seen before. They have watched him practice, attached to a rope, and struggle with its technical difficulty so the moment is pivotal in the free solo climb. Viewers hear Alex’s nervous breaths as they watch him manoeuvre his body through the problem. We see a shot revealing how high off the ground he is and another of a cameraman who cannot watch as Alex passes through the difficult problem. It is all designed to create maximum tension and keep us wondering, despite the fact we know he completes it.
Our Professional Media Services
The steps of post-production can require a lot of time and work. At Ark Media, we are experts in video and audio editing, from TV advertisements and event videos to explainer videos. We can look after the post-production for you to produce fantastic video content. If you are interested in using our services, please contact us and we can explore your production needs.