Producing a film involves a large ensemble of hard-working professionals across many departments to create an end product. While most of us think of directors, lighting, sound, makeup, set design and, of course, the actors, after the filming is wrapped, a new set of experts edit the visual and audio material.
Post-production is the final step, where all that is on film is put together to make sense of the story and follows development, pre-production and principal photography. We, as an audience, get to see the finished product, but we may not realize what is involved in this crucial process.
So what is post-production in the film exactly?
1. Film Is Made Three Times
This is an old saying that rings true today. A film is first made during development and writing. The second time is during shooting to record the film, and the third is made during editing. If there is no post-production, there is no film but a collection of footage without a cohesive story.
2. The Process
Once all principal shooting has occurred, all the footage is kept in a secure location. Post-production can now take place, although often there is the need for additional footage, reshoots, pick-up shoots and voice-overs, and that happens along the way.
This collaborative undertaking can take months to a year, and most will follow these steps.
3. Picture Editing
An editor is given the raw footage from filming and will put it into a story that follows the script, including the theme and director’s vision. Some directors and cinematographers are involved in editing or getting edited versions to review. These rough drafts will get feedback, and then the edit will finally be called the Answer Print, where the director locks the picture in its edited form.
4. Sound Editing
Next comes sound editing, where the audio tracks are assembled into the film. There is:
- Background noises
- Sound effects (Foley)
- Voice overs
- Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR)
This creates an auditory experience for the audience and is crucial for setting proper levels and enhancing the film’s emotion.
5. Music Editing
Now it’s time for the music to be added. There is usually an original score or a soundtrack of popular music during post-production. This becomes part of the storytelling as it sets the tone for what is experienced while watching. Filmmakers hire composers and have to buy the rights to the music to include them in the film, which can be a pricey endeavour.
Sound engineers, sound mixers and sound designers work cohesively with great professional software to bring it together.
As you film a video, you want to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. Not everyone speaks the language the film was shot in, so you need to have a localization service to produce multiple translations and messages that appear on the screen. This includes:
- Voice overs
- Video dubbing
This process will sometimes include taking characters, figures, colours and content that are altered to fit the destination that it is streamed at, and it’s crucial so different audiences can understand and enjoy the film, regardless of geographic location or local culture and language.
7. Visual Effects
VFX is a part of almost every film, and depending on the budget, you will see amazing CGI that could not be captured during filming. This is done by professional VFX departments that work with animation, paper, clay, puppetry and other visuals to achieve the director’s desired vision. While this work is done in post-production, after the film is locked, planning starts with concept art, 3-D modelling, animation testing and pre-visualization.
8. Colour Editing
Colouring is a process of ensuring the colours are uniform in the film. There is a lot of footage shot over months with various lighting and weather conditions that affect the tone and saturation of the raw footage. A colourist will work to alter the colour scheme to have one cohesive look throughout the entire film.
Graphics are added at the end of the post and include:
- Motion graphics
- Date stamps
- On-screen graphics
- End credits
This is vital to a film and is a way to list those who worked on the film and run end credits with bloopers, animation and other production information like location and special mentions.
Once everything is done, a trailer is usually made from the edited film, creating a visual advertisement to let audiences know what is coming. Editors pull out the parts of the film that are most noteworthy and exciting, and it’s kind of like a mini movie to get people interested and excited.
This is the mechanism of post-production, and it is a crucial part of filmmaking. The next time you go enjoy a movie, remember all the hard-working folks in front of the screen and behind, from pre-production to post. They have seamlessly worked together to create this audio and visual experience.