Different branches of post-production are art forms that many spend years mastering. Without the dedication of people in post-production, you have raw footage that may or may not tell the necessary story.
Many moviegoers don’t know about the inner workings of producing a piece of cinema. Some understand that there is a director, actor or actress, writer, and producer, but much more goes into making a feature or short film. Producing a film project is a series of cogs that have to move in sync to reach a fully realized movie. There are generally three main steps: pre-production, production, and post-production. Post-production—in many cases—is the lifeline that can save a film if a troubled production has occurred.
An experienced editor will edit and cut the movie into a cohesive story and merge the scenes that allow the film to be enjoyable to watch. Sound design is critical so that it may present the right tone or evoke the desired emotion from the audience. Finally, Visuals Effects (VFX) can bring incredible creatures to life or create a terrific action set piece. Legendary artists like editor Thelma Schoonmaker, sound designer Gary Rydstrom, composer John Williams, and sound mixer Peter J. Devlin have made their mark in the film industry in many compelling ways. Yet, let’s find out what exactly post-production is.
Post-production is part of the filmmaking process where the footage shot during principal photography is constructed into a cohesive narrative. Many facets of the post-production process include sound effects, music score, visual effects, and dialogue—some of that might consist of Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR). In many cases, the film might be polished for a crisper and authentic look and put through a color grading process to either set the movie’s mood or make the colors more vibrant.
Let’s take deeper dive into the filmmaking process and the final stages of producing a movie.
Editing: Making the Pieces Fit
Without editing, the movie can come off as a jumbled mess of scenes that won’t make sense if shown. After filming, an editor’s job is to take the raw footage and stitch them together to create an interconnected story. Part of editing uses the film’s script and dailies—unedited footage for a movie or TV show collected at the end of each day—as a map of what the director wants. It’s a multiple-step process that can impact the film’s outcome, and the editor is continuously refining their work until the desired movie is accomplished. Sometimes editors are given a large amount of autonomy if their past work has been proven successful.
Scores: You’re Going to Want to Listen to This
Scores and music are vital when it comes to filmmaking. The correct score can control the audience’s emotions and leave a lasting tone for the rest of the picture. Directors typically work with a composer to create an original soundtrack and bypass the hassle of licensing other people’s music. Getting music from other musicians is doable if it’s within the film’s budget. Director Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino are known to have electrifying soundtracks, but it’ll cost a nice chunk of the budget if smaller productions go that route. Ideally, it’s always a good idea to hire a musician to score a movie because of the unique sound of that artist.
Color Coding: Making the Picture Pop
Color coding plays a big part in setting the right look. Color coding experts use their talents to make the film feel warm, cold or heighten the vibrant nature of the scene. Much of color coding is correcting and giving the proper color grading—adjustments in the color—to match the director’s cinematic vision’s desired look. This technique can be added before or after VFX has had a go with its part of post-production.
Sound Design: Audio for Pictures
Many people might be surprised to know that some sounds in a film were recorded elsewhere. A sound designer or sound editor’s job is to put together the movie’s audio tracks. This procedure reduces or adds levels to a conversation, removes undesirable noise, and enhances the proper sound effects. However, not every sound designer is equipped for the job. A foley artist is used when some specific sounds are needed. This type of artist is a person that creates or recreates the proper sound effects for a much-desired result. These foley artists watch the movie in a studio to imitate a particular sound to amplify it or work in other ways to reach the director’s goal.
Sound Mixing: Make It Louder
A sound mixer is another crucial part of filmmaking. The sound mixer’s job is to level out and regulate the volume levels for the movie. They are also hired to remove any distracting noise that might take away from scenes that would not be beneficial. The sound mixer spends hours trying to perfect the levels of every audio cue or score throughout the movie to give it that clean and perfect sound.
Visuals Effects: Imagination Brought to Life
Visual effects depend on the film and the director’s needs. Some movies don’t require it, but some rely on this part of post-production to help bring the movie to life. For example, it’s hard to watch Michael Bay’s Transformers if the people are terrified of something that isn’t there. Visual effects consist of teams led by a VFX supervisor to create computer-generated imagery or CGI that would be difficult to shoot on location. In addition, some VFX teams focus on a smaller scale to develop smaller creatures that are included in a scene.
Titles and Credits: Standing Ovation
The movie has begun or ended, and what might’ve been seen? A title and credits! There’s a whole team behind that as well. Most moviegoers get up and leave by the end of the movie, but the film’s end credits have been significant in cinema since the art form’s early days. A title can sequence adds to the movie’s tone. Credits help showcase the film’s talented people in front and behind the scenes. It’s like looking at the ingredients on your favorite meal or snack. Acknowledging the components it took to make a fantastic film will give the audience an understanding and appreciation for the art of cinema.
Film and television are like one big art piece with creative people coming together to represent the best vision they can collectively meet. Post-production is vital to realizing a unified vision and showcasing the hours upon hours of hard work in different areas of that stage. The crafts in post-production are a respected field and should consistently be recognized and awarded because it is part of the magic of cinema.