Post-production and Editing Phase in Filmmaking

Front panel of video recorder

Post-production is all the work done after the shooting of a film has been completed that results in exhibition-ready copies for cinemas. It may include further work for actors, recording dialogue to be dubbed, or for sound editors adding sound effects, both diegetic and non-diegetic. The director will continue to be involved because post-production is the culmination of the creative process.

Digitizing Film Post-production

From cutting room to edit suite has been the journey of post-production in the space of two decades. Random access editing from digitized rushes is the central benefit from non-linear facilities during shooting, but the traditional reels and bins of tape remain at the end of the day, however well established consoles, small screens and computers may be.

Far from the digital-cinema push resulting in the elimination of film prints, multiple requirements for exhibition add to the complexity of the post-production challenge. Dedication to detail characterises this part of the filmmaking process. The editor’s task is to bring meaning out of chaos, says Jay Ankeney.

Quality, Co-ordination and Synchronisation in Editing

The Post-production supervisor is the manager of the post-production phase. The supervisor schedules the work and keeps track of all materials, budgets for equipment rentals, use of labs etc.

Staff in the editing room go through all the work produced in shooting. Editors rearrange shots and put them together to ensure continuity and that the best work is preserved. Sound editors tweak the soundtrack and preserve intended background noises.

The editing task divides into three main areas known as online, offline and sound:

  • Offline edit involves elements of film being put together; images and sounds selected and tried out, and choices made. Editors may add and subtract detail, move clips, add special effects, modify sound. You can see more about visual effects with the Vfx Studio Los Angeles.
  • Online editing requires specialized editor and equipment colour correction, problem solving, enhanced images, best quality finish.
  • Sound editing is similar to online, but with audio, adding sound effects, assuring continuity of dialogue, adjusting music, mixing sound.

The sound supervisor also co-ordinates with the composer to complete the performance of the soundtrack composition in accompaniment to the final narrative structure and pace of the film. The editing process dictates the structure and pace of the finished product, so is integral to the narrative impact.

Post-production Special Effects and Animation

The motion graphics company and design team create visual effects that are overlayed on the film where necessary. They will overlay text or animation where required, extract stills required for promotion, and apply additional colour effects. This part of the post-production team gained a well-earned reputation as the most progressive in mastering new computer technologies.

James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) is the most technically complex movie yet produced, and its global release date posed unique problems, revealing the patchiness of available projection technologies, requiring 110 technically different versions of the completed movie, sound dubbed in numerous languages, Hollywood Reporter highlights:

“No studio has ever faced what we faced on this,” says Ted Gagliano, president of postproduction at Fox. “Jim wanted the best, most immersive experience possible. So he pushed us to have a multiple-version inventory that would give each theater the best experience it could possibly deliver for that given theater.”

The Avatar post-production process entailed employing hundreds of workers, millions of dollars, using lab facilities in several countries, and almost three years of labour to produce the highest-grossing film to date. Critics vary wildly as to whether it may more accurately be described as a product or commodity than regarded as a work of art, but meticulous post-production work gave a polished result and delivered on a long-term promise to the audience.

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