The moment a script becomes a storyboard, you should step into action.
You can cut each shot out of the storyboard and tack them to the wall, moving around different shots or whole scenes to forecast what the final edit will look like. The edits made in pre-production that make it to the screen are much quicker to make in post since they are decided before the camera ever rolls.
In a typical production, more footage will be produced and shot than will be used in the final edit. If you wait to view every piece of footage after production has wrapped, you will find yourself spending many long hours in front of the screen before you even begin the edit.
Reviewing dailies, footage that comes in as it’s shot, allows you to get a jump start on post-production. This way you can digest the footage in smaller chunks and compare what you see with what you conceived during pre-production. Reviewing footage as it comes in also helps you to identify holes in production — shots that are missing but would help advance the story.
Note: Dailies only apply to moving picture productions with a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT) for onsite processing, color grading, and rendering.
Using the storyboard as a foundation, you start making selections. Usable footage is trimmed and marked, while the bad takes are cast aside. The result is an extended video of each potential shot for the final edit. This portion of the process is for internal purposes, to be shared with the director and producer. Many directors take notes while screening the selects of the first assembly and then write out what clips they like and don’t like, sometimes rearranging them into a new order.
B-roll is usually separated at this time. Its content is logged and it is sorted into a hierarchy according to the editor’s needs. This is all contingent on the project as the organizational needs of the footage are dependent on what’s most needed for the video.
The rough cut is the first true edit and is the stage in which you start to display your craft as more than a technical exercise. At this stage, it is no longer about solely discovering and organizing footage, it’s about storytelling and crafting a message, using the footage from production as a foundation to achieve the director’s vision.
Timing is vital to the rough cut. A video editor influences the timing of a video more than any other person who touches the production. It is during the rough cut that you start to play with the timing. Whether making fast cuts or extending pauses, here you begin to create what will become an emotional connection with the audience.
The rough cut is meant to be shared. The video editor works with the director, producer and a client, if it’s their project. Communication is kept open between all parties and much dialogue takes place, helping to shape the overall edit. The parties agree on what changes need to take place before the edit moves on to the final cut.
The final cut of an edit is when the cutting and timing of the footage is finalized. It’s not the final version of the video, ready for release, but it’s awfully close. The edit at this stage is the one that will be used for several finishing steps, all of which need to synchronize perfectly with each other. For this reason, the final cut is often known as picture lock or frame lock, meaning that the frames in the edit will not change in time from this point moving forward.
A scene might be finalized, but that doesn’t ensure that it stays in the production. Once all the scenes are cut and precisely timed, you review them with the director and producer. If there’s a scene that doesn’t work or doesn’t contribute to the overall narrative of the video, it’s eliminated.
First, visual effects and graphics are added to the video. Most visual effects are planned out during pre-production but aren’t generated until post-production because the visual effects artist needs to know what footage they’re specifically working with to make the effects seamless. Graphics are also planned in advance and are fine tuned to coincide with the final edit.
What the audience will see on screen is only part of their experience. After visual effects and graphics are added, audio sweetening is performed. The final cut is round tripped to an audio editing suite, sometimes on the workstation, for the placement and editing of sound effects and musical underscores. Dialogue is mixed down with these elements to create an audio track that supports and carries the accompanying video.
The final step before deliverables are rendered and shipped is color grading. Color grading is the stage in which you, or a colorist, manipulates color and tonal qualities of the video image to craft a unique look that helps set the mood for the video and visually tell the story. The advent of digital cinema cameras, greater computing power and more advanced codecs has increased the implementation of color grading.
Today’s Post-production workflow opens up many new doors for the video editor. The editor is responsible for more aspects of post than ever, and they’re expected to do it all in a short span of time.
When it comes to creating a video. After all.. The client is the most important person when it comes to creating a video, after all it’s their video. A producer is often tasked with serving the client, satisfying their requests, keeping them informed and helping them understand what is possible. By eliminating the role of the middle man, the director is able to communicate directly with the client and craft the video to meet their specific needs.
The overall vision for our production can shift as it goes from pre-production, through production and into post-production. These changes always run downhill and land on the editor’s desk. If the editor is guiding the project from the beginning, they’ll be better prepared to handle changes at the end.
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