In previous Blogs, I explained the process of preproduction and production. In this article, I’ll run you through the basics of postproduction. The basic processes in postproduction include editing, graphics/animation, and the final step, which we call “polish”.
Editing is exactly what you’d expect it to be. We take the notes, storyboards and script which were captured/created in the production phase and start putting it all together to create the final product. I think it’s the best part of the postproduction process because you get to put everything together like the pieces of a puzzle, giving you a rough picture of how the final product will look. We start by placing everything in a timeline to figure out where elements of the project will go, and, at times, realize that rearranging two or three pieces of the puzzle will result in a stronger message. For example, just adjusting an actor’s delivery of his/her lines or tweaking the action sequences provides a stronger final product than originally imagined. Once all the pieces are placed together we call it a “rough cut” and move on to the next postproduction phase.
Graphics and Animation, the next phase of postproduction, involves the placement of any and all logos, overlays and visual FX, and then animating these elements. Whether it’s a simple fade in/fade out to animating a dancing character in the corner, these developments happen after the timing is established in the editing phase. This portion also involves removing unwanted visuals, such as eliminating a boom microphone from a shot because it was accidentally dropped into the frame. On one project I had to remove a fly that was buzzing around the main talent’s shirt, which meant that I had to painstakingly go in frame-by-frame and eliminate the offending fly. Generally, no matter how big or small the graphics or FX are in a video project, these steps are always done after the editing in postproduction.
The final step in postproduction is the “polish,” which helps the final product shine. It includes color correction, mastering audio and adding that little extra pop to make the final product really stand out. Color correction generally ensures that your whites are white and your blacks are black, although it can be more complicated. On occasion, you want the mood of a video to be warm and happy, so you can introduce a bit of a yellow tone, almost an ivory, to replicate when the sun lights the clouds on a warm, pleasant day. Mastering audio is where we make sure everyone in the video (or radio spot) is at the volume they need to be and their delivery can be heard over any ambient noise or music. Finally, adding that extra pop can be achieved by adding a “twinkle” to someone’s eye, or by a nice vignette that draws the viewer’s eye to the desired location, greatly enhancing the visuals on screen.
Once all of these postproduction steps are completed, the final product is ready to be displayed to the world. While it sounds smooth, oftentimes more complicated scenarios arise that impact what you do during any of the various steps as you move toward the completed product. While it can be frustrating and slows down the process, it’s simply a part of postproduction and it’s something with which we work with our clients to get through.
Overall, this is an overview of the basic postproduction phases we go through here at Absolute to ensure our clients receive the best possible, and often award-winning, production.