As the final stage of the film’s production process, post-production “is where the filmed footage, known as rushes, are edited into the finished film” (Worthington, 2009:27). For this reason, post-production has been considered as the time when the script’s “final draft” is finally created, as sound and picture are assembled to tell the story (Rea & Irving, 2015:273).
The producer begins managing post-production whilst the film is still at the production stage, finding and securing post-production facilities (Rea & Irving, 2015:257), as well as keeping in contact with the editor, often sending them footage as it is filmed (StudioBinder, 2019). During post-production, the producer helps the director and editor by being “an objective viewer”, watching cuts of the film, and giving feedback (Rea & Irving, 2015:xxviii). At this stage of production, the producer is also responsible for:
- Having found and hired an editor – the producer should aim to hire an editor who will work well with the director, and fits the project
- Ensuring the project adheres to copyright laws, as well as clearing any rights to music or archive footage used within the film
- Making sure publicity materials are prepared and distributed
- Ensuring the edit is on schedule and within the budget
- Making sure any outstanding costs from the film are paid, and a budget summary is created
- (Worthington, 2009:26-7).
- Views the dailies with the editor (Rabiger & Hurbis-Cherrier, 2013:426)
- Works with the editor as picture and sound are assembled to create cuts of the film
- Guides the final look of the film with the director of photography as colour correction, visual effects and graphics are added
- Helps with publicising the film
- (Rea & Irving, 2015:xxviii).
Working with an Editor
Cutting together the film can then involve the following stages:
- Rough cut
- Fine cut
- Lock picture”
- (Rea & Irving, 2015:279).
- Eye-trace (concern with the audience’s focus of interest within the frame)
- Two-dimensional plane of screen
- Three-dimensional space of action”
- (Rea & Irving, 2015:282).
For films which include dialogue, it is important to first check if every line of dialogue can be heard clearly (Rea & Irving, 2015:317). A big part of dialogue editing involves making sure the background noise stays consistent between shots, by ensuring it is even, and any holes in it are filled (Rea & Irving, 2015:318). Yet, if a line of dialogue wasn’t recorded clearly in one take, the editor may replace this with the same line from another take during which it was clear – this can save money by removing the need for ADR (Rea & Irving, 2015:318). ADR stands for “Automated Dialogue Replacement” and happens when dialogue is re-recorded by the actors in a studio (Maio, 2019). So that the actor can see and hear the line as they originally performed it in the scene, they wear headphones and stand in front of a screen on which the scene is played (Rea & Irving, 2015:318). To match the line to the original performance, the actor is given a “visual or aural cue” of when to say the line (Rea & Irving, 2015:318). Sometimes, the re-recorded dialogue matches exactly and can be placed into the film with minimal editing, yet, it has been said to be more common that “the editor has to play with the line, cutting a frame here, adding a frame there, until the dialogue is in sync with the performance” (Rea & Irving, 2015:318).
Once all of the film’s dialogue is clear, sound effects are added (Rea & Irving, 2015:320). The editor first determines the sounds in the film which can already be heard, such as the sound of a character’s footsteps as they walk, before moving on to sounds which define the location where the scene is set (Rea & Irving, 2015:320). Therefore, when adding sound effects, “the editor begins to assemble sounds that will enlarge the world of your project and add a level of information that doesn’t exist in the picture” (Rea & Irving, 2015:320). Sound effects, like ADR, may also be recorded in a studio by a foley artist (Maio, 2019). A foley artist recreates sound effects, but not necessarily in the same way as they were originally created (Rea & Irving, 2015:321). For example, they may use the sound of an apple being bitten into to imitate a branch breaking (Rea & Irving, 2015:321). Regardless of how the sound effects are created, the main thing is that the sound and visuals correspond to one another (Rea & Irving, 2015:321).
Music is often the last sound added to the film (Rea & Irving, 2015:322). It has been argued that music is vital to film, since it “comments on, defines, or suggests the way you want your audience to feel about your characters and your story” (Rea & Irving, 2015:323). There are several roles which contribute to adding music to the film, including musicians, a mixing engineer, a music editor, and a music supervisor (Rea & Irving, 2015:324). Yet, the director works with the composer, beginning by once again “spotting the picture” to determine where adding music would be most effective (Rea & Irving, 2015:326). Alternatively, the director could allow the composer to contribute more of their ideas by letting them spot the picture on their own, before presenting their ideas to the director (Rea & Irving, 2015:326). However, once spotting has been completed, it is advised that as the composer works on creating the music, the director should “preview musical ideas from time to time to see whether the composer is on the right track” (Rea & Irving, 2015:326). A director does not need to know about music to have discussions with the composer but can communicate their ideas by talking about the emotions of the film, the theme, or showing the composer existing music which fits their aims (Rea & Irving, 2015:327). Once the music is composed, it may have to be “edited slightly or shifted to fit the exact requirements of the film”, or certain pieces of music may be cut from the film (Rea & Irving, 2015:328). Music is typically cut from films because when the picture is spotted directors often suggest that more music will be used than needed – yet, this can be a good thing, as it allows for flexibility (Rea & Irving, 2015:328).
The dialogue, sound effects, music, and any other sound the film needs are then mixed together – this stage is known as either “the sound dub” (Worthington, 2009:30) or “the mix” (Rea & Irving, 2015:328). During this stage, the director and the other heads of the film’s creative departments may make decisions about which tracks are used, or how much echo or music is added (Rea & Irving, 2015:328). Yet, the director’s main job is to collaborate with the mixer to determine the levels of each sound, considering how this affects how each scene sounds, as well as the emotion of the whole film (Rea & Irving, 2015:328). Despite this, the director should also consider the ideas of the mixer, but not be afraid to ask for changes to be made if they are not happy with how a moment sounds, even if mixing sound for one moment has to be repeated several times (Rea & Irving, 2015:328). The mix creates the final sound of the film (Worthington, 2009:30), after which only colour correction, visual effects, and graphics are left to be added, as the final look of the picture begins to be determined (Rea & Irving, 2015:327).
The Final Look of the Film
- Create the foundation of the film’s overall look
- Ensure that colour between shots is consistent
- Improve a shot’s exposure, or colour
- Make the film suitable for broadcast by ensuring that the colours fit the requirements for being “broadcast legal”
- (Rea & Irving, 2015:337).
Overall, since “the post-production process is highly collaborative, across a few months to even a year, depending on the size and need of the project”, it is important that the producer and director trust their collaborators to do their jobs well, allowing them the freedom to achieve this (Maio, 2019). A project may go through all of the stages outlined here, or only some of them, and not necessarily in this order, depending on the requirements of the edit, the budget, and the medium (film or TV) (Maio, 2019). Post-production can take a lot of time, but if the director and producer know what needs to be done from preparation earlier on in the process, they can ensure that a good final cut of the film is created (Maio, 2019).
List of Illustrations
Figure 2. The stages of post-production (2015) [Diagram] In: Rea, P. & Irving, D. (2015) Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video. Oxon: Focal Press. p.327.
Figure 3. Colour palette from Lost in Translation (2003) [Diagram] At: https://digitalsynopsis.com/design/cinema-palettes-famous-movie-colors/ (Accessed on 24 May 2020).
McGrail, L. (s.d.) ‘Why You Need to Make a Press Kit for Your Film.’ In: Lights Film School. At: https://www.lightsfilmschool.com/blog/why-and-how-to-make-film-press-kit-afy (Accessed on 24 May 2020).
Paul, J. (2015) ‘The Editing Genius of Michael Kahn.’ In: Premium Beat 12/10/15. At: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/the-editing-genius-of-michael-kahn/ (Accessed on 23 May 2020).
Rea, P. & Irving, D. (2015) Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video. Oxon: Focal Press.