What are the different stages of video post production?

Jan 28, 2015 9:56:00 AM

Ambient Skies Productions Blog

Posted by Trenton Massey


With all respect, if you're asking yourself "What are the different stages of video post production", then you either... 

A: Have never hired post production services before.

B: Have hired post production services from an intermediate, who handled everything.

C: Are an amateur editor looking to advance his skills

 Which ever one you are, here is a realistic breakdown of the different stages of video post production in the professional world. 

1. Acquisition and Organization of raw files/reelshard_driveThis is the process of coordinating with the producers and camera department to acquire the footage captured during the production. Whether the reels were sent off to processing and you are receiving digital files back or the footage was shot digitally, you will be receiving a hard drive with all raw files or in the off chance you are still cutting film, you will receive the processed reels. Once the footage is in your possession, you then organize the files in order by the date, scene, and reel number.


2. EDL and Technical Specifications


You should be receiving an EDL (Editing Decision List) from the producers around the same time you receive the footage. If an EDL was not made during production or shortly after, it is suggested to get the producers into the cutting room and go through the dailies together to create an EDL in the beginning stages of Post. This saves time for the editor and money for the investor and gives the editor a clear picture of what they are looking for in the actor's performance. Along with an EDL, the technical specifications should also be acquired from producers and camera department to set up the settings of the sequence correctly to match the capture settings of the footage. The distribution specifications need to be acquired to determine the right workflow and frame rate conversion if needed. 


3. Sequence Creation and Importing


This is simply opening up your editing program and starting a sequence file. Go through your render settings and make sure you are saving your files to the right folders. Once a new sequence is opened, you go to the settings and match them to the capture settings of the footage. Choose whichever codec you wish to cut with. Raise or lower the quality as much as you need based on the project. Save your sequence settings and create bins (folders) in your work window. Import your footage by whatever means the program allows. While importing takes, mark down the take number and give the scene a name for organization within your bins. Attach whatever other information you deem necessary to the clip and organize it accordingly within your bins.


4. Cutting the Rough Cut


Go through your EDL and gather all of the takes that were chosen by the producers/director and organize them into the bins. Once you have done that, you will want to refer to the shooting script for further direction with cutting. Once you have cut together the piece in it's entirety, sit back and give it a personal review. Make any changes with takes or scene direction that you see fit and prepare for the first review.


5. Review and Revisions


Gather producers together and watch the rough cut not just once, but twice... and three times. Let the bad parts really stand out and avoid letting them wash over you. Speak your mind and remind the producers to do the same. Depending on how much freedom you have in editing, that should determine your reaction to their criticism. A lot of times, the criticism is directed at the actually production captured and it is left in the hands of the editor to fix things. Either way, this step is crucial and should not be skipped by anyone. 


6. Final Cut and Exporting Audio for Sound Design


Now it's time to go back and apply all of the changes that you have gathered from the producers and aim toward a final cut. Use your absolute best judgement and make sure you are as inspired as you can be while making final changes. Refer back to the shooting script once again to make sure the scene's tone matches the intended tone in the writing. Once all revisions are applied and the final cut is all agreed upon... it is time to export for audio. As soon as a final cut is reached, the audio is then sent to a sound mixing studio for editing. Get with the audio engineer and exchange technical specifications concerning the sound. Export the audio files accordingly. Once the Sound Department has the raw sound files, they enhance dialogue, record ADR, add sound effects, compose or find music and mix it all together into a master stereo track.


7. Color Correction and Visual Effects


An XML or similar file type of the sequence is exported from the cutting program and is imported into color correction or compositing programs for image enhancement. A lot of times, raw footage is captured flat to give more dynamic range in editing. Color correction not only enhances the image, but it gives consistency to the changes in lighting and blends the footage together seamlessly. When working with visual effects, it is important for all departments to be on the same page and decide on a look together to blend the visual effects scenes with the color corrected scenes that do not have any CGI. There is a lot of going back and forth in this stage.


8. Composing all elements in final sequence


This is perhaps the best part for the editor. When all scenes have been color corrected and all scenes with visual effects are rendered, they are sent back to the editor who creates a master sequence timeline and imports all of the enhanced cuts. They are cut together in the correct order and by this time you should be getting your mixed and mastered audio back. Once all elements are combined in the sequence and the final cut is ready, it's time to export for final review.


9. Final Review and Last Touches


Final review is not just the producers watching the final cut, which by this time, they are sick of. It is presenting it in front of test audiences to gather opinions from random people outside of the production. This helps gather perspective again which can be lost during the pain staking task of editing. Once the project has had it's final review, if any minor changes remain, they are quickly executed and sent back to the editor. Usually at this point, most flaws have been weeded out.


10. Final Export and Distribution


Refer to your technical specifications and make sure you are exporting the right file types for whatever means of distribution you choose. Once the files are exported, you will want to file them correctly and send them off for distribution, which will either be online, on TV, or to a disc manufacturing company. 

This is most definitely a mild breakdown of the stages of post production. There are a lot of details that go into each stage that I can't express fully without writing a book. I hope this gives you a clear picture of the process and can help you approach post with a general understanding.







Topics: Corporate Video Production