Simply put, post-production is the digital phase of a video production, and received its name from the tradition of beginning this new workflow at the end of the feature film’s principal photography. Historically, post-production was dominated by big studios and involved only highly trained professionals, but nowadays, video production and post-production can be accessible to anyone.
The increasing presence of online film content seems to be cemented as a mainstay rather than a trend, and thus it is important for all figures associated with video to be familiar with key features of the industry. Whether you’re a client ordering a video for your business, a freelancer, or a studio hand producing, directing, editing, or shooting a film, getting a handle on the business and its procedures is elemental; lack of guidance and understanding will likely result in a waste of time and money for all involved in the project.
One highly important point to note is that there is no “one size fits all” workflow, as each individual film has its own unique creative and technical issues. Next, the name ‘post-production’ may be a bit misleading, as appropriate planning can and should occur before shooting begins. Finally, some videos are essentially entire post-productions within themselves, as is the case with animations (run on Adobe Flash, Maya, or 3ds Max) and similar digital-only output.
There are about six different typical post production workflows, depending on the film’s agenda and the production itself, including:
- 1. Footage-based video production
- 2. Shooting-based video production
- 3. Shooting & CG (computer graphics) video production (without 3D)
- 4. Live+CG+3D video production (including 3D characters/elements)
- 5. Full animation video production (without 3D)
- 6. 3D animation video production
This post will cover the first three points, and a later post will address the remaining three workflows.
1. Footage-based video production:
In this kind of production, you will use live materials out of stock footage. This is a relatively short and simple workflow, as it starts and ends at the editing table. Your workflow will look like this:
Footage-based video production workflow
2. Shooting-based video production:
This is a production that includes one or more days of shooting. The workflow will look like this:
Shooting-based video production workflow
3. Shooting & CG (computer graphics) video production (without 3D)
Here you need to plan your post-production well ahead of schedule. Consult your film editor and decide on your best options for shooting. For example: if you know that you’ll need to replace the background in one or more of your shots, plan to use a green or blue screen so that the foreground can be easily cut. If you’d like to include a logo image on the screen, and you have a camera move, you need to include trackers in your shot.
Shooting & CG video production workflow
Some quick notes on the above post production ingredients:
Script: A good script will have three columns: one for narration, one for footage description, and one for graphic material.
Art work: Also known as studio or graphic work, this is the preparation of all graphic materials needed for editing. Software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are usually used here to create necessary graphic material (e.g. logos, titles. and subtitles.)
Offline editing: Offline editing will include choosing the footage and arranging it over a timeline in your preferred video software, which is the main hub where your video is being structured. Once you’re done with this stage in your workflow, you will know exactly the full length of the video, which shots are selected for the final cut, as well as the in and out point of each shot chosen. Low-resolution footage will be used here so that rendering will process faster. Once your video timeline is closed and approved, you can proceed to online editing.
Online editing: First, digitize the shot chosen in full resolution. You may choose to use the same software as in offline editing, or change to another special effects platform such as Adobe’s After Effects, Nuke, and so on. After digitizing and combining materials, the online editor will proceed to color correction. CC is an art in itself, as it sets the emotional tone and feeling of the video. Finally, titles and supers are added. With another round of rendering in high-resolution, your video will finally be complete.
Stay tuned for part two in our series on post-production workflow.
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