Post Production: Fix It In Post! Or, You Know, Just Get It Right...
Post-production is the stage of the video production process when all of the small details and thoughtfulness begin to come alive, and where your company will establish its cohesive look for your overall video strategy. The post process begins as soon as production ends, and continues until everyone is completely satisfied with the product that has been created for you. While the design of your video identity begins in pre-production - and is captured during production - post is where your video branding actually comes to life.
The post-production stage can make or break a project.
Step 1: Prepare to Dominate
If you haven't learned by now (is this the first blog you've read? Shame!), very, very little in our industry happens automatically. There are a few steps that your editor must go through with every project:
- Importing/Organization - First, we have to move the video files from the memory cards in our cameras onto the numerous hard drives attached to the editing computer. Luckily we're in the instant digital age and no longer dealing with film development turnaround times. This step may be obvious, but this is where it all begins. The video and audio files are organized by project for both the editing process and for safe-keeping (archiving). These files are then copied to multiple hard drives to protect against data corruption or failure and also uploaded to the cloud for 'triple-quadruple-you-won't-fool-me' backup. Now that our precious data is safe from the evils of the world it's time to...
- Select The Best Footage - This is the fun stage - if your idea of a good time involves sifting through every frame of captured footage to find the very best material. Some people dig it, but maybe it's not for you. Impatient folk need not apply. If the editor isn't willing to look through all of the material, there is bound to be some gold left at the bottom of the river.
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Step 2: Make a Video
Once the footage has been imported, sorted, and archived, your editor will begin to lay out a rough timeline that approximates the placement and pacing of the video that was dreamt up during pre-production. We often show our clients a 'rough cut' before many of the final stages of post-production. Sharing rough video content is a blessing and curse. On one hand, it gives your production team the opportunity to receive course-correcting feedback that could save time on the back end of the process. On the other hand, video is art, and artists rarely enjoy presenting unfinished work that includes issues that they are well aware of already.
The rough-cut acts as a toll-booth that reinforces (or corrects) the direction of the edit.
This sneak-preview ensures that the entire team is on the same page before proceeding onto the more complicated stages of post-production.
- Rough Cut - We begin to lay in the best footage, alongside the voice over or audio, in order to craft the designated story.
- Revisions - The editor's favorite thing! The revision stage is a game of ping pong that can go on for as long as it takes to nail all of the details of the video.
- Second Cut - All feedback is incorporated into a second (or third or fourth) version of the video. If there is no further feedback after this version, the project moves on to the finishing stage (woohoo! Take a breather, editor guy or gal).
Step 3: Make It YOUR Video
Ja Rule once taught us that pain is love (among other things...). I think what he was trying to say was that nothing good ever comes easy, and also that nothing easy is ever good. What transpires during the final stages of post are the details that separate a video marketing agency from 'Doug in Sales who made a video once' - sorry Dougy.
- Color Correction - This one puts the PB in a PBJ and is usually the most obvious differentiator between an amateur and a professional. Let's set the scene: some of your epic footage was captured in super bright daylight, while some was captured in darkness. Maybe you shot in multiple locations and some footage was lit by bright corporate flourescent lights while other footage was captured with moody, comforting incandescent bulbs. It's important to balance all of these shots out to ensure that colors appear consistent throughout the video and don't create a jarring change of scenery everytime the shot changes. This is the technical side of color balancing, where exposure and white balance are adjusted and balanced throughout the video.
- Color Grading - Often confused for color correction, color grading is when an overall look/mood/style is applied to the entire piece. This is the artistic side to the more technical side of color correction. If you want your video to look like a Michael Bay movie, go ahead! If you want those skin tones to look like they just walked out of the tanning salon, be our guest. Just know that color is often associated with emotions, and you want your audience to feel the appropriate emotions.
- Animation & Motion Graphics - This is where your brand guidelines come into play. Titles are added where necessary with the appropriate fonts and colors, and logos are turned into animated bumpers. It's always helpful to create a memorable logo animation since this will be the first and last thing your viewer sees when watching your content.
- Final Cut - All of this systematic chaos results in the final video. You did it! Well...not all by yourself. But that's not the point...the video is now complete!
- Delivery -The video is then crunched and exported into the desired format, depending on where the video will eventually be placed and viewed - in addition to any size or resolution restrictions. The final content piece is delivered in full quality to you for final approval.
Take Your Time
Rushing through this process could result in an insufficient video that fails to deliver upon the vision that was defined and refined throughout the earlier phases of the video production process.
Editors too often try to rush through the editing process in order to get done with the video so they can move on with their life. This is not the way we roll. Our stud editing team dedicates their full energy to each project - treating every video like it is our last.
Through experience and dedication, we have developed a strategy that works for any company, in any industry. While every company is different and therefore requires a unique strategy, our process provides structure and direction to what can seem like an overwhelming situation for marketing professionals.