Once shooting is a wrap, it’s time for post-production — a highly collaborative process that involves several team members like sound editors, Foley artists, colorists, and more. You’ll also have visual effects team members who produce additional visuals using a green screen and computers to generate the effects in a program like Adobe After Effects. In addition, you’ll have sound recordings of actors’ dialogue, music from a composer, sound effects, and audio mixing the entirety of the film.
How different filmmaking roles are involved in post-production:
- Filmmaker/Director/Producer: Transfers all footage to reliable storage.
- Editor: Edits pictures and raw footage.
- Cinematographer: Ensures the color and feel of all shots is true to the style of the film.
- Sound mixer, sound designer, sound editor, and Foley artist: Responsible for all sound from dialogue to sound effects.
- Composer/Music supervisor: Scores or secures the music.
- VFX supervisor/engineer: Creates visual effects.
- Colorist: Color corrects files.
- Editor: Adds titles, credits, and graphics.
You can also use any post-production steps and techniques that apply to traditional filmmaking in a promotional marketing video. The main difference between the advertising and film industry workflows is that the editor in advertising wears more hats due to budget, often directing, filming, and editing.
Behind the editing process.
Beyond the techniques, editing can be a very involved process because you’re working with so much content. There are so many choices to make. However, modern cameras and their ability to organize digital footage files make some parts of editing easier, while other parts have become more challenging.
“We used to be very careful when shooting film because it was so expensive,” says director and screenwriter Steven Bernstein. “We would carefully plan each shot, limit the number of takes, and mark them with a clapperboard using chalk or markers. But with digital cameras, we now use electronic slates and still label the shots. But the tendency is to just let the cameras run, because digital is cheap compared to film. This means the editor ends up with hundreds or thousands of hours of material.”
After you have all the footage, your job as an editor is to sift through selects and every other clip to seek out gems that show character, complexity, and other key elements that enhance the overall storytelling. As soon as you have a good sense of the material you plan to use from the pile of raw footage, you can begin the editing process.
Pick the shots.
A crew will capture many different types of shots in principal photography. Often, films start with a wide shot, which shows the location of the entire scene. A wide shot can also have the action to hook the audience, so they understand an aspect of the main character. Medium shots, which typically show a character from the waist up, are where the audience experiences the character’s expressions and how they interact with other characters. Finally, close-ups zoom in to act as a focus on acting and emotion.
“In a wide shot, you don’t feel much for a character,” says Bernstein. “But when you go in very close, I mean right in there, and a little tear runs down a cheek, or you see just a movement of an eyebrow, or a little bit of sadness, or fear in the corner of the mouth — you’ve cranked up the emotional amplification.” Typically, in this initial part of the editing process, the editors decide when to use wide, medium, or close-up shots.
Start the assembly.
The next step for an editor is typically working alone on the first pass of the film, called a rough cut. This part of the process is known as the assembly, where the editor roughly assembles all of the raw footage. At this point, the film runs too long, the shots are not precise, and the pacing is loose — but everything is in the correct order. This is when the director comes in to review your editing work.