Video Production 101: What Is Post-Production?
The video production process can be seen as quite mystifying. Today we sit down with Adam Haywood, our Post-Production Supervisor, to take us through the post-production stage.
What is post-production all about?
Post-production is typically the stage of video creation that occurs after filming is completed. For animated or motion graphic videos, post-production begins once we have received all the digital assets, such as photos, logos or text.
Post-production includes editing all the components together to tell a story, applying a range of audio/visual techniques to enhance the overall product. The challenge is producing an edit that is seamless so that the audience can simply enjoy the content without being distracted while watching the video.
What does a post-production supervisor do?
It depends on the job, but primarily I’m responsible for overseeing the whole post-production process. This means working in a team to edit the video, colour grade the footage, add visual effects and/or motion graphics, and mix the audio with any required sound effects, music or voiceovers. We have specialists we work with to compose music and complete voiceovers. Most importantly, I work with clients to ensure the final video product meets (and hopefully exceeds) their expectations!
Can you explain some of the key terms thrown around in post-production?
There seems to be a lot of jargon! That’s true! Post-production involves a lot of technical expertise so we do use a lot of terminology. Probably the most common ones are about the visual techniques we use. Colour grading, for example, is the process we use to enhance the footage we are working with to achieve tone, depth and style. For example, if we are putting together a video for a swimwear brand, we might colour grade the footage to have more yellow and orange tones. This gives the video a ‘warm’ feel, making the audience connect to memories of summer days on the beach.
Motion graphics is another term we use and it simply refers to any moving text, image, logo or animation we might use in a video that is not part of our filmed footage. A really common example is when you watch an interview on the news and the person’s name scrolls across the bottom of the screen. This is a type of motion graphic.
Sound design is probably the other aspect of post-production I get asked about. It is where we tweak, manipulate or create sound in the video. Apart from the obvious reasons to have good sound in a video, such as being able to hear people speaking and delivering a message, there are lots of smaller sound elements that help create a great video. Knowing when to use sound effects, voiceover and music makes a difference in creating a mood for your audience or getting them to react in a certain way.
What tools do you use for post-production?
Post-production occurs in the editing suite, so the tools are mainly computer software. One of the main packages we use is Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Premiere Pro (editing), After Effects (motion graphics and visual effects), Audition (audio), Photoshop, and Illustrator. Two other tools are Autodesk 3D Studio Max (3D modelling) and DaVinci Resolve (colour grading filmed footage).
It’s important to understand a project will visit many software applications behind the scenes to create a final product that the client is proud to show off. This process cannot be done within one program alone. I feel that this is one of our strengths as a production company, having extensive experience and knowledge in all of these tools. My skills are a result of working with post-production tools for over 15 years.
What advice do you have for someone looking to enter post-production?
Make sure you expose yourself to as many hands-on opportunities as possible – I have gained the most by testing techniques for myself through trial and error and simply using the software, learning what certain tools and effects do. You have to care about what you are doing and be proactive in seeking further learning. Even after my degree in Multimedia, I still probably spend a few hours each month trying new skills by playing around with the software. When I get asked how to do something in particular, my answer is you don’t simply copy techniques from a book or a person; you have to physically do it in the software and refine your ability. It takes time and commitment.
One of my favourite websites when starting out was Video CoPilot where Andrew Kramer covers a lot of motion graphic and visual effect techniques – these techniques definitely helped to improve my own. It’s good to use them as a model while learning the technique but then it’s up to you to advance that technique and use it within your own style to create something new and fresh.
Seeking inspiration is another. Talented cinematography work definitely inspires me to think about how I can create a great final product. My favourite cinematographer is the late great Conrad Hall, who was responsible for films like Road To Perdition, and American Beauty. I believe that exposing yourself to different works helps you to refine your own style.
I’d also recommend giving yourself a reason to care about what you are doing. I don’t know that I could have the same passion for what I do if I wasn’t doing it for my own business and doing it to my own standard of ethics, quality and creativity. If you are working with others, make sure you find a similar wavelength of passion and integrity, otherwise you’ll fall behind in advancing your skills and developing your portfolio.
Have any questions about the post-production process? Post them below.