Different Stages of Film Production
PART III – POST PRODUCTION (Editing the film)
Hi everyone! I am Piyush Pande, an Indie film director and now a commercial film producer. I have directed and produced short films, feature films, web series, documentaries in the past and have hands-on experience in film production for more than 10 years. There are many things which I learned while working on the projects, those things which no one ever told me!
There are 3 main stages of Film production.
Out of all the three stages of film production, no one stage is less or more important than the other one! Previously I had written two more articles on Pre-production and production stage.
So now let’s talk about the Post Production Stage.
It is said that a film is made three times during its course of making. First on the paper, when it is written. Second during the shoot of the film. Third and lastly on the editing table. In the post-production stage, the film comes to an editing table and the editor applies his or her art in it and edits it aesthetically according to his and the director’s vision. The editor can also be called the writer of the film as he writes off the unwanted scenes and shots on the editing table. A film which was planned in the pre-production stage, shot in the production stage will now finally come to its final form. A form, given by the editor making it a completely magical world to be in.
Editing a film is somewhat like cooking. Adding all ingredients one by one and then together and then let it cook in the sim light, taking its own time to develop a taste, which when eaten by someone, will satisfy the consumer later to come back and eat it again. The editor is like a passionate chef, whos art belongs to himself and has a unique taste to his food. Every editor has a unique style of editing. If two editors edit the same film, both the versions will be totally different from each other. The way an editor edits the emotions in the film defines him or her.
So let’s get into the details of post-production and let us know step by step how a film goes through this stage.
1. Media Management: Usually when a film is shot, all the data is stored in the hard disk. During the shoot, there are two or sometimes three hard discs to store the data. It is just to be secure in case of any hard disc failure so that no data is lost. Instances like these happened in the past where due to hard disc failure, all data which was shot spending lakhs and crores of money was lost. So it is always advisable to have multiple hard discs. During the shoot, there is a dedicated person called DIT (Data Interface Technician) who is responsible for the transfer of data from the camera to the hard disc.
After the shoot is complete the director along with his team manages the data on the hard disc and distribute in the folders. The folders are datewise, location wise or scene wise. Once the data is properly checked, the hard disc (For editor) is given to the editor and other hard discs are kept with the producer or the director.
2. Shooting Log Book: A shooting logbook is a book where all the details of the shoot are written. For example scene number and corresponding sound clip number, good shots, not good shots (NG shots), etc. The logbook has a manual entry done by the member of the direction team which is later used by the editor and the sound engineer for references.
3. Editing: The role of an editor is to edit the film in the most efficient way. For which the first thing he needs to do is go through all the shooting videos that he has. So the first thing an editor does is sit in his dark editing room and see all the rushes. It’s not an easy job. Try watching the rushes sometimes. It is boring, frustrating and some times funny too. But an editor watches it and while watching it the whole editing timeline develops in his mind. He already knows the story of the film which he had discussed with the director in the pre-production stage. Now by watching the rushes of the film he is imaging different ways of how a film can be edited according to his style. A good editor always sees the rushes. A usual day in an editor’s life who is watching the rushes would be like waking up in the morning, getting fresh, going to see the rushes, sitting on the editing chair. The rest of the things in life all happens in that chair thereafter. And once the rushes are complete he starts the actual editing.
Usually, editing is done in three software in the industry. Final cut pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and AVID. The editor then starts editing from the beginning of the film so that once a certain mood of the film is set then it is maintained till the last point. He takes his good time to edit the first cut of the film. It is called the first ‘Rough Cut‘ of the film. The director then sees the rough cut and gives his suggestion to the editor. The editor is an editor has full right to ignore him. But he can’t. Because as I had said earlier, the director is the captain of the ship. That movie is his baby and if he says to change the edit or make a shot long or shot, the editor has to do it. Once the director approves the rough cut it is called as the ‘Final Cut’.
4. Sound Designing: Once the edit is locked and the final cut of the film is ready, a ‘ ‘Music Copy’ of the final cut is sent to the sound studio where the sound designer designs a sound for the film. In the sound studio, a film goes through different processes. The first one is Dubbing.
In the dubbing stage, the dialogues of the actors are dubbed. Dubbing is a process where an actor dubs his dialogue looking at the scene in the screen and the sound engineer on the console arranges the dubbed dialogue on the final cut. Sometimes if the film has a sync-sound then there is no need for dubbing. The sound engineer in the studio arranges the sync sound file as per the logbook and scenes. Once the dubbing is complete, the next stage is Foley.
Foley is a process of putting ambient sounds in the film. The source of the sound coming can be visible or not visible in the film. For example, when a person walks, a foley technician will put the footsteps sound in it. If it’s raining, there will be thunder sound. There are separate foley artist and studios who excel in folly sound designing. So first the film is filled with dubbed dialogues and then with the foley sound. The next stage is putting Background Music.
Here comes the work of the music director. He creates a background score according to the scene requirement. It is a very creative work as good background music is very important in the film which will take to another lever. The music director either makes the music on his computer or record live music performances for it. If there is a song required in the film then he makes a song along with the song lyricist and the singer. Once his background music is completed it is then given to the Sound Programer.
The sound programmer programs the complete sound of the film including dubbed dialogues, foley, background score and Special sound effects (SFX). By programing, it means he levels the music as per the film requirement. If somewhere there is a piece of music along with the dialogue then he makes sure that the background music does not overpower the dialogues. He makes sure that the sound does not echo or sound weird to the ears while watching the film. The programer distributes the sound in each direction. For example, if someone in the film is calling from behind, then he makes sure that his dialogues come from the rear speaker in the theater. It is a very technical job and requires very high skills. Once the final programming is done. the final sound file is sent to the editor back to the editing studio.
5. VFX & DI: Once the editor receives the sound file from the sound studio, he syncs the sound file with the final cut of the film which was sent to the sound studio. The next step is the VFX (Visual special effects) and DI (Digital intermediate)
VFX is a process where special visual effects are inserted into the film. For example, if you want to show rain during the scene then artificial rain can be inserted in the scene. Or while shooting a gun a fire shot needs to be inserted in the video then it can also be done artificially with the help of VFX. Sometimes the film is shot in the green screen also called as CHROMA. The green screen can be removed and replaced by anything in the background. For example, you can say a dialogue in front of the green screen and it can be shown like you are saying a dialogue standing between the crowd somewhere in London. That is the magic of VFX. Sometimes VFX is done before sending the final cut to the sound studio. It depends on film to film.
DI (Digital Intermediate) is a process of giving a finishing touch to the film. It involves color correction, giving a particular color tone to the film or manipulating the color and other image characters. Usually, the raw footage that the film is edited on is flat colors. In the DI stage, each color can be manipulated according to the scene requirement. Each color has its own characteristics which make a particular effect on our brain and control the way we see the film. Therefore a DI artist or a technician is a person having deep knowledge of colors and their scope.
DI is the last stage of the film. It is done when all the above aspects of film post-production are done completely and there are no more changes to it. Usually, the whole process of post-production takes anywhere between 2-6 months depending on the length and work on the film. Once done, the film is exported in the required format and sent to the exhibitors.
Piyush Pande Films