What is Post Production?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 23 December 2019
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Movie making is a complicated business, but the workload is generally split into three sections: pre-production, principal shooting and post production. Pre-production involves matters such as scriptwriting, financial backing, hiring of cast and crew, and scouting for locations. Once all of these details have been worked out, principal shooting can begin. This is the actual filming of individual scenes, without any special effects or musical background. Because time is money, principal shooting days are often long and hectic for actors and crew alike.

All of this planning and filming leads up to the most vital aspect of film making — post production work. This turns individual scenes, called raw footage, into a finished motion picture. Editors splice all of the usable footage together into a coherent storyline according to the script. Composers add background music to create dramatic or comical effects. Special effects teams add computer-generated images and backgrounds to enhance the set or provide an as-yet-unseen character.


Post production may also involve fixing mistakes not corrected during principal shooting. Quite often an actor's microphone will not pick up crucial bits of dialogue or another microphone may pick up extraneous noises. During post production, an actor may have to return to a soundbooth in order to re-record lost dialogue or improve the original delivery. This is called looping. Another function of this time is to add incidental sound effects not captured during the original scenes. A specialist called a foley artist will record such sounds as an actor's footsteps, a creaking door or gunshots.

Many directors and producers rely heavily on the ability of post production teams to create a marketable film. Since principal shooting can be a hectic time for both actors and directors, some footage may prove to be unusable during the editing process. A film's original ending may also be unpopular with test audiences. This could lead to reshoots with the principal actors before a final film is produced. Other responsibilities during post production may include publicity tours, promotional posters, contracts with distributors and the creation of auxiliary formats such as DVDs and soundtrack albums.


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Discuss this Article

Post 13

@Fa5t3r - Yeah, one of the things that independent film producers often forget is to provide for post-production facilities and that's often where the film goes belly-up unfortunately. It's such a crucial time for a film and everyone wants to control it. Plus people don't realize how expensive it is. They think that all you need is a half-way decent grasp of how to work a computer.

Post 12

I was just reading about the way they made The Beasts of the Southern Wild and post production on that film must have been very difficult. They didn't watch "dailies" which means that they didn't make sure each day that the bits they filmed were usable. And of course, they were working with young children and animals, which is always difficult and often involves a process of chopping up the unusable footage in order to get a few moments of usable footage.

But the film is fantastic, so they must have done something right. It smacks of good editing and post production work.

Post 11

I completely agree with you. I've never done the work myself, but you only have to look at the differences between different cuts of the same film see what a huge difference the right editor can make.

People don't really think about how much negotiation goes into editing a film. The right editor and post production producer can make a film run at the right pace and go in the right direction, while the wrong editor can bog a film down and make it very unclear what is actually happening.

The different cuts of Bladerunner are a very good example of this.

Post 10

In my opinion, post production is the last form of writing. An editor is really just a writer in disguise; the one with the final say besides maybe the director.

The order of shots, what an editor chooses to show or not to show, how long something is on screen, how transitions are cut, the list goes on and on and on, are all things that affect the emotions viewers experience, and in some cases the actual story itself.

I've got tons of strong opinions about post production as it is what I am in my senior year in school.

Post 9

any body know of anything out there that can take me through bidding on a post production job (editorial)? thanks!

Post 8

great! thank you for posting.

Joe Pascual
Post 6

Post production is rapidly turning into the most vital part of the movie-making process. This is due to a couple of things.

First, the low barrier to entry. Anyone can now not only pick up a camera that shoots amazing HD quality images, but also tools for editorial and post-production finishing have dramatically dropped in price.

Second: too many formats to choose from. There are so many cameras that shoot and record digital files, each on a different format. It is important to really know your post workflow that takes you all the way from A-Z before you settle on a camera and format.

Best thing to do is consult with a post professional before you shoot your epic idea. The tools are all there for you to compete with the big boys. You just need a little planning and an experienced professional to show you how.

Post 5

I liked the article very much. It was good help.

Post 4

Thanks, it was really helpful!

Post 3

Helpful info. Thanks.

Post 1

it was really helpful :)

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