Many would think that making a movie is a fairly straightforward process that just involves turning on the camera and hitting the record button. While this is an important part of the equation, making a movie is made up of many moving parts and elements that are also essential to a movie’s success.
The three stages of making a film are pre-production, production, and post production. Often times, we overlook the importance of the latter because it’s mostly done away from the spotlight, and when it’s exceptionally well done, audiences would rarely notice the editor’s work because it’s flawless and engaging. Let’s dive into the âinvisible artâ of post-production and understand how its fundamentals play a vital role in completing the big picture.
Sew it all together
Post-production is the final step in the filmmaking process in which the raw footage is cut and stitched, music, sound and visual effects as well as color correction and grading are all integrated for form an understandable and transparent narrative sequence. Video production has been around as early as the 1800s when Joseph Plateau invented the phenakistoscope, a device that creates an illusion of movement and simulates moving images.
Years later, John Wesley Hyatt developed a plastic called celluloid, which became the foundation for the creation of photographic films. This was completed by Eadweard Muybridge‘s zoopraxiscope, a machine that displays moving images that was also essential in paving the way for cinema projectors. And came Thomas edison‘s Kinetoscope which is a device that projects moving images without sound. However, he was quickly overtaken by the Light Brothers‘ Cinematograph, known as the first film camera capable of recording, developing and projecting movies.
The early days of editing used a technique in which the cuts were all made from the camera where the cinematographer stopped the camera before filming the next sequence. This technique was best exhibited in the film The Lady who faints (1896) by Georges MÃ©liÃ¨s in which the camera begins by filming the actor on stage and then stops again after the actor leaves the stage, giving that effect or the illusion that the actor has magically disappeared before our eyes.
Film editing took a giant leap forward when Edwin S. Porter developed a technique by cutting and splicing the negatives to form a cohesive narrative as seen in The great train heist (1903). DW Griffith has further revolutionized film editing by introducing the concept of continuity editing, a style that combines a sequence of shots that emphasizes the dramatic and emotional aspects rather than the action. In addition, he has developed shooting techniques such as close-ups, panoramic shots, cross-sections, long shots and panoramic shots.
As technology has become more sophisticated over the years, manual cutting and splicing has shifted to digital editing using high-speed computers. The editing process can begin after the daily newspapers or raw, unedited footage from the production shoot has been sent to the post-production house. These sequences are imported into editing software such as Avid, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro which makes it easy for editors to stitch the sequences together. This process sometimes takes months or years until an edit edit or rough cut of the movie is complete.
Film editing took a big step forward when Edwin S. Porter developed a technique of cutting and splicing negatives to form a cohesive narrative as seen in The great train heist
After which, an editor shows the director the rough cut in which the two will collaborate and refine the edited version of the film to more closely match the director’s own vision. Finally, it will go through a producer, studio or network to create the final cut of the film, which is the version that will be shown to the public. Once an image has been locked, sound editing, musical score, automated dialogue replacement, visual effects, color correction and title credits can finally be added.
Today’s technology has also paved the way for processing and integrating computer generated imagery (CGI), chroma keying, motion tracking, and animation to create digital versions. extraordinary imaginary worlds as well as reality. Editors are also able to troubleshoot production issues such as erasing unwanted items such as brand names, props misfires, filming equipment, background noise, and minor film errors. ‘camera. Suffice it to say that having a talented editor who understands the tone, feel, vision, and heart of the story is imperative and crucial to the success of visual stories.
Another essential part of this process is the test screening, which aims to assess audience reactions to the final version of the film. Audiences selected from a representative sample of the population are given questionnaires that will allow them to make comments or suggestions on the overall story, pace, character development, editing, sound, effects and market value. The results of these test screenings are taken into consideration by the studio directors who have the power to dictate whether to incorporate the recommendations into the final cut of the film.
Post-production in action
According to Masterclass, post-production plays an important role in “propelling the story, engaging audiences, and driving the genre.” Every element we hear and see working together to create suspense in a horror movie, set up burlesque tension in a comedy, or create some jaw-dropping footage in an action movie.
Avatar (2009) is widely regarded as one of the films that revolutionized the art of editing, ultimately becoming the industry standard we see in most films today. Editing the film was extremely complex as it required building an imaginary world from scratch using CGI and 3D technology. In fact, there were three editors in particular – director James cameron, Stephen rivkin, and Jean Refoua who were the brains responsible for the success of this massive film. Compared to other films, the editing process started at the same time as the principal photography so Cameron could review all shots in real time.
The process includes using a technique called ‘image-based facial performance capture’ which tracks and records the actors’ movements and expressions using sensors, which are instantly mapped to the computer to create a virtual skeleton. It was one of the first films to use this technique, which allows for a more realistic effect that reflects authentic human emotions and creates a stronger bond with the audience.
âIt brought the movements of the body down to a set of connected systems that performed their stages on a ‘performance capture’ stage six times the size of anything that has ever been used before in the industry. This resulted in an incredibly emotional authenticity of the characters in the film. The footage for the film was constructed from roughly 70% CGI, including her lead female role, â via ScienceProg.
While waiting for the shots to be rendered in CGI, the editors were simultaneously cropping the first cut using Avid and perfecting action scenes such as battle sequences to make the story easier to understand but at the same time thrilling. and powerful. Every detail of lighting, shading and rendering has been meticulously considered to create photorealistic images.
Avatar is widely regarded as one of the films that revolutionized the art of editing, ultimately becoming the industry standard
While post-production is dubbed âinvisible art,â it’s the crucial phase that brings everything together, elevates the narrative to the next level, and shapes it in the movie we see on the big screen.
We interviewed one of Hollywood’s leading publishers, Troy takaki, which has given us a prominent place in the post-production world. He has edited box office hits such as The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler and Coupling with Will Smith and Kevin James both for Sony and as part of his long and successful creative collaboration with the director Andy Tennant.
His other credits include the Diary of a Wimpy Child: Rodrick’s Rules and The diary of a weakling: heat wave for 20th Century Fox and director David Bowers, New in Town with RenÃ©e Zellweger for Gold Circle Films / Lionsgate, and Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey for Touchstone and Fool’s gold for Warner Bros. with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, the latter two also with Tennant and Almost Christmas with director David E. Talbert.
Takaki is one of the few editors to divide his time between feature films and television. He recently edited shows such as You for Netflix and Mr. Mercedes for direct television. He is currently working on Cheaper by the dozen directed by Gail Lerner for Disney.