Production resources are precious. Post Production resources are even more so.
Many independent productions fail to plan their post production expecting it to all just “work out.” Whether from lack of experience or training in the intricacies of how the “movie magic” portion of filmmaking works, their projects languish indefinitely in post or fail to be completed at all. It can be heartbreaking to have your project never see the light of a projector after so many wonderful performances were captured and so much effort was spent. But, take heart. The items below, although written in a strong voice, are six things which, if avoided, can multiply the chances that your project makes it safely through the gauntlet of post production.
#1: Starting Post Production in Post Production
Failing to plan is planning to fail as the saying goes, and nowhere is this more true than in Post Production. For
years I’ve been screaming that Post begins in Pre…pre-production. Since there will always be “let’s fix it in post” moments, if you don’t plan for them, then you will never have the resources, personnel, assets, time or money to actually do that. There are so many production concerns which can be dealt with early which can save so many of these resources from being unnecessarily spent. One example is choosing to ADR all dialogue or spend the effort to use a majority of on set dialogue. Making a powerful choice here has you already know which microphones to use for dialogue in both production and post and allows the post production supervisor to be able to streamline both processes. Another critical post-in-pre factor is visual effects. So much of the time, these effects can be started long before principle photography begins. Once such shots are completed, audio department can begin creating the immersive world of sound effects for such shots, possible changes to the VFX also has time to make changes and render, and all of the VFX effort which is usually crammed into the end of post production is completed long before production is even finished. So many post production concerns and responsibilities can be taken care of in pre-production, when done this way, it almost becomes easy to complete post. But doing this requires the knowledge of which elements can be handled in this fashion and which workflows just have to be held to the last minute.
#2: Doing Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR) in Post Production
While it’s very normal to do ADR in post production, I’m going to suggest something which is certainly controversial but which can also save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in post: do the ADR while on set. Wild. With no picture reference.
“What!? That’s crazy! How would we ever get it in sync??”
Well, I’m going to suggest to you that syncing ADR is much easier and of less importance than getting the performance from the actor. If we wait 6 weeks until we’re in post to do the ADR, the actor will not be able to accurately match her performance, lo those many weeks ago. And although you’ll be able to sync her ADR, there will always be something missing from the scene, because the original performance is almost never matched. I’m strongly suggesting ADR happen right after the scene is shot. This way, you have the same recorder, recordist, microphone, sometimes even the same location, and most importantly: she’ll have her performance fresh in her mind. Learn the easy and non-intuitive means of doing ADR on set using one-of-a-kind tools found in Adobe Audition and others and see if you don’t save massive amounts of assets in post production.
#3: Having the Director or Producer Manage Post Production
My father always told me to use “the right tool for the right job.” It’s served as good advice over the years. And when it comes to casting, we always want to place the right actor in the right role. Why, then, would we ever allow a director, whose responsibility it is to maintain the creative aspect of the production, to also do the job of the post production supervisor, whose responsibility it is to keep the workflow happening in post? Think of it as a merging of the jobs of CEO and President. Of course small companies do it, but it’s never advisable. The creative vision should never be responsible for the managing implementation. The chances of having a director who has talents in both the creating and the administrative is nearly nil, and it tends to cause conflict of interest in post production department heads. When schedules are strained, it also forces the director into an unenviable position of having to “push” post production creatives when he needs to be encouraging an atmosphere of creativity. Consider having the director manage post production as a last, dreaded resort. We don’t allow in it production, why would we allow it in post production?
In the next part of this article we’ll discuss the final items which kill Post Production dead away. Have some thoughts about this article? Let us know or Tweet about it!