By Martin John Harris
You might think that once the film has been shot on location it’s time to edit the best takes together and hey presto the film’s finished! Sometimes this happens, but mostly it doesn’t.
The term Post Production is an umbrella term that incorporates a number of processes including, digitizing, editing, sound design, colour grading, sound mixing and producing a master of the final film ready for distribution.
Today, most films are edited using computer based systems, AVID and Final Cut Pro being two examples of professional software used world wide. The first process is to prepare the ‘rushes’ or shot material in the computer ready for editing to take place. Some shoots will use 35mm or 16mm film which needs to be processed and transferred into files which are then imported into the editing system. Other productions will shoot on cameras which generate digital files when shooting, e.g. Slumdog Millionaire used the ‘RED camera’. Other systems still use tape, HD, Digibeta, HDDV, DVCam etc. again although these are digital tape formats they will need to be imported or digitized into the editing system.
Editing is often referred to as the second or last draft of the script. It’s where the problems of the script and the shoot now have to be resolved, editing can make or break a film.
First an ‘assembly’ of the best takes can be put together in script order. This will start to show which sections of the film are working for story, which for performance and perhaps also show how the overall style of the film will look. The director and editor make notes on these and other aspects of the rushes while viewing an ‘assembly’ so that they can start to understand how to make the best film from the shot material. Sometimes a performance may let a scene down, sometimes the best performance for different lines of dialogue are found in different takes, and occasionally whole lines of dialogue may be missing because of a...