POST-PRODUCTION PROFESSIONS AND TERMINOLOGY
The making of any film or video project is broken into three basic stages:
- pre-production, where the stories are written, plans made, and crew assembled;
- production, where the actors perform and their work is filmed;
- post-production, where all of the raw footage and elements created during production are
assembled into a finished, seamless story.
Editing is the central process of post-production. It is also commonly referred to as “cutting”.
Each day, the previous day’s work from the set – the “dailies” – arrive in the cutting room. Assistant Editors organize the dailies, usually using a computer editing system. The Picture Editor watches the dailies and consults paperwork from the set for guidance on the director’s vision for the day’s work. The Editor assembles the best takes from the dozens that were filmed, and chooses when to use the different camera angles to build scenes with maximum impact. The decisions an Editor makes will dramatically shape the final product, because they control what the audience sees and hears – and thus, what they feel.
Once picture has been finalized (or “locked”), more creative individuals bring their contributions to bear. Sound Designers and Sound Editors build the audio tracks to create full sonic worlds and create a deeper sense of believability. Music Editors work with the Composer to create the score for the film. Mixers combine all of the sound elements to build the final soundtrack for the film.
The post-production crew – proudly represented nationwide by Local 700 includes:
of large-budget features will usually have a team of Assistants working for them, keeping track of all the assets and paperwork involved in the post-process.
Assistant Editors aid the editor in organizing and collecting the diverse video and audio elements needed to edit the film. When editing is finished, they oversee the various lists and instructions necessary to put the film into its final form. Throughout the process, they keep the overwhelming mass of information flowing through the cutting room organized and easily accessible.
Apprentice Editors, or editing room assistants, may be on hand to help the Assistant Editors. An Apprentice is usually someone who is learning the ropes of assisting.
Sound editors deal with the audio portion of the project. There are several categories of Sound Editors:
Dialogue Editors take the existing sonic world and fix it. Dialogue editing is more accurately thought of as "production sound editing," in which the editor takes the original sound recorded on the set and, using a variety of techniques, makes the dialogue more understandable and smoother –– so the listener doesn't hear the transitions from shot to shot.
Effects Editors handle sounds effects, from gunshots and spaceships to restaurant backgrounds. Editing effects can be likened to creating a sonic world from scratch. Effects Editors combine various elements to create believable sounds for everything seen (or unseen) on screen.
Foley Artists create all of the sounds involved with movements to fill out a soundtrack – the sounds of walking, clothing rustling, and so forth.
A Music Editor is responsible for compiling, editing and syncing music during the production of a soundtrack. Among the Music Editor's roles is creating a "temp track”, which is a mock-up of the film's soundtrack utilizing pre-existing elements to use for editing while the film's commissioned score is being composed. The Music Editor also works closely with the composer in incorporating the score into the final soundtrack.
Mixers are responsible for manually adjusting (mixing) the volume of an audio signal in real time to insure that doesn't exceed the dynamic range of the medium to which it is being recorded. Of course, the actual scope of what mixers do in the real world is much more complex and varied.
Audio is mixed for a multitude of purposes during motion picture post-production. When that audio signal is an actor's dialogue being recorded to replace lines of poor quality or that were missed during filming, the technique is called “Looping,” or by its modern variant ADR. The same is true for sound effects, and that technique or process is called Foley. Finally, Music scoring is a very complex process requiring many of the skills of a musician in addition to the requisite audio mixing skills.
The Re-recording Mixer, also known as a Dubbing Mixer, works with all of the assembled dialogue, music and sound effects elements to create a final polished soundtrack for the project. The re-recording process involves balancing the volumes and sound quality of all these elements with respect to each other, and the addition of special sonic effects, such as reverberation. When complete, this final mixed master will reflect both the filmmakers’ artistic vision and, at the same time, will conform to the aural and technical envelope required for the final presentation medium––be it a motion picture for theatrical release, television, DVD, webcast or any of the other new media formats now being developed.
A Scoring Mixer’s main assignment is to record and/or mix the music for a film. On a scoring stage, they are responsible for all technical aspects of the set up for the orchestra: mics, placement of instruments, how and where things are recorded and at what format. During a scoring session, they will follow the score to facilitate proper balances between the players on the stage.
When mixing the music for a film the the scoring mixer delivers to the dub stage all the required “stems" so the music mixer on the dub stage can make adjustments after all the final dialogue and sound effects are mixed together. In addition, it is up to the scoring mixer to implement what the composer had in mind as to the emotional content of a particular scene.
The Recordist is the media manager of post-production sound. They set up and operate the dedicated recorders and playback machines, as well as the computer-based audio applications in common use everywhere today. They back-up the mixer on dubbing, Foley, ADR and scoring stages, and handle format and standards conversions when working independently as sound transfer recordists. They still make the digital printing masters for optical soundtrack duplication, which has its roots in the earliest days of “the talkies,” but also layback final audio onto state-of-the-art, high-definition broadcast video masters.
Recordists must be familiar with the bewildering range of media formats created since the inception of sound (almost of which are still in use), as well as knowledgeable with respect to the technical requirements and standards for every recording they create––whether analogue or digital, no matter what the final use of that media may be.
Engineers work behind the scenes to design, setup, test and maintain the electronic audio, video, and computer equipment employed in the post-production environment. They are responsible for everything from edit room picture and sound workstations to complex dubbing and scoring stages, to transfer facilities, and release mastering rooms. They must have an in depth technical knowledge of these complex and diverse systems, both presently in use as well as future ones as well.
(MORE TO COME)
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