Confessions of a Post Production Supervisor

There’s humor in filmmaking. To wit …

What’s the difference between a DP and God? God doesn’t think he’s a DP.

Why is thunder after lightning? Even God has to wait for sound.

How many grips does it take to change a light bulb? “Not my department”

How do you know if a filmmaker is at a party? Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.

But if you don’t hire a post-production supervisor to manage the most critical aspect of your film – it’s completion? Well, that’s not funny …

“Post-Production Supervisor are too often an afterthought or totally overlooked,” says Indie Film Hustle maestro Alex Ferrari in a serious tone. “But failure to engage one – the right one – and your film will suffer. And everyone will notice.”

Can you get along without a Post Production Supervisor? “Sure, as long as you’re fluent in every aspect of post – from final edit mix and assembly and color correction to visual effects and deliverables,” Alex shrugs. “But odds are your name isn’t Robert Rodriguez.”

And Alex Ferrari should know. Although he’s an award-winning director, Alex has spent a good portion of his two decades in the film industry off the set … and in the miasma known as Post.

As a filmmaker myself, who coincidentally engaged Alex’s Numb Robot production house to handle post, my main goal was to make a good film and hopefully make money. I achieved the first one because of a great script, crew, post production supervisor and team. At the end of the day my wife didn’t murder me or file for divorce (yet) because I did out what I set to do – and hopefully, the film will set me up for other opportunities. So, without further ado, here’s Alex’s insights for you:

1)  What does a Post Production Supervisor do, and why do I need him?

(Alex refrains from slapping me and, with much restraint, proceeds to answer the question…)

ALEX: The Post Production Supervisor is responsible for the workflow for your film. Once you get to picture lock, they ensure a smooth process and align the right resources so everything moves smoothly and cohesively. Just as your editor syncs the right clips and scenes, so to does the Post Production Supervisor synch the final assembly with sound and music, then adds visual effects and color correction and organizes everything – labeling files, splitting tracks – to satisfy distribution deliverable requests.

This person is not only essential in Post, but if you bring them in during pre-production they can help by looking at the script and assisting the Line Producer in creating a more accurate budget for the film. I mean, normally Line Producers do the budget; yeah, I get that. But most Line Producers stick in a number without knowing the true cost – or even a cheaper or alternative way to do something. If you’re on a tight budget, getting the Post Production Supervisor involved early can help assure an efficient production and avoid those back-breaking “fix it in post” expenses down the road.

2) Okay, so I contact the Post Production Supervisor once I lock picture, right?

(Alex takes a deep breath, balls his fists and speaks slowly …)

ALEX: Most people wait until then – but that’s not what a filmmaker should do. At the very least, a filmmaker – particularly a newbie – should hire a Post Production Supervisor, like myself, for a few hours of consulting to review the script and make recommendations about how to save money and stretch resources in the planning stages. 98% of people don’t do that – but only 2% of the population are highly intelligent so go figure.

But the right answer about when to engage a Post Production Supervisor is when the money is in place. That’s when you should build your core team, which should include your entertainment lawyer, producer, director, DP, line producer, and post-production supervisor. Or if you have some money and need to build a budget and smart workflow, that’s when you might want to start thinking about your Post-Production Supervisor.

3) What types of Post Production Supervisor are there, and where do I find one?

(Alex relaxes, as evidently, I’ve hit on a good question. Either that or he likes the word “Supe”…)

ALEX: There are basically two types: Type 1 is the afore-mentioned Robert Rodriguez type that can do almost everything. They’re hard to find. Type 2 is more of a general contractor who knows what needs to be done and gets the right people to do it. Kind of like a director who builds a crew to execute his vision. There’s also a Type 3, which is a production house – but they can be more expensive, may not specialize in every aspect of post-production and, if they are large and your budget is small, probably won’t give you the level of attention a direct-hire would.

As for where to find one, there are a few ways:

  • Do a Google search
  • Look on IMDB for films similar to yours
  • Visit your state’s film office online and search for post-producer supervisors in their production handbook
  • Or, when you are interviewing line producers, ask who they recommend

But here’s the important thing – find someone who is comfortable and experienced working on your budget level. There are phenomenal Post-Production Supervisors on blockbusters, but they won’t know how to cut corners or manage the tight parameters of micro-budget movies.

4) How much should a filmmaker budget for a Post-Production Supervisor?

ALEX: It varies on how well prepared or inept the filmmaker is because there are invariably complications in post-production. But a good range is 15-20% of your budget, which might seem like a lot until you realize a good chunk of your film’s life is spent in post-production and it is the most important time in terms of delivering a final, polished and professional product.

5) How much time should a film be in post?

ALEX: See the first sentence in the answer above – it depends on how well the filmmaker has their act together in delivering the picture lock. And is it really the final picture lock – I can’t tell you how many films I’ve worked on where a mistake is discovered and BANG! – it’s a do-over. Even adding a frame can knock the whole process out of synch and cause costs to mount.

6) You’re serious … a frame?

ALEX: Absolutely, even one frame – not a scene, mind you – can cost a lot of money because now the entire timing is off. You have to look at it like a train leaving the station and heading toward its final destination. To stop the train and return it to the original station because something was not right, and then to start the journey all over again – well, imagine the cost and delay.

Put this in bold: Once a picture is locked, all dollars go to post production. It has to stay locked.

7) Okay, so at picture lock (in bold) what should be delivered to a Post-Production Supervisor?

ALEX: The filmmaker (or editor) should deliver a QuickTime reference file (with time code and shot reference), the EDL (“Edit Decision List”), and any raw footage on a hard drive. Then the “Supe” rebuilds the film in an online suite and sends out the mix for sound, music and color correction.  Some Post-Production Supervisors can do color correction and visual effects themselves, but usually, you want a specialist to do the sound mix and music score. Sound is the most important thing in a movie – people might forgive bad picture, but bad sound? That’s a death knell.

8) Wait a minute – visual effects? Why would I need visual effects for a low budget film?

ALEX: If you plan to get your film broadcast or even on platforms that require E&O (“Errors & Omissions”) insurance, there’s a chance you’ll need to blur out logos, license plates, faces, etc. Maybe not, but it happens more than you might think. Other films might not want to deal with the insurance hassles if guns are used – so visual effects would insert flares for realistic rubber guns. That’s just one example.

9) How long should the process take?

(At this point Alex asks me how long my film was in post-production, we both roll our eyes, and banish the thought.)

ALEX: Ideally, if all the stars are aligned, a Post-Production Supervisor should be able to hand off deliverables within 6 weeks or so. That’s how long THIS IS MEG took. But often you’re waiting for someone – like music. I’m always waiting on the music. Or even visual effects, depending on how much work is involved. If it’s taking more than two months then there’s a problem. But unless you up against a deadline to submit for Sundance, take the time to get your film right. I’ve even had to re-edit some films in post, then re-assemble, and get the music and sound synched. Color correction is also critical – it’s the makeover your film needs to make it attractive to everyone who lays eyes on it.

10) What are the things a filmmaker should have “in the can” for festivals and distributors?

ALEX: A QuickTime master and compressed Vimeo link, Blu-ray (5.1 and stereo), and a DVD for screeners (not to screen at a festival!) – if a festival is screening DVDs, run away. You might also consider burning into the bottom of the DVD screeners “for screening purposes only”. Also, a Vimeo Plus or Vimeo Pro membership is essential to upload your QuickTime master, compressed master, and teaser/trailer.

11) Lastly, any “horror stories” you’d like to share?

ALEX: Too many brother. Filmmaking is an inexact science and it’s the human element that makes it frustrating and fantastic. Here’s a quick one purely as an example of how inexperience and ego can get in the way. I was working on a (hypothetical) film with two well-known stars and a first-time director.

Let’s call him “FTD”. So FTD thought he was Steven Spielberg and he hired a DP who thought he was Roger Deakins. So FTD and DP shot on 3 different cameras; none of them calibrated, one with a dead pixel and the piece de resistance? The third had a dirty lens … for the entire movie. And oh yeah, attitude the entire way – everything was someone else’s fault. Basically what they delivered had to be re-edited. A ton of work, at a pretty high cost. In the end, it did get distribution because it was (mostly) saved in post-production and because of the name recognition of the two stars. But that train left the station and came back several times!

Also check out this podcast episode: How a Post-Production Supervisor Can Save Your Butt! It could save you a ton of cash!

Thank you Alex. See you in Post!

If you need help with understanding post-production workflow or need to consult a professional post supervisor click here.

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IFH 113: Post Production Process: Understand It or Die

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Filmmaking is a long process and is divided into three stages. The first stage is pre-production stage, the second one is production, and the last one is the post-production stage. In this podcast episode, I go into each of the following steps of the post-production process and add a few bonus ones as well.

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Pre-Production Stage:

Pre-production in real is not much difficult. This process starts when the producer of the film select the cast and the crew of your film, and you develop your final script. It is a filmmaker who is trying to convince the people that the shooting will start soon. After that announcement, the producer will wait for the cast to agree to do the work and for the financial partners to fill the banks of the producer.

The Production Stage:

After getting your finances, the production process will get started. This production phase will have all kinds of action. You will get started with a tight schedule of nine to eighteen days, working for 14-18 hours in a day. All the activities are carried out at once. The light, camera, action, actors, scripts, costumes, props, schedules and most importantly the temper tantrums due to the long and hectic schedules. Apart from all this, production is somewhat a fun process if you get what you want quickly but if the case is opposite, these days can turn into nightmares for you.

Whether these days are joyful or tiring, the end of the production phase always comes with a party. Everyone in the cast and the whole team will party hard at the end and will go to their homes. Their work is done. In the end, you, the producer is left with all the work. You may wake up after approximately two days because of the continuous hectic routine you followed in the last days.

After that, you will have a whole tape of the film which can be twenty hours long, and then the next stage will be the post-production stage.

The Post-Production Phase:

What is post-production? Post-production is not a difficult process. There will be no hectic schedule of working for 14 -18 hours like the production process which includes a lot of work. The first thing to do after the production process is complete is to call your cinematographer so that he can introduce you to different editors. All you have to do next is to hire some good people and keep an eye on their workday for an hour or so. The production process will be easy for you if you follow it step by step. Here are the 13 steps of post-production process which are to be followed by every producer.

The 13 steps of post-production process are as follows:

Post Production Process: The Selection of Editing Software:

The first step to follow in post-production is to select an editing program. Selecting your editing application can make your workflow run smoothly or cost you months and tons of cash. You can make that decision based on the needs of your creative editor and the original format you shot your film on. You’ll need to find a balance between the two.

Please consult with a Post Production Supervisor at this stage of production. They can save you a ton of time and cash.

Post Production Process: Selection of a Creative Picture Editor:

The selection of an expert editor for your film is the biggest decision. The proper formation of your film depends on the creativity of your film editor. The editor is the one who will develop the Edit Decision List (EDL). He will go through all of the scripts and the scenes of your movie and decide which shots will be used to create a flow of the story correctly. Here comes the big work of the editor’s creativity.

The best way is to hire an appropriate editor for your film before the start of the production phase. The benefit of having your editor in the production process is that he will guide you about the scenes which are required to make a perfect sequence. The editing of the film is about 8-10 weeks long procedure, and it will involve different stages. The first edited draft is called Rough cut, and the final draft is called an Answer point. A good edit has two ends; the first one is when you are satisfied with all the visual images and the second one is when you are happy with the sound effects of the film.


If you want to learn the creative art of being an editor you need to watch the videos below.

 

Post Production Process: Selection of a Sound Editor:

After the preparation of the edited movie, there is a need to improve the sound quality. For that purpose, you have to hire a sound editor who can make the movie look more attractive with different sound effects.

The sound editor will perform some major tasks like he will cut the dialogue tracks and recreate those sound effects and then make the cue sheet for another step in the post-production process i.e. the mix.

Post Production Process: Automatic Dialogue Replacement:

This step is carried out in a big room with the projectors. The central focus of this ADR is to replace the dialogues in the film which are not adequately recorded. All the actors again deliver These dialogues, and the voice is then synced to the edited version of the movie.

Post Production Process: Work with Foley Artists:

Making the sounds of the dialogue clear is not the end of the audio editing process. You have to go again in the ADR room, and with the help of the hired Foley artists, you will include the additional sounds in the edited version of the movie. These sounds will add the sounds of footsteps and others. The sound people are called Foley artists.

Post Production Process: Music:

The next step for the post-production process is to include the desired music in the film. The best thing is to hire a musician with his studio so that he can create new music for your film. Producers never use the previously used music in a movie as it is against the laws. If you have already bought the rights to use that old music than you can add to your movie.

Producers never prefer the usage of pre-cleared CD music because of its low quality. It is better to use a contemporary type of music in your film because the usage of traditional and public domain music will be hazardous.

Post Production Process: The Mix:

The mix or the re-recording section of the movie will include the setting of the sounds in the whole movie in a row where they fit. After all of the above steps, you will have a series of music that will include the songs, the background sounds, etc. All you have to do is manage these sounds effectively in the whole film.

Post Production Process: Music and Effects (M&E):

This is a part of the film production that you have to sell the rights of your movie to the foreign nation. There is a requirement of the international buyers that they need the soundtrack which is free from the English dialogues so that they can dub the dialogues in the desired manner. So, it is better to get the only music and effect version of your film.

Post Production Process: Creating Your Opening and End Credits

After the formatting and the finalization of the sound effects and track, you have to finalize your titles for the movie. The producer has to get the 6 – 8 opening cards of the title and finally the Rear title crawl. These title files are then added to the final tracks.

Post Production Process: Digital Cinema Package:

For the final print of your film to be delivered to the cinemas, you need your digital cinema package or DCP. It will contain the final edited film in a hard drive. This hard drive will be used for the distribution of the movies into the theaters. Click here for more on DCP (Digital Cinema Package).

Post Production Process: A Dialogue Script:

A film without subtitles in a foreign country is of no use. You have to create a dialogue script for the foreign people so that they can create the subtitles accordingly. This dialogue script will contain the codes for each and every pause and the dialogues so that the subtitles can be created by the scene and the actual dialogue.

Post Production Process: Campaign Image for the Film:

Getting an appropriate campaign image for your film is imperative. The picture of the film should depict the storyline of the movie and should include the name and the credits for the films. This image will create a first impression on the distributors and the programmers of the movie.

Post Production Process: Trailer:

The last step in the post-production process is getting a perfect trailer for your film. The trailer should be 90-120 seconds long. It should have the ability to deliver the moods and atmosphere of the movie. The success of the movie will depend on the strength of the trailer. This is all you need to know about the post-production process of filmmaking. If it is followed appropriately, the film will get a good reception.

If you want to learn how to edit a trailer for Hollywood Trailer editors click here!

If you need help with understanding post-production workflow or need to consult a professional post supervisor click here.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
So guys, today's episode is something that's very near and dear to my heart postproduction where I've been making my bones for the last 20 odd years working on God 1000s of different projects over the course of my career and probably over 50 or 60 features easily over 100 150 indie film projects either shorts and or features documentaries and so on. So I've got a lot of experience working in the in the post production field and I wanted to come up with a podcast that kind of talked about the steps of post production because there's a lot of confusion A lot of people don't understand the basic understanding of what post production not workflow but just the steps that are taken in post production and a couple of tips I'm going to throw at you during this this list these 13 steps is going to help you with workflow which is so so massive and there's another episode I did on post production workflow called post production workflow understand it or die which is Episode 14 you can download that one at indie film hustle.com Ford slash zero 14 and that's a really good episode a very very popular episode as well. So let's get into it guys so step one selecting the editing software they're going to be using to edit your movie a lot of people just you know grab whatever they have access to and not think about things going down the line so a lot of people like well have access to an avid or have access to a premiere or I have access to Final Cut seven or Final Cut x or god forbid sony vegas I'm sorry if anyone's anything out there in sony vegas land Stop joking joking but no really stop it's it's hurting yourself and people around you. But anyway. So by making that choice is very, very integral because depending on the format you shooting on so if you've shot on Alexa, you shot on a DSLR you shot on a red and so on. There's different workflows that you're gonna have to understand. So picking that software is going to be very crucial to you and I know a lot of times creative editors, especially older creative editors, or more established creative editors will work with avid and which is great avid is the industry leading piece of software. But sometimes avid does not work really well with anything other than edits going down the line working with red or working with specifically red. I'm in the middle of a project right now we're having issues, reconnecting certain things and you know, just things get wonky. I'm not sure as much of that might be the problem with read or maybe with avid, but I know that premiere is much more table in that world, no final cut is. And I know DaVinci Resolve handles it wonderfully. And I'm a big, big, big fan of editing in DaVinci. As everybody who listens to this podcast, no, I edited didn't I edit. This is Meg, completely 100% individually. But anyway, picking that is very, very important. So understand that you will have to pick something that's going to, that's going to work with your workflow going down the line, whatever that workflow might be. But make sure you're very cautious about what you're editing on, and it's going to be able to achieve what you need. Second is selecting an editor, someone who understands story understand what they're going to be doing. And then that will also determine what sort of what software you're gonna be using. Because the editor generally speaks, generally speaking, uses the software that they're most comfortable with. But choosing that editor is such an important person, it's such an important job in the post production process. Because you can find editors that are creative editors only who just going to be doing the creative, which is generally speaking what most people do. Occasionally, you will find a creative editor who happens to understand the technical aspects of things which are really, really beneficial if you can find someone like that. But as again, generally speaking, you're going to mostly find just creative editors, who are going to be able to do creatively what you need to have happen with your movie. So picking that person is very, very, very important. Now the next part of the post production process would be selecting a sound editor, someone who's going to be able to once as much even a sound editor as a sound house, someone, either a house of post production company, an audio post production company, or a person who's going to be able to do all the aspects of what is needed in audio post production. Now I've worked with guys who do everything in their house, and they're a one man band, and they can literally do everything I've found I found that guys that do everything like that in their house, they're really not capable of giving you everything that you're you need unless they have a Foley stage and a full ADR suite and all this kind of stuff. Is it possible, yes. But generally speaking, I would go with a post production house of some sort. And there's many out there who will work on a low budget world that I know of the guys work over at monkey land audio here in Burbank. They definitely work with low budgets and work with independent filmmakers and are indie friendly. Again, I'm not, I'm not doing this as a marketing campaign for them. But they're just there's many other ones in LA, that do that as well. But, but definitely, finding a sound editor someone or sound post production house is going to be able to get you all the sound elements that you're going to need and deliverables, you're gonna need to make your movie move forward. The next step is ADR. So I'm gonna explain to you what ADR is automatic dialogue replacement, which basically means that if you record something on the day on location, and there happens to be a plane flying by that that's not going to be usable in the final mix of your movie. So you're going to need someone to go in, you're going to need the actors to come into into an ADR session, which they'll put up the picture up on a screen. And then at that point, the actor will mouth the same lines that he or she had on the day, and replace that audio cleanly. Now, I'm not a huge fan of ADR, I actually hate ADR because I feel that it never matches exactly the way the energy was of the day, or the vibrance of the performance of the day. So I really like on mag, we I think had two lines of ADR and it was mostly grunts, and like, kind of stuff. It was not like full blown dialogue. So I kind of ran with it. And of course, a movie like mag made sense to do something like that, because it was very kind of raw and naturalistic, but it is something that you will have to do I have had to do ADR and other other movies have on other projects of mine. So definitely keep that in mind that you will need to do that. Another thing you're going to need to is finding a place that does Foley Foley is basically somebody going out and making all the sound for every little movement that happens in the movie. So obviously, when you're recording someone running down the street, and there are two plsa, two people walking down the street and they're talking Well, your focus on the day is to record the dialogue that the people the actors talking, you're not focused on recording the footsteps, or the wind blowing, or the tree that they kind of ran the bush they ran into or anything like that that's what Foley's for, and you have to find a studio that has a full Foley stage. In that Foley stage they have. They're so awesome. These places it's like basically a junkyard of a million different sounds, things that can make sound. They have floors, where if you lift up 111 part of the floor you got sand, gravel, water, wet, dry, it's for sand. It's awesome. It's really, really awesome. But you need A studio that can handle that that's why I'm saying a lot of times these one man bands can't do that now could you replace those sounds instead of Foley with canned sound effects like Can people walking when I say can means that there's someone else's recorded generic footstep somewhere and then the the sound mixer sound designer can actually just replace your footsteps with those canned footsteps yes of course you can but it's never 100% sometimes it works wonderfully and again I'll use Meg as an example. We use a lot of sound effects in mags that were canned because they're perfectly fine You don't need to do a brand new Foley session for those but there were other things that were very specific like you know, when Meg is getting up out of bed and her she her sheets are kind of rubbing up against each other that kind of give give a little bit of a sound it's very difficult to find that in a sound design scenario in a in a canned in scenario you're gonna have to find you know, kind of foley artist to kind of match that exactly for it to sound right. So it's definitely something you have to keep an eye on but that is something else you will need and if for deliverables, you will need a full m&e track. This is a little bonus sidetrack but for deliverables, but an m&e track means music and effects. So when you try to sell this movie or your movie overseas, you will have only music and effects track and then they can replace their dialogue with foreign actors replacing the dialogue of your actors. But without that m&e track, they can't do that. So then you will not be able to sell your movie to other territories. So having a full fully laid out m&e track and if you go even fully more that you can actually spread that set, separate the music, and the effects. And then every single sound effect has to be created in a Foley session and or sound design session. And that's much, much more expensive and much more for higher end movies. But that's something else that you'd have to keep an eye on for your project. So speaking of music, that is our next step is music. Finding a composer to be able to bring music to life in your movie. Now it could be with a pre pre recorded music, existing music, or you hire an actual composer to compose original music for your movie, something that you will definitely need in about 99.9% of all movies will have some sort of music in it. So definitely hiring some hiring music composer is extremely important. Now my experience is working with music and doing all the movies I've done is generally speaking, you're always waiting for music at the end of the you know, the edits done, the colors done, the the mix is ready to sound houses waiting for music to do the final mix. So just stay on top of your composer to make sure those deadlines are hit when working with a composer and again, I'm being very general here guys, not all composers take time. But a lot of times you're also rushing the composer to create music based on timelines too, and they're doing the best job they can. But hiring that composer will bring life to your movie or putting in a pre recorded music or, or needle drop music as they say, which is stock music that you can easily get the rights to, you could do that as well. The next step is the mix. Now the mix is extremely important when mixing the audio, all the audio elements together. So a lot of times I've had this happen, the the sound, the sound guys have created sound effects for certain, let's say, you know, moments that need to be like accented. So, you know, I'll use the example of you know, a horror movie when someone you know, goes in and slices somebody like, you know, the axe murderer is coming in to slice something, the sound effect might be really big to just like really scare the hell out of the audience. Well, the composer might have had the same thought and created a big hit of music at that same moment. Well those two sounds are going to fight each other. So then that's where we have to kind of work around like okay, what do we want in the mix. And that's why it's so important. The mix is so so important because certain things you want to bring down lower certain things you want to bring up higher, depending on what kind of emotional reaction you're trying to get from the audience. Hitchcock was the master of this, he literally played his audience like a fiddle because he was able to just bring things in and out and he was able to do that with images as well. But as far as the mix is concerned, he would just pop things up just right at the right moment and bring it back down and that is why the mix is such an important part of it. So being in the room in a properly constructed room where you can hear a five one mix five one is a surround sound mix now they have seven one they have Atmos there's multiple different kinds of mixes that you can create and I was the next the next step is something I've already kind of spoken about which is music and effects, creating that m&e track very, very important going forward because you will not be able to sell your movie international Unless you have a full m&e track laid out, another step that you're going to be dealing with is titles, the the basic titles of the beginning basic critics at the end, rolling credits and so on. I have been involved with so many movies that have yet to once not one time and 70 odd movies that I've finished that the end credits or any of the credits were done in the first pass, they're always adding something, something's always misspelled, someone's changing their credit, like, Oh, I need to have this guy up above this other guy or this girl above this other girl, because of ego or because of contractual issues, and so on and so forth. But you will need to create these titles. So whoever is going to be doing your online, being your online editor, you will have to find, see if he'll be able to create those he or she will be able to create those opening credits, which either could do basic opening credit. Or you can do like, you know, seven style David Fincher seven style credits, which are much more elaborate, and a production in themselves. And then basic rolling credits. So you that's a conversation you have to have with your online editor. Now, as opposed to a creative editor, and I'll talk about this really briefly. Creative editors, they're literally just to be created, the online editor is the person who's going to put every thing together, that's going to put in the final edit, that's going to put in the color graded images, that's going to put the final mix, put in your titles, and get everything ready for your deliverables online editor is extremely, extremely important. And sometimes very overlooked by producers that like oh, my editor could just put it all together. And I cannot tell you how many times I've had movies come into my, into my office, that that just happened, Oh, I thought my editor was gonna be able to do it. And the editor had no idea creative editor had no idea technically what needed to be done, or they're moving on to another project. And they're being creative, and they're not worried about deliverables and titles and any of that crap. So very, very specific, you got to find a good online editor. And on another side note, guys, please, for God's sakes, talk to a post production supervisor. I mean, seriously, it's so upsetting. You could either talk to a post production supervisor, if you have the money, hire a post production supervisor, if not consult with one. So they can talk to you about workflow and making sure things are done right. If not, you might get stuck and lost in the pit that is post production. Unless you understand the roadmap that you need to take to get out of the forest. Sometimes I've seen people wander in that forest for months, if not years, trying to get their movies finished. But just a little conversation, a little consulting with a post production supervisor could save you 1000s upon 1000s and months upon months of time, so please keep that in mind. Another part of the the process is obviously color grading. So without a colorist color grading your movie, it's going to look like crap. And if you want to create high production value in your movie, you've got to get a color graded even if you want a simple basic color. Like I don't really need the color graded, I'm just going to do it myself in my avid or my should do it myself in Premiere Final Cut does something basic, I don't need anything really crazy. I don't want this to look like a Michael Bay movie. Well, even the basic stuff is hard to do. And you have to make sure everything evens out, seeing the scene and thematically everything works the same way. You know colors is very well needed. And if you don't use a colorist nowadays, you're not going to sell your movie, it's very difficult to do so without having some basic color. And I'm not talking about crazy stuff, I'm just talking about just getting everything built look even and nice and clean. Or you can create very, very cool looks as well. So next on the list is the DCP the digital cinema package as part of your deliverables. So now you've created your movie, your movie is edited, it's colored, has a final mix to it has your titles to it. Everything's ready to go now you create a DCP. Now a lot of people say you got to create a DCP right away. I disagree. This EP is basically a digital cinema package is only for theatrical exhibition. So if you're going to go to a big festival, then you might need a DCP depending if it's like a Sundance or trackback or any that big festival, they only exclusively will project in the DCP format. So you have to create one eventually, but don't spend the money until you need it. All right, please do not spend the money until you need it. Another part of the deliverables things a lot of people don't really pay a lot of attention to is a dialogue script. So a dialogue script is basically a script that just lays out all the dialogue of your movie. So that way you can send that dialogue script in. So people in foreign countries can create a subtitles or things like that, that they might need to sell your movie. So you need to create a dialogue script as well. Now you also another step guys a lot of people forget about is the campaign image of for your film. Now campaign image is basically a still and you're going to need multiple stills a lot of distributors are going to ask for 6070 stills. And this is something that a lot of people forget I even forgot about it in mag, I don't have a tremendous amount of behind the scenes stills. And when I say stills, I'm not talking about those cool behind the scenes stills of you and, and the camera and the crew shooting the scene. Those are great. And those are needed as well. I'm talking about the promo stills the campaign image, meaning that when a camera man is literally or some photographer standing right next to the camera man, taking an image of shot of the scene as is being recorded. And those are the scenes that they go out and help promote your movie, something you have to have, if you expect to sell to a distributor, or get those out there and it's helpful regardless. Now you'll see I know a lot of people like well I'm shooting in five or 6k, I could just pull it off the read. Or I could just pull it off the raw image of my you easily could do that as well, especially if you start shooting at the higher resolutions. That's a lot easier to do nowadays. But for the rest of us are not shooting at that super, super high resolution, it's helpful to have something more traditional by just shooting it with a high end iPhone, or shooting it with a professional or having a professional photographer shooting stills for you on set. And the second to last thing is so important. I can't even express to you how important this is. The trailer. The trailer is so so so important to your post production process to the process of selling your movie. Have I mentioned how important the trailer is. The reason why I laugh is because a lot of people forget about the trailer, they like oh, I'm just going to kind of just throw something together, you have to understand that the trailer is going to be seen by more people. At least 50 100 times more people will watch that trailer than will watch your movie. And it is going to be that is the biggest calling card for your movie is not the poster man anything is the trailer and today's social media world that everything is video video video, that trailer, you know I released Meg and within the first couple days we we got word downloaded almost 20,000 times or a little bit over 20,000 times throughout all of our platforms, which is pretty amazing for such a small little movie with you know, no major backing or major studio bind it. So it's just a small little film. And it's like oh, that's really really cool that was able to do that. But that trailers being seen and gain the interest. So keep it very take it very seriously about shooting or about editing a trailer, hire professional editor, trailer, trailer trailer editor, who understands how to sell movies, if you have the money, hire a trailer producer, and have them actually write a script for the trailer. Super, super, super important guys. And then the very last thing that's not on the list, but I thought I throw it in there is the website. Now I know this is not part of your post production process. But it is the process of selling your movie. So at the end of it, if you don't have a website, a real website for your movie, you're screwed. You need a website you need for everything to everybody to come to a website to help sell your product, to sell your movie to tell people where screenings are to show your trailer to show behind the scenes footage to connect to your Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and all the other platforms as well you need a hub. So creating a very cool website is very, very imperative, especially in today's world. Now you can go to many different places to create a website, you can create your own website by using different plugins on WordPress, multiple things like that, I have a whole course or I have a whole course but I have a whole article written about how to create a kick ass website. And I will leave that in the in the link in the show notes. Which of course the show notes will be at indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash 113. And I hope that's it guys, that's basically all the steps I went past 13 steps, I added a few other ones in there as well. But I wanted to kind of give everybody a brief under a brief overview of the post production process a lot of people and it's really quick guys, it's I can go into details about every aspect of what I talked about today. But it was just a very, you know, broad overview of the basic post production process. And you might have known a lot of it, you might have just found one or two that like I didn't know that I need to do that. I'm going to do a whole other thing about deliverables coming up in the months, weeks and months ahead. and a bunch of other stuff that I'm going to be tossing into the syndicate, doing some mini courses on post production workflow, post production, deliverables, and so on in the syndicate, which of course you can check out at indie film syndicate.com Now guys, I know it's the holiday season, and we are now officially in the holiday season. And I know you guys if you're listening to the show, hopefully your fans The show and you really love what we do at indie film, hustle. And I wanted to get in just kind of if you guys want to help us out, and you can't afford to buy any of our courses, or join the syndicate, or anything like that, there's a really easy way for you guys to support indie film, hustle, super, super easy way. And all you got to do is go to indie film, hustle, calm Ford slash Amazon. So if you guys are going to buy anything in the holiday season, on Amazon, or anything else like that, just head over to indie film, hustle.com Ford slash Amazon, and we get a small commission off anything you buy, and you guys get charged nothing for it, by the way, nothing, it's just a way for you to help support the show. So I really, really would help I really would be just completely grateful that if you guys are buying anything anytime in the year, but of course now because of the holidays, and Black Friday and all that kind of good stuff. Just head over to indie film, hustle, calm Ford slash Amazon book market. And anytime you're going to buy anything, buy it through that link, and it helps support us. So anything is liberalism, bar soap, or as big as a camera package. It really would help us out dramatically. So any film hustle.com for slash Amazon, I really, really greatly appreciate it. And of course, head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us a good review on iTunes. You have no idea how much that helps us to get the word out on what we're trying to do here at the indie film hustle podcast, guys, thank you again so much so so much. I got some really cool guests coming up in the coming weeks. So stay definitely stay tuned. And as always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 058: Tips on How Directors Should Work with a Colorist

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Working with a professional colorist can be intimating if you haven’t done it before. I’ve been a colorist for over 12 years and have spent my fair share of time in a color grading suite.

I decided to put together a few tips on how filmmakers and directors should work with a colorist. I also included a few videos to help you along with your post adventures.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So guys, today I wanted to talk about how to work with a colorist I've been a colorist now for I think about 12 years so I've colored a ton of features, music videos, TV commercials, promos, all that kind of stuff. So I have a little bit of experience working with other filmmakers in the in the color room so I wanted to kind of give you guys some tips on how to get the most out of those color sessions because those color sessions can be really expensive and if you don't know as a director and a producer or as a filmmaker in what to do when you're in a color session you can kind of waste a lot of money so I have a handful of tips that I wanted to talk to you guys about first So first and foremost you've got to have a vision you have to have an understanding of what you want to do in the color suite and what color will do in the storytelling process whether that be a music video commercial but for this podcast we're gonna focus on independent film and long form feature films and short films as well narrative so what I mean is like under like do your research so if you're going to if you're going to go in to a color session with a short film on action short film and you have no reference point you have no ideas about what you want to do and you go you know, but we're going to call the guy bud bud he's the colors but the colors you know can you come up with some cool stuff and then this whole creation and searching for the look comes into play and there is a part of that in the color session without question but if you can fast forward through that process to walk in and go you know what I really loved the matrix and that was kind of the Bible I wanted to go with this like these kind of those kind of dark hues, the greens the green hues through everything and then sometimes you'll be able to do and sometimes you won't and I'll talk about that in a second but but at least have some point a point of reference like you know what man I love Michael Bay movies I want the really crunched down blacks meaning like really contrast II and really bright colors and blow out the highlights and that's kind of what the Bible won on this or you know you want to go down a more dramatic point and you know, I really love Birdman, I really want to go down that route or, or I loved whiplash and love the way that looked or you know any you know, Carol, I love the way Carol looked or any of these other movies, I'm just throwing movies out that recently just seen. But you have to have a reference point and preferably multiple reference points, so you don't just get one so you have multiple movies that are in the same world and the colors can get an idea of NAGPRA that, ideally, what would have happened is you would have sent stills to the colors prior to your session. So you've either got you've captured stills off the movie, so they can kind of have it or you can have those stills with you when you come into the session. but preferably you did it beforehand. So he has he or she has an idea of what you want prior to getting in the room. Or you just send them the the movie titles like I want the matrix I want shusha I want this to be a mixture of Shawshank Blade Runner, the matrix and Dumb and Dumber. See it that's not gonna work real well. But there's so many different things going on there. But if you give him a bunch of like, I want it to look like the rock Armageddon, and bad boys, you know, and those are the three movies that are all in the same world, all the same kind of palette, and they hit the colors would then understand where to start the point from now. Next tip is when you ask for these things, and you have that vision, you have to understand that there are limitations of what the colors can do. So when you say I want a movie to look like the matrix, well the matrix had a tremendous amount of design involved. All the costumes were designed around this color palette, all the production design was designed around the color palette, and then the deep he was shooting for this color palette as well as the color is towards the end. Now if you didn't do all those other things in the front in production, you can't expect the colors to automatically turn your movie into the matrix now A lot of plugins out there and a lot of little packages and stuff like that, that gave you the matrix look. And that's all fine and dandy, but there's a reason why those things never looked as good as the matrix because they had this plan. So as a filmmaker, you should have color planned out while you're shooting, you should be thinking about color, the costumes, the design of the of the environments, whether that be an apartment, whether that be cars, whether it be whatever, think about color, think about the emotion of color, and what that's going to be doing to your characters. Throughout the piece, you know, someone wearing red is going to have a very different. So if you have a beautiful young lady walking down the street wearing a bright red tight outfit, as opposed to a purple one, or a yellow one, or a green one, same dress, different colors, that gives you an emotion, a different emotional trigger. So you have to understand the different concepts of color. And we won't go into color theory in this episode. But that's something I encourage all you guys to go out and study is color theory and what each color represents emotionally for your, for your characters and for your environment. So guys, you know, the colors is not a miracle worker. In that sense, as far as creating looks are concerned, they're going to do their darndest. But sometimes those lots are not achievable because you are not able to give him the I always use the term terminology meet. If you give me the meat, I'll cook it right. But if you don't give me the right meat, it's very difficult to cook a good meal. So that's similar, the similar, similar idea. So another tip guys is to understand what the colors is there to do, the colorist is there to change and balance and create looks in your film in your negative or in your raw file. So the colors is there to balance everything out. Because it's it's nearly impossible to do everything in camera to balance it out, especially digitally nowadays. Even in the olden days with film, they still could not make everything perfect, they did do some sort of coloring in the lab prior to di or digital intermediate coloring what we know today as digital color grading so so he's there to really balance things out. Sometimes the darks, you know in one shot are going to be off the other ones because didn't have enough light or just couldn't make it match that day. He's there to match each shot in the sequence. And then overall look of the entire movie so and make the actors look amazing. And what you can do in a color sweep today is remarkable. I'm going to talk a little bit about the technology a little bit later in the episode. But that's another thing just understand what he's there to do. He's not there to create magic, and you know, do things like that he's there to not only balance things out, sometimes he's there to save your butt. Because a lot of times the DP or just just production issues do not allow not allow enough light in the day enough budget to get lights in or the sun went down and was going down while you're shooting it and then the color temperatures changing while in the middle of the shot. It's his or her job to balance all that out and sometimes pull light and do digital cinematography while they're in the color suite with things called power windows which I'll get to but they can actually go in and bring out light and dark and other areas off or you know, pull out a an extension cord or Stinger that was there that you didn't really want it to be there things like that. So there's so many different things that a colorist can do but understand that that's his role. Okay, next, take breaks, sometimes you're in a room and you just sit there for three hours, four hours, just pounding on this one shot and guess what your eyes will blur out your eyes will start not being able to see the differences between different colors and so on so I always suggest every hour or so to get up for five minutes walk outside get your just don't look at the shot. Refresh your eye refresh your refresh yourself and refresh your eye. Come back and clean watch it again and move forward don't beat up the colorist you know nitpicking here and there when you know I always tell I always tell my clients Mike look, before we start going in really nitpicking each shot. If you have a lot of money and you want to just keep spending money all day fantastic. We'll sit here for the next two months. But if you have a budget and you have a certain amount of time you have to deal with get one pass of the entire movie done and then go back and handle the big things that need to be fixed. And then go back if you have time and pick up the little knick knack things here and there like well I really wish that that light glowed a little bit more her skin dropped, you know it was a little softer here or there. And I would be focusing on that then. So don't try to do everything to perfection as you go forward. Again, this is on budget. If you have a budget or package are limited amount of time you have and most office independent filmmakers will have that you have to really kind of look at the global or the broad broad view of what you're trying to achieve. So don't get stuck on the little minutia. Make sure you get the whole movie done at least once where everything is balanced. And then you can go back and tweak and have fun and really make things look as perfect as you can for the time and budget that you have. Another huge thing you have to keep an eye on is understanding basic technology understand the basic tech involved with color grading, you don't need to be a colorist yourself, you just have to understand the basic terms and understand the basic tools of what color grading is. So you have to understand what contrast is you have to understand what luminance is. But the big thing you have to understand how to power windows, our power windows are so powerful, and they can save your butt and make your movie look amazing. So understand the basic text so you can you can talk to your colorist at least at his level to a certain extent you're not expected to know everything that's if you did, you would be doing it yourself. But you hire colorist because you Hey, they're bringing their talent, their experience and so on to the project but just understand the basic technology are running on it generally all the color suites are going to either be a baselight suite, or more likely a da Vinci suite Da Vinci is the industry standard and where most of colors most colors which are Da Vinci at this point. Understanding the basic terminology basic technology of color grading will not only save you time but a lot of cash because you'll be able to move that much quicker alright guys and finally guys understand that the colorist a new as a filmmaker, this is a creative partnership, you guys are creating the look together. So if you go in it that way you're gonna get a lot more from your colorist. If you go in and going, I just want this this this and screw your ideas, you're a monkey push those buttons. That's the same if you did that with an editor and you did that with any technical or any artistic position in this. In this process, you wouldn't make it very far as a director. honestly just understand that this is a creative partnership that you are working together to come up with a look to come up with this beautiful image to make your movie better and hopefully have more production value and at the end make your movie look so amazing that you can sell it and the audiences love it. And if you don't color grade your movie your fool you have to call a grade your movie today there's no if ands or buts about it Don't try to do it yourself. Unless you're a professional color grader it's really really an art form. I've been doing it for many years I did my first movie by myself this is before the technology was so affordable and before there was colors around the corner nowadays I would definitely use a professional colors because you're going to save a ton of time and cash Alright guys, so I hope this episode helped you guys understand a little bit more about how to work with a with a colorist and make sure movies look remarkable and amazing. So thanks guys again for listening. If you want to get the Show Notes for this episode, head over to indie film hustle comm forward slash zero 58 and as always, head to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a review for the show. It really helps the show out a lot. Keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive, and I'll talk to you soon.

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