While years of movies and "behind-the-scenes" promo pieces have given a lot of folks an idea of what it's like to be on a film or video set, the post-production phase can sometimes feel a bit opaque.
In order to help prepare your team for what goes into the post-production process, let's take a look at the steps for editing an "organization overview" video.
This type of video is usually comprised of different segments of interviews with employees from the organization edited together with supporting "action" footage or b-roll.
The following is a high-level view of a process we have found a lot of success with:
Choosing "Selects" from Interview Transcripts
Once the interviews have been captured on video, transcripts are created from each interview via an AI transcription service. We then share the transcripts with our client who review them and choose sections, or "Selects," that they want in the video.
We ask them to break up their selects into pieces that are "Need to Haves", "Nice-To-Haves", and sections that they do not want in the video.
Though we offer suggestions, advice, and general editorial direction, we suggest to the client that they bear in mind the total running time of the video when choosing their Selects. Often the interviews have so many great "soundbites" in them that it can be hard to narrow down options that the video can accommodate.
Script Creation & Assembly Edit
Once we receive the Selects from the client, we create a narrative or script from the different quote selects that aligns with the messaging and goals of the video. Once that script is approved, we edit together the video version of the interview soundbites and put them on an online review platform called "Frame.io". This platform allows our clients to view, "mark up," and add comments with edit requests directly within the viewing window of the video. Clients can also choose to make a list of the timecode starting and end points of the sections they'd like to keep, remove, or adjust.
Of note, the Assembly edit stage is basically a video version of the transcript selects, also known as a "stringout." Choosing different angles of the interview, placing in b-roll, massaging cuts/transitions, adding in motion graphics, doing color correction, and inserting lower thirds happen at later stages down the line.
This phase allows us to see how the collection of interviews "feels," flows together as a story, and potentially lands with a viewer/listener across beyond what a transcript can reveal.
Once the script is locked, our editor then begins to add b-roll footage to correlate with the audio (bearing in mind our video's total running time as well as story structure). Once we marry the additional visuals with the interview soundbites, we repost this version of the video, the "Rough Cut" to Frame.io for another round of client review.
When the client provides their notes on the Rough Cut, we then incorporate those notes and move on to the Fine Cut. From here, we should know exactly what interview sections we want in the video and how they unfold story-wise.
During the Fine Cut stage, we choose best camera angles for each part of the interview (we usually capture interviews with 2-3 cameras if possible,) we fine tune cuts and other transitions, and layer in b-roll (action shots).
Since we have the interview sections locked (from a general content perspective), transitions smoothed out, and b-roll layered into the video, we should be close to a completed video.
At this stage, clients may want to swap out or add/subtract different b-roll footage, or a interviewee comment here or there, but other than that, there shouldn't be much more to edit footage-wise.
After tweaks are made, the video will be in the Final Cut stage, or sometimes called "Picture Lock." That is, at this point the video footage is set and only sound design, color correction, and motion graphics are left to take care of.
Motion graphics usually include animated "logo bumpers" placed at the beginning and end of the video, "lower thirds" names and titles, and perhaps other informational graphics.
Our artists design the motion graphics early on in the process using the client's branding guidelines as a North Star. Any changes or notes are ironed out and approved by the time these assets are inserted into the video.
Color Correction & Sound Design
Color correction is the process of digitally adjusting the look of the various video footage in the video so that it matches and/or creates the desired creative effect. Video footage shot on different days, by different people, and under different lighting conditions can vary visually, which is where an editor's sound eye for creating uniformity visually is key.
Sound design is similar to color correction, but instead of video, this phase smooths out and "EQ's" all the audio within the piece. Once picture lock has been achieved, the various narration, music, sound effects, and beyond are adjusted to the industry-standard levels.
Your video production team can help you determine the best format, file size, resolution, and other delivery "specs" needed. Though we're listing this last here, a conversation/decision on the specs of the video should happen during the pre-production phase. Questions such as if the video is meant for "broadcast" (on TV), projection, online, for your website, a video hosting service, and so on, determine the specs needed for each particular project.
Do You Want the "Raw Footage"?
Often we are asked to provide the raw footage of the video or still photographs that we capture. There are a couple items to consider with this:
- Because we use professional cameras, the size of the video files make it so that handing off the footage using a physical drive is necessary to accommodate the file sizes. Uploading to a cloud-based storage system is not generally an option due to the time needed to transfer so many gigabytes of information.
- We've also found that when folks request the raw footage straight from the camera, they often expect it to be made up of files that consumer-level editing software can read, when often it's not (based upon the file types that our cameras use).
- Beyond that, even if the files can be read by a consumer-level editing system, often the files are in "codecs" that may be hard for your computer's system to process easily.
- Another consideration is that the raw footage is often shot "flat", with no color correction or adjustment to it. This allows us to adjust color more easily during the post-production process. But upon viewing actual raw footage, folks are often surprised by how dull the color of the untouched footage looks.
- Generally speaking, what most of our clients want is the raw footage from the cameras processed by our team to be in smaller, more manageable files sizes and given a first pass of color correction.
- While the process is a little different when it comes to photography, the challenges and the general steps to address those challenges are the same as for video (as described above.)
If you have any questions, additions, or comments that you'd like to share, or if you are interested in talking about video for your organization, please let us know!