Category Archives: Post-Production

The All-Important Composer

Music can dictate the entire tone of a film and is instrumental convey the right emotion for your audience. It’s always a gratifying feeling when you’re in the editing bay and you add music after working with “music-less” sequences. When hiring a composer, the first thing you must determine is the tone and emotion of your film. Is it light-hearted, ominous, goofy, suspenseful, solemn, or joyful? It may be helpful to have a couple of comparable movies as examples. Once you determine this, the next thing you want to consider is what instrumentation you want to use. Which types of instruments will do the best job in conveying your tone? Is it an orchestra, electronic keyboard, acoustic guitar, acoustic piano? If you are not sure, then have your candidates provide examples. These days, with the advancement in technology, composers should be able to provide a diverse array of digitally generated instruments in a short period of time. With this in mind, feel free to give your candidates a clip of your project and have them provide examples based on what you have conveyed to them. Once you have chosen your composer makes sure you ALWAYS ask for mock-ups and demos during the composition process. Never wait until the last cut, and never be left in the dark during the composition process. This should be agreed upon before you hire them. If they are unwilling to provide demos or mock-ups, DO NOT hire them.

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What’s the difference between Special Effects & Visual Effects?

To put it simply, special effects are carried out on set during production, and visual effects are done in post-production. That isn’t to say that the visual effects team isn’t involved in production and the special effects team isn’t involved in post, but the creative decisions made by each team generally pertains to their respective phases in the film-making process.

Special effects can be broken down into two categories: optical, and mechanical. Optical effects are done by manipulating the camera and lighting which in turn will make your scene look different than what it looks like to the naked eye. This could involve working with camera lenses, types of lighting, or camera movements that give a certain look to the shot. The special effects supervisor is in charge of making the creative decisions and works directly with the director on set to achieve what he/she wants.

Mechanical effects involving working during a live-action shot and usually pertains to making things look/seem like something they aren’t. For example manipulating weather conditions like wind and snow is a huge part of mechanical effects. Pyrotechnics and working with scale models is another aspect of mechanical effects.

Visual effects has emerged as a paramount part of modern-day film making. You will rarely ever see a film without visual effects. This could be filling in a green screen,  creating computer generated imagery (CGI), 3D rendering or animation. The visual effects supervisor (not to be confused with the visual effects producer or coordinator) makes all the creative decisions and works directly with the director off and on set to make sure  he/she gets the visual image desired. The visual effects coordinator works for the visual effects supervisor in post-production, and the visual effects producer works like a line producer and manages the cost of the visual effects which can get outrageously high (sometimes over half of a film’s budget).

What is “Post-Production”

The industry likes to simply call it “post”. Editors hate it when someone during production says “just fix it in post”; in essence creating more work for the editor. Post includes all the process that happens after the footage has been captured. In other words, the cameras have been put away and now we put the footage, and sound together into a meaningful motion picture. Initially when you think of post you think film editing and this, of course, is a huge part of post-production. A the entire story can be told in many different ways depending on how it is edited, and that’s why your editor is one of the 5 most crucial people you hire for a film. In addition to film editing, there is also sound-editing, which include sound effects, ADR, foley, and music. Post-production can also involve visual effects if your film requires it.

What is SOUND in a film?

Sound is one of the most important elements of a film. This is what usually distinguishes the amateurs from the professionals. It is truly a skill and an art-form to capture and produce great quality sound in motion picture. When it comes to film making, there are five kinds of sounds.

1)    Background/Ambiance

2)    Effects

3)    Dialogue/ADR

4)    Music (score and source)

5)    Foley

What are “Wild Lines”

A wild line is dialogue that is recorded on location, but not at the same time as it’s complimentary footage. Some times when filming on location, certain dialogue or lines are not recorded properly for one reason or another (unexpected loud ambient noise). When the footage has been captured, a director might want to get wild lines so that they can be used to replace the poorly recorded sound in post-production.

What is “Foley”?

Foley is a performed in post-production. It is a process where a foley artist will artificially create sounds that are meant to be the source sounds on the screen. For example, a foley artist may bang coconut shells together to simulate the sound of a horse galloping, break a piece of celery to simulate a bone breaking. The foley artist will be on a special foley stage, and a sound engineer will record all the sounds that the artist is making while watching the film. The sound will then be incorporated into the film’s main soundtrack.