How To Make A Movie With No - Budget: Post-production Aspects
An Analysis by Colored Glasses On Team
With regards to the previous articles that elaborated upon the pre-production and production aspects, this will elaborate upon the process of post-production. Editors use different software according to their sensibilities and feasibility. So it won’t be fair to exemplify the workflow of a particular tool or software. It is all about marrying aesthetics with technical abilities. Editing is like a wall where each shot acts like a brick. It involves a vast amount of experience to have a good understanding of the craft because it involves creating a seamless rhythm. But as a beginner one can develop some basic skills and incorporate them to create a good film.
A frame from Brian De Palma's Blow Out (1981), which depicts the importance of Film Editing.
The first element which comes before the edit starts is the available storage and creating backups. It is important to keep your footage in an organized manner and create enough backups. If one does not have enough storage then they have to wisely consider the codec in which the film is shot. Nowadays the digital cameras offer various compression ratios for shooting, in accordance, with the feasibility of the user. Decisions like the Codec, Aspect ratios, compression ratios, and shooting profile should be taken at the pre-production stage itself with the consent of the whole team. Notwithstanding, such choices should have an aesthetical base to them. For example, a wider aspect ratio like 2.35:1 will allot lesser screen space to the character and make them look more isolated. After the production stage is completed whilst considering the choices aforementioned the next step is sorting out the footage. The best way to do that is to sort the footage based on the characters and their shot size. Compile the close shots, mid shots, and long shots of the characters for each scene. This will help a lot in the final edit.
A frame from Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1988), this film covers all major movements in the History of Film.
Now, when it comes to editing there are several techniques one should keep in mind. There are two ways to shoot a scene the “Master shot technique” and the “Triple Take Technique”. Filmmakers use either or one of them based upon their style. In the first one, the complete action is recorded in a wide shot and later individual shots are taken of character emotions and specific activities. The latter one requires shooting the initial action in the scene and the action is repeated to allow a different camera angle and lighting setup but without the wide shot. This technique is used by directors like Guillermo del Toro. The editing style will differ based upon which technique is used while production. As Thelma Schoonmaker said,
“To receive footage that has been shot with editing in mind, is a blessing”.
A frame from Sergei Eisenstein's Strike (1925), known for its technique of overlapping editing.
Editing can be differentiated into two styles “Invisible” and “Visible” editing. In the first style, the whole experience of the audience is seamless such that they are not aware of the cuts in the film. In the other style, the editor makes his technique visible to specify some additional concepts. Their usage is dependent upon various aspects like the film genre, director’s style, mood, and tone of the film but most importantly on the editor’s style. This is not something that is decided beforehand but fluctuates along with the editing workflow. Majorly, a good edit includes both these styles of editing. Next thing is to understand different types of cut and montage. There are several basic Cuts like L-Cut, J-Cut, Match Cut, Dynamic Cut, cutting on action, inserts, Cutaways, and Jump cuts. J- cut and L-cut is related to audio transitions, in the former audio of the first shot carries over to the next shot and in the latter audio of the next shot seeps into the former before the image appears. Match Cut involves matching two different scenes via an underlying linkage.
A frame from Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), known for its Jump Cuts.
This could be camera movement, shapes, color, concept, time, and various other elements that could be used to link two different scenes. A famous example is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1988), Where a primate throws a bone in the sky and the next shot is a satellite gliding in space in a similar fashion. This is a match cut as well as a jump cut. Dynamic Cut is when the cut is consciously made noticeable to the viewer it is also used to convey information in a short period. Cutting on Action is used by the editor to cut from one shot to another from the previous shot’s action. The idea is to cut amid the movement. Inserts are close-up shots of the events that have occurred in the master shot to give it more emphasis. Cutaways are used to break the underlying rhythm of the scene to add a new piece of information. They are also used to harbor the scene from the lack of shots coverage during production. Jump cuts are used to indicate a jump in time, space, continuity, and concept. It was famously used by Mrinal Sen in his films and fused well with their political contexts and Brechtian narrative.
A frame from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, known for its exquisite production design and immaculate rhythm.
The other thing is a montage where a set of shots, scenes, and sequences are compiled to convey information in a short time. This was invented by Lev Kuleshov and furthered by Sergei Eisenstein who created the theory of montage. Based upon all these things the Editor can make a dynamic edit and an interesting view for the audience. Diane lane emphasizes
“A lot can change in the editing room”.
The next thing is visual effects which can be incorporated into the film but it is a costly affair for independent filmmakers because it requires a controlled studio setup. After the sound is synced (Dialogues and Foley sounds) and the edit is complete the final thing is the emplacement of the soundtrack after the picture is locked. In general, the editor usually has segments of the soundtrack to pace then edit accordingly. Color correction is the process of balancing the colors across different shots by adjusting the exposure, white balance, gamma levels, and RGB parade. Color grading is a creative prospect that requires stylizing the color after the color correction process is completed to give a particular look to the film.
A frame from Michael Powell The Red Shoes (1948), known for its beautiful use of colors.
The Colorist performs his task simultaneously of color correction and color grading the whole film. The colorist can choose various color schemes based upon the theme of the film like analogous, monochromatic, complementary, triadic, tetrad, split complementary, and square. These issues will be covered in detail in the upcoming articles on color correction and color grading. The thing to be learned is that these elements are affected by the choices made at the pre-production stage like the choice of equipment, production design, costume design, and use of visual effects. It is important to keep in mind that what happens in one stage of filming will affect the workflow throughout the whole project.