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The production stage of a project starts and ends on site, concluding at the point at which you’ve taken your photos or finished shooting the raw footage; after which, the post processing, also known as post production, begins.
Post processing is a highly subjective and varied part of your overall workflow and the exact methods and techniques that you employ will depend on the type of project and how you envisage the finished piece turning out.
There are many photographers and videographers who do an awful lot of post processing and it becomes not only a central focus of their work but also helps to define their style and content. Other creatives prefer to do much less in post processing and try to create more authentic, true to life and simple compositions. Neither approach is right or wrong and you can mix and match for different projects.
Post Processing is Vital In All Cases.
No matter what medium you are working in you are bound to need to do some post processing. It is absolutely essential in videography in which editing the footage of a shoot is required to pull together a unified piece; and in photography, at the very least, you will need to transfer your work into a format that can be delivered or printed for your clients.
Technology has Brought New Opportunities.
In the early days of photography and film post processing, or post production, was extremely expensive and required a highly refined skill set to complete. As a photographer you needed to have access to a physical dark room and to modify the images you had to use a dizzying array of chemicals and complicated alchemical processes; and it was equally, if not more, difficult to process film footage!
All these restrictions and cost barriers have since been removed with the advent of digital cameras and relatively low cost, or even free, software that can do everything you need to on a computer. These incredible advances have led to an explosion of creativity and new techniques moving from the avant garde to the mainstream as well as allowing freelancing creators to thrive by running small photography and videography businesses for a huge range of clients.
What Exactly Is Post Processing?
As we mentioned, the post processing phase of a project involves everything that takes place following a shoot and although it varies immensely it always includes some or all of the following basic procedures:
- Importing and backing up your image or video files.
- Sorting and ordering the files; select the best ones to use and discard the ones which didn’t work out the way you envisioned.
- Correcting exposure issues such as color, brightness and contrast.
- Making changes to the hues, saturation and tones of the colors.
- Balancing light levels.
- Fixing details such as making sure the horizons are straight, removing spots of dust and blemishes.
- Cropping the images – to make them smaller or a different shape.
- Resizing the dimensions of the images or footage.
- Artistic editing to meet the specific needs of your project or client including stylistic adjustments and modifications. This includes any software effects such as noise, blur or sepia to name just a few.
- Optimizing the file itself to reduce storage space or deleting unwanted data.
- Ordering and preparing the photos or footage for export once the editing is complete. The work is now ready to share online, print or deliver to your clients.
What are the differences between post processing in Photography vs Videography?
There will always be significant differences between the post processing procedures of videography and photography due to the nature of the artforms themselves; although there are commonalities that they share.
Both types of post processing require artistic and practical enhancement of the images to better portray the meaning of the work itself. This can involve working with white balance, the lighting and color correction among other things.
However, there are major differences between the two as well. Video requires sound work, cuts between scenes and the creation of a consistent narrative; all of which need specific skill sets to handle in a professional way.
There are great pieces of software that you can use but as the creator you’re going to need to work on a diverse range of skills, techniques and methods to get the results you envisage in both fields. Many of these aspects overlap significantly but the diverging areas of the practices, respectively, will require attention when you are starting out.
The two disciplines are always going to be separate and when you’re working with software you generally want to use a specialized one.
Useful Tips For Videography Post Processing.
There’s no doubt that the post processing of video footage is more involved, requires more memory space and often higher specs on your computer. If you’re new to the process it can be pretty daunting and you may not know where to start, however, these top tips will help you to get stuck in and create fantastic footage that can stand up against the very best content out there!
- Make sure the narrative works! Always try to tell a story in your video work, even if it’s a very simple one. For more complex work you can take a deep dive into some of the theory and academic works on narrative and its structure. One of the best authors to explore the field of storytelling is Joseph Campbell but there is also an easy to follow work by Neal Soloponte, The Ultimate Hero’s Journey, which will give you everything you could ever need to know on the topic.
- Include as many details as you can within your video content. For instance, if you’re recording an instructional cooking video then be sure to cut in close ups of the food cooking and being prepared at important stages of the recipe. This will help your viewers follow the action, improve their retention of the recipe and keep them engaged with the video.
- Be ruthless in your editing. People’s attention spans are short and getting shorter, so don’t leave long stretches of footage when nothing is happening. Keep your drone shots short and to the point and try to make sure the plot and narrative never slows down too much. This is especially true for online content where the most popular videos are usually just 5 minutes or less! In brief, as difficult as it can, cut out everything except what is absolutely essential!
- It’s not just the overall length of your content that matters because you also want to keep the clips that you edit together pretty short too. A good rough guide to work with is about 3-5 seconds per clip. This will help you to deliver the information and visuals in a fast and snappy way which will hold the attention of your audience. Exceptions to this rule are when you are setting a scene or building tension in some genres; but for professional freelancing work you normally want to aim for faster transitions between clips.
- Varying your shots and style of cuts will give your work a fresh and vibrant feel. Experiment with the whole range of editing cuts to increase your arsenal of options in post processing.
- Incorporate music in your videography when it fits the narrative or would add to the message of the footage. Be careful to check the copyright status of the music although you can obtain huge amounts of royalty free music online. When you are selecting the music for your footage don’t choose what you personally like and go for something that will resonate with people in general.
Post Processing is at the Heart of Professional Photography and Videography.
The immense possibilities that have opened up with the development of low cost, and even free, software that can be used on a basic computer at home means that the glass ceiling has been shattered and the barriers to entry in professional photography and videography have all but disappeared.
Aside from the emergence of affordable digital cameras this is one of the most exciting developments in the field and fully embracing the possibilities it offers will help you to grow your business and improve your output as a creator.
Do you do your own video post-processing or outsource it?
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