Part 2: From Reshoots to Delivery
Reshoots/Additional Photography: 2-3 weeks
Reshoots/Additional Photography are a great thing, and you should always try to account for this in your budget. You can either budget for it separately, or you can make it a point to save as much contingency as possible and reallocate your contingency saved towards reshoots or additional photography. All else being equal, given the chance to go back and enhance your film with additional photography will always make a better film.
You should plan at least 1.5-2.5 weeks to prep for reshoots, with 1 or 2 days of production. During this 2-3 week period, there is not much for your editor to do. It might be a good time for your editor to step away from the project, or the project might benefit from working towards a “Fine Cut”. Either way, the minute reshoots are complete your editor should immediately start implementing the reshoots/additional photography scenes into the cut.
Reshoots/Additional Photography Cut: 1 Week
This is the time to implement any scenes from your reshoots. Make sure the editor is given this time to work on the reshoot scenes exclusively. Remember that these scenes need to be as refined as other scenes that have had 7-10 weeks of work done.
Fine Cut: 1 Week
Last looks!! After your reshoots/additional photography scenes have been implemented, have one last screening amongst the team, spend the weekend watching it again, put together everyone’s last set of notes, and spend a week refining the cut. By the end of this week you’ll finally Picture Lock.
Turnover Picture Lock
Now it’s time to hand over to Color, VFX, Sound & Music! This is where things can start to get a little crazy, because suddenly the film is in the hands of multiple different departments all working on different aspects of it at once! Color and Sound Edit can be going on at the same time, while VFX shots need to be done before Color can finish, and the Music needs to be ready before the Sound Mix can start. By the end of it all, you need to bring all the elements back into one place to create a DCP of your finished product: your final cut.
Color & Visual Effects
Color / Digital Intermediate: 1-3 weeks
Your editor will turnover the picture lock to the colorist. A conversation needs to be had between the colorist and editor with the producer (or post production supervisor) to make sure that the turnover is done properly. Chances are the editor has been cutting using lower res (offline) files, and what the colorist will need is the high res (online) files. If you’ve ever heard the term “Online Conform”, this is what they’re referring to – process of going from the “offline” edit to an “online” sequence. Make sure you have an explicit conversation about this, and make sure you understand what the budgetary implications of each workflow will be.
Visual Effects: ?? weeks
It’s impossible to say how many weeks VFX will take, as it depends so much on how much VFX your film requires. If you’ve done your homework, you will already have gotten a bid from a VFX house before you started production, and a VFX Supervisor was with you on set during the shooting of the VFX sequences. During that time you should have a conversation with your VFX team to find out how long they estimate it will take. Make sure you give them the footage in time so that you’re not waiting on VFX later on. Remember that the colorist can’t finish the work until all VFX shots are complete and have been delivered.
Your editor can turnover the Visual Effects shots to the VFX team directly, before you turnover everything to the colorist. Alternatively, your colorist might want to handle the turnover, as he/she will be the one ultimately receiving the final files. The best thing is to just have that conversation with your colorist before anything is turned over to decide on the best workflow possible. If you have a good colorist, you should follow his/her advice.
Music Score & Music Rights
Music Score: 6-8 weeks
By the time you have a picture lock, you should already have a composer. In fact, the earlier you have your composer the better. Even if the cut isn’t locked yet, the composer can still get to work on creating the themes and motifs for each character. Creating original score isn’t easy, and it takes time. Lots of trial and error to find that perfect melody. So make sure you give the composer as much time as possible! Six weeks is tight, but doable, if you can bring them on sooner, do that!
Music Rights: 6-8 weeks
Music Rights presents a whole other issue, which is that you often don’t have control over how long it takes. While scoring the film takes time due to the workload, Music Rights on the other hand take time because you’re constantly waiting on publishers and rights holders to respond to your requests. Especially when you have very little money to offer, publishers are very slow to respond. It might also take you some time to figure out exactly who owns which rights to what songs, and how to contact each party. This is where Music Supervisors can be a huge asset, and can get the answers you need much faster. Still, this process takes time, so if you know you want a particular song licensed for the film, my advice is that you go after it as early as possible.
Sound Edit & Mix
Sound Edit: 3-5 weeks
The Sound Edit consists of multiple aspects:
- Sound Design
- Dialog Editing
- Foley Creation & Editing
- Sound Effects Editing
- ADR Recording & Editing
- (in some cases a little bit of) Music Editing
All of this takes time, and the more time you have to work on this, the better. Usually the edit is limited to 3-5 weeks for budgetary purposes, but if you could afford more time, you’ll find it well worth it! The Sound Design of the film can truly make or break the film.
Sound Mix: 1-2 weeks
Once the Sound Edit is complete, it probably won’t sound like much until it’s mixed (or at least pre-mixed). This is really when it all comes together, and personally my favorite part of the entire post production process. This is when you sit in the mix stage (or someone’s garage), watch your film, and you start mixing all the different elements that Sound Editorial have put in for you. If they did a good job, you’ll have tons to work with here, and this is where you really start to find the sound of your film.
Main & End Titles
Simple Main & End Titles: 1 week
Ideally you could have these out of the way sooner, but unfortunately you can’t quite complete your titles until you know exactly who has completed all of the post production work on your film. A good way to go about this is to fill out your Main and End Titles on a Word or Excel file as early as possible, and just leave the last few post production titles for the end. That way, the moment you complete the work, you can fill in the last few credits and send these off to be created.
Your Main and End Titles can be done in a multitude of ways. They could be done by Motion Graphic Artists and Illustrators. They can be done by Animators as an animation sequence. Or they can be done very simply using text overlays in your editing software, or using a service like EndCrawl for your end titles. Once this is done, you’re pretty much ready to deliver! Presuming that you’re going with a pretty straight forward Main & End Titles, one week should be enough to get this done. If you’re planning on something a bit more extravagant, just like Visual Effects, the time it takes will entirely depend on how big you’re going. In that case, make sure you have a conversation with the team about how long it will take — and start early!
Presumably you’ve scheduled everything out in advance in a way that all of your different elements of post production have come together. You’ve completed your VFX, Main & End Titles, Color, Score, Music Rights, Sound Edit & Mix. Now it’s time to create your Quicktime & DCP. This will most likely be done back at your colorist. Talk to the colorist and include your editor in the conversation about making sure you get them everything they need (from Titles, VFX, Sound, etc.) DCPs are expensive, so you’ll want to make sure it gets done right! And once it’s complete, make sure you can have a QC (Quality Control) screening somewhere to test (and hopefully enjoy) your final cut!