Post Production

Editing begins with sorting through the available material and doing the following:

  1. Selecting the required shots
  2. Deciding on the order and duration of each shot
  3. Deciding on the cutting point (when one shot is to end and the next to begin)
  4. Deciding on the type of transition between shots 5. Creating good continuity Let’s look at these points in more detail.

The moment chosen for a cut can affect how smoothly one shot leads to another. If the fi rst shows a man walking up to a door to open it, and the second shot as a close-up of him grasping the handle, the editor usually has to make sure of the following:

■ There is no missing time (his arm hasn’t moved yet, but his hand is on the handle in the close-up)

■ No time has been duplicated (his hand takes hold of the handle in the first shot then reaches out and grasps it again in the close-up)

■ There is no overextended time (his hand takes the handle in the fi rst shot and holds it, and is still seen holding it waiting to turn it in the second shot)

SPECIAL EFFECTS Most nonlinear edit systems include a number of special effects that can be used to enhance the project. However, directors must be careful to use them appropriately. Overuse of special effects is the sign of an amateur production. Here is a brief list of typical effects: Freeze frame. Stopping movement in the picture and holding a still frame. Strobe. Displaying the action as a series of still images fl ashed onto the screen at a variable rate.

Reverse action. Running the action in reverse. Fast or slow motion. Running the action at a faster or slower speed than normal.

Picture in picture. Inserting a miniature picture into the main shot. Mosaic. Reducing the picture to a pattern of small single-colored squares of adjustable size.

Posterizing. Reducing tonal gradation to a few coarse steps. Mirror. Flipping the picture from left to right or providing a symmetrical split screen.

Time lapse. Shooting still frames at regular intervals. When played back at normal speed, the effect is of greatly speeded-up motion.


■ Cut. The cut or take is the most common, general-purpose transition. It is an instantaneous switch from one shot to another. This powerful dynamic transition is easiest to make.

■ Dissolve or a superimposition. An effect produced by fading out one picture while fading in another. It is a quiet, restful transition. A quick dissolve tends to imply that the action in the two scenes is happening at the same time. A slow dissolve suggests the passing of time or different location. If a dissolve is stopped halfway, the result is a superimposition.

■ Wipe. The wipe is a novel transition that can have many different shapes. While it is occasionally effective, it can be easily overused and quickly become the sign of an amateur.

■ Fade. A fade is a gradual change (dissolve) between black and a video image. For example, at the end of a program there is usually a “fade to black,” or if there is a “fade up” it means that the director is transitioning from black to a video image. A slow fade suggests the peaceful end of action. A fast fade is rather like a “gentle cut,” used to conclude a scene.

■ Include cover shots (long shots) of action wherever possible to show the overall view of the action.

■ Always leave several seconds of run-in and run-out at the start and fi nish of each shot. Do not begin recording just as the action is beginning or the talent is about to speak, and do not stop immediately action/speech fi nishes. Spare footage at the beginning and end of each shot will allow more fl exible editing.

■ Include potential cutaway shots that can be used to cover edits when any sequence is shortened or lengthened. This could include crowd shots, longs shots, and people walking by.

■ Avoid reverse-angle shots unless you need them for a specifi c reason (such as slow-motion shots of a sports event). If it is unavoidable (such as when crossing the road to shoot a parade from the other side), include head-on (frontal) shots of the same action. These shots can work as transitional shots.

■ Keep “cute shots” to a minimum, unless they can really be integrated into the program. These include subjects such as refl ections, silhouettes against the sunset, animals or children at play, and footsteps in the sand. They take up valuable time and may have minimal use. However, there are times when beauty shots have their place, such as an establishing shot.

■ Remember that a dissolve, slow-motion, wipe, or digital video effect (DVE) usually indicates a change in location or time.

■ Try to anticipate continuity. If only a few shots were taken in daylight and the rest were taken at night, it may not be practical to edit them together to provide a continuous sequence.

■ Where there is going to be commentary over the video (voiceover), allow for this in the length and pace of takes. For example, avoid inappropriately choppy editing that results from shots being too brief. (Editors sometimes have to slow-motion or still-frame a very short shot to make it usable.)

■ Plan to include long shots and close-up shots of action to provide additional editing options. For example, where the action shows people crossing a bridge, a variety of angles can make a mundane subject visually interesting: a long shot (in which the subject is walking away from camera toward bridge), a medium shot (the subject is walking on the bridge, looking over), a very long shot (the camera is shooting up at the bridge from the river below), a long shot (the subject is walking from the bridge to the camera on the far side), and so on.

■ Remember that environmental noises can provide valuable bridging sound between shots when editing. They can be recorded as a wild track (nonsync sound).

■ Where possible, include features in shots that will provide the audience with the context of the event. This helps viewers to identify the specifi c location (landmarks, street names). Too often, the walls and bushes behind closer shots could be anywhere.

■ Wherever possible, use an identifying board or slate at the start of each shot. Otherwise, the talent or camera operator can state the shot number so that the editor knows where it goes in the fi nal production.

■ Always check what is happening in the background behind the talent or subject. Distractions, such as people waving, trash cans, and signs, can take the audience’s attention away from the main subject. When shooting multiple takes of a scene, watch for significant changes in the background that will make it diffi cult to edit the takes together.

■ Remember that edits should be motivated. There should be a reason for the edit.