Wizardry at its Best: A nuanced analysis of the sprawling cosmos of post-production: where the magic really happens (Part 1)

Editing, Morgan Swift, Final cut pro, Adobe Premier Pro, Roongta, Animation, Audio editing, Post-production, Anant Roongta, Famous Studios, Production, Mac Pro Cylinders, Munro Acoustics, Jack Foley, Visual effects, Colourists, Lighting conditions, Ben Turner, Motion capture, P V Sindhu

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One might think of it as an incantation or a spell - which, when murmured - translates a movie scene into an ethereal visual, exuding vibrancy and a splurge of blended colours. The process of film production can be categorised into phases: development, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. Each phase is a requisite for the next. Production and post-production are generally the two most imperative stages, which determine the final look-and-feel of the film. Producing a film is one aspect, post-producing it – another.  A movie is almost always brought to life in a post-production room. Editing, VFX, animation, colour grading, audio editing, are some components of the post-production process.

“Because of funding and backing from global players, producers and content companies are producing content at will. Post-production houses are investing heavily in upgrading their facilities as per international standards to cater to the huge demand, especially in 4K HDR,” said Anant Roongta, MD, Famous Studios.
“Post-producers don’t have it easy. With an ever-increasing number of platforms for distribution and target languages to cater to, getting one’s content to the global market can be challenging to say the least. To top it all, given the current competitive landscape, producers are always under pressure to reduce costs and meet tight deadlines!” said Morgan Swift, director, Account Management, Prime Focus Technologies.

THE STAGES
Editing is like magic potion, which most great directors strongly bank on. While it is true that cinematography is key to getting stunning visuals, the viewer can’t enjoy it until the sequence of images isn’t comprehensible. A smooth edit should be invisible – achievable by retaining continuity by cutting on movement, sound and context. Colours can be skewed, goof-ups can be rectified, day-light can be turned into night-light, amongst many other damage-control activities usually required. The process of editing involves smoothing out audio, getting rid of film grain, maintaining the colour scheme and brightness of the scene consistent, cropping out extras in the frame, adding visual effects, animating wherever required, and most importantly – a good digital editing software!

“We offer five editing suites, using Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier Pro. All our systems run on highly specified Mac Pro Cylinders to provide a robust uninterrupted creative process for our clients,” added Roongta.

Another important aspect of post-production is audio post-production. Picture this: Rajnikanth looking down from atop a roof into the dark alleys of Chennai, whilst we hear the typical sounds of the city: cars whizzing by, sirens wailing in the distance, indistinguishable voices from the street. The sound score swells as he takes a plunge down the alley, exuding his much-loved superhuman flair. We hear his jacket snapping as it cuts through the air. Then comes the fight - the punches, grunts, thumps and slams, punctuated by blaring horns along with the background soundtrack. On the screen, this scene takes less than a minute. But behind the scenes, professional audio post-production engineers put in a great amount of effort to make sure that every dialogue, every gunshot, every swish of the fist, every rustle of leaves, every moment of the background score, and every other miniscule detail, is flawlessly blended to bring out impact and curate a cohesive cinematic experience. This is achievable by using appropriate sound effects and some sound editing. Audio editors are yet to get their due though - because without powerful sound, even the most enchanting scene in a movie falls flat. Audio post-production comprises of sound effects and editing, dialogue editing, synchronising the audio with the video, eliminating distortion and noise, ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement or Looping) for matching sync, music composition, and sound mixing for balancing all the elements into one final mix.

Famous Studios offers four sound studios, all designed by Munro Acoustics, equipped with the latest gear and software from Avid, Dynaudio Acoustics, Genelec, Neumann, Lexicon, Eventide, TC Electronic, Focusrite and Cedar to handle any and all audio needs - from recording to dubbing, orchestral scoring to Foley, sound design and mastering.

“Having been in the Creative Services business for two decades, we’ve all seen it before – post-coordinators getting burnt-out working late nights, often juggling multiple projects. Too many places to be, too many balls in the air, to the breaking point where they need a change. You can see it in their eyes. What adds to the stress is dealing with multiple vendors to get various kinds of post finishing work done — from colour grading to master QC to localisation,” added Swift.

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