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  • Collaboration

    Posted on November 26th, 2009 Mike No comments

    There seems to be a trend in recent years towards “do it yourself” post production, particularly on lower budgeted projects. The advent of ever cheaper technology – both on the camera side and on the post side – has helped to bring this about. And for many, the mere presence of these things has helped put them in a position to create projects that they could never have considered in years past. The development of high quality but relatively inexpensive cameras, exemplified by devices such as the Red One, the Sony EX1 and EX3, the Panasonic HVX200, and more recently the video enabled digital SLR’s from Canon (in particular the 5D and 7D models) allows individuals with talent and the right skills to create images that can rival those from much more expensive devices in many ways. And the lowering of the cost of entry for professional quality editing, compositing, and color correction systems allows those same people to finish their projects at a reasonable level of quality. Even sound editing and mixing can now be done on desktop computers with excellent results, given sensible room conditions. So the question isn’t can this be done, because obviously, it can. The question is should it be done?

    One of my favorite sayings is “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” This is especially true for post production. Film and television production has always been a collaborative medium, involving many specialists from writers, to producers, to directors, to shooting crew, to editors, to sound editors, to mixers, to color timers. The fact is that professional projects achieve the levels of quality that they do because of all of these talented individuals who participate in making them. Although the ultimate vision should be that of the director (at least in feature films), it is achieved by the old fashioned method of the whole being much more than the sum of its parts. During shooting, the director is usually being pulled in 20 different directions, although his or her primary focus should be (and in most cases is) on telling the story and helping to guide the actors’ performances. With rare exceptions (there are some), adding the responsibilities of, say, being the director of photography to the director’s plate only serves to dilute their focus and compromise either the photography, the performances, or both. Post production is similar in the sense that a skilled editor can aid the director’s storytelling though the application of their own skills. But perhaps more importantly, the editor can see the material through eyes that are not influenced by memories of production, good or bad. Sound editors and mixers will often see things that neither the director nor the picture editor ever really noticed, and can offer immense help in bringing the material to life. A skilled colorist can help the work of the director of photography to really shine, and in some cases, achieve more than was even thought possible during production. All of these people contribute in ways that aid the storytelling by bringing fresh eyes and ears to the end result, serving the original vision in ways that enhance the original material. Film and television production is about collaboration, and the unique magic that results from groups of talented individuals creating something no one individual can often accomplish. The availability of affordable technology doesn’t change this equation. It can, however, help each of those collaborators to achieve their best work. And that’s where the magic really comes from.

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