Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Finishing your video with color correction, graphics, and sound, part of Getting Started with Video Production and Editing.
- The process of editing allows you to craft a compelling and coherent story, and it's the most important part of post-production, but your project really isn't finished until you've spent time color-correcting your footage, adding graphics and overlays, and music and sound effects. No matter what level of video production you're creating, the video that is shot during the production phase will need adjustment to make it look its best. In fact, in high-end productions like a feature film or commercial, the images that a cinematographer captures are shot with the idea that they will be heavily color-corrected in post. This is commonly referred to as shooting flat.
A flat video image is one whose black levels have been lifted up, and white levels have been lowered. This preserves information in the darkest and lightest parts of the image, so that a colorist can make the most of the image in post. In this example, look at how washed out the image feels. It's not a mistake, this is a flat image. Using effects in a video editing package like Adobe Premiere makes it possible to push down the blacks and lift the highlights for more contrast. You can also add more color by raising the saturation. You can even shift the color in a new direction to add a layer of emotion to a scene.
Even if you're working with video that was shot normally, you're still going to encounter problems and inconsistencies with the images. Overexposed, underexposed, incorrect color balance, these are the kinds of issues that can be fixed with color correction. When your image is looking its best, you'll be ready for graphics and effects. Depending on the type of project you're working on, these graphics could be a lower third calling out important people or places, or full screen graphics that detail crucial concepts or support ideas and arguments. These graphics could be still, or motion graphics that have full animation.
The most important part of the graphics process though, is that they match the style of your message. If you're creating a short documentary piece about an artist and glass-blower, you would not use the same graphic elements you'd see in a high-energy sports commercial. There are tools for adding graphics built into every video editing package, but at the professional level it's common to see applications like Adobe Photoshop and After Effects used to create graphics for video projects. Although these tools are very deep, there are simple and effective ways to incorporate their advantages into your work. Once your graphics are in place, you can focus on your audio.
To quote our author, Anthony Artis, "Audio is the most important part of the production." People will forgive poor video quality as long as they can hear what's going on. The process for creating good audio for a video project starts when you're shooting, but the audio post-production process can make or break the audio that you start with. When you're editing video, you'll be editing the audio that's married to those shots. But that audio editing is usually very rough until this last phase of post-production. You'll start by cleaning up your dialogue and voiceover editing, listening for pops and dead spots, or big shifts in intensity or volume.
Then you can fix noisy audio using filters in your editing application. Video NLEs have a host of audio tools built in but sometimes you'll need the power of a dedicated audio editor, like Adobe's Audition or Avid's Pro Tools. These packages are designed from the ground up for serious audio workflows. Your audio needs will vary from project to project, and making sure you're using the right tools at the right time will make your post-production process as smooth as possible. Audio, post-production and graphics add a finishing touch that ties your project together and will make your production stand out with your audience.