Post Production Overview

Overview of Basic Post Production Workflow

Below is an overview of a basic Post Production workflow.  In this guide we will address things to consider during each of these stages that impact Post Production.

Post Production Starts in Pre-Production

The camera dictates the look and flexibility of the footage in post for things like effects and color correction.

  • When you pick a camera you pick a codec, frame rate, raster dimensions and that determines the quality.
  • When considering what camera you want to use make sure to consider what are your deliverables will be.
  • Having Post Production involved as early as possible makes for less complications

 

Picking a Camera.  Picking a Codec.

When you pick a camera, you pick a codec and this means you’ve already set up certain parameters for your flexibility in Post Production.  Because you are recording onto a SD, CF or SxS card with a limited amount of space, camera manufacturers had to determine what information could be discarded to save space while still giving the user a good quality image.  The majority of cameras need to compress the information hitting the sensor in order to reduce file size.  What information is thrown out and what is retained is different for every camera.  To understand how your camera is compressing information you can see what codec you camera shoots.  Understanding some basic terminology can help you pick the right camera for your project.  

 

  • Codec: how a device compresses data
  • Chroma: Subsampling: how color is sampled per pixel per color channel and determines how color information is stored

  • Bit Depth: Camera sensors’ ability to capture differences in Chroma and Luma values

                 

Backing up Media

  • Never change the folder structure of the card.  Copy/Paste the entire contents of the card onto your hard drive in a folder with a unique name.  
  • Never change any file names at the Finder level.  
  • Always backup media to two separate drives.  


Organization

  • Always make sure to keep your naming conventions consistent.  
  • Moving around folders or changing names of files can impact your Post workflow

      

 

Keeping your files names consistent between your hard drive and your project helps make it easier to identify where all your media is and can help with troubleshooting potential problems in Post.   

Editing Natively vs Transcoding

Another way camera manufacturer's save space is by encoding the signal in groups of pictures, interframe compression, rather than encoding every frame individually, intraframe compression.

 

  • Interframe is typically the native codec, smaller file size
  • Intraframe - bigger file, not so processor heavy

 

While it is possible to work in your camera’s native codec, to ensure consistent playback we recommend transcoding your footage from an interframe codec to an intraframe codec.  This helps ensure reliable playback and if shooting with multiple cameras keeps your editing codec consistent.  

  • Editing Natively/Linking to AMA: working with the original codec, usually an interframe codec
  • Transcoding: converting your file from an interframe codec to an intraframe codec.  This increases the size of your file.  

Project/Sequence Settings

  • Project/Sequence Settings should be consistent with your frame rate and aspect ratio.
  • Ideally all your footage is the same frame rate and aspect ratio
  • Terminology can be tricky.  24p, 24pn, 23.98 can all mean different things and will impact your project and timeline settings.  Make sure you check the manual of your camera to ensure you understand what your actual frame rate is.  

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Exporting

It’s always useful to have multiple exports for different venues.  You can make one high quality master file using an intraframe codec and then use this to make all your subsequent deliverables.   

  • Master File: Typically Intraframe codec (ProRes).  You can make all other files from this Master.
  • Web: Using compressed as an H264 and can have multiple sizes (500mb, 1gb, 5gb)
  • DVD/BluRay: Usually encoded as a special flavor of H264.  You need to use a DVD/BluRay preset or encode in the software you will use to burn the disk
  • Theatrical: DCP can be made from the Master file