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Complete Post Production Guide For Creators (Audio & Video)

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Complete Post Production Guide For Creators (Audio & Video)

As a content creator, you know that editing is essential.

If you have a blog, you edit the rough draft of each post before publishing it. 

If you have a podcast, you can’t simply upload the raw audio files to your podcast host. Instead, you have to mix the audio, clip unnecessary segments, and insert things like sound effects and intro/outro music.

And in video content creation, there’s a crucial editing stage that includes everything from clipping and rearranging shots to inserting visual effects and graphics.

This editing stage is referred to as post-production. Read on for a post-production definition, plus a primer on how you can use it to turn your raw material into a polished, finished product for your audience.

What does post-production mean?

So, what is post-production, and how does it fit into the content creation process as a whole? 

No matter what type of content you create—whether it’s filmmaking, podcasting, running a YouTube channel, or something else—there are at least three broad stages to your process:

  • Pre-production: The planning stage, where you decide what content you’ll make, how you’ll make it, and get prepared to record
  • Production: The recording stage, where you film or record audio of the content itself
  • Post-production: The stage where you take the raw footage and turn it into something you actually want to publish for your audience to consume

In short, post-production is defined as anything that takes place after the recording has ended. Your industry, niche, and even process may vary wildly, but there’s always a post-production stage. 

Why is post-production important for video creation?

You can record all the raw video footage you want—but without a post-production process, odds are good that no one will ever watch it.

Post-production is the process of turning your video into a finished product. It includes putting the shots in order, cutting out unnecessary scenes, adding graphics and music, and adjusting the picture and audio levels. 

This process turns your raw footage into something more: by editing your recordings, you take creative control and give it your desired meaning and message. You can adjust the mood, tone, and overall effect of the piece. Post-production turns recorded audio and video into a finished piece of art.

Types of post-production: Audio vs. video post-production

Post-production is necessary for more types of media than video and film. Audio content creators need to edit their products too, whether it’s for radio, podcasts, audiobooks, or any other kind of published audio content.

The audio post-production process involves things like:

  • Editing dialogue
  • Replacing unusable audio with audio recorded in another location
  • Recording and adding sound effects
  • Creating, mixing, and editing audio from Foley Artists
  • Adding background sound
  • Mixing different sound elements together to create a finished audio track

In video post-production, you’ll need to manage not only the audio elements above, but also the visual elements. Below, we’ll cover the basic phases in the video post-production process.

Post-production workflow: Steps involved in post-production

1. Edits

First, you’ll use video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro to piece the digital film together.  

In the old days, editors would physically cut film strips and splice them together into the proper order. Today, though, this is done digitally—but the terms “cut” and “splice” are still used to describe the process.

Whether the editor is working from the director’s vision, or you’re a solo content creator massaging raw footage into something publishable, this is the step where the overall narrative begins to take shape.

2. Sound edit and music

The visuals aren’t the only thing that needs to be edited. You’ll also need to adjust the sound by:

  • Assembling the audio tracks and making sure the sound is synchronized to the video
  • Adjusting the audio levels (for instance, to enhance a key sound or ensure the music doesn’t drown out the dialogue)
  • Removing any unwanted noise like coughs, background traffic, or birds chirping

This is also the stage where you may want to add sounds that you didn’t capture during the production process. You might plan to insert sound effects and overlay your video with a soundtrack. 

Keep in mind, though, that if you use someone else’s music for your video’s soundtrack, you’ll likely need to get recording and publishing rights.  

3. Visual effects and graphics

On larger productions, the special effects team would work to incorporate visual effects as part of the post-production process. As a content creator, you may not be planning to use CGI or animation in the same way that a film crew would. But you may still want to incorporate a few special or visual effects, depending on your goals and vision for the finished video. 

The term ‘visual effects’ is often used interchangeably with ‘special effects,’ but the two have different meanings in the video production industry. 

Special effects (also known as practical effects) are done while recording, usually with mechanical, lighting, and camera placement techniques. They create an illusion or give the desired effect to the viewer.

Post production special effects
Image source: College of Arts and Technology

Visual effects, on the other hand, are added in post-production. They’re also referred to as VFX, or visual FX. These effects are rendered digitally and include

techniques like:

  • CGI (computer-generated imagery)
  • Animation
  • Compositing and green screen VFX
Visual effects in post production
Image source: College of Arts and Technology

After adding any effects to your footage, you may also want to add graphics like a date stamp, title, and end credits.

4. Color correction

After your team is done making changes to the picture, the next step is to adjust the color.

Essentially, this step involves altering each frame’s coloring and hues in order to create a consistent look. Correcting the color also helps make the footage look more natural. 

Post production color correction.
Image source: Raindance

In this step, you’ll make sure the colors are balanced, the whites look white, and the blacks look black. You’ll adjust things like:

Once you’re done correcting the color, you may also want to implement color grading. This process enhances colors to help give the film the right emotional flavor. 

Take, for example, the greenish tones in The Matrix that signify that the characters are—well, in the Matrix:

Post production color grading.
Image source: Digital Beauty Work

While color correction helps fix color issues and makes the footage more consistently natural-looking, color grading adds an artistic element that affects the style and mood of the video.

Post-production software: Tools for online video post-production

In 2022, you don’t have to be a professional videographer (or have a Hollywood studio’s budget) to dabble in post-production editing. There are many tools available for various skill and budget levels, including:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro: A popular, feature-rich software that’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. This tool works on both Windows and macOS and lets you add motion graphics, animation, and visual effects into your video project. Price: $20.99/month
  • Apple Final Cut Pro X: This professional video editing software is the gold standard for many macOS and iOS users. Its trackless magnetic timeline makes cutting and rearranging shots a breeze. Price: one-time purchase of $299
  • Pinnacle Studio 25 Ultimate: A great option for beginners, this intuitive editing tool for Windows lets you add special effects, filters, color grading, motion graphics, and more. Price: one-time purchase of $129.95
  • Lightworks: This professional-level tool (used by many top Hollywood production teams) works on Windows, macOS, and Linux computers. It’s optimized for speed and boasts features like advanced color correction, multicam editing, and advanced sharing options. Price: Free, with paid plains starting at $9.99/user/month.
For more information on these tools and more, see our article: The Best Video Editing Software for Every Level and Budget.

Best Free Recording and Editing Software

But not everyone wants to pay for (not to mention learn their way around) multiple software tools. If you’re creating video content and don’t need advanced filmmaking capabilities, you may want to turn to a tool that can stick with you from the recording phase to the post-production phase.

If minimalism is your priority, Riverside.fm is a great option to consider. It’s an intuitive, browser-based recording tool that captures professional-level 48kHz WAV audio and 4k video. 

This gives you a great starting point, since editing can only go so far if the raw footage is low-quality. 

And if you plan to record remote interviews as part of your video creation process, Riverside also records video locally to each participant’s device. This means you don’t have to worry about losing video quality if your internet connection is interrupted.  

When you’re ready for the post-production phase, Riverside’s new Magic Editor turns the tool into a single recording and editing platform. The editor automatically stitches together the separate audio and video tracks, which saves you hours of time you can spend on the more creative aspects of the post-production process.

Post-production FAQs

What is the difference between pre-production and post-production?

Pre-production is the stage before you being filming. Any tasks involved in preparing to film (like writing a script or scouting a filming location) would be part of the pre-production stage.

In contrast, post-production is the stage after you’ve wrapped filming. Things like editing, mixing, and adding visual or sound effets to your completed product all fall under the post-production umbrella.

What are the types of post-production?

There are many roles and tasks involved in post-production, and they vary depending on the type of project you’re working on. For instance, if you produce a podcast or a radio show, you’ll need to implement audio post-production techniques like mixing audio, creating sound effects, and inserting music.

If you’re producing a YouTube video, you’ll also need to implement basic video post-production elements like cutting and splicing video, adding visual effects, and using color-correction.

For more advanced videography and filmography projects, post-production tasks can also include things like inserting animation and adding a soundtrack.

How long does post-production take?

The process of taking a project from raw video (or audio) footage to a finished product can vary wildly. It depends on the length and complexity of the project in question.

For instance, the post-production stage for a short video clip for YouTube might take an hour or two for an experienced video content creator. On the other hand, post-production for a Hollywood movie might take 7-12 months

What are the steps involved in post-production?

Again, the steps in the post-production process depend on the type of project you’re working on. But in general, they include:

  • Editing video, 
  • Editing sound and music, 
  • Inserting visual effects and graphics, and 
  • Implementing color correction.

Of course, the best way to ensure a painless post-production phase is to capture high-quality raw footage. Riverside.fm gets you started on the right foot with uncompressed 48kHz WAV audio, 4K video, and a Magic Editor that takes care much of the initial, mundane editing work for you. 

If you’re looking for a simple tool that lets you record and edit in one place, look no further than Riverside. Get started for free today!

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