Fix It In Post – 5 Important Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

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‘Fix it In Post’ – Have you ever worked on a small independent film where there was a mistake made during a shot, and someone mentions “don’t worry, we can fix it in post”?

Filmmakers today have powerful post-production resources out there like Adobe Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve editing tools that can work wonders for your project. 

With my experience with Adobe creative cloud, this software program can add amazing visual effects to your project, and sometimes can correct certain errors that were accidentally captured while filming. 

But, to fix everything in post, is a huge mistake that can derail any film project.

Why? Because even with the best editing software around, no matter how much time you have on your hands, it’s often easier to just reboot the scene instead.

I have run into a few situations in the past with a full-length feature and a short feature, that during the editing process, I found things that I wasn’t able to fix it in post. 

The result of this is a bunch of projects that have ended up shelved because of it.

Sure, if you have time to get the crew back together to reshoot a few scenes to correct the mistake. But what happens in this new normal of the Covid age you are unable to wrangle your crew in minutes?

In this post, I will focus on five great reasons why it’s best to reshoot certain scenes rather than trying to “fix it in post.” So, without further ado, let’s go to it!

Fix it In Post
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Continuity and Visible Errors

Boom mics are necessary for almost every shot, but do you want them in the frame as well? 

The troubles with certain shoots, in order to be able to capture good clean audio, the microphone may get in the frame while shooting.

If you notice the boom was in the frame, but the performance from the actors was amazing and the lighting was incredible, you should think about the options ASAP.

If you noticed the boom appearing in the frame at the beginning or end of the scene, you may be able to crop out the boom mic in post. 

But, if the boom microphone makes an appearance throughout the scene, then do yourself a favor and do another take.

Here’s an example of when you should do another scene instead of relying on the phrase “fix it in post“. 

I produced a feature film last year in which the movie was set on an island, only accessible via boat. 

The problem was that during one of the shots, the crew’s cars were visible off in the distance hidden by surrounding trees. 

Since we were running out of daylight to shoot that day, the director decided he wanted to keep the shot and fix it in post.

Now, the problem with this is, if you are an inexperienced editor with little experience in visual effects, trying to fix it in post will take longer than just reshooting the scene the next day.

Unfortunately, due to the number of post-production corrections, the feature still isn’t ready.

So, if you can correct a continuity error or visual mistake ASAP while still on set, do it as it will save you pain later while you try to fix it in post. 

Never Trust Auto White Balance

Not sure what Auto White Balance? Here’s a brief explanation of what Auto White Balance can do for your footage. 

The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting supports the camera to choose the best option of what is closest to what your eyes might see. 

Most of the time AWB works better when you are outdoors dealing with natural lighting than with more complicated lighting situations.

Some filmmakers like using the Auto White Balance option on the camera all day and fix it in post later if the color temp is off. 

This might work when conditions are optimal, but if you are planning on shooting in different locations, under different lighting conditions throughout the day, dealing with AWB can be tricky later on.

I made the mistake of leaving the AWB on the camera on the last short film I shot, where I was jumping from outdoors to indoors daily, and now I am not having fun color correcting in post.

Plus, if you have a vision in your head of the color you want to establish the tone for each scene, you want to have full control while you are shooting compared to leaving it to post-production.

If you are stuck in a situation in post in which you are dealing with Auto white balance issues in post, do yourself a favor and just reshoot the scene to the colors you want. It will save you time and money.

Motion Tracking Concerns

Motion tracking, or mask tracking, is the process of following a moving object within a video. 

For the most part, you’re following the movement with a mask, hence the term mask tracking. Motion tracking is done using position keyframes and opens all kinds of creative and color possibilities in Premiere.

Sound great doesn’t it? If you have the skills of using editing software, motion tracking in programs like Premiere Pro can add something to your vision. 

But, If you’ve ever used motion tracking to fix a mistake in the past, then you will understand how long of a process it is, and sometimes you may not get the results you want in the end.

Again, when you are directing a film, have conversations about your vision of the shot with your director of photography before each shot, means something you don’t have to fix it in post.

Cropping reduces resolution

Let’s face it, mistakes will be made during a film shoot.

For example, you are shooting a period piece, and an actor leaves a Starbucks Coffee Mug in the shot, and it goes unnoticed. Or, the boom pops in and out of the shot, but the actors turned in a fantastic performance, and you notice it later.

While you could hide the mistake by cropping the frame in the editing suite but depending on the camera you are using, you may risk the loss of resolution to the shot.

You can’t make changes to a video, such as cropping, without also re-encoding the video. When you re-encode a video, no matter how careful you are, there’s going to be at least some small amount of quality loss.

That said, if you are starting with a high enough quality video, you can keep the loss of quality to a minimum, possibly to the point that you can’t distinguish the difference easily or at all with the naked eye.

If minimizing quality loss is your priority, and you don’t want to increase file size, your best bet is to try to export with all the same settings as the original file. That will usually get you close to the same file size and quality.

The more heavily compressed the original video is though, the hard it is to work with and the faster any amount of quality loss will become noticeable.

Being Rushed

Post-production for most films takes a considerable amount of time.

You never want to deal with mistakes during the film shoot to delay your progress, especially if you are under the gun to have the project completed in an unattainable time frame.

Whether you are dealing time frame revolving around the completion of a client commercial project or having to complete a film project before a closing submission date of a film festival, identify your boundaries beforehand.

Clients tend to be unhappy about getting a completed project months after an intended deliverable date. Always be realistic in your post-production timeframe so you catch mistakes in post-production, and reshoot if needed.

Conclusion

Now am I telling you that you should never “fix it in post?” Of course not.

But understanding how to fix problems on set before the editing phase will save your butt more times than you’ll be able to count.

Always be careful about relying on fixing it in post, because to fix it in post, doesn’t solve all of your problems.

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Top 5 Important Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Fix It In Post

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