Video Production Part III: Post-Production

August 16, 2018 annavonsury Methods & Tools

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

anna3 (2)

After your big day of filming, it’s time to discover the potential of the material you have recorded and how you can make the best use of it. The last part of this series on video production guides you through the most important steps of video post-production. 

                                             By Leonie Pock and Anna von Sury


Creating a story

As we have seen in Part I of this series, it’s important to think about the edit already before shooting (for example about the different shots you need in order to tell your story). Post-production is all about selecting suitable shots and arranging them dramaturgically and rhythmically into sequences, adding sounds, music and effects in order to give the film its final form. There is many different video editing software you can use for achieving this. Some examples of editing software are iMovie (included free with all Mac computers), Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve (free!).



Plan and organize

Before you start editing, review your material! When reviewing you can think about how you want to arrange the images. Ideally, you have already though about this and created a storyboard. But maybe you weren’t able to take all shots you planned and have other shots you didn’t think about. Try to re-arrange your storyboard according to the images you have in order to create a rough cut. There are many editing techniques to tell a story, some of the most frequent are:

Cutting on action: Cutting while there is movement on-screen to another shot that matches the first one. E.g. a character walks up to a door and reaches for the knob. As the hand touches the knob, the scene cuts to a shot of the door opening from the inside.

Cut away: Cutting to a shot that is related to but outside the main action of a scene, and then back again. E.g. a shot of a high school teacher lecturing to his students is followed by another one of the principal standing at the door listening, then back to the shot of the teacher lecturing.

Cut in: A close-up shot of something visible in the main scene, e.g. a shot of a man walking down the stairs is followed by a close-up shot of just his feet walking down the stairs.  

Match cut: A cut from one shot to another where the two shots are matched by the action or the composition.

Cross-cutting: Two actions are shown in parallel. The camera cuts away from one action to another action, suggesting a simultaneity of these actions. E.g. a phone call between two people.

Jump cut: Cuts between the same shot, often used to deliberately show passing of time. E.g. four shots of a man shaving his beard. In each shot he has less beard, and in the last shot he is clean-shaven.


Tips on editing

Editing is a complicated art form, and there might not be a right or wrong way to do it. However, some tips are helpful for creating interesting and appealing scenes:



Separate pans, zooms and camera movements by standing shots – don’t cut camera movements to each other.

Focus cuts on the movements of the actors – the viewer is distracted by the movement and hardly notices the cut. This means that in the middle of the movement you can switch to a wide shot.

The less movement in a shot, the shorter its length should be. Shots with rapid movements can be longer.

Wide shots should be shown longer because they contain more content.

Work with different camera angles for close-ups of faces in dialogues, etc.

Cuts appear softer if the sound of the person to be shown in the next setting is heard before the cut.

If the interviewer and the interviewee are filmed (shot-counter shot), the interview becomes more interesting if you also show one of the twolistening to the other.

Vary the rhythm. If you always have the same length of scenes, it gets boring.

If you’re not sure about your video, show it to someone. The points the viewer raises are always significant, but you are the one who decides how to best implement them.


Fine cut

Almost done! After you have created a story out of your material, you’re ready for the fine cut. This includes the edit of sound and music, colour grading, as well as including titles and maybe even subtitles.

Sound and music: Almost always we hear first and see second, which is why sound should guide our attention to image. It is easier to work with good sound and a bad image than the other way around. However, if you need to fix or edit your audio track, Audacity is a great free audio software. If you use music, edit the video in the rhythm of the music.

Breaks in the dominant sound, especially during interviews, should never be left entirely without sound. Make sure to record the room tone or atmosphere sound so you could insert it between the gaps. It can be helpful to once listen to the video with eyes closed.

Colour grading: This happens towards the end of the edit. Colour grading is a stylistic device and should be consistent. Scenes, which were shot under different lighting conditions, are adapted to each other. Before you start colour grading it’s important to get your white balance right. You can do this the easy way if you used a colour checker or white card during the shoot.


Otherwise you have to look for white patches in your footage and adapt the other colours accordingly. Playing with exposure, shadows, midtones and highlights can hugely improve your footage. You can also evoke a certain mood or visual style in choosing warm or cold colours or in using a so-called LUT (LUTs are changing the hue, saturation and brightness values of your source image).

Titles: Don’t forget your title, the credits, and subtitles. If people are interviewed, it is often helpful to fade-in the name of the character and who she or he is.


Congratulations, you’re done! If you get stuck during the whole process, there are many helpful tutorials:


MAZ Storytelling Tool

DEZA Multimedia Guide

Videoschool SRF

Videoschool Vimeo

Video Tutorials Youtube

Videos with the Smartphone


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