“We’ll fix it in post…” or 5 Words Your Editor Never Wants to Hear

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Editors make this face every time we hear those 5 horrific words.

There are certain phrases that you just don’t want to hear. “We’ll fix it in post” is one phrase that makes video editors ask, “I’m a good person, right?

“We’ll fix it in post,” is such a simple phrase. There is nothing malevolent about the words that it contains. It actually sounds quite pleasant given some context. You can almost imagine a father from a movie in the 50’s leaning over crying child’s unopened broken toy fire truck. He pats him on the back as he comforts him, “Don’t worry son. We’ll fix it in post.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald would be impressed with the amount of subtext this phrase holds. It intends to say, “We are busy and on a tight schedule, but I’m confident that we’ve got the footage we need to edit this together.” What it really says is, “It’s our editor’s problem now,” and they say it as they polish their monocle and twirl their sir mustache while laughing ‘buah ha ha!’ because they are apparently a Bond villain.

The truth is, editors are awesome at what we do. The smallest changes to a video can completely change the tone and feel of the story. Holding onto a shot for just a few frames longer is the difference between something being tragic or hilarious. Using fast cuts instead of longer ones, slide transitions instead of dissolves, the pace of the voice over. These can drastically change a video’s mood. Editors know this. But we aren’t freakin’ wizards (though our hubris does tend to catch up with is every so often, I can’t lie about that). There are limits to what we can do. I’ve been asked to “Photoshop” video before. Don’t get me wrong, I “Photoshopped” that video like a champ. But that’s not the point. The point is that video is technically not “Photoshoppable.” A still has to be made out of the video, and then that can be Photoshopped, but it takes the depth and dyanamic nature of video out of the shot. The best solution is to make sure everything looks the way you want it to during the video shoot itself.

During a video shoot, there are plenty more things that could go wrong than things that could go right  (leaves could fall in the pool, the sky could become unexpectedly cloudy, etc. ) When one of those seemingly trivial things goes wrong (and trust me, they go wrong all the time), instead of taking the time to find another model/location or find any sort of solution it is much easier to say, “We’ll fix it in post.”

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And it’s understandable that some people assume that ‘movie magic’ just happens. Just look at the font you’re reading this in. It didn’t just happen to come out this way. Someone spent hours upon hours meticulous designing each and every letter. So much time is spent on the video shoot it’s easy to overlook the amount of effort that comes into post-production because most people don’t see what happens during the post production process.

Before your video shoot:
·         Make sure your video location is looking its best
·         Stage everything to look the way you want it to appear in the video
·         Check the weather to make sure it will cooperate on the day of your shoot
·         Make sure everyone participating in front of and behind the camera is prepared and will be on time
·         Make sure you have everything you need for the day of the shoot
·         Have a back up plan in case something unexpected happens

I know these sound like no brainers, but shooting days are hectic and you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget something. I’ve been on more shoots than I care to admit where our shooter forgot to bring the camera. So on the day of the shoot play it like Santa. Make a list and check it twice. If something is forgotten or neglected it instantly becomes really easy to justify cutting corners, and “We’ll fix it in post” starts to look pretty appealing. Just remember the better material you give your editor the better your video will be. So get it right in camera because you never know what your editor will or will not be able to fix.