Student Filmmaker Series: Part 4 – Five Ways to Master The Post-Production Process

Student Filmmaker Series Part 4It’s easy to focus on one technical or artistic skill, but realistically you need to learn every technical component that makes film interesting. Research rigorously. Make beautiful pictures. Make data and text compelling. Animate concepts and stories. Practice digital and analog art so that you are ahead of popular visual style.

Get an awesome computer, download the Adobe Creative Suite and learn how to use it. To execute masterful post-production, you need to invest in the right set up.

1. Get a grown up computer

Having the right computer is the most important part of post-production editing. I recently spent a few months researching which computer best suits my needs. I decided on a 27 inch iMac with a 3.8GHz (turbo boosted from 3.4) Quad-core Intel processor with 8GB of RAM (instead of 4) and a 1TB Fusion Drive. The entire package was $2,000.

If you plan to edit video, I highly recommend the Fusion Drive. If you live near a Mac store, ask them to show you the difference for video compression. The fusion speed will blow your mind. It’s amazing how motivating it is to get a new set up like this! Buying the package inspired me to work more and organize years of old footage. I chose the 27 inch screen and am so happy I did. When I’m editing pictures or video, transcribing or multi-tasking, the larger screen makes everything easier.

I chose to invest more in my desktop computer than my laptop. If I’m editing, it’s from my home or office. When I’m shooting, all I need a computer for is dumping content and brief observation. Before you decide on a Powerbook or iMac, decide what works best for you. Will you be working from the road or from an office or home? Will you need a larger screen for multi-tasking or detail oriented visual work? Will you need to work from the road? Are you going to be doing video, graphics, photography or gaming?

Once you have these answers, head over to the Mac store, tell them what your needs are and ask the smartest looking person a million questions. Don’t leave until there is nothing left to know.

2. Get Adobe Creative Suite

It costs $29.99 per month and you’ll have access to every software program you’ll need for motion graphics, audio, pictures, video, organization and post-production. I use Photoshop for editing pictures, Premiere for editing video, After Effects for motion graphics, InDesign for information graphics, Lightroom for processing pictures, Prelude for metadata and logging, Encoder for output, Speedgrade for color grading and Audition for sound.

Watch tutorials on the Adobe website or Lynda. Don’t wait for your professors to assign motion graphics. If you see something online that is interesting, learn how to do it and then add something that reflects your unique vision.

Five Ways to Master The Post Production Process

3. Collaborate with other people whose work you admire

Find coders, singers, audio people, drummers, writers, actors, editors and historians. Don’t bring too many people on to the team, but make sure there is always someone to push your boundaries, cheer you on and inspire you.

At the University of Missouri I met a User Support Analyst named Justin Giles. He taught me a great deal about software language and inspired me to focus on mastering HTML. Justin is also a musician, an innovator and a born artist. He reached me in profound ways even though we never actually worked together. Say yes to people because they will make your world brighter.

I use Google Docs for collaborating with people all over the world to outline project goals, share transcribed documents, storyboard, sort data and keep projects on task. I believe the best thing thats happened to collaborative art in recent years is Google Docs!

4. Don’t be ashamed to use templates

I despise bad templates but I love good ones. You can find templates for everything from websites to information graphics to video filters. You have to really HUNT to find good stuff. My favorite place to find WordPress website templates is currently Organic Themes.

If you use a WordPress theme, you have to find a hosting company and buy a domain name. I love Laughing Squid for hosting and Hover for domains. Both companies support entrepreneurial content creators. My website was hacked this past summer and Laughing Squid responded and helped me restore it within hours. I pay $6 per month for hosting and $15 per month for my domain name.

My favorite place to find templates for motion graphics, video/picture filters, and title frames is Envato. I haven’t found one outstanding central site for stock music. I prefer to work with original musicians that I discover on SoundCloud or that I meet the old fashioned way – through friends, parties and open mic nights. Templates offer tools to specialists who have a vision for holistic videos but don’t have time to master every software. Templates also serve as training wheels for students that need a little additional support.  I’ve had students tell me they despise AfterEffects, but if they start with a template instead of a blank slate, they can make work that enhances their projects.

Student Filmmaker Series

5. Watch smart people problem solve and make stuff

Go to New Orleans and walk through the Bywater. Peek your head into an old garage where you see a mural artist working. Watch your IT person fix a computer. Hang out with an up and coming chef while they practice a new dish. Watch a toddler learn how to ride a bike. The only way to learn and grow and make work that you’re proud of is by making mistakes, experimenting and having fun with gear.


Student Filmmaker Series

Read Part 1: Five Young Storytellers You Have to Know
Read Part 2: So, You Majored in Media. Now What?
Read Part 3: One Piece At A Time: What Gear Do You Need To Make Great Film?

Stay tuned for Part 5: 9 Things I Learned From My Favorite Young Storytellers coming soon…


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About the Author

Beatriz Wallace is currently a Visiting Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her friends do cool stuff like take pictures of pets that need adopting at animal shelters, make movies with famous people and tell stories that matter. She worked at Cellar Stories Bookstore and Time Magazine after she graduated from Amherst College with a degree in writing and photography. She has a Master’s Degree in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. She’s from New Orleans and she’s kind of scrappy. She might be a juicer, a yoga teacher or a software developer next. And she’s okay with that. To see her work, visit, follow her on Twitter @bigmuddyheart or friend her on Facebook (Beatriz Wallace).


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