7 Professional Video Post-Production Tips To Give Your Brand The Edge
Video post-production is a crucial stage of the film-making process; creating uniformity in lighting, sound, and aesthetic. Get it right, and your video pops out of the screen, presenting an image of your brand that feels professional, attractive, and aspirational.
Get it wrong, on the other hand, and your brand video looks cheap and unappealing; getting your post-production steps right is, literally, that important.
Are you looking to improve the look and feel of your video productions? Perhaps you’re poor on budget, but rich in creative ideas? Maybe you’ve got good footage, but need to do something in post-production that will give your brand that stand-out aesthetic.
We’re going to explore seven professional video post-production tips, providing a post-production checklist that will give your brand video the distinct edge.
Without over-egging the pudding.
Beware Off-The-Shelf Filters
You can ruin great footage by over-filtering, and when we’re talking video, one filter does not fit all.
Filters can work brilliantly for still images (while restraint is advised), but video lighting can vary from shot to shot. A filter might look great in one shot, but it might completely over-saturate the image in another.
So, #NoFilter can definitely apply to video.
That said, if you’re using pro-editing applications like Final Cut Pro, Avid, or Adobe Premiere Pro, you’ll find that filters are more adjustable and powerful. Let’s not be snobs about this!
Ultimately, an off-the-shelf filter is a compilation of preset video post-production effects; defined to create a user-friendly and recognisable look.
Filters are a combination of:
- White balance
- Colour correction
- Aesthetic effects (such as film grain and ageing effects)
It’s entirely possible to create your own filters in all editing packages. But practice a little restraint and caution.
Adjusting Your White Balance
Our eyes are pretty adept at recognising white under a range of lighting conditions. Digital cameras, however, don’t always express white as we see it; dependent upon the “colour temperature” of the lighting source.
Lighting temperature could be expressed as “warm” (with more orange) or “cold” (with more blue”).
However, if you use the Auto White Balance (AWB) setting on your camera, it’s difficult to control that temperature. The sensor picks up the colour spectrum in different ways, depending on the ambient lighting.
It’s better to define your white balance before you shoot a scene. Point your camera at a white source (such as a sheet of plain, white paper) to help the camera determine what white looks like under your lighting conditions. The camera will adjust the spectrum around that.
However, if you have clips shot in different locations, you’re likely to have a range of colour temperatures on your palette.
And – sometimes – you end up with footage that just doesn’t look right. And this is where your colour correction/white balance skills come into play.
This is when we adjust the colour correction and white balance in post-production; creating a professional, consistent look over the entire video.
Jump cutting is a technique that adds significant pace to your edit. You see jump cuts in cinema and all over YouTube where vloggers speak directly to camera.
The jump cut gives you the ability to edit out the pauses, the “erms”, and the slip-ups, creating a much pacier presentation.
There’s nothing particularly smooth about jump cuts; they break the rules in terms of cinematic editing which tries to disguise its edits. A jump cut is obvious.
The “cut-away”, on the other hand, helps to break up longer footage with visually interesting complementary content, bringing a similar pace to your action as the jump cut..
You might frame an interview subject (according to your rule of thirds for a little extra style), talking either directly to or slightly off the camera.
An extended clip becomes slightly tedious for the eyes, so you can add some energy to the edit by cutting away to other footage while the audio continues.
So, while your interview subject is talking, you might cut-away to a clip that illustrates what they’re talking about. Or you might stick with your subject, but add shots of hands, feet, and from other angles, etc.
If you shoot these additional clips (your cut-aways), it gives you safety shots. Perhaps the camera slips out of focus for a moment or maybe the subject’s face involuntarily twitches.
You can cover those problems up with your cut-away footage.
Remove Background Noise
If there’s one thing that’s going to ruin great footage, it’s bad sound.
Most video cameras (whether DSLRs, smartphones, or dedicated ProCams) have microphones – but the sound they pick up is rarely of any real use.
Recording your sound separately with a directional microphone or a boom mic will ensure that you get much crisper sound.
When you’re recording your footage, aim to find space with minimal background noise. That isn’t always possible, of course, so using clip-mics or directional boom mics could help focus your recording.
Additionally, it’s advisable to test the acoustics of a room before you record. Room reverberation is tricky to convincingly negate.
You can clear out background hiss and room resonance in post-production. Ultimately, however, this type of processing is subtractive – it takes frequencies away and gates out gaps, which can negatively affect the overall sound clarity. Overly processed sound can make voices sound a little flat and thin.
So, while you can apply effects to reduce background noise on your video post-production checklist, it’s better to record your sound as tightly as you can in the first place.
Show Some Restraint With Transitions
All video editing suites come with a plethora of funky transition effects. But beware!
A transition is a cut from one clip to another – we talked about them in the jump-cut section. The jump cut, by nature, requires no animated transitions; which is why the image can appear jerky at the cut.
An animated transition might be a fade or a page wipe, or even a page turn. Look through the available transitions in your software – there will be more than you’ll ever need.
The problem with animated transitions is that – actually – they can make your final cut look cheap and tacky.
Think Top of the Pops back in the 80s: those spinning boxes, star wipes, page curls, and glittery flares looked like the future at the time. But, they look awful these days. Be conservative with your transition effects.
Select Appropriate Music, And Cut To The Beat
Music can define a mood, so choose it carefully. There are plenty of royalty-free backing tracks available online, so find one that matches your brand – energetic, serious, relaxed, funky, modern, etc.
Don’t be tempted to use copyrighted music unless you have express permission to use it. Online advertising is a significant source of revenue income these days; you will get caught eventually.
Cut to the beat of the music (even if there aren’t any drums!).
Good, rhythmic cutting uses the strong beat of the bar for subtle cuts (that’s usually beat 1 in 1,2,3,4) and more impactful cuts on beat 2 (where the snare usually hits).
Most editing applications don’t natively mark out the beats, but there is an FCP plugin called Beat Mark X that will.
So, there you have it: seven professional post-production tips that will give your brand video the cutting edge. From colour correction and white balance to jump-cutting and better quality sound, video post-production can take good footage and make it look fantastic.
We often get asked: how long does post-production take?
It depends on the raw footage. If it’s shot well, under good lighting conditions and with excellent sound, it can be relatively speedy. If, however, the footage is poorly shot in bad lighting and the director has cut too soon, the task can be trickier.
For more rapid post-production steps, make sure that you get excellent footage in the first instance.