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class="style5" Things U Can't Fix in Post

>Published : 3rd August 2005

>There is an Assumption that I am starting to hear and see too much of on the set. and it is greatly being used by some that do not have the experience to realize what can and cannot be "Fixed In Post"

>Again If you really know what your doing and you understand exactly the role and relationship that Lighting, Lensing, Filtering, Exposing Composing Focusing and Post have on the success of any Project you can use wisely the assets available to efficiently get the work done.

>Also Situation dictates and when they say that they have no money for color correction they usually mean it. So lets take a look at some (Partial List I expect others to add to) of these things that cannot be fixed in post that People who are truly Professionals sometimes make mistakes on.

>In Addition the Concept of "Might change their Minds later" is a Fallacy and it goes right along with this List. Any Decision you make is a Decision that you may not be able to "Fix" in Post or anywhere else. Often its a Producer or Director that really doesn't know what they're talking about and making decisions that will not accomplish what they want.

>There is no substitute for doing things right in the First Place.

>Realize that right is sometimes Subjective.

>1) Really Bad Script
2) Bad / Missing Coverage of a scene.
3) Camera Movement (Zoom/Dolly) on one side and not on the other.
4) Bad Acting/Bad Casting
5) Bad Production design and Set decoration, Wardrobe, Makeup, Hair
6) Not rolling on the One shot Big Stunt
7) Bad Composition or Camera Operation (For the most Part)
8) Out of Focus / Back Focus out
9) Shutter Choices
10) Focal Length (if to tight can't go wider)
11) Too Much Diffusion
12) Composing for 4x3 delivering 16x9
13) Composing for 16x9 Delivering 4x3 (either way something will suffer)
14) Over Exposing out of recoverable range
15) Under Exposing out of recoverable range
16) Exposure Range beyond latitude
17) Shooting B&W
18) Shooting only one Color.
19) Heavy Color Filter (RED, BLUE, GREEN pick your favourite)
20) Crushing your Black.
21) Too Much Noise or Gain in the Shot
22) White/Black Shading errors
23) Chromatic Aberration
24) Lens Distortion
25) Interocular/Convergence (3D)
26) Frame Rate (With Appropriate Look)
27) Choosing Interlace, Choosing Progressive
28) RF Hits/ Dropout/ continuing to shoot with Clogged Heads
29) Re-Recording over a Take intentionally or accidentally (Can't Get it
back)
30) Shooting 4:2:2 when you should have shot 4:4:4
31) Bad Lighting
32) Flickering Lights and non synched Monitors.

>Carry on the List, I know there are more things to Add.

>As a Professional you should have the Guts to make the Call on all of these issues that are in your control. Then also be mature enough to Live or Die by your own decisions instead of blaming your inexperience on a Camera Format.

>A lot of things can be fixed in Post but at a cost.
Many things should be "Set" in post but they should know its coming in advance and not be surprised. Be considerate of Post Production don't dump your Crap on someone else's Desk and expect them to shine it.

>They do Great work but are not Miracle workers.

>B. Sean Fairburn SOC
Director of Photography
Castaic (North of LA) Ca


>This is a great list, Sean, but not restricted to HDTV. At least I don't think really, really bad scripts _necessarily_ go hand in hand with a digital shoot; although you might possibly be implying otherwise.

>You might consider resending it to cml-general or possibly chat. With the emphasis on "what-some-people-think-you can-always-fix-in-post-so-let's-not-worry-too-much-about-it now" as distinct from plain old-fashioned stuff-ups, it could become a good educational list.

>Dominic Case
Atlab Australia


class="Paragraph">>A lot of things can be fixed in Post but at a cost.

>As someone whose business it is to fix things in post, I say, Have a few beers at lunch.

>Seriously, it's a real question, and sometimes it can be a blatant attempt to stay on unit budget by shifting the time and cost to the post budget, where it might be ten times as expensive. IMHO it behoves DP's to get more post-savvy all the way around. I can name a handful of DP's who stick with a project all the way through, and get paid for it, and make really significant contributions, some of whom are on this list. Many others aren't truly interested, other than to perhaps occasionally parachute in to make comments - I can totally understand just wanting to be out there shooting. And to our shame, there are VFX shops who will take advantage of an un-post savvy DP's naiveté, getting them to sign off on substandard or unfinished work, then demanding an overage to continue.

>OTOH, I just regraded a large format show for National Geographic that the DP/director had (sort of) supervised grading of last year, but now can't stand the sight of. It was "a look", I guess. I re-did it all by myself, and they're loving it. My point, meanderingly, is that post needs DP's, but it also needs their full attention and intelligence.

>Tim Sassoon
Sassoon Film Design

>P.S. The hardest thing to fix is bad focus. Basically can't be done.


class="Paragraph">> A lot of things can be fixed in Post but at a cost

>To paraphrase Dave Bancroft of Thomson/GVG at the Digital Cinema Summit:-

>"We make money from selling you kit to help you screw up your pictures while you shoot. We make even more money from selling you kit to un-screw it in post!"

>Apologies for any errors, they're all mine not Dave's!

>I loved the thought.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


class="Paragraph">> There is an Assumption that I am starting to hear and see too much of >on the set. and it is greatly being used by some that do not have the >experience to realize what can and cannot be "Fixed In Post"

>It's the same group that plays with the camera controls and really has no idea what they are doing as far as I see. It's a false sense of security because everyone seems to be able to fix it in post, or at least many assume. Just as I said everyone should learn to use a camera over time, not crunch it all in a three day course and expect to go out and shoot features the following week with perfect clarity, the best shooters in video, understand the editing process and the capabilities and limitations.

>And that too comes with years of experience, not watching someone do a color correction once. There is no mystery to video, it's just like film. I try to do the best work I can, using controls and methods in the field that don't take me away from my goal of good cinematography, while understanding what further possibilities there are in post, and knowing that in situations where I can not achieve the look I want in the field due to me not having the right equipment to make that happen, or the time it takes to achieve what is capable in post, that I can do it in post.

>"That I can" is not a guess and shouldn't be, but like playing with the controls in a camera, should come from first hand knowledge. In my story about my first experiences with video, having been asked to work at a post production facility, I remember my dilemma. I was working 99% in film at the time. I liked what I did. I was working with some of the greatest gaffers and DP’s of the time. The offer to work in video post reduced my pay considerably. But after careful thought I realized that if I got first hand experience in an edit facility, I would be able to learn so much more. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Without it, I might be a guy who played with camera controls today, not really understanding what I was doing.

>The point as a shooter is that handing your tapes off to the post production department because you are a DP and don't really care about this process, or handing them off because you are afraid to really look at what goes on in post because you don't want people to think you are dumb is the same thing. If you are a person that has any doubt about what exactly happens to the tapes in post, I say, put your ego in a bag, and spend as much time understanding the process as possible. Better DP's know post as well as exposure index, and circles of confusion. The rest get away with murder until something goes wrong, and then blame everyone and everything else. Technology is as good a scapegoat as it is a career builder.

>I'm off to the UK tomorrow for a week of holiday, so if you folks across the pond notice things going wrong over there for the next week or so, it's probably me screwing them up.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.
www.bluesky-web.com
Offices in NYC and Amherst Mass.


>B. Sean Fairburn LA DP wrote :

class="Paragraph">>As a Professional you should have the Guts to make the Call on all of >these issues that are in your control. Then also be mature enough to >Live or Die by your own decisions instead of blaming your >inexperience on a Camera Format.

>Anyone who's been on the set with ad agency "professionals" who make (or more often choose not to make) decisions about things completely outside their area of expertise knows what true mental torture is.

>The decision not to make a decision, of course, always leads to the utterance "Just shoot it both ways." This often forces a later decision to be "shot both ways" in order to accommodate the possibilities created by the first moment of indecision. The result: longer day; more film shot; less time for setups; a frazzled crew; AND a leviathan spreadsheet of "possibilities" in post presented to the editor who must painfully explore every dead end to satisfy the agency hacks that they've exhausted every option for which they so dearly paid.

>The results of indecision are the single largest contributor to
overages and more often than not the determiner of profit or loss.

>John McDaniel
Audio Post Facility Owner
Sonic Arts Digital Audio Services, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH USA


>John McDaniel wrote :

class="Paragraph">>The decision not to make a decision, of course, always leads to the >utterance "Just shoot it both ways

>And this is where the skilled director and DP diffuse such a situation before it happens.

>Walter Graff
BlueSky Media, Inc.


class="Paragraph">>The result: longer day; more film shot; less time for setups; a frazzled >crew; AND a leviathan spreadsheet of >"possibilities" in post presented >to the editor

>My philosophy has boiled down to this: the client is always right, unless someone is going to get hurt. If they want to shoot everything three different ways, that's fine by me. I make the same amount of money either way, and probably a lot more by the time we're done. It's not up to me to get upset because someone else doesn't know what they want. It's simply my responsibility to put the images on film or tape. I expect them to know how much all this extra footage is going to cost them and whether they really need it or not.

>It's when they say, "Okay, we're so behind schedule after shooting 18 hours that we need to be back here in six hours," that I say, "Um... no. That's not safe. We're not doing that."

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
Local resources : http://www.artadams.net/localcrew


>John McDaniel wrote :

class="Paragraph">>The decision not to make a decision...The result: longer day; more film >shot; less time for setups...the editor who must painfully explore every >dead end...

>I could not agree more. Does the actress exit with the jacket in her hands, or does she put it down. Well how will it play in the next scene when she enters with the jacket and has to look through all the cupboards ? Should she just leave the jacket on ? c'mon its not that hard, the scene's not about the jacket.

>Likewise, it amazes me how script changes are not made weeks in advance. Why shoot a 127 page script when you intend to deliver a 90 minute film? Must you dilute your efforts and shoot the scenes that do not move the plot forward and then promptly cut them in post ?

>The Director knows the scene's useless - most of the actors might've agreed it was stiff in the read-thru. The AD knows it. The Prop Master and Crafty and the Writer's Asst read it and could tell you which scenes are probably not that great and 90% of their choices would match. Sometimes its politics or not offending the writer or shooting a scene to let an actor think they've got more of a key role. But often times its just sloppy writing/filmmaking/indecision.

>And then there you are, spending a couple of days out of a schedule shooting stuff that you know will not make it into anything but the Editor's first assembly before its in the bin.

>"Shoot it both ways" should go into the same category as "no rehearsal, lets just shoot" modes of thinking. In many cases there seems to be a "lost art" to rehearsals as there is a lack of rational or creativity for making good, solid decisions on sometimes the simplest of matters BEFORE you shoot.

>I always say, "you have to make the decision at some point, why not do it now ?" Sometimes there's a good reason to wait on a decision until post - often times there’s not.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>Art Adams wrote:

class="style7">>...the client is always right, unless someone is going to get hurt. If they >want to shoot everything three different ways, that's fine by me...

>All true - we end up shooting the scenes, of course, as we all work for the Director/client/producer. But I do wonder if the collective "they" really know whether the coverage 3-different-ways is needed or not. That in itself can be the indecision.

>It also depends on whether the clients can throw more time/money at it, or whether you're on a fixed and inflexible budget where some other scenes - which may be more important - may suffer from the current lack of preparedness.

>Masters such as Kurosawa or Coppola shot entire scenes (that were great!) that never made it into the cut. Understandable and besides you need some "extra scenes" for the DVD, or for the re-release.

>In my case the frustration stems from having to catch up for the lost time on a firm schedule : Grip & Lighting crews spread-out and leap frogging setups and a Camera crew that has to beg for one more rehearsal on a tough move. The boom op who is barely able to re-cue the speaking parts as she rides the frame line and her elbow's in the shot so she has to lengthen the pole, but there's a light there which needs to be pulled back a bit. etc.

>Indecision comes at any time, but the most frustrating is not when its run and gun (there's no time to think so its understandable) it's an hour, day or a week earlier when there was time to make that decision that the chance was lost.

>I think that positions of charge need to be good communicators and decisive if the aim is to do consistently good work.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


> John McDaniel wrote:

class="style7">>The decision not to make a decision, of course, always leads to the >utterance "Just shoot it both ways."

>One of the single biggest wastes of time one runs into. I say this because any time something is shot two different ways for technical reasons, the editor will always - and I do mean always - make the shot selection based on performance, regardless of the technical issue - thus negating the usefulness of a technical adjustment in the first place.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>But I do wonder if the collective "they" really know whether the coverage >3-different-ways is needed or not.

Oh, agreed. More often than not they do not know. I try to prod them a little... "Do you really think we need to shoot this from over there as well? I think you're covered..." But I've discovered that being agreeable gets me more work than being argumentative. If they're receptive, great. If they're not... I just let them go ahead.

class="style7">>I think that positions of charge need to be good communicators and >decisive if the aim is to do consistently good work.

>My aim is to consistently do good work. My clients don't always care, and if I'm put in a situation where all I can do is turn on the overheads and shoot, and that's what the client expects because we don't have time to do anything else, I'll lose a lot of points if I shoot pretty coverage but not enough of it. My motto is, "I'll do the absolute best work I'm allowed to do."

>I think there are situations where communication and decisiveness make all the difference in the world. But... in other situations directors and clients are going to do what they're going to do, and trying to talk them out of it is just going to cost you your next job with them. The trick is to figure out, early on, what kind of job you're on.

>One of my first jobs in the industry was as a PA on "Circus of the Stars." When I left to freelance as a camera assistant the executive producer sat me down and said, "Here's the best piece of advice I can give you. Every chance you have, make a decision. If you're only right half the time you're way ahead of the game. I don't think I've even been right that often." I remember thinking about that on my last of work as

>I walked out of the parking lot past his five Rolls Royce’s.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Art Adams wrote:

class="style7">> My philosophy has boiled down to this: the client is always right

>Blind, sheepish, unquestioning adherence to this axiom is a large part of what's wrong in the industries associated with what we do. Really.

>The client is *not* always right. There are those who are in not in a position which requires their commenting on the issue (and, like you, they enjoy a measure of comfort), BUT there are those whose RESPONSIBILITY is to tell the client when they are wrong. Failing to do so is failing to serve the client to the fullest. It's a touchy thing that requires an artful mix of diplomacy, passion, logic, and the ability to construct an apropos argument --all without creating the natural human responses of defensiveness, posturing, and face-saving in the client. One may in the end lose the battle and, given the TIME and MONEY to afford to, must then accede to the axiom. In such times you either forge lasting, respectful relationships, or decide not to work with such idiots again. I've done both.

>I abhor the wilful stupidity that accompanies the wasting of time, talent and expertise, ESPECIALLY by those lacking any or all of the three.

>The handling of this issue is what separates the great producers/managers/team leaders from the pack.

>John McDaniel


class="style7">>Blind, sheepish, unquestioning adherence to this axiom is a large part >of what's wrong in the industries associated with what we do.

>Really.

>But it's true: the client is always right. That doesn't mean I don't try to talk them out of things that I think are wrong, but there are some clients who are right no matter what and don't want to hear anyone say otherwise. And if you get in their face about it then you're not doing anyone any favours.

>I'm not blind about it; I'm realistic. If production listens to me, if we collaborate, then I can potentially save them a lot of grief. If they want to call all the shots, if they want to second guess me, if they want to assume they want to know more than I do about what I do... great. I'll try to (carefully) point out the errors of their ways but I'm not going to get ulcers over it and I'm not going to become argumentative. There's no point.

>I regularly have production companies pick my crews for me, choose locations without consulting me, and dictate where we'll get our equipment from. If I see problems I mention them, but if I'm ignored then I make sure I'm covered politically and move on. If things go wrong I gently steer them towards my preferred choices.

>It all depends on who is in charge. Some directors like advice. Some directors don't. Some directors like advice as long you make it sound like it was something they were going to do anyway. Some directors let you talk them out of shooting it three ways because they trust you. Others never hire you again because you told them once too often they didn't need to shoot so much coverage. I've found there's greater percentage in being agreeable than in having to be right all the time.

>The only time I'll stand up and say "No way in hell are we doing that!" is when I feel that someone will be put in danger.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hdtv|sdtv]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>Tom Sassoon writes :

class="style7">>The hardest thing to fix is bad focus. Basically can't be done.

>With Standard-Def video I've successfully re-sharpened slightly o/f (far-focused) talking-head interviews, using a soft-edged matte in FCP to separate the face (slightly sharpened) from the background (slightly softened). As a bonus, this approach simulates a shallower depth of field.

>Of course, this fix looks seamless only if the background immediately surrounding the head is fairly featureless. And if there's any movement of the head into the matted area, the matte has to be key framed. That can be tedious, but the results are well worth it.

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>Anything else for the List...

>There has Got to be more.

>B. Sean Fairburn SOC
Director of Photography
Castaic Ca


>Hi Sean,

>Actually, we've been telling our clients that have concerns regarding the post process that WE'LL fix it in duplication. Of course, problems that are too severe for our Duplication techs get referred to the networks to fix in transmission.

>Richard Torpey
VP Engineering
Rhinoceros/MultiVideo Group
50 East 42 Street
New York, NY 10017


>Rich Torpey writes :

class="style7">>Actually, we've been telling our clients that have concerns regarding the >post process that WE'LL fix it in duplication..

>And those problems that the networks can't fix in transmission, the viewers can fix . Most of the time they're just sitting there anyway.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Adding to the list:

>Shooting with such a ridiculously large DoF that lens diffusion is in focus in the shot. Then asking if it can be removed with a daVinci...

>Neal Kassner
Colorist
CBS/NY


class="style7">> Anything else for the List...

class="style8">..../delurk

>Eye line
Continuity
Unplanned flares
Crew shadow/reflection in shot
(Documentary) Shooting whatever you're shooting, instead of the much more important things that are
always happening behind you
Dropping the camera off the balcony

>But it's a murky line between impossible and merely incredibly painful, isn't it? You can rotoscope out the shadow of the operator's head if you have the time and money.

>Likewise with the sun going in/out during a shot, dirt/dust/ketchup on the glass, bad sound, etc. The person charged with fixing it will either hate you or laugh all the way to the bank, or both.

class="style8">..../relurk

>Steve Milligan
Operator/Animator
North Carolina


class="style7">> And those problems that the networks can't fix in transmission, the >viewers can fix . Most of the time they're just sitting there anyway.

>How alarming. What if the viewer can't or won't fix it? Who is the last resort?

>Dave Stump ASC
VFX Sup/DP
LA, Calif.


>Dave Stump ASC writes :

class="style7">> How alarming. What if the viewer can't or won't fix it? Who is the last >resort?

>Weren't TV manufacturers supposed to come up with circuitry to automatically adjust TVs? Surely it won't be long before they come up with something that can produce what the director or agency would have really wanted if they had been able to make up their minds in the first place.

>This shouldn't be nearly as difficult as it sounds, because what they really want is usually on the air or in the movies already. They just want to copy somebody else's work without saying so -- a la Steal-O-Matic

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Brian Heller wrote :

class="style7">>And those problems that the networks can't fix in transmission, the >viewers can fix.

>Nah, satellite and cable compression wipes out all problems....sooo what where we talking about again???

>Tom McDonnell
Director/DP
New Orleans, La


>Brian Heller wrote:

class="style7">>Weren't TV manufacturers supposed to come up with circuitry to >automatically adjust TVs? This shouldn't be nearly as difficult as it >sounds....

>It's almost impossible because the lighting conditions in the viewing environment are different for practically every television set in use. That's why all televisions have brightness and contrast controls, at the very least. How those are set is up to the viewer.

>Based on many conversations with "regular" viewers, my opinion is that what pleases cinematographers and producers is often seen as much too dark and contrasty by the "average" viewer, which is one reason why most sets are adjusted to be much too bright for a professional's taste.

>Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles


>Mike Most writes:

class="style7">>what pleases cinematographers and producers is often seen as much >too dark and contrasty by the "average" viewer

>One of our home TV sets is an old 21" JVC that crushes its blacks something fierce. No accessible adjustment seems to remedy it. With this unit there's no way at all to tell what a cinematographer intended in the shadows.

>Grr...

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>Dan Drasin writes:

class="style7">> One of our home TV sets is an old 21" JVC that crushes its blacks >something fierce. No accessible adjustment seems to remedy it. With >this unit there's no way at all to tell what a cinematographer intended >in the shadows.

>What kind of consumer are you? Are you trying to bring the economy down single handily? This is the perfect rationalization for plunking down 10 or more large -- actually I've seen deals with no money down -- for that flat HD plasma screen of your dreams.

>Brian "No joy in Beantown" Heller
IA 600 DP