Shooting On Digital vs. Shooting On FilmIn film production, the postproduction process officially starts after the principle wrap is complete. However, the Editor and Editor Assistant have started the process much sooner.

Many aspects of postproduction differ from the production process. For instance, postproduction lasts much longer than production, often twice as long, and requires a significantly smaller crew .

The most significant difference, however, lies in the events that take place during postproduction versus production. Production is busy collecting all the parts of the movie, in no specific order. Postproduction brings the movie together with precision, by editing and cutting the material provided by the production crew into the near-finished product.

Film production can be categorized into three stages: the shooting stage, the editing (postproduction) stage, and the completed and delivery stage.  The filming stage can be shot on digital or shot on film.

Shooting on Digital

To shoot on digital, eight processes need to be conducted: Digital Picture Stock, Digital Original, Isolation (ISO) Files or Tapes, Backup Files or Tapes, Transfer to Editing Format, Digital Rushes, and Time Code Slate and Burned-In Time Code.

Digital Picture Stock & Digital Original

The digital picture stock is the memory card, hard drive, disk, or tape that has captured the original footage by the camera on set. When this footage (or data) is captured, it becomes the only original capture of the raw scenes. The Camera Assistant is responsible for sending the original digital data to the post facility throughout the day or at day’s end. Periodically throughout the day, the Camera team checks for dead pixels, tape dropouts, or file corruptions that may cause technical flaws in the film.

Isolation (ISO) Files and Tapes

Camera crews often use more than one camera to shoot films. This allows for multiple angles to be captured at the same time for the production. ISO files or tapes are used by the B-camera (or second camera). These files must be documented and referenced differently so the Continuity Supervisor will know which file is which.

Back-Up Files or Tapes

While shooting the production, digital original files must be backed up immediately to preserve copies. Digital masters can also be cloned and archived at the end of every shoot day by the post facility.

Transferring to Editing Format

Sometimes the digital shooting format is not compatible with the picture editing system. If this happens, the original data will need to be digitized into a compatible computer format for editing purposes. Audio recorded on the set may also need to be transferred during this stage into a file format that can be used by the editing system.

Daily Rushes (Digital Dailies)

Digital rushes, also called digital dailies, are created when the picture and sound have been matched together for the first time, and then made available on the FTP site for the head office and production to view. They may also be converted into a digital copy format, such as a DVD.

Burned-In Time Code and Time Code Slate

While the dailies are being synched, a second master file will need to be created. This master file will include the time code slate and burned-in time codes. The time code slate is essentially an audio and video reference number that gives a time and frame address to each frame in the picture. The burned-in time codes are similar; however they are burned into the picture to give each frame a visual address. These time codes are essential for editing and synching sound and picture together seamlessly.

Shooting on Film

In many ways, the process of shooting on film is similar to shooting on digital; however, a few extra steps need to be taken when shooting on film.

Raw Stock, Exposed Film, Original Negative & Negative Check

Before the unprocessed film stock goes through the camera, it is called “raw stock.” Once raw stock has gone through the camera, its name changes to exposed film. The Camera Assistant will deliver this exposed film to the lab every night to be processed.  This quick delivery ensures the exposed film is not stored in conditions that may cause imperfections, potentially ruining the original film.

Once the exposed film has been processed at the lab, it is called the “original negative.” The original negative is very important, and needs to be transferred immediately to digital and stored safely at the lab in an environmentally controlled storage location. Most labs will process film overnight and will transfer it to digital by the next morning. It is important to do a negative check the next morning to ensure the negative is still in good condition without any noticeable damage.

Inter-Positive & Inter-Negative

If there is enough room in the budget, it is important to back up all negatives by processing an Inter-positive and Inter-negative immediately. An I/P is a positive image created from the negative. After the inter-positive has been created, the inter-negative can be made from the newly created positive. Having a back up of the negatives reduces the risk of damaging the original negative during any delivery elements.  The inter-positive and inter-negative are not typically created during dailies. Instead, they are created after the negative has been cut.

Digital Dailies & Edge Coding

Just as if shooting on digital, synching dailies is still an important process that must be completed at the end of each shoot day. The Assistant Editor or the post facility will synch the pictures to sound using the time code slate at the start of each shot.  The final dailies will then be posted to the FTP site or burned onto a DVD (or other portable digital format) for reference and to be analyzed. However, for shooting on film, edge coding (or edge numbering) is used. Edge coding consists of tiny numbers on the edge of the original negative, used during the digital intermediate process as a reference to cut and match the locked image.

Digital Transfer & One-Light Workprint

Regardless of whether it has been decided to create an I/P or I/N, the film will need to be transferred to a digital format in order to be posted digitally. This begins the digital intermediate (DI) Process. A positive digital image can be transferred right from the film negative. This process is called Digital Transfer.

The Assistant Editor will be able to digitize these dailies in order to access the footage in the editing software. Sound is also transferred from the original recording format to a computer file, and may be synched with the picture during transfer. If the film will be finished on film, as opposed to digital, a “One-Light” workprint may be necessary on some, or all of, the earlier dailies in order to analyze the film in its delivery format. One-Light, also known as one exposure, is appropriate since a perfect exposure of each shot is not needed at this point of the process.

Once all of these steps are complete, postproduction officially starts.