The Post-Production Butterfly Effect

by Valerie Train – Brand Manager

Alesis Heaps – Lead Editor and Video Content Creator

 

The butterfly effect is a chaos theory in which one small change can have a domino effect creating numerous changes resulting in significant consequences.

This theory is often disregarded for being too far fetched, but in the post-production process, it can happen quite easily.

We produce many types of video at 321Blink, but we broke it down into two categories for the sake of explanation:

 

Scripted

A scripted video takes a lot of planning. These videos are typically broadcast commercials or narrative based. We classify them as “scripted” because those featured on camera are actors with designated lines and/or actions. In some cases though, scripted videos can be completely voice over (VO) driven.

 

Unscripted

An unscripted video is something we create without as much pre-production on a final script (since many elements are still unknown). These videos are typically coverage of events, testimonials or “documentary-style”. We consider these “unscripted” because most of the content is caught candidly and almost everything you see is natural. Our goal is to compile the footage we get and turn it into a cohesive story during the editing (or post-production) process.

 

Quick tip: Don’t just go through the motions in the planning and executing stages. Even if your video is “unscripted” make sure you are actively involved in creating the overall goal message.

Creating a successful video cannot be done without thoughtful and proactive decision making. Make sure whoever from your company is heading this video project is well informed and involved throughout every step of the production process.

 

Production

Once the conceptual planning stages are complete, the production process is set into motion. Your video production partner will create a script and storyboard based on their vision, which takes into account the information you gave them, then they will share it with you for your feedback and approval. This stage should not be overlooked – being meticulous during this process can ultimately save you time and money!

Once a script and storyboard are agreed upon the next steps of production can begin. Elements such as casting, interview subject selection, location selection, and finalization of a shooting schedule.

**Disclaimer** Even with unscripted projects, a storyboard or script can be developed. However, you should treat it more like an outline than a blueprint. Having these types of outlines will help the entire process run more smoothly.

 

Post Production & The Butterfly Effect

Post-production for both scripted and unscripted videos are each very different. Unscripted videos are a unique experience for editors because they are building a story with what they have to work with, whereas in a scripted video the editor follows a “map”.

Scripted videos, while still a creative venture, tend to be much less involved of an editing process. We follow the road map we created together with you during our pre-production process, which allows for a simplified post-production process. It’s color by numbers – our script and storyboard say to paint sections 1 and 5 of our picture pink, so we do. You’ll get nearly the exact product envisioned in the script and storyboard with little to no deviation needed.

While unscripted projects are lighter on the front end due to less planning required during pre-production, they make up for it on the back end during the edit. The thorough map we created during pre-production facilitates a simpler editing process. The lack of script, storyboard, and direction with an unscripted video, requires a greater time investment to edit.

If a scripted edit is paint by numbers, then an unscripted one is sketching on a blank canvas.

With this in mind, when the first draft of your project is shared with you for feedback, and you request a change to something that was previously agreed upon in an earlier stage of the production process, this is when we start to see the butterfly effect unfold. Think of your edit as a puzzle – If you take away or lose a piece of the puzzle there will be a noticeable gap in your image. Editing is no different; if you take away part of a video, you have to ensure that the message still continues seamlessly by filling the gap with a relevant piece.

It’s not as simple as “cut and paste”. Your editor only has the audio and visuals captured at the time of production as agreed upon in pre-production. In order to accommodate your change, your video partner will likely have to re-shoot or re-record.

Some changes are easy to facilitate, of course. If it’s our color by numbers picture, sure the script says we should paint sections 1 and 5 pink, but we could very well deviate and make them red if you wish. However, if you ask your video production partner to re-draw the entire picture, that’s not as simple.

This is when things start to snowball. Making changes equals more time into the project. More time equals more money out of your budget.

One change can quickly lead to many changes. For example, if you decide you don’t like a portion of the script of a :30 commercial and want it removed, now we don’t have enough content to fill 30 seconds. Then we need to re-record the voiceover to fit, and we need a new music track, and we need to select some new shots that fit the sequence better. So now because of a quick adjustment to the copy, we have to invest hours more work into other elements of the edit. It’s easy to see where one small change can snowball into many bigger changes – The Butterfly Effect.

In conclusion…

Client involvement in the entire production process is so important – you should always collaborate with your video production company. If you have a vision, make sure you’re involved in the process but trust them as professionals. It is much better to be involved throughout the process than to bring up concerns when it’s too late. Additional edits and pick up shots can effect both your deadline and bottom line!

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Published: January 30, 2017

Categories: Broadcast Production, commercials, Corporate and Web Video, how to, marketing, post production, video

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