Post production is a broad term that refers to everything related to video editing. It may or may not follow Production because some video programs are created without anything new being shot.
Post production generally begins with the editor ingesting all available audio and video material into the editing computer. This includes everything that was shot during production, all available archival material, any graphics or animations created by a motion designer, and perhaps even music and sound effects.
The motion designer, graphic artist, or animator may or may not be the same person as the editor. Animation is a specialized and deep field, often performed by specialists. Because it’s a time-consuming job, animators can work to a certain extent independently from the editor and they can sometimes begin their work even before the rest of the footage comes in. In fact, sometimes there is no original footage shot at all and the entire project is animated. However, it’s a fallacy that animation is cheaper than shooting live action. Animation is such a painstaking, exacting process that the per-minute price of it can rival or even exceed shooting live action.
Another fallacy is that using stock footage is a cheap way to produce a video program. Sure, it’s much cheaper to buy an aerial shot of Dubai than it is to fly there and shoot your own, but if you need a lot of footage of something that can be shot locally, especially if those shots have to work together seamlessly, consider having it shot for you. It’s difficult to find stock footage that works well with other stock footage that fits your needs perfectly. And stock footage is bought a few seconds at a time so it gets pricey when used in quantity. Think of it as spice rather than meat-and-potatoes.
The editor brings all these elements together: original footage, graphics, stock photographs or footage, and music (stock library or original). They then create the first cut of the program itself. This cut is often shared electronically with the client for their review and feedback, but sometimes the client and/or director is present while the editor works, so the client can give instant feedback. In the business video world the editor is often the producer/director.
One way or another the first cut of a program is shared, feedback is given and revisions are made. Typically this loop repeats three times before the program’s content and pacing are tweaked to perfection. But this does not finish the video program.
Once “the picture is locked” a good editor will take one more pass through the program to optimize the colors of each scene so that the image quality remains constant from shot to shot. Sometimes a professional colorist is called upon to do this phase of post production. Likewise, sound should be tweaked for a perfect balance between dialogue, narration, music and sound effects. This is called sound sweetening and it can also be done by specialists at a dedicated sound mixing facility. But in most business video production the editor does both the color grading and the sound sweetening because basic tools for accomplishing this are already built into modern editing software.
Post production is where the magic of video comes together. It is a process with many steps, resulting in a video program ready to be shown to the audience.