Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We’ll fix it in post...

Steenbeck - how films were cut in ye olden days.

Having just been shooting and posting for a TV commercial and a photo shoot, I got to thinking about something... and the sentence that I hear so often in both mediums, which is “We’ll fix it in post”.

Now, let me clarify right off the bat that I am not a purist who thinks that editing should only be done on a Moviola or Steenbeck (even though I do view ‘them good ol’ days’ as a golden era and the process as a lost art new generations can only imagine)... nor am I of the opinion that all photography belongs in the linear form of film and dark rooms.

I appreciate any technology, changes or developments for what is good about such things, as well as what is not so good. I use modern techniques all the time. I shoot HD, I post on Final Cut. My photography is captured digitally and finished via Photoshop. I have a Holga but film is just not immediate enough for me. It doesn’t mean I view these approaches as the best... but they work for me.

But good practise, professionalism and an eye for detail is what remains a constant, no matter what, and that is why I tend to shudder at the line “We’ll fix it in post”. Don’t get me wrong, I have told myself that... even on the last shoot... but I even question myself when I find myself uterring the words and I make sure I know I can do the fix later... and only accept going down that route if there is no other option to get it right in camera. Obviously, nobody is perfect and mistakes can and will occur as well.

What I don’t like is when the line is used in order to just ignore a problem or challenge, to be lazy or to not be tested to overcome issues on set. Also, it‘s so easy to say those five little words, but get into post and try and tackle ‘that fix’ and suddenly there can be problems and it turns out that it cannot be corrected... or not satisfactorily. What do you do then? Re-shooting is not often an option. It’s been left to the very last chance to get it right and it won’t work. You’re screwed and regretting that decision.

I think that the amazing stuff technology can do now has made the art of lighting, the care and attention to detail and thoughtful consideration a rare commodity all too often. I use Photoshop to apply a look that I want, to clone out imperfections that make-up will not hide, to colour a prop or clothing accessory if the right colour just wasn’t available at the time... but these tools should not be taken for granted to the extent that we become complacent or lazy.

At the end of the day, pictures - moving or stills - are not ‘created’ by the tools we use... they are made by people and they succeed or fail based on our abilities, care and attention.

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