by Sam Mestman

There is a lot of money riding on the fact that you don’t have a clue as to what you’re doing in post production. How do I know this? Because post production, workflow, and color are how I make my living. If there is one thing I can legitimately call myself an expert on, it is the post-production side of the indie film experience. In fact, I wish I could unlearn half the things I know, if for no other reason than the fact somewhere along the line I became a total fucking nerd who actually cares about Gamma settings, color spaces, hard drive speeds, video cards, and broadcast standards. I literally make myself nauseous when I hear myself talking sometimes. Anyway, It is my belief that somewhere there is a Wizard of OZ of Post Production that sits around all day and comes up with new annoying formats for people to learn, bugs that will totally screw you if you’re not aware of them, and ways for film festivals to completely butcher the projection and sound of your movie. The Wizard of Post runs a post house somewhere and wants to convince you to spend $40,000 to do a 4k digital master of your new RED movie that you will then find out can’t actually be projected at 99% of all theaters and film festivals in the country. He wants to bill you at $600/hour to color correct your movie using Scratch, Lustre, Pablo, or any of the other setups that don’t have much better functionality than Davinci Resolve. He will talk at length about calibrated projectors, video scopes, and most importantly, he will talk about why the setup that YOU had planned on using will not work. He might even be right…. but usually, he just has overhead to maintain. WARNING: do not continue reading any of this if you don’t want to become a total nerd.

Seriously. Stop reading now.

Okay… you’ve been warned.

POST PRODUCTION Resources

Okay,here are the places I go to find Post information on a regular basis. Some of these will be obvious, and some are books that are hard to find. However, each of these have taught me a lot of stuff. At the end of the day, there’s too much annoying post crap out there to list all the specific places and articles I’ve found over the years to solve my various problems… look at these as your go-to’s. if something really gets in your way… start googling. Eventually, you’ll figure it out.

  1. www.wemakemoviespost.com – I’ll just come right out and say it, this is a bit of shameless self promoting. On the other hand, if you hire me (www.wemakemoviespost.com is my personal site) to do your post, you’ll be glad you found out about me. At the very least, even if you don’t have a lot of money for post, get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction and help you out any way I can. And if you want to take that ridiculous post house quote you got, split it in half, and have your movie still look awesome, you should definitely give me call. There isn’t much I haven’t seen and not much I haven’t done when it comes to post, and you’ll be in good hands.
  2. www.fcp.co – This is the best, most frequently updated Final Cut site I’ve ever found.  Great site, great forum, great layout.  Best FCP site on the internet, and the only one you really need to know about.
  3. www.rippletraining.com – Simply put, if you want to get comfortable in a FCPX/Motion/Resolve Workflow (what I use), their tutorials are hands down the best, especially their Motion 5 and Resolve Tutorials which are pretty much the most well done and thorough tutorials I’ve ever seen.  Click on the following to see all of their tutorials for FCPX, Motion 5, and Davinci Resolve.  Also, their Macbreak Studio Podcast is probably the best free FCPX resource there is.
  4. www.taoofcolor.com – This is Patrick Inhofer’s site.  It’s a site for PAID color correction tutorials (He just released a pretty cool looking grade along series that I haven’t checked out yet).  However, he also has an amazing FREE newsletter you should sign up for if you’re into color correction and post in general.  It’s weekly, it’s awesome, and has tons of useful links.  He’s one of the good guys.  I’d really recommend purchasing his tutorials if you’re interested in learning the “why’s” of color and not just the how’s (which is all most tutorials teach you).
  5. www.redsharknews.com – A great, up and coming tech centric post website.
  6. www.aotg.com – Art of the guillotine is a fantastic name for an edit site and is a great collection of post articles.
  7. www.studiodaily.com – These guys are a little more straightforward industry centric with a little less personality, but they have good info.
  8. www.philiphodgetts.com – One of the smartest guys in post who has a great blog.  He’s also got a really good podcast you can check out here.
  9. www.fcpx.tv – If you want a simplified, highly streamlined series of great FCPX articles and resources, go here.
  10. www.kenstone.net – Pretty much an encyclopedia of useful FCP articles.
  11. www.provideocoalition.com – This site used to be great but is starting to suck now, as they pretty much are owned by Adobe, and run WAY too many “sponsored” articles.
  12. www.reduser.net – I’m sure most of you know about this place, but I’m listing it anyway. Bottom line is that despite all the rampant fanboyism, it’s still the best place to get your basic RED questions answered. I can almost always find answers to obscure workflow questions (for example, what are the best Compressor settings for a 2:1 dvd) by searching around on here.
  13. www.lafcpug.org – This is the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro user group. They have a monthly meetup where they have demos, tutorials, and presentations from the various players in the Post Production realm. Also, their website is pretty helpful and informative with a bunch of reviews and features on various post related things.  You should also sign up for their newsletter as there’s all kinds of great tutorials to go through.
  14. www.editorsguild.com – If you want to join the Los Angeles editors guild… go here. It’s kind of an annoying, beaurocratic process… but, well, if you want that union money… you gotta do it.
  15. www.creativecow.com – This is the default pro video forum and message board. Chances are, if you’ve had some sort of video related problem, there’s a post about it on here. Only problem with these guys is that many of the answers tend to be very unhelpful… as in “spend more money on better gear”… and also, like most every forum, half the posters on there have absolutely no fucking clue what they’re talking about but like to sound like they do. On the other hand, you can learn a lot of stuff here as well… just take all forums with a grain of salt.
  16. Steve Hullfish – Want to be a good colorist?  Buy these two books by Steve Hullfish “The art and technique of color Correction” and “Color Correction for Video, Second Edition”. Between these books, you will understand the how’s and why’s of everything color related, and will demystify the process for you. It’s all you need to know… well, that and some practice.
  17. www.fxphd.com – They have tutorials/classes on just about any piece of software that anyone is actually using in the industry.
  18. Reducation – go here for official info on how to take Red’s class at Red Studios in Hollywood/
  19. www.apple.com – yes, this is sort of a joke, but the forums here are pretty good too as long as you’re working in an apple (Final cut based) platform… just click on support, then software, then whatever pro program you’re looking for more info on, and there’ll be a forum for it which will usually have the answer you’re looking for.
  20. www.digitalcinemasociety.com – Some good articles and videos in the “tech tips” and “new streaming” sections.
  21. Color and Mastering for Digital Cinema by Glenn Kennel – Do you really want to understand what all these color space and gamma settings are all about? Buy this book. It will make you angry, it will make you sleepy, and parts of it will not make any sense (unless you reread them a few times), and not only that, it’s a really fucking expensive book…. BUT, I can say that after six aggravating months of googling and trying to understand all this crap… this book more or less finally spelled it all out for me. And while I think most of these standards are ridiculous and inaccessible to the common man… well, at least I know what they are now and why they exist.

Recommended Post Production Newsletters:

  1. www.taoofcolor.com –  Hands down the best, most useful way to stay up to date on the post/color correction world.  Patrick Inhofer’s free weekly newsletter is pretty much all you need to know in the world of post.  Thanks Patrick!
  2. www.wemakemovies.org – Our newsletter is awesome, you get a free filmmaking survival guide when you sign up, and you get all sorts of updates about our events, podcasts, free tutorials, resources, and articles… and it’s free.
  3. www.aotg.com – Just a great newsletter from Art of the guillotine (great name for an edit site, too).  Tons of links and useful info.
  4. www.redsharknews.com – Another great, more tech centric newsletter.
  5. www.studiodaily.com – A more straightforward industry centric newsletter, but good info here too.

FCPX and Resolve Recommended Gear, plugins, setups, and resources:

  1. An FCPX Editor’s buyer’s guide – Written by yours truly for Moviemaker Magazine, this give a full rundown of recommended gear and setups to build your own FCPX/Resolve setup.
  2. The WMM Tutorials page – I also did a bunch of more advanced FCPX workflow tutorials (and plugin demos) that are meant to be companion pieces to some of the pay tutorials you might find that will help you build efficient workflows for your projects.
  3. macbreak studio – This is where the free stuff from the ripple training guys goes to.  All kinds of good stuff here.
  4. How to build a Pro Edit Suite by Walter Biscardi – I can’t recommend this article highly enough.
  5. 3 hour long Davinci Resolve workshop – This is long… but very cool.
  6. Top 5 Video Editing Speakers for under $500
  7. My Recommended FCPX must own 3rd party software/plugin list – Software: 
    • Event Manager X – This one is pretty mandatory.  It allows you to easily show/hide which projects load in/out of FCPX.  If you have a lot of events/projects, expect FCPX to become really slow and hard to use if you don’t have this.  The cool part?  It’s only $4.99.
    • 7 to X – Lets you move your FCP7 projects over to FCPX.  If you’re actively making the move to FCPX from 7, this is an awesome tool. This one’s pretty cheap too.  Only $9.99 on the App Store.
    • X to 7 – Does the opposite of 7 to X… so if you need to get and FCPX project back to 7 for any reason, you’ll need this.  This is a bit more expensive at $49.99.
    • X to Pro – Get your FCPX project into Protools.  If you’re working with a sound mixer, you’ll need this.  Light Version costs $59.99, and pro version is $149.99.
    • Noise Industries FxFactory – Most of the Plugins I’m going to list come from these guys.  Everything they do is of consistently high quality, and they offer free demo versions so you can try before you buy with everything they have.  Love these guys.  I did a roundup demo video of some of my favorite plugins from them here.
    • Nattress Levels and Curves – Brings Curves to FCPX.  Must have if you want to do real Color work in FCPX.  I use this more than any other FCPX plugin.  Here’s a video I did about it.
    • Tokyo Split Animator – Makes Split screen MUCH easier.  No more keyframing.  Must have.  Here’s a video I did about it.
    • Pipinator – This is a great companion with the Split Animator above.  If you use these two in tandem, you can do some things that would have taken hours/days with all kinds of complicated keyframes in a matter of minutes.
    • Ripple Callouts – If you do a lot of industrial/tutorial type video… you have to get this.  Here’s the video I did about it.
    • SliceX – An Awesome masking tool for FCPX.
    • Luca’s Light Kit, Impackt, LIght Leaks, and Grunge Effects – Luca Visual FX makes some really cool, higher end VFX /film look type plugins.  They’re great.  Here’s the video I did about it.
    • ParticleMetrix and Volumetrix – You should use these in conjunction with each other for some fast and easy Particle and Title FX.  Here’s a video I did about it.
    • Free FCPX plugins – Alex 4D makes the best free ones in my opinion and Ripple Training and fcp.co have some too that are useful.

Now here are some pages covering a few other post-productions topics:

 

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