Transcript: A Piece of the Action
Everyone had some the last time the business made sense, says Rob Long
This is Rob Long with Martini Shot for The Ankler.
If you look at the production schedule of any television series or movie, you’ll notice an awful lot of stuff that comes under the heading of “post-production.”
There are color corrections, transfers, dirt fixes, mastering, onlining, sound mixes, all sorts of little adjustments to the sound and the picture — for a weekly TV show, it’s sometimes an additional week’s worth of fiddling — so many processes, so much hard work, that it’s hard to remember that in the end, the thing you’ve touched up and fussed over is just going to be blasted through the internet —sometimes spending some time out of the pipes and sailing through the air, into and out of space itself — and then watched on an old TV or, worse, a phone, with a half-inch speaker and with a lot of other stuff happening all around it, in a living room with people talking and also on TikTok and kids arguing about whether they’ve done their homework and noisy, distracting life drowning out the carefully mixed sound cues and the delicately reframed master shot.
And God forbid someone in the post-production phase notices a boom shadow, that momentary dark line that appears on a face or the back of a set when the boom mic repositions briefly in front of a light.
We’ll get out the electronic paintbox and work the shadow frame by frame until it’s barely noticeable on the screen, and certainly not noticeable by anyone else.
I’ve been in edits where the only way to get the right mix of performance, tempo and meaning is to use a shot that doesn’t match — maybe the fork is in the wrong hand, maybe there’s a missing person, maybe there’s a big fat lingering boom shadow on the side of the frame, and we’ll try everything — we’ll flip the shot, we’ll blow up the frame, we’ll fuzz out the detail, we’ll try everything and then, eventually, give up. And someone will say, Okay, enough. I’ll pay you $1,000 for every letter we get, and we’ll all have to admit that no one — no one — really notices these things.
At a certain point during post-production, when whatever you're working on is in the editing stage, you have to choose between making an edit that helps the pace, uses the best take, removes an element you no longer need — any number of useful and necessary things — and one that doesn't show the coffee cup suddenly appearing in the star's other hand.
This is called continuity, and the rule is, Continuity doesn't matter.