"Fix it in Post"

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Brian Z

Active member
I don't know if this has been psted before, but I received this from a Photog I have done some great wrok with (not the author, but could be).

A "great little read" -JD Enjoy!

Fix it in Post
The industry’s most popular crutch phrase
by Stephen Schleicher
Page 1 of 2

I didn’t have the best of weekends. It started when a guy decided he would back into my car while he was going through a drive through (what kind of idiot backs up in a drive through?). When I got home, I discovered my Mac had died (I think the motherboard is fried), and to top it all off I got one of the lamest reader response e-mails in my life.

I’m all for you great readers writing in to let me know what you think of my reviews, tutorials, etc, but when you do write in, please try to form complete and coherent sentences. This is the actual e-mail I received on Sunday:

“what acrap

minus green, makes the grey purple and the reds faint, buy a Da Vinci or


Normally when I receive death threats in the mail, I turn them over to my local FBI office and let them deal with sending the offenders to jail, but for this poor misguided soul, I decided to pass. I believe in this mess of incoherencies this reader was trying to respond to my WarmCards review and was trying to say, “Why spend money on the WarmCards when a DaVinci system will do the same thing”. In other words “Fix it in post”.

Instead of spending the time to get the desired look during the shoot, this person would rather have me spend thousands on a postproduction system to do the exact same thing. This saddens me dear readers, as more and more people are relying on the “Fix it in post” phrase every day as they work on productions.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic things that can be done using the latest and greatest high tech post technology. I write about these tools and techniques every week and use these tools to enhance video projects I am working on. Instead of spending thousands of dollars trying to fix mistakes made in the field (as the e-mail above suggests), why not shoot it right in the first place? The answer, I believe, is because many people have gotten lazy and would rather shoot sloppy and spend the extra green in post than doing it right the first time.

Yes, “Fix it in post” has become a crutch phrase for many out there.

There was a time when we would go out and find the best lighting directors, cinematographers, and other production crew that our budget could afford to get our shot to look like we imagined it. If we were shooting on video, we tweaked our lighting and our cameras to give us a great representation of a film-look.

Still some people would respond by saying, “I don’t try to achieve a film look when I shoot my video because post gives me so many more options to make it look like film”. To me it sounds like people would rather not spend the time during the shoot making beautiful pictures, instead relying on a plug-in to do it for them.

There are some fantastic post plug-ins to make your video look like film, and yes, they do a great job, but for the most part these techniques are slow, sometimes taking hours and hours to render out a thirty second video clip. You could have spent that time tweaking your equipment in the field to achieve the desired look instead of wasting valuable (and expensive) processor time in post. By spending a little extra time during the shoot, there is less that needs to be manipulated inside your post box.

For those who say, “But what if I don’t know what look I want when I go out and shoot?” I would respond by saying, “I think you need to spend more time in pre-production deciding what message your production is trying to convey.” Think of the great film and video directors. Did they always rely on post techniques to help them achieve the desired look? No, the spent time evaluating film stock, using filters, manipulating lights on set for great contrast and shadow, and evaluating color schemes used in a scene. They understood the tools they were working with, and knew how to utilize those tools to work for them.

What kind of message does “It doesn’t matter, we can fix it in post” say to the aspiring videographers and filmmakers out there? That it is okay to ignore good lighting, because there is a plug-in that will allow you to create new lighting schemes? That it is okay to have crappy composed shots because in post you can move things around to get the best composition? That it doesn’t matter if you don’t have good set design and decorating, because all of the “things” you left out can be placed back in using a 3D software program? That it is okay not to use a tripod, because you can use motion stabilization to stabilize the shot? That is okay to capture poor audio because the state of digital audio postproduction allows you to clean up the bad parts? That is an awful message to be conveying.

The “let’s fix it in post” mentality of some production folk is just like saying to a chef, “Go ahead and burn the steak, we’ll cover it in catsup and no one will know the difference”. Whether you are the diner of that burnt cinder, or the viewer of poor quality video that had all the bad parts fixed in post, it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Instead, we should be saying, “Let’s shoot this the best way we can, using the best composition and lighting techniques, to make our film/video, look the way we want it to. Then, if we have major problems that can’t be handled in the field, we can try to find the solution in the post suite.”

By taking the time and carefully crafting our production while we shoot, the time we spend in post can be used to fine tune our edit, and add those elements that are needed to enhance our work, instead of wasting time fixing the things we ignored while shooting.


Well-known member
While I agree with most of what you have written or quoted here that the emphasis should be on production quality at the shoot rather than falling back on "fix it in post", I have however, come across some circumstances where it is better to create a look in post than to be "stuck with a look" after a shoot.

Example: For awhile it was in vouge to use pro mist, soft fx and stocking filters for shooting interviews. When clients would ask me if I could use a softening filter for an interview or b-roll, my question in reply would be, "Is everything else for this story being shot with the same filters? because, if not, the scenes that were shot with the soft filters would stand out like a sore thumb and it would be very difficult to uniformly match everthing else in post." You cannot go back and "undo" the soft fx filtration once it is shot that way. You are then stuck with that diverse look in post.

Now I find myself saying that if the other video for this story was shot without filtration it is far better to create a "soft" or "glow" matte applied evenly on the AVID in post. Rather than have a quilt "look" of fixes sometimes "plug ins" work better. Under these circumstances it is better to "fix or create a look in post" then to be stuck with a "look" that would be tough to match.

Brian Z

Active member
I hear your point, I think the premise of the piece is not that you can't fix it in post, it is that too many people (read: PORDUCERS) use that as the fix-it-all, and that the possibility is there for photogs to get lazy and not go for a shot and setup the colors, etc, when it can jsut be done in post.

Did I confuse you enough? :eek:
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