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What is post-production?

Post-production is at the end of the production line - coming after pre-production and production. It’s the process of converting footage into a format agreed by the broadcaster and production company, then editing it into a programme that is then delivered to the broadcaster. Quite a few independent production companies have some in-house post-production facilities, but if the programme needs online editing and more niche finishing processes - they may send it to a post-production house for further manipulation. To keep ahead of the competition and accommodate a vast array of formats, post houses offer much more than online and offline editing suites these days. Grading, audio post-production, VFX, motion graphics and content repurposing are services commonly seen on facility lists.    

Like production, post-production combines the efforts of administrative, artistic and technical departments. When RAW footage from production arrives in post, the first process it goes through is offline editing. After client feedback, the editor will produce a fine cut, which will go through another round of viewing, feedback and amendments. Offline finishes when the cut is ready for picture lock. To bring the programme up to TX (broadcast) standard, the resolution has to be upgraded in an online editing suite.

It’s quite common now for programmes to be graded at the end of the online edit. There are dedicated grading suites in most post-production facility houses, and colourists lead the grading process. A fine cut (or final cut) is the last edit process. Master copies are assessed (QC), then delivered to the broadcaster. The post house will also produce a volume of safe copies for the production company to archive and distribute.          

Post-production houses have in-house staff and a database of freelance editors, runners and edit assistants on their books, but production companies can decide if they want to use people from the post house or bring their own preferred freelancers onboard.  

WHAT GENRES DO POST PRODUCTION RUNNERS WORK IN?

Runners are in need on every single genre, which is fortunate for new entrants. Post-production houses take on multiple productions at any one time (could be anything from 5 to 15 productions) - there’s likely to be an eclectic mix of content being cut under one roof. Here is a list of possible genres you may encounter as a post production runner:

Genres that Post Production professionals work in:

  • Video Games

  • Animation

  • Reality TV

  • Children’s TV

  • Music TV

  • Documentary

  • Factual

  • Entertainment

  • Comedy

  • High End Corporate Video

  • Commercials

  • Drama

  • Sports/OB

WHAT ARE THE ENTRY LEVEL POSITIONS IN THE POST PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT?

The entry level positions for the Post-production Department are: 

  • Post Production Runner

  • Office Runner

  • Edit Assistant

  • Technical Runner

  • Junior Bookings Co-ordinator

  • Data Wrangler

  • Logger

WHAT IS THE CAREER PATH OF THE POST PRODUCTION?

Like any area of the TV industry - there are multiple routes in and a number of ways to merge into the department if you are determined to go into post production. Depending on your previous work experience, a good path is to start as a post-production house runner/receptionist, you could transition to edit assistant in 3-6 months, but it’s more likely to take a year or two. In broadcast and film, once you have got your first few credits under your belt, expect to stay as an edit assistant for anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Your next step would likely involve becoming a junior editor. Again expect to work in this capacity for 2 to 5 years before becoming a fully fledged editor. For a lot of editors, reaching the offline is a successful milestone in their career, but others may cross over into online and specialise in grading as colourists.

Areas of the industry these entry level jobs could lead into:

  • Editing

  • Edit Producing

  • Technical Operations

  • IT

  • VFX

  • Audio Post Production

  • Grading

  • Post Supervising

  • Data Management

  • Post Production House Operations Director

  • Production Management

  • Directing

  • Producing

  • Client Services

  • Sales

WHAT IS THE HIERARCHY WITHIN A POST PRODUCTION COMPANY?

With the rise and rise of digital formats - the structure of the post production landscape has changed significantly over the last few years, with many post facility houses introducing whole teams of data assistants, and tech management departments. Here are some job titles you’re likely to encounter in the post environment:

In house production staff:

  • Runner

  • Receptionist

  • Services Manager

  • Post Production Support

  • Post Producer

  • Edit Producer

  • Post Supervisor

In house technical staff:

  • Runner

  • MCU Operator/Technical Operator

  • Data Wrangler

  • Master Control Room Manager

  • Workflow Supervisor

  • Head of Operations

Editing In-house/Freelance:

  • Edit Assistant

  • Offline Editor/Online Editor

  • Head of Online Service

  • Offline Service Manager

Dubbing Suite:

  • Runner

  • Dubbing Mixer

  • Sound Editor

  • Head of Audio/Sound Designer

Is there a department hierarchy?

Yes, so tread carefully until you learn the hierarchy. Depending on the size of the company and what facilities it has to offer you can meet members of VFX, editing, sound and grading. Some will be in house, some freelancers drafted into to work on specific projects and some will be working for external companies who have dry hired the facilities. The Heads of Departments (HODs) and talent are at the top, unless you’re being visited by executives, commissioners or clients. Rule of thumb is: just be nice to everyone. When it comes to catering and refreshments - always prioritize those at the top of the hierarchy first.