Budgeting For Post – Workflows

I had asked Stephen Marinaccio, at LineProducing.com , to enlighten me on budgeting for post production. His answer is very helpful – straight forward and easy to understand. I asked him if it was okay to post and he said sure – see below.
Thanks very much, Stephen. It totally makes sense the way you’ve laid it out. And, yes, I am a member of your LineProducing.com web site. I joined a week or two ago.

Do you mind if I put your email below on my blog? I’ll just copy/paste what you have below and I’ll hookup the link to lineproducing.com

Thx a lot for your help. Excellent material well stated.


On 2/5/2010 11:50 AM, Stephen Marinaccio wrote:

No worries.  Happy to help.

As opposed to other advice, I’d say that you don’t want to rely on handing your budget to a Post Supervisor and letting that person ‘deal with the problems’.  I think you are correct for needing to understand the process yourself.  It’s the way I do things too – I need to understand it all, this way I can create a better budget and production plan.  Also, if you know issues about Post, it’ll stop you and others from whimsically shouting on the set, “We’ll fix it in post.”  That’s when I get goosebumps.
To that end, there are – of course – a lot of variables.  Also, it’s funny you should mention a flow chart because that’s something I plan on adding to my website, LineProducing.com.  Are you a member there yet?
In the meantime, here are some considerations (and how I work).  It’s a lot to type, so I am brushing over things – but feel free to call me to talk through this more.  Happy to help.  310 293-8673
What media are you shooting on?  Remember, a “digital intermediate” means in the strictest sense that you shot an film, posting in the digital realm and then finishing on film again.  Today, many projects are being captured in HD, 4k or higher – then filming out.  I say this to explain that nomenclature.
So, once you know your capture medium, you should (mentally) skip to the end.  What’s the finishing medium?  Is it direct to DVD/BluRay?  35mm release?  Will you need D-Mags (hard drives sent to a theater for digital projection)?
Let’s assume that you need to finish on 35mm for distribution.  Now, we’ll fill in the gap of getting there.
Capturing on an HD (or higher) format will entail a process that could go like this:
– Capture on HDD (mounted to the camera)
– Remove HDD and download to a SAN ARRAY (a big tiered hard drive system).  I like to have this on-set so I am downloading the materials immediately.
– Once this is in the master SAN, it should be processed to create ‘proxies’ (smaller versions) for editorial and laid off onto a shuttle drive that goes to the edit bay.
– Rinse and repeat this process for each day of the shoot.  You’ll need to budget for one or two Data Managers and the SAN ARRAY.  I often find it better to buy a SAN, as then it’s your vaulting master.
Now, editorial happens like normal on either an AVID or FCP.  NOTE:  Each edit system has quirks depending on how you capture and process to proxy.  For example, shooting on RED or VIPER will require a process to translate the material to OMF, the file type used on AVID.  Cutting on FCP for these systems is less difficult.
– Also, a side note – if you can jam-sync your sound into a camera record track, this will ALMOST eliminate the daily grind for an assistant editor to sync sound each day.  However, you will ALWAYS need to have a back-up record on DAT, DIVA or another audio recording media.
– Back to the edit, so this is now ‘normal’ , the editor edits and you lock picture and then conform.
– For finish, this is also fairly standard, in such the way of on-lining the project (this is when they assemble the entire picture to match the cut), then coloring the film per the director & DP.
– I am skipping the audio side of things, because that’s all ‘normal’ too – foley, ADR, mix & finish.
– Then, like film, you need to create the MO (a master audio format) and then the Optical Negative (that’s the sound track) from audio (and I’ll presume have it approved by Dolby Labs.
– Back to the picture side, the final approved film is then filmed out in a process which laser etches the picture directly to a piece of film emulsion.  This is your negative master, and acts (in a way) like it was shot in the camera.
– So, now the Optical Track and Master Negative are developed and married together at a film lab.
– You create your IP, IN and check prints for approval.
– Grab some popcorn and watch your film with friends.
Don’t get it wrong, there are a few steps like adding in VFX and fixing shots which are simply other things you’ll need to worry about.  But, in general – that’s a brief overview.  As you can see, it’s nat really all that mystical or difficult.  I’d also suggest that you take a tour of some post facilities and see what they do and ask a lot of questions.
I have been my own Post Supervisor on my last six feature films and used capture technology from IMAX and Genesis to RED and VIPER – and everything in between.  Post is a quagmire of zaniness, but it is manageable.
Are you a member of the Producers Guild?  If so, we have a few things coming up which are all about Post.
Hope all this helps.  Good luck!

stephen marinaccio  =  line producer + dga upm
310 293 8673 mobile  |  aim = standinglp  |  morenachos.com

creator: lineproducing.com = registry+job list+advice+more…

On Feb 5, 2010, at 8:11 AM, John Gaskin wrote:
Hi, Stephen. I’m looking at a broader understanding of the workflows of shooting in high def then taking it through post. Once I get a better understanding of that then I can walk through the costs and it will make more sense to me. I know that it’s a shifting arena but if I had a flow chart of some kind that would anchor me then I wouldn’t feel so lost. So far, the post sup’s that I’ve tried to work with have either dazzled me with their use of letters or assumed that I know more than I do.

I don’t have a particular budget in mind, but I’d like to parallel the post budget to something like a 12 – 15 week post period on a typical, but bigger, indie feature film production in the bottom line budget range of $3 to $7Mil. No fancy plate shots/VisFX, but some green screen.


On 2/5/2010 10:46 AM, Stephen Marinaccio wrote:

Which aspects are you looking to figure out?

stephen marinaccio  =  line producer + dga upm
310 293 8673 mobile  |  aim = standinglp  |  morenachos.com

creator: lineproducing.com = registry+job list+advice+more…

On Feb 5, 2010, at 7:23 AM, John Gaskin wrote:

I have been working for many years as a film accountant so I know all of
the budgeting and cost aspects of production. But I’ve been left behind
when budgeting for HD, particularly the more recent techniques of
Digital Intermedia. Is there anywhere I can get a quick education on
this area?

Much thx.


About filmproduction
I have worked in the film production industry since 1985, working on over 50 different productions of every size in 6 different countries. My self-published book, "Walk The Talk" is written in an easy to read manner for film students and working professionals who haven't had the chance to learn how to 'Direct the Money'.

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