Post Production Magic – Syncing Video, SFX, and Sound for horror flicks Guest Post by Helen Clark
“We’ll fix it in post” are words that inspire either confidence or dread, depending on the skill of the filmmaker and his production crew. With an inexperienced production team, the temptation often exists to try to improve the film (or more likely, fix problems) by utilizing a variety of techniques to correct flaws or improve poorly rendered practical special effects. This can get expensive, as the production team may have to enlist extra help, such as outsource animation teams, to fix problems.
But post production with your horror flick doesn’t have to send shivers down your spine. Properly used, time spent in post-production can be an excellent investment in your film. By utilizing some versatile tools and techniques, post-production is a great time to sync your video tracks with enhanced SFX and sound, resulting in an all-around better product. So whether you do it yourself, or rely on an outsource animation, SFX, or sound team, here are some ways to span the magic in post-production.
Some smart sound syncing
Sound editing in post-production offers some excellent opportunities for making what you’ve already shot and recorded sound better, or more eerie. Here’s some smart audio post-production ideas for your checklist:
- Match sound levels – Sound levels are important in horror films, where the virtual soundscape tells us a lot about the action and the mood. In post-production, you can ensure that lines of hushed dialogue are audible, or those little details, like the sound of an ominous tread on the steps, are clearly heard.
- Adding audio effects – The possibilities for adding audio effects in post-production are numerous. Need an eerie, disembodied voice? Use a combination of chorus and detune with your audio editing program. A chilling and robotic voice? Try a flange effect. The possibilities are numerous.
- Make the mood with music – Music is a great way to establish mood, and is a staple in horror film making. Think the screeching violins of “Psycho” or the ominous shark theme from “Jaws” and you get the idea.
- Sound effects spice it up – Crunching bones? Stabbing knives? That’s sound effects. You can buy many sound effects right off the shelf from sound effect libraries, or enlist the aid of an experienced sound effect or Foley artist to add that extra level of realism.
Improving your video SFX in post-production
You may do your video editing yourself, or farm portions of it out to outsource animation and editing services. This is the time when you can put the final touches on the special effects you’ve already incorporated into your film. As a general rule, it’s usually best to base your SFX off of real-world practical effects and add the final touches in post-production. Here are some avenues for exploration in your video and SFX post-production.
- Adjust the lighting and lighting balance – Nothing beats a well-lit and composed shot. But that doesn’t always happen in the field. If you find you need to adjust levels up or down when you’re editing your film, post-production digital tools offer some real flexibility.
- Adding special lighting effects – One of the most interesting effects that can be employed in post-production is the use of color filters to add interest to a scene. Have your editing team or outsource animation studio add a reddish overlay during a murder, or a washed-out sepia effect during a dream sequence to create a completely different look and feel for the scene.
- CGI cleanup of practical effects – Even if you’ve created excellent effects, post-production CGI and outsource animation studios can offer some real assistance in taking away distracting elements, like the occasional wire or other prop that’s decided to show up during the shoot.