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Motion Pictures

What Happens When The Filming Is Finished

The final phase of making a motion picture, post-production, begins after the film footage has been shot, and results in the finished product. Post-production consists of editing, sound mixing, and special effects.

Editing is the process of putting camera shots together in a way that tells the story in an interesting manner. A camera shot is a piece of continuously shot film without a break in the action. Most motion-pictures consist of hundreds or thousands of such shots. Each shot may be filmed many times. The editor compares these shots and chooses one. Shots and soundtracks are compared and combined on editing tables that allow the comparison of as many as six film and sound tracks. Digital editing systems first came out in the 1980s. Their use accelerated in the 1990s as computer technology rapidly improved. In digital editing a digital copy is made of all the shots for a motion picture. Using computers, editors can then try out various combinations of shots and edits. When a final version is selected, the editor can cut the actual pieces of film to create a motion picture that is put together just like the digital version.

Sound editing benefited from the explosion of recording technology associated with the music business. The advent of the multiple track magnetic recorder gave sound editors the ability to mix sounds together with a great deal of control and creativity. They could fade in a background sound like a rain storm in the same way that their counterpart in the music business might fade in a guitar solo. By the late 1970s, sound editors could use up to 16 separate tracks of sound, and each could have electronic effects added to it. In the 1980s, digital sound offered even more control.

Because the sound is initially recorded on a separate tape, it has to be synchronized with the film. An electronic timing pulse is used which controls the speed of the motors for the soundtrack and film mechanisms. Recording and editing the soundtrack can be almost as complex as filming the visuals. It has many components including dialogue, music, ambient sounds, and sound effects. The sound of a door slamming, for instance, is usually recorded separately in a sound studio, and may actually be the sound of a hammer striking a piece of metal.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Molecular distillation to My station and its duties:Motion Pictures - The Invention Of Motion Pictures, Sound Joins The Image, Color Comes To Film, Later Film History - Equipment