Explained: the ‘offline’ and ‘online’ editing process
The post-production process can sometimes feel a little hands-off from a client’s perspective, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It might feel a little strange to leave your content in the hands of someone else, but editors will still require your input and feedback, it just needs to be at the right stage. In this week’s article, we’ll look at what goes on in the post-production process, explain the differences between offline and online edits, and look at how best to manage the feedback and amend process with your chosen video production agency during this time.
It’s sometimes a little tricky to explain the editing process without descending into technical mumbo-jumbo, so I’ll do my very best to avoid too much jargon. The first thing to know is that there are two stages to the editing process; the offline and the online, and that these stages are usually split into draft/feedback/amend cycles between the video production agency and the client.
The offline edit process is where the narrative or structure of the edit is built. At this stage it’s less about the technical process (making things look nice and shiny) and more about shaping a cohesive story based on the creative treatment or storyboard. An editor might try to experiment during this stage, such as placing shots and soundbites in a different order to what was originally specified; adding in additional material; they may even take out some sections, but don’t panic, a good editor is always working with your objectives front and centre in mind.
You’ll quite often receive an edit that might seem a little rough around the edges, or may not even have any b-roll* or cutaways (particularly if time is of the essence and the editor hasn’t had time to tidy things up yet), but this is totally natural – so don’t worry about those details. The most important thing we want you to do at this stage of the edit is to listen. Listen to the content… are you happy with the messages and the way the story is being told? If you are, great. If not, then let the production agency know, and get a second, third or fourth edit built. Sometimes, we’ll even supply an audio-only edit at this draft stage so that the viewer isn’t distracted by the visuals, and instead just concentrates on what they’re hearing.
At some point in the offline process, the editor will drop in the b-roll (sometimes called GVs [General View] or cutaways) and this is when you’ll really see the edit begin to take shape and look like an actual film! But a little note of caution… keep a careful eye on what you see in every shot and make sure that nothing sneaks in that an editor might not be aware of, maybe something that could cause you trouble down the line (old logos I’m thinking of you!).
The offline process can go through a number of rounds, so it’s worth ensuring that for each round, you collect all feedback from your side before sending it over. Feedback that comes in dribs and drabs can make the edit process significantly more complicated and much more labour-intensive.
After a couple of rounds of feedback, the edit should in most cases be in a place where it can be taken into the online stage, which (if everything in the earlier stages of production have been agreed and followed) shouldn’t really require much client input, so now’s the time to put your feet up and relax. The online edit stage is where the tidy and polish occurs; colours are adjusted to make things more visually appealing; sound and music is mixed to the proper levels; ums and errs are removed from interviews (if not already done so); title cards and signed off motion graphics are added in where appropriate, and it’s amazing what a difference this can make to your final film.
After all this is done and you’re happy to sign it off, it’s simply then just a case of getting the right video file deliverables for your chosen social media platforms or channels (which you would have discussed and agreed upon with the video production agency during the very early stages of pre-production).
Of course, there’s a tremendous amount of work that goes on beyond this, and this is just a very small snapshot of the processes involved. In the final article in the series I’ll be summarising some of the tips we’ve looked at and think about how you might kickstart your idea for a video project or commission.
* B-roll is essentially the footage you drop over the top of the interviews or voiceover and is supplementary to the primary footage and not always essential to the narrative. Primarily it consists of supporting imagery and cutaway shots.
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