The Workflow of Media: 8 Steps to Producing Digital Film & Video

We plan, we create, we refine. Filmmakers call that pre-production, production, and post-production. But that’s only three steps.

So what are the other five?

The rest of the magic goes unnoticed because we forget about the logistics and grunt work that happens in the before and after. If we’d factor this in, we would find that all media workflow can be organized into eight steps:

1. Pre-production
2. Production
3. Data preservation
4. Prepare data to be used
5. Editing
6. Post-finishing
7. Output & delivery
8. Distribution

Understanding and appreciating each step helps teams of creative people collaborate efficiently.

1. Pre-production
Even at the beginning, it is important to keep in mind the finished product and ask yourself, “Where is this going?” This step includes:

  • Planning
  • Setting up the shoot
  • Creating a budget

2. Production
The fun stuff begins. In this step:

  • Media is acquired
  • Optional on-set editing starts
  • Script supervisors take charge of maintaining continuity

3. Data preservation
A lot of the grunt work lies in this step. It includes:

  • Backing up files
  • Creating multiple locations for footage

4. Prepare data to be used
Editing logistics and organization are the essence of data preparation. In particular:

  • An editing platform is chosen
  • The project is set up
  • Appropriate storage space is created

5. Editing
Finally, the cutting begins. In this step:

  • An assembly is cut together
  • Test screenings are held
  • Temporary music and effects are added

6. Post-finishing
“Where does the footage go after the picture is locked?” The answer lies in this step. All of the following supplement the finished picture:

  • Finished graphics
  • Official music
  • Proper sound mix
  • Color correction
  • Visual tweaks

7. Output & delivery
Once the project is cut and mixed:

  • It is appropriated for viewing
  • DVDs and deliverables are produced

8. Distribution
The final step of the process ties everything together and reiterates the importance of knowing where the media is going before a single frame is shot. The distribution umbrella includes:

  • Contracts
  • Rights
  • Ownership
  • “The legalese”

With these eight steps, filmmakers can take an idea and turn it into a marketable finished product. In any genre of film, television, or digital video production, the same process must happen for the project to be successful.

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