Hardware and Software Mega FAQ Part II
Version 2.0 - 09/13/09
For part one- visit this link.
Now comes the really fun part, the planning has paid off, you've fought your way past the front lines and you've got the movie in the can! Post-production is where a collection of footage becomes an actual movie. By using editing, music, sound design and visual effects you can create any mood or feeling you can imagine. And what used to be only in the purview of a few wizards like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is now entirely within your reach.
The most important aspect of post-production is the edit, these days using NLE(non-linear editing) software. If your film is cut well, all of the other aspects of post-production will be just icing on the cake. Before bringing in music, sound effects and VFX, make sure every scene stands well on its own.
Before we go any further we should have a quick discussion about what kind of computer you have. Mac vs. PC is an ongoing debate and so we'll try to steer clear here. 2-pop is primarily focused on editing on the Mac with Final Cut Pro, however for the sake of this article we'll look at both platforms. The bottom line is you'll be able to complete a movie with either system, so we'll look at some more or less equivalent packages for both. In many cases you'll find software that's cross-platform, i.e. available for Mac and PC.
As for system requirements, post-production software requires a lot of processing power, memory, hard drive storage, etc. Look through the boards and you'll get a pretty good sense of what folks are running.
Mac OS X - Snow Leopard
Yeah you're going to eventually need this if you haven't upgraded already. OS X Snow Leopard brings full 64-bit computing to the Mac platform. This will make all of your apps run faster, especially those tuned specifically for 64-bit computing.
Gives you a lot of bang for the buck, including iMovie and iDVD. ILife may not be "professional" but you'd be surprised how many shorts, indies, etc were edited with iMovie.
Final Cut Express
A DV and HDV only version of Final Cut Pro. Gives you much of the functionality and can be a nice, affordable alternative or a toe in the water.
Final Cut Studio
The flagship production suite for the Mac. This gives you simply unprecedented bang for the buck with everything from Final Cut Pro for editing, Motion for graphics, SoundTrack Pro for sound design and music, DVD Studio Pro for DVD creation and Color for color correction. I work with this every day and can't recommend it highly enough.
Adobe Premiere Pro
Provides a lot of amazing features and compares favorably both to FCP and Avid.
Adobe Production Premium
Nice Adobe bundle with everything you'll need to edit, post and create visual effects.
If you don't get the whole Adobe bundle, you'll always need Photoshop for something: touching up photos from the shoot to designing a flyer for the screening. And it has built in animation tools, so you can paint frame-by-frame.
These programs can be quite tricky to learn but you can do some amazing stuff if you take the time to learn them.
This is the one I use. If you are super adept at your NLE, you may also find it not too tricky to pick up.
Amazing bang for the buck, used on a lot of TV shows(like Battlestar Galactica and the now-cancelled Star Trek series) and some movies. I found this one harder to learn but it's not impossible.
More or less the industry standard for visual effects films. Has a learning curve but there's a lot of training and community support out there if you want to give it a go.
The manual is a great place to start but they are often written more like encyclopedias. Supplemental training books often come with real world examples and can get you up to speed quickly. Then you can ask really cool questions here on 2-pop!
Apple Pro Training for Mac
For the Mac, the Apple Pro Training series is used as courseware for official Apple training classes.
Adobe Classroom in a Book
Solid series of training guides for Adobe software.
Sound is half of your movie and another one of those areas where if you can hire a pro you may be much happier. I won't go into all the details of ADR, foley, music licensing and all that here, that's another FAQ. Here's a few programs you can use to help your movie sound its best.
Super easy to use music creation and mixing program, comes as part of iLife.
Comes as part of Final Cut Studio, capable of intermediate sound design and processing with a very intuitive interface.
Surround sound mixing, more high end, almost for serious pros only.
The nice thing about creating a soundtrack in ProTools is that you're almost certain to find it at the studio you end up mixing in, should your budget afford a professional mix.
Apple's answer to Pro Tools. Slightly more weighted toward music than audio.
Some additional resources for sound:
We have a whole forum devoted to DVD Authoring, focused on iDVD and DVD Studio Pro. Here's an overview of what else is out there:
Comes free with DVD-equipped Macs or as part of iLife. Does pretty good stuff with nice animated menus though you may find yourself wanting more control and features.
DVD Studio Pro
Highly recommended. This is what I use and what a lot of Hollywood DVDs you buy in the store are made with(believe it or not). My training video for DVDSP.
Part of the Adobe Production Premium bundle.
More to come.