The final edit is done! The movie has been shot, the effects have been rendered, the music has been written and the sound has been mixed. Now we get to put the final touches on the film - polish it up and make it all shiny for viewing by the masses.
Color Correction and Grading
When shooting, light can change quickly and un-noticeably, at least to the naked eye. But when it’s all edited together, it’s not uncommon for shots to look different from each other when compared to each other side by side, even if they were shot in the same space. This happens for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s the lights themselves, or the way something bounces off of a piece of clothing, or simply just how the camera lens was set up from shot to shot.
These sometimes subtle differences can have a jarring effect on the viewer, which is usually not what the filmmaker wants to do, so that’s when it’s time to take it into colour correction.
So, when the picture is locked and finished - that means that all the VFX is complete, and no more timing or editing changes are needed - it can go to the Colorist, who comes in with both a technical as well as a creative eye.
On the technical side, this person has to make sure that the piece is “broadcast safe”. This concept used to be because colour receivers on television sets could only handle certain wavelengths to show the image properly, but in today’s digital age it’s mostly so that there is some kind of uniform standard that everyone can follow and guarantees a level of image quality. Colorists also know how colours will be seen on different mediums, because no two monitors are exactly alike and believe it or not, the way a colour looks can actually change based on how light is set up in a room. There are a lot of complicated variables to navigate, so colorists generally work on perfectly calibrated machines so that they can ensure they’re looking at true values.
Creatively, the colorist will balance out and correct the various needs from shot to shot within a scene, creating a smooth visual flow. And if the movie requires a particular “look” to create a mood, the colorist will apply a grade that reflects the filmmakers vision.
Conforming The Edit
While all the different elements are being adjusted by other specialists, the picture editor patiently waits for things to come back so that he or she can put everything back together accurately. This is called conforming the edit, and is where the final sound mix and coloured picture finally come together.
But even when those things come in, it’s not the end of the road. On most high-end films, another specialised editor, called the _Online Editor_, will come in and take over the timeline from the picture editor and do a final technical pass over the entire piece.
The Online Editor will do final color adjustments, add titles, do final effects, and check every frame of the film with meticulous detail to ensure quality control. Once it’s passed the test, he or she makes the final work print of the movie to be copied and distributed accordingly.