Finishing is the Hard Part: The Details

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In a previous post, I described some of the psychological challenges of finishing a project.

Just as we’re ready to be done, we must once again see our work hyper-critically in order to complete the final stages of production.

In revisiting this topic, I’d like to offer a more detailed list of the steps we follow once the picture edit is complete.

Keep in mind as you move through these steps that finishing a project is a non-linear process. You may be mixing audio when you discover an image that needs recropping. It’s OK to make that change, but try to stay on task as it’s easy to get distracted.

Audio Mixing

Audio generally requires less render time than video so it’s a good place to begin.

  • Add tone between interview bites
  • Mix interview, tone, b-roll, and music
  • Add one frame dissolves to the head and tail of all audio bites
  • Fix pops and hums

Once complete, review your work. Play your project and just listen. Take notes if you need to, but try to watch and listen straight through. Things that sound fine when you play them over and over again, may need more work when heard in the context of an entire piece.

Depending on the length and complexity of your project, mixing can take anywhere from several hours to a day or two.

Video Color Correction

  • Color correct interview. Once you have one interview clip to your liking, you can copy and paste attributes to the rest of the interview. You may still need to tweak further, but this will certainly cut down on your overall time.
  • Color correct b–roll

Just as with audio mixing, once your first pass of color correction is complete, try to watch the entire piece before making additional changes. This will help you to see the overall look of your project.

Color correction usually takes longer than audio mixing. It can easily take a day to complete, maybe two.

For more information see MediaStorm’s Guide to Basic Color Correction in Final Cut 7. Though it was written for FCP, the principles apply directly to Adobe Premiere Pro. Premiere Pro even uses many of the same tools.

Photography Color Correction

  • Tone photography
  • Replace RAW images with toned photography

MediaStorm’s photography workflow is covered in our Post-Production Workflow. The $14.95 package includes a complete 50-page guide to using Apple’s Aperture.


Subtitles generally require the most render time as they use an alpha channel, or semi-transparency, so that video can be seen beneath them. Unless the project is in a foreign language, we usually add them last.

For more information on subtitles including our style guide, see MediaStorm’s Guide to Using Subtitles.

The MediaStorm Approach

For a complete guide to our entire approach, check out the MediaStorm Post-Production Workflow. Currently the workflow covers working in Final Cut 7 and X. If you purchase now, you’ll receive free access to the Premiere Pro workflow when we add it later this year.