Post Production Myths – True or False?

  • James-James-Dept-of-Post

    Post Production has changed a lot in the last few years. We wanted to check whether some of the widely held beliefs about it still hold true – or if they ever did. South Seas graduates Senior Colourist James Gardner and Online Editor James Brookes (Department of Post) agreed to help.

    1. Anything can be ‘fixed in post’

    James G: If you have enough money, yes. We can make you look younger and prettier, for example. There are the more basic things, like “I want to make the sky more blue” or “I want to change a colour of a car.” For Master Chef, we changed a logo on a wall. These are all fairly easy fixes. Anything more complicated than that, it comes down to your budget.

    2. The advanced technology is making the work easier

    James G: Err…. no. As we get better tools, people want to do more and expect more. The stuff we do now, we never would have done five years ago. Now, it’s the norm. You sit at a grade viewing and people will want to change pretty specific things in a shot.

    3. Editors are anti-social introverts / geeks

    James G: Offline editors are (laughs).

    James B: It takes a certain type of a person to be in a dark room, 10 hours a day. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the people we work with but… yeah… Winter’s a good time to do post, in the dark. In summer, we tend to get out a bit more.

    4. Editors hardly see daylight – or the rest of the crew

    James B: It’s pretty dark, yeah.

    James G: But In New Zealand, offline editing is going more and more towards IMAX editing. If you talk to someone like Warner Bros or EyeWorks (EyeWorks Touchdown), they’ve replaced all their edit suites with IMAX. They put their editors in pods of six people, and those six people cut an episode of The Block, or whatever it may be. They have a conversation about how the episode is going, so it’s a bit more social, editorially. Whereas on a doco, you might just sit in a room and it’s just one person that does it. So it depends on the genre.

    5. Editors work long hours, eat at their desks (and sleep under it)

    James G: Work long hours – yes. To be fair, I’ve met some editors who are pretty relaxed, cut by the beach and do f*** all work. So that’s probably fifty-fifty to be fair. I think sometimes you do work really hard and eat at your desk and just don’t leave. But we’re lucky that we can walk between these rooms and have a conversation with each other.

    James B: Offline editors often do a 10-week job that’s really busy, then have 5 weeks off. We (online editors) tend to work all year round, because there’s always stuff to be graded.

    6. Editors have the final say about a production

    James G: They’re the last person to put a suggestion in.

    James B: Sometimes you do changes that people ask for after they’ve left so, in that case, you’re the last person to see it and have to get it right. But no, we don’t want to change things unless we’re asked to.

    7. Editor-Director relationship is like a marriage

    James G: We don’t deal with a lot of directors to be honest, mostly producers. Even with drama, it’s the producer who’s in the suite with the editor. Directors tend to be on location. Not many directors make it into post. They might go in for some of the post notes like the first pass of a cut.

    James B: It depends if they are a technical director. If they’re technical, they might spend more time in post. But more often it’s the DOP (director of photography) who will work closely with the colourist. They might spend 12 hours together in the dark room. But overall, it’s the producer who works with the editor.

    8. Editors have different styles – just like artists

    James B: Definitely. I can tell who edited a certain show by just looking at it. Some people are better at certain genres, but even within a genre, you can tell their style by the way they do certain things.

    James G: If you look at Master Chef, every episode is cut by a different editor and every episode is different.


    Five years ago, James Gardner (33) and James Brookes (29) both worked late nights and long hours as freelance editors. Frustrated by the dated gear, they came up with a business model: By investing in the very latest equipment, they could do the same work better and faster – and work whenever they liked.

    Today, Department of Post operates from a new, custom built space in Ponsonby and employs seven full time employees. They handle the post production for about 30% of all prime time TV in New Zealand. They’ve also worked on many large scale international productions, such as Coast Australia, Master Chef and Operatives (U.S.).

    Proud South Seas graduates, Brookes and Gardner have opened their doors to South Seas post production students, giving them an opportunity to try out their latest equipment. They currently employ two South Seas graduates.