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How to Find Jobs in Professional Video Post Production

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 8/11/2011

The post production field is one of the most lucrative for the professional film and video industries, as long as you know what to look for. Here is an outline of what you need to know, and how you have to start to find jobs in video post production.

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    Career Focus

    The professional film and video industry is a very expansive marketplace that has more areas active today than ever before, but that does not mean that it is any easier to find a job in. This is especially true in the film and television world, where those needed on set are limited while the number of people applying can still be overwhelming. One of the more accessible areas to look is in video post production as this is one of the more plentiful sources of work in the industry, for those with the right skills and background. Here is a look at how to find some video post production jobs when you are trying to start your career.

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    Software

    Final Cut Pro Interface The primary thing you have to remember about the video post production job market is exactly what this means. In the past this often just meant that you needed to know how to edit, and before the non-linear video editing days this meant knowing how to work the accompanying video equipment. Today, all post production work is centered on industry specific creative software that is going to integrate every stage of this process. Knowing industry requiring video editing software, such as Final Cut Pro and various Avid application, is a fundamental must beyond any other application. This is the base that you start with in your skillset, but this should be assumed and those skills alone will not match the needs of most positions. Beyond this you are going to need to know high end software for compositing and motion graphics, namely Adobe After Effects. This is going to end up being the most important piece of software for post production work as it holds a great amount of depth and is fundamental for graphics, green screen work, animation, and a whole host of other uses. Still photography software like Adobe Photoshop will also be essential, and along with the editing and graphics programs will make up the three most fundamental pieces of software for the professional post production workflow. Beyond this you will be required to utilize compression and conversion software for video codecs, professional level DVD authoring programs like DVD Studio Pro or Adobe Encore, and sound mixing software like Pro Tools. The best way to endorse your knowledge of specific programs is to get certification offered by the company producing the software, such as Final Cut Pro certification.

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    Skills, Background, and Examples

    The knowledge of the software itself is only going to be the foundation for the positions, but the principles of utilizing each one is going to beDVD Studio Pro Interface  important both for proving your ability to engage the professional post production workflow and the ability to deliver samples when you are applying. This means that there needs to be some time spent working, both in education and in practice, on all areas of post production. This is often why film school will be a requirement at positions because it allows you extensive practice in all areas of production and post production. Learn the basic ideas around continuity editing, matching cuts, using the 180 degree rule, and all the different keys to effectively cutting together a scene and an entire project. Motion graphics and animation goes even further, and you will need to learn how to create correct images and really flow key frames together. Sound mixing requires an attention to detail, and educated ear, and the ability to run between different systems.

    All of this can be demonstrated in your reel and set of examples that you will give to potential employers. The reel is fundamental for everyone trying to take active creative positions in the video industry, and if you want a job doing post production then you will need to put together a representative sample of your various post production work. This is going to be different than an editing reel because you are trying to find jobs that integrate the entire workflow, so pick samples of work that demonstrate a range of skills or put complimentary pieces from different post production positions.

    It is good to also have complete projects that you have worked on, such as student films that you have run post production on. This is only going to match your educational background, and remember that a degree in film or a related field is almost required even for entry level jobs in this economic climate. Without the resources that film school tends to provide, especially in terms of production value, you will not be able to provide a professional level product without an incredible amount of capital to finance projects.

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    Employment

    You are going to begin the search for video post production jobs almost strictly around freelance work. Most post production jobs are going to be on a contract basis for specific projects as they come up. Since you are looking for post production work more broadly than just video editing, you can expect it easier to eventually find consistent employment at a production company that needs a variety of projects worked on continuously in various stages. This should not be a proper starting point as freelance work is going to be more plentiful when you are first searching for work as you will need to pad your resume before you find consistent employment.

    For larger projects you will need to maintain yourself as a freelancer, eventually trying to find a union position. Since larger films and projects are going to be based almost entirely on contacts and reputation, this is going to be a longer term goal that requires working on freelance film projects and creating a professional network with producers and directors that will eventually want you to move up to projects with larger budgets. Since you are working in all areas of post production you can eventually find yourself appropriate to be hired on staff as a post production manager, which oversees the entire post production process at companies that do a lot of work. This itself can be at production companies that run television shows, and if you have heightened your skills in animation at this point then you will have an even larger market to move into.

References

  • DVD Studio Pro is a Screenshot by Shane Burley
  • Final Cut Pro Interface is a Screenshot by Shane Burley
  • Source: Author's Own Experience.