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Editing Tips: 8 Ways You Can Save a Shot in Post-Production

Jourdan Aldredge

Before you lose all hope for your project in the editing bay, try out these tips and tricks to save a shot in post-production.

Cover image by DisobeyArt.

There’s a very real danger to this article’s logic. It assumes that you can save any shot in post, no matter how horrible or wrong it is. That’s simply not true. Many shots end up so poorly executed that there is no hope for them — none whatsoever.

However, let’s take a minute to examine what to do when you have a shot that’s not entirely lost. These are the shots that might be under- or overexposed, awkwardly framed, or just plain uninteresting. These are the ones that just may be worth saving.

Let’s take a look at a few tutorials that can help you save shots like these with a few creative tips and tricks.

1. Correct White Balance

In this tutorial by AdobeMasters, we get a breakdown of how to work with white balance in Adobe Premiere Pro. White balance can often be a problem, even for the most seasoned cinematographers — especially in shots with changes in lighting (e.g. clouds moving overhead). Here are some more resources for saving white balance issues in the edit.

2. Fix Exposure

For those dealing with footage that is too bright or too dark due to over- or underexposure, Caleb Wojcik shares some simple and effective tips for correcting exposure problems in Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple iMovie, and Final Cut Pro X. Exposure can get tricky really fast, and when it’s terribly off, it can make a shot simply un-savable. However, for those within the safe zone, here are some more resources.

3. Use LUTs

Now, for some more proactive tips and tricks, Robbie Janney with Shutterstock Tutorials shows you how to use LUTs (“Look up Tables” for those who aren’t familiar with the term). LUTs are great for all types of shots and projects — they create all sorts of cinematic and stylized looks. And, in the right situations, a well-tailored LUT can cover shot blemishes or imperfections in color grading. (Bonus: free LUTs included below along with Shutterstock’s free plugin!)

4. Use Jump Cuts

So this trick is actually useful for a couple of reasons. If your shots or sequences look fine but are simply uninteresting, jump cuts can be a great way to speed things up. They are also a good for skipping over mistakes without losing entire shots or sequences. If you’re not familiar with jump cuts, the concept is pretty simple, yet it yields a very stylized and recognizable effect. Here are some awesome articles to dive into for more expertise with the jump cut.

5. Remove Audio Background Noise

If audio concerns are ruining your shot, Dansky on YouTube offers some helpful tips and tricks on how to clean up audio background noise. In the tutorial above, he breaks down how to use the Adaptive Noise Reduction plugin in Premiere Pro (along with a few other techniques) to help reduce background noises like hums and whines. For more audio-saving resources, check out some of these links.

6. Add Light Overlays

Similar to using LUTs to improve shots, you can also use overlays. Todd Blankenship with RocketStock shares some more tricks on how to use overlays to improve your shot’s cinematography with both volumetric light overlays and dust elements. If you follow the tutorial, it actually directs you to a free element pack of light overlays and dust elements and shows you how to work with them in your compositions.

7. Refine Face Tones

For some more advanced editing options, here’s a great tutorial on how to refine face and skin tones in DaVinci Resolve. While this is a great tool to touch up faces (which your actors and subjects will love you for), it can fix more than unwanted blemishes. Skin tone is one of the most difficult elements to capture organically, and it can cause problems during color correction. Knowing how to save skin tones is a powerful tool to have in your repertoire.

Here are a few more resources on working with skin tones in other NLEs.

8. Remove Unwanted Elements in After Effects

In this tutorial from TunnelvizionTV, we dive into some more advanced tricks that you can only pull off in Adobe After Effects. If some element that you need to remove is holding up your shot, you can fix the problem with this technique. It’s worth noting that this option isn’t always perfect, but if elements are ideal (minimal parallax, static elements, etc.) you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Here are some more advanced After Effects tips and tricks.

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