This is by far the most complex thing that we've put together. It's a feature, so it's longer, but it's also more visually and auditorally complex. There are a lot of audio tracks that go into some of these scenes, and we're still really early in the process.
For me, there are some phases to the whole thing.
Initial footage evaluation
This usually involves reviewing the available takes for performance and technical issues. Honestly, on most shoots I have a continuity maven/script supervisor that actually logs the scene/shot/take numbers along with timecode and any notes. This is primarily what the camera slate is for. On rare occasions, I will shoot without the slate or logging, and I have to go back afterwards and do the logging myself, usually with an excel spreadsheet.
There are probably better tools to do this, and I think some of the newer e-cinema cameras may have some logging tools built in or available as third-party units, but for now, it's all manual.
Capture of footage
When I have my footage list, I enter it into my batch capture utility. This takes in all the footage based on the timecode that I've specified, and I just have to hit a button. There are a couple of caveats to this, in that there are times that I need to make some adjustments to the audio levels or dio some color correction as I'm capturing, so I may manually capture a clip or two, or more likely do small batch capture sub-units. Bear in mind that if I was capturing via firewire, this wouldn't be available and I'd just have the batch capture and have to make all of the corrections after the fact.
I really prefer to do this as part of the capture if at all possible, since I have that availability on my capture card. This covers things like brightness, contrast, color balance, and the like. Sometimes it's necessary. Now my current system actually physically separates the video and the audio tracks, so I can make changes to one or the other without forcing a render of both, but that will be going away eventually.
Collection into bins
Bins are a relatively new feature for me, since I have rarely worked on long-form stuff with my system. Basically it's just a way to organize your raw media into "folders", for instance if you're editing scenes, you could put all of scene 1's medis files into a bin marked "scene 1". It's like virtual links in UNIX or a shortcut in Windows, it doesn't actually move the files.
One of the things that I like in my current system is that if I have one long video captured and I want to use several chunks from it, I can create multiple clips in the bin without ever affecting the original capture. That's a feature that I end up using more than I ever thought I would.
Rough visual cut
I work on the visual edit, trying to make it look as good as I can using just cuts, no dissolves or fades. That's more a function of the way my system works (cuts are free, everything else renders) than anything; if I had a system that did basic dissolves and fades in realtime, I'd use those.
This is where it starts to get funky. I like to do the entire project all at once, so I'll do the visual edit for the entire movie first. Now I may do scenes and acts, but I will do those separately and then merge them into one big project later. Others would rather complete small pieces and assemble them later. Both methods work, but they require different mindsets.
Rough dialogue cut
This is the first pass at dialogue, making it clear and as seamless as possible.
Sometimes dialogue needs to be replaced. Most often I try to take it from a different take, or from an on-location wild take, but if necessary it involves recording in a studio. I really like to get this in place early on if possible, since it affects the process later
Polish cut I
This is a tinkering with the timing once the dialogue is in place, trying to make it smoother. This gets to be a long process that is very subjective and really really picky. It's also the most likely time to go insane and start having doubts about the whole thing.
Visual effects I
The addition of the visual effects. This may include transitions between scenes, explosions, lightsaber battles, glowy eyes, whatever it needs. This may at this point just have the rough effects or animatics in place for timing.
Sound effects I
The addition of sound effects. This usually ends up taking a chunk of time, because hunting for the right effect can be maddening
Because sometimes you just don't have the right sound effect in your library. Footsteps, clotes rustling, etc.
Polish cut II
Visual effects II
Sound effects II
It's an iterative process. Tightening, adding, subtracting, balancing, this is where the movie really starts to take shape. Most pictures have different departments working on them simultaneously.
At some point, you lock the edit and say enough is enough.
Hopefully you either have a composer or two that can do the music for you, or you flail a lot. Sometimes there is what is called a Temp Track where you use existing music to get across a mood or an atmosphere. If you're doing your own music, you may wrap it into the iterative process above. Eventually, you get the music for your movie.
This is the last stage, where you do the final balance of sound and tweak levels and so on.
and hope for the best.
Until the cows come home, and swear to never do it again.
I use a bunch of different software to do all this, simply because I don't have one package that can do it all. I'm in the process of evaluating upgrade options because my NLE system has become obsolete, and I'm looking at going to high-def in the future. I've pretty much locked into Avid Xpress Pro HD as the NLE of choice, mostly because of mojo. The ability to see HD footage in real-time on my SDI monitor is a really big selling point.
Thing is, I really like Vegas for doing the audio editing.
However, Avid also has the Avid Xpress Studio which includes Pro Tools LE for doing the fine audio work. Pro Tools is a really strong audio program, and they are completely integrated in the package.
But crap on a cracker, we're talking almost six thousand dollars for that nifty little package. Of course it does include that nifty control surface...
Ah, hell. Add another ten thousand and I may as well get the camera and the hard disk recorder for it too.
Then I can make really good porn.