'The Walking Dead': Everything That Needs To Be Done In Post-Production Before An Episode Airs.
It's a lot of work.
The Walking Dead fans have been left disappointed by the news that the show's season 10 finale will be delayed, now set to air as a 'special episode' later in the year. Post-production work on the finale was unable to be completed before the COVID-19 pandemic sent much of the U.S into lockdown.
While The Walking Dead is not the only show to be impacted by the virus, it is one of the most disappointing, as there are only two more episodes left before the finale was originally slated to air.
Many fans are disappointed, even angry, and some don't understand the reason for the delay, since Season 10 was filmed last year. Post-production, however, is a whole different set of work, most of which can't begin until after 'production', the filming stage, is completed.
Here's everything done in post-production to get an episode of The Walking Dead ready to air.
One of the biggest post-production jobs for any movie or TV series is editing. Most projects are not filmed in chronological order, but in blocks based on location. The Editor's first job is to get the footage in order so that things make sense. Scenes are also usually filmed multiple times, from different angles, and if the episode's Director does not have a clear vision in mind, it may fall on the Editor to decide what take or angle works best. They may also have input into what footage should be cut if an episode is running too long.
Good editing can help set the atmosphere, and a skilled Editor can produce epic moments like the final thirty seconds of the video above.
While The Walking Dead does use a lot of practical effects where possible, it is still a heavy on digital special effects. Digital effects are done entirely in post-production, and used to accomplish multiple different things. In the video above, effects were used to enhance the environment of the cave, as well as pumping up the number of zombies in Alpha's hoard.
On a smaller scale, effects were paired with make-up to enhance the grisly appearance of Carl Grimes's eye wound. In the most recent episode, visual effects were used to insert the Alternate-Michonne into past scenes in which she did not originally appear.
Season finale's are often effects-heavy, so this is the most likely reason for the Season 10 finale being delayed.
Nearly all the sound you hear on The Walking Dead is added in post-production. Zombie growls, gun shots, the whistle of Daryl's arrow, the crunch of a Walker's skull as it is killed- all these are added into the episode after it has been filmed. As sounds are added, they need to be mixed and edited to be the right pitch, and make sure they don't drown out important dialogue. In some cases, if a boom mic malfunctions or picks up too much background noise, dialogue may need to be re-recorded and dubbed in in Post. Background music is also added in post production.
Again, as a finale, the delayed episode probably needs a lot of post-production sound work done.
Continuity And Other Clean-Up Work
When all the work is done, another team looks over the episode for continuity errors or other mistakes. Making sure objects remain where they are meant to be, or nobody changes outfit mid-scene. Ensuring that microphones, cameramen, and other film equipment stay out of shot. If any errors like these are discovered, the episode will be sent back to the Editing and Special Effects departments to be fixed.
If this step is skipped, you end up with situations like the coffee cup and water bottle debacles in Game Of Thrones final season. Even with continuity checks, you get minor mistakes, such as the Iphone visible in Beta's pocket in The Walking Dead 10x12. It would be terrible for a more major mistake to slip by if the finale was rushed.
It's unfortunate that fans have to wait, but The Walking Dead fans are luckier than most. Some shows, such as Grey's Anatomy and Riverdale, halted production before filming was complete, meaning they may not even get proper finale episodes for their current seasons.
Walking Dead fans will get their finale. They just have to wait a little longer to ensure the episode is the best it can possibly be.