Run Through The Tape

I recently wrote about some of the challenges in the finishing process given how many of us work remotely now. While processes may have changed, I still keep in mind a quote I heard that’s used in track and field: “Run through the tape!”

You might have seen videos showing a lead runner slowing down near the end of the race because they think they have the race locked up. At the last minute, they’re beaten to the finish line—“the tape”—by someone from behind. If they had only kept up their pace all the way through the tape, they’d have won.

How does that apply to finishing projects? After a long edit, it’s tempting to export a deliverable, post it and then move on to the next project. Sometimes your deliverable process can run unsupervised or it might happen in the background while you work on another project.

That can all succeed, but are you sure it succeeded? Did you include—or exclude—black slates or other clips when you exported? Perhaps during the approval process you had to put a little black at the beginning of the show so the first frame of the show doesn’t show up as a still on an approval page. But then, when you deliver, you only need to create first frame of content to last frame of content.

How about any effects in the show? Did they all render properly or were there some anomalies? I’ve seen render issues on a simple graphic clip—the content jumped four frames ahead. Why? I have no idea. I deleted render and re-rendered and it went away.

Did the compression of the final file(s) work well? Or did the setting you use not work with some of the content? It’s tempting to create presets and think that one size fits all, but that isn’t always the case.

Does the deliverable match the spec the client requires? Some social media requirements are quite specific about file size. Often, the prediction of the ending file size, while a good estimate, can be off by just enough to have the file rejected.

Are you using the right resolution and aspect ratio? I have seen cases where vertical aspect ratios are cut using a 16×9 sequence and are then exported at the wrong resolution, so the video is scaled up.

Does your method for delivering files work? For example, if you use a download link, does it work? Have you had issues with a client’s internet security (firewalls, IT departments) so that a particular delivery method doesn’t work?

These are some of the common problems that can happen to disrupt delivery, and that’s why I think of “running through the tape.” To me, this means you must check everything. You need to view everything you deliver. You need to verify you’ve met the specs you were given. Once you have uploaded your deliverables, you need to download them to make sure links work.

These may seem like simple things, but even if just one is a problem at delivery, it can leave a pretty bad taste in a client’s mouth. Particularly at the end of an otherwise successful project. And as they say, you are only as good as your last project.