The Horse Before The Cart, Part 1

When I wrote about “running through the tape” and explained how I make sure to deliver a properly finished project, I briefly mentioned deliverables. I spoke of the deliverables matching the client’s deliverable specifications.

If this past year is any indicator, the topic of deliverable specs needs to be more than a quick aside. Although I knew the final deliverables before I started most projects, there were a few I just couldn’t get nailed down until late in the process.

Why would it be a problem? Here’s one example.

I was involved with a finishing project. It turned out that the final delivery of the spot had to be at a 29.97 frame rate and interlaced, not 23.98 and progressive. The latter is how I received the final file.

(I’m surprised that in 2020 I still deal with interlace, but I realize there are a lot of legacy systems throughout the world. It will be years before interlace goes away. Even the “Next Gen TV” standard—ATSC 3.0—still has interlace as one of the options in the specification.)

Going from 23.98 progressive to 29.97 interlace isn’t something new. It has been done for decades. It involves adding synthesized frames made up of two different frames. This is referred to as adding pull-down.

Since going from 23.98 progressive to 29.97 interlace has been done for decades, why was I bothered about it this time around? The answer: If the deliverable had been known ahead of time, more attention would have been paid to how the pull-down was added.

For example, the project could have been edited in interlace. Then, depending on the edit software, the newly created frames could be controlled so they didn’t cross over an edit point, which can soften a cut between two shots.

Yes, it’s a very subtle difference that very few might notice, but if you spend hours or days color grading, you’re also making subtle differences. And that’s my point about ferreting out deliverables as early as possible. It’s not about me being bothered by having to solve problems at the end of the process, it’s about delivering the best possible file that matches the client’s vision.

Next up, another example. This one is related to title safe.