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Finishing is the Hard Part

Creative work is of course never really finished. As the saying goes, it’s only abandoned.

Nevertheless, the last few days of production can feel excruciatingly difficult. At MediaStorm we often say that the last 10 percent of work requires 30 percent of the effort.

So why is that?

I think the struggle comes from two equally strong and opposing forces. On the one hand, there’s a certain impatience at the end of a project. Often after spending weeks or even months on the same piece, I’m frankly ready to be done. I’m ready for others to start watching.

On the other hand, finishing a project requires a meticulous attention to detail. Just as my work feels like it’s coming to an end, there’s a barrage of tedious but requisite tasks that need to be finished: adding room tone, mixing and repairing audio, color correcting video.

So even as there’s a strong pull to be done, there’s an even stronger need to see your work with clear eyes, as if for the first time.

At MediaStorm, once a project has been encoded, we’ll watch our work on the website—the same way others will—checking for color or audio aberrations. We’ll then return to Premiere Pro to fix these issues, then encode again, repeating the process until the project is as close to perfect as time will allow.

This is an incredibly stressful process as any tweak or fixing of a mistake will engender at least another hour of exporting and re-encoding. Plus, the time needed to rewatch the project.

What I’ve learned is this: You, I, all of us, have got to be tenacious until the very end. It’s easy to think, “Oh, it’s one audio pop, no one will notice.” But laziness is the enemy of craftsmanship. And when all is said and done, no one cares how much time you’ve already spent on a project. All they see is the five or 10 or 30 minute movie in front of them.

Make that time special. Get it right.

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  • Matt Miller

    I needed to read this Eric. I’m working on several projects right now and I REALLY NEEDED THIS REMINDER.

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