Murphy’s Law and Post-production

Murphys-Media-WallMurphy’s Beer may be needed when your computer crashes at the end of a long day

I sometimes wonder if the person who wrote whatever can go wrong will go wrong better known as Murphy’s Law also started Murphy’s beer. Sometimes the two go hand in hand.

The Challenge

Recently a client needed a short film of work from a variety of mediums. Once again, me and my team were faced with the tough choice of cheap, fast or good. The film would include animations, After Effects bumpers at the beginning and end, and lots of film in various formats including AVID Pro, Apple Pro codecs, and .mov’s in various categories.

The Clock Starts Ticking

The editor and I had only two days (a Thursday and Friday) to put everything together. Some of the  media footage we needed we didn’t receive until Thursday night (the client was due to watch the footage the next day at noon). We worked on the film all day Thursday. Everything was looking great until we added the bumpers (the beginning and end of the film introducing the concept). Luckily AVID Pro has an auto save feature because the computer crashed at the very end of the day. It was the editor’s wife’s birthday and he had to pick up her cake across town so we decided to quit for the night rather than re-booting. I went to bed hoping everything was okay.

Another Day, Another Crash

The client, who is extremely critical, was scheduled to watch the film at 11:30 am for final approval. I arrived at the studio and turned on the computer. The good news was that everything except for the final edit we made before the crash had been auto saved. The bad news was that he computer we were using was’t seeing the media drive the film was on. I made the decision to move the media hard drive over to another Mac Pro where we could compile and continue the edit. After moving the drive, booting up AVID and adding the bumpers, and re-compiling the film, we were ready. It was 11:25 am! We still had a breezy 8 minutes left over (because the client was 3 minutes late).

The client told us that he was blown away by what we had done and we had exceeded his expectations. He also mentioned that he knew we had an extremely tight deadline to get this finished. Although I’ve known this client for over 8 years, I have never heard him say that his expectations had been exceeded. I was very happy indeed.

I am writing about these events to remind all of us to not only hope that everything goes well, but rather to plan on things going wrong and being in a position to fix the situation quickly. Although it is impossible to prepare for every contingency, always be primed for Murphy’s law. The only reason this story ended happily is that we had multiple computers with AVID loaded on them and a great team that all worked together to get the job done quickly.

Always be prepared for Murphy’s law, and don’t drink any Murphy’s until the work is finished and the client is happy and has paid you.

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